Strong-Arming the Prosecution: Attorney Charged with Assault for Aggressive Handshake

Many attorneys perfect the firm handshake and winning smile as a signature of success. For attorney Kathy Brewer Rentas, 49, it may prove to be also the basis for assault on a prosecutor. Rentas is accused to shaking the hand of Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Keene so hard that it caused injury. What is most interesting is that this is not a unique charge.

Keene has just successfully prosecuted Rentas’ father for violating the terms of a probation order for supplying cocaine. He was sentenced to 90 days of house arrest.

After the hearing, Rentas insisted on shaking Keene’s hand.

“With Keene in hand, Brewer made an upward, then a quick downward motion and pulled Keene toward the ground moving her forward, almost causing Keene to fall to the ground,” said a court security officer.

Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office, said assaulting a federal officer was a serious matter and that Mrs Brewer Rentas would be prosecuted “vigorously”. . . .

Mrs Brewer Rentas was freed on Friday on $100,000 (Β£50,000) bail, after spending a night in solitary confinement, and ordered to undergo psychological examination.

She was also ordered to stay away from Mrs Keene, and faces up to a year in prison if convicted of assault.

Notably, another individual was recently cleared of a charge of assault by handshake. A 43-year-old Kalkaska man acquitted of assault after authorities said he got three people sick with a handshake is suing over the case.
John Curtis Ridgeway, 43, was charged with assault by handshake after pressing the flesh with a prosecutor, a police officer and a courtroom bailiff. He was arrested after each became ill after shaking his hand in December 2005. He was acquitted in 2006. Last year, he sued. He argued that FBI analysis confirmed that the substance on Ridgeway’s hand was consistent with olive oil or linseed oil.

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5 thoughts on “Strong-Arming the Prosecution: Attorney Charged with Assault for Aggressive Handshake”

  1. I met a man years ago, who would violently pull you off for feet when he shook hands with you and it was like being assaulted. Some things, that on the surface may seem frivolous, may not be so.

  2. Holidays… Ran into the problem of creativly, could not think of how to congratulate near… if does not know that how many still spent in vain to time.. Helped a barter, hope will help and to you.. pretty SMS
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  3. I had one more thought on this so-called “case.” J.T., would you allow me to post the link to this story at a Justice System Discussion Forum I post on regularly, as part of a proposed new thread which I intend to call “Most FRIVOLOUS PROSECUTIONS List?” I posted it once there already, as I feel this kind of prosecutorial abuse needs a big, fat searchlight shining on it, but I think the problem as a whole needs national attention, in ADDITION to the work you are already doing.

    If you would like a link to this forum, feel free to email me at: and I’ll send it to you. And by the way, this invitation to privately email me for this link is extended to anyone else here who wishes to discuss their views on issues related to criminal justice and who wishes to suggest ideas for positive change. I’m not going to post the link here, only because I’ve seen one or two posts that can only be described as “flaming,” with no positive purpose. We’re trying to keep flamers OUT of the other forum, as much as possible anyway. Thanks so much for posting outrages such as this, and will look forward to hearing from you when your time permits. πŸ™‚

  4. It is a sad thing indeed when one innocent and well-meaning action like a simple handshake can land a completely innocent person in jail and then prison. I guess we should all just avoid any kind of courteous gestures such as the handshake from now on, to make sure we keep ourselves OUT of prison for “assault.”

    Honestly, what passes for a “violent crime” these days is truly alarming, given that some unreasonable prosecutors are too quick to make a crime out of everything. Uh-oh, I just thought of something else; is it now a crime to call a prosecutor unreasonable? If that’s the case, I better start looking for a defense attorney myself. πŸ™

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