James H. Moss (JHMoss@LAWYERNET.COM)
Wed, 29 Apr 1998 19:30:18 -0600
I posed the original question and am wading back in again for two reasons.
1) It was my question and I want to make sure everyone understands that and
2) I believe that Mr. Yanke missed the point.
This is not now a hypothetical situation. As of ten days ago, after a plea
bargain, it was and is real. I posed it because for several reasons. I was
having a hard time dealing with the conflicts as an attorney, mentor, Scout
Leader and dealing with a young Scout, youth, client.
Let's talk gray area. What should we hold higher the Boy Scout Oath and Law
or the Constitution of the United States. The answer is the Constitution of
the US. Because it says so.
You may hold your own personal morals and values higher, however, when
dealing with the law, the Constitution rules.
So when someone makes a mistake. No denying that. What do they look to
first. IN this case the youth looked to the Scout Oath and Law, and based
on his interpretation, fried himself. He allows the police to violate his
constitutional rights. He consequently no faces the fact he will not make
National Honor Society, never work for the government, never work for a
government contractor etc.
The school nor the police contacted this youth's parents before questioning
.. The school and police also questioned him in such a fashion as to not
"walk over his rights." A Police Officer cannot question a youth without a
parents permission. So the police officer mirandizes the kid, and leaves
the room and stands outside the door. He keeps sticking his head in every
few minutes to make sure everything is OK. Is the kid in custody or not.
Should his parents have been notified?
Often in Scouting we forget our own youth and some of the problems we faced.
I am not defending what the person did. I am saying that hormones and the
desire to fit in and be liked can sometimes not allow us to think and use
common sense. If you believe this is not happening to the youth in your
units, if you believe that kids are not facing these types of pressures get
your head out of the sand.
I also posed the question because you as a SM or unit leader may be faced
with this problem. What do you tell a youth, who for what ever reasons, is
facing a criminal problem? Come foreword and tell the truth. Only to lose
every possible future opportunity.
What about youth who are not guilty, but that innocence will be difficult
and expensive to prove if they open there mouth.
Is remaining silent, not speaking a violation of the Scout Oath and Law?
I am not nor did I want to place morality on the table. (I start speeches
by saying I am an attorney so moral or ethical questions may confuse me.)
When did exercising a constitutional right become immoral?
Nor can I ask what is right. I can only ask what is legal. As an attorney
in a criminal situation, I have no choice, whether my client is a Scout or
This will be the third Scout I have helped legally/criminally this past 12
months. For a population of 2 million in the Denver metro area, I probably
get the majority of Scouts. That is not two bad.
My contract is with the Scout. Mom and Day may pay my fees, but they have
to promise to pay Mom or Dad back.
Most times it is non-thinking actions. Every time, peer pressure is
Many people thought the system would deal with the situation properly. It
won't. I attended a sentencing today. A young man was almost sent to jail
for two years for throwing a snowball. The legislature in an effort to
"crack down on crime" has taken all the ability form the police, prosecutor
and court to do anything but prosecute. The judge at sentencing said the
snowball charge should have never been filed. Once a charge is filed by the
police, the prosecutor must prosecute and the judge must convict. The judge
did not like the charge, but he had no leeway in what he had to do.
Once you are in the system now days, you cannot get out. If opening your
mouth gets you in the system...
Again, thanks to you who helped me deal with the problems. Hopefully this
problem will only be dealt with in this forum in your life. However, if a
Scout comes to you and asks you what to do, remember that your words will
have a lasting impact. Doing the right thing, I believe, means helping that
Scout exercise his constitution rights. To an Attorney and to remain
I posed the questions because I wanted help in dealing with the situation.
I received a lot of advice that did help and I want to thank those who did.
James H. Moss 303-980-5353
Attorney at Law 303-989-2316 Fax
12340 W. Alameda Pkwy. JHMoss@Lawyernet.com
Lakewood, CO 80228-2841
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City