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 (£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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