BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — A Danvers selectman accused of assaulting a Town Meeting member on the night of September’s state primary election wants another chance to persuade a court clerk-magistrate not to issue a criminal complaint against him.
Keith Lucy has already been arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the single misdemeanor assault count stemming from an encounter with Jack Fratus on Sept. 6 inside Danvers Town Hall, where the two men were waiting for election results.
Fratus alleged that after he confronted Lucy about “cutting” the line in front of Fratus’ wife and another woman, Lucy yelled at him and raised his hand as if to strike him, the basis of the assault charge.
But in a motion scheduled to be argued Friday in Salem District Court, Lucy’s lawyer, Michael Smerczynski, argues that his client should be given another chance to argue his case, this time with a lawyer and two witnesses, before a clerk-magistrate rather than a judge.
Smerczynski said Lucy, 48, who has no prior record, believed that the encounter was simply a disagreement over courtesy, not an allegation of criminal conduct. Had he understood the nature of the allegation prior to the hearing, his lawyer said, he would have brought with him an attorney and his witnesses, who offer a different account of what happened.
Diane Langlais, a friend of Lucy’s who had accompanied him to Town Hall that night, would testify that Lucy had stepped in front of her, not Frances Fratus. Mrs. Fratas complained, and Lucy told her he hadn’t done anything wrong, according to Lucy’s lawyer.
When Lucy denied doing anything wrong, Frances Fratus told her husband about the encounter. That’s when Jack Fratus and Lucy exchanged words, the lawyer said.
Smerczynski said that the testimony of Frances Fratus will be “key” in determining whether the case goes forward.
“She is really a critical piece of this,” Smerczynski said.
The request to “remand” the case, if allowed, would mean that the pending charge would be dismissed, and a clerk would have to decide, after a new show-cause hearing, whether the complaint sought by Jack Fratus should be issued.
John Slattery, who was a candidate for state Senate in that election, represented Fratus during the clerk’s hearing and said yesterday that he believes the proceedings were conducted fairly and in accordance with the law.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.