A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Martin Lee Anderson - A Criminal With Bad Parents

I've never written about a comment that someone wrote in response to one of my posts. Most of them are thoughtful disagreements that raise the merits of the opposite point of view.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I expect many to disagree with my views on fairness and justice. We are surrounded by "Law and Order" types, and not just the 37 shows a week on TV by the same title. Most believe the problem with crime, is that we are not making enough people criminals, and putting them in prison for the rest of their lives.

I believe in the First Amendment, and it's broad protection of even thoughts like the following comment on my post about Martin Lee Anderson:

Unfortunately this boy was guilty of much more than just stealing his grandmother's car. I know that when Leon County Boot Camp was still in existence the juveniles it housed were averaging 12-13 crimes before intake. Factor in percentage of times they committed crimes before they were actually caught and you're racking up quite the record. As for the State of Florida taking care of her son, do you not attribute any of this to poor parenting skills and the inability of the mother to place her son in an environment conducive to success? I am truly sorry that this boy is dead, and I don't think he "got what he deserved", but you can't say that they murdered him. The juvenile had an illness and the coroner ruled it a natural death. If anything, there was poor screening prior to intake. The only physical contact made to the juvenile were legitimate leg sweeps and arm bars. They were also consistently bringing water to the juvenile. This boy went through nothing different than any other juvenile in the system, he just happened to have a disease. Poor upbringing and the ineffectiveness of a functional family could be considered factors in the juvenile's death more than the fault of the officers.

I cant tell you who wrote this, because of course, they were too much of a coward to post their real name.

Any comments?

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com


  1. To avoid being duped as this individual appears to have been, you should cultivate the habit of asking two simple questions:

    "Where did you get that fact?" and "What does it really mean?"

    Let's take a look at how those questions can help to cut through nonsense:

    "...this boy was guilty of much more than stealing his grandmother's car."
    [Where did you get that fact?]
    While I admit to knowing nothing offhand of Mr. Anderson's criminal record, it takes much more than a vague reference to the "average crimes before intake at the Leon County Boot Camp" to support the notion that he was guilty of anything other than the crime with which he was charged. I'm interested to know where the statistic " average of 12-13 crimes among juveniles at time of intake" comes from, and even if true,
    [What does it really mean?]
    The "average" tells the reader nothing about Anderson, just nudges him or her in the direction of drawing the easy conclusion that he must have had 12 or 13 crimes himself.

    That was fun, how about another?

    "The only physical contact made to the juvenile were legitimate leg sweeps and arm bars."
    [Where did you get that fact?] Good question. Unless the author is an eyewitness who was with Anderson every step of the way that fateful day, s/he has no business trying to tell us exactly what Anderson endured during his time (on and off camera) at the induction.
    [What does it really mean?]
    The entire statement is of suspect credibility, and let's not even take up the difference between a "legitimate" and an "illegitimate" arm bar.

    OK, one more to practice on:

    Martin Lee Anderson entered the Leon County Boot camp a living, breathing child and exited as a corpse.
    [Where did I get that fact?]
    The Coroner's office.
    [What does it really mean?]
    The Leon County Boot Camp staff, who had a duty not only to care for Martin, but to rehabilitate him while he was in their custody, failed tragically on both counts.

    Bill Tallman

  2. Anonymous4:27 PM

    It sounds to me that this comment may be coming from one of the officers,or maybe someone who knows one or all of them. I hope this poor mom does not read these comments. Maybe she could not afford an attorney and the Public Defenders Office made a plea agreement with the state. Maybe she felt there was nothing she could do to stop her son from being sent to the Bay County Boot Camp. You can not blame this on poor parenting skills,I know I have a son who has been in trouble with the law,he too would have been sent to one of these so-called programs had I not have had the means to hire an attorney. I am here to tell you now that it was not my "parenting skills" that caused my son to do some of the things he has done. Sometimes "children" that's the key word here "children", get mixed up with the wrong group no matter how hard you try to get them to go in the right direction. What I saw in that video has disturbed me more than anything. I feel so sorry for that "child". Regardless of what he did to get put into a Boot Camp, he did not deserve to be treated that way,nor did he deserve to die. As for you saying the officers were bringing him water, look more closely at the video,they were dumping it into his face,they were not bringing it to him so he could have something to drink. If you'll review the video even more you'll see that after several times of him collapsing to the ground,and being dragged back up by the so called officers one came and kneed him hard in his back, that was the last time he went to the ground. I hope this mother gets justice for her son,and I hope that everyone involved will be arrested and sent to a prison,and I hope someone beats the living life out of them. I think this person who wrote this comment would feel differently if it was there child or family member. Have a little pity for the parents want you????

  3. Anonymous2:37 PM

    This is a horrible crime. I am so disturbed by what I've viewed in this video. It is disgusting and I pray justice will be served. I have one question, how do you restrain someone who isn't resisting? They were restraining a child who couldn't even make an attempt to move. And to be such a small child why would it be necessary for 9 to restrain him. Disgusting.

  4. None whatsoever. I don't comment on insane comments.

  5. Anonymous6:32 PM

    Hello again...anonymous poster here. I guess I owe it to you all to follow up with a few explanations from my last post. To address the first question; where did I get my facts from? I got these facts conducting a personal interview with a former commander of a Florida Boot Camp. By the way Bill, this didn't happen at Leon County Boot Camp, but at Bay County Boot Camp. Leon County's boot camp has been out of commission for several years now. The number I gave was just an average. I understand that this can mean more or less. Also, Leon County did not take first time offenders. I do appologize however for not having my facts straight...this was Anderson's first offense, so Bay County's intake qualifications were different.

    I am not an eyewitness, but I did watch the unedited video in it's entirety. Without being employed by the Bay County Sheriff's Department Boot Camp, that's as close to being an eyewitness as anyone will get. I understand the term "legitimate" was used a bit out of context, perhaps a better description may have been that they were doing what they were trained and in full authority to do. The coroner's report showed no bruising that was not associated with CPR. There were several strikes to the legs and arms, but none of them left any bruising. Also, not to argue, but he didn't exit Bay County Boot Camp a corpse. He wasn't pronounced dead until the next day in Pensacola. He is dead regardless, I know, I was just clearing things up.

    Angela, yes, I hope his parents do not read these comments, they would undoubtedly be upset. But sometimes what we don't want to hear hurts. Unfortunately, a juvenile's family structure is an accurate predictor of juvenile delinquency. Now the following is just speculation, so hear me out. Anderson's mother's last name is Jones. I'm going to assume that he was either living in a single parent home (particularly living with the mother rather than the father) or that he was living with his mother and step-father. Once again, both of these variables are accurate predictors of juvenile delinquency. If anyone wants to follow this up any further, I can give you names of several scholoarly journals with relevant research and data analysis on the subject. Now to say bluntly that parenting affects delinquency may be slightly inaccurate, but saying that living in a single-parent home or a home with a step-parent makes you more vulnerable to delinquent actions is a true statement. I'm very glad you were able to hire an attorney to get your son out of going to a boot camp. Although you have to remember, the attorney isn't going to be the one teaching your son not to take pot if someone offers it. The attorney won't take the keys when your son is drunk. Parenting is not easy and unfortunately the decisions (or indecisions) we as adults make can inadvertently have an adverse effect on our children.

    Once again, I have various sources on this subject if anyone wants to read up on it. I am not creating any of these numbers or statements without relevant research to back it up. I'm sorry to remain anonymous, but knowing my name would not benefit anyone in any way.

    I am interested to hear Mr. Tannebaum's thoughts on the issue. Have you seen the video tape? How do you feel about current research pointing to family structure predicting delinquency and recidivism?

  6. (thus far unpublished letter to Palm Beach Post)

    How tragic that a program intended to help killed Martin Lee Anderson, 14. ("Lawmakers: Video shows guards beating boy at boot camp," Thursday, February 9, 2005). This death signifies the failure of boot camps.

    Boot camps fail because they ignore the requirement of balancing nurturing and opportunities for independence. Margaret Beyer wrote a decade ago that boot camps cannot be effective where they violate the principles of adolescent development. Remember, teenagers: (1) are fairness fanatics; (2) reject imposed structure; and, (3) respond to encouragement (“JUVENILE BOOT CAMPS DON'T MAKE SENSE,” American Bar Association, 1996). This camp clearly failed on all levels. But what works?

    For one, the Associated Marine Institutes in Florida can do wonders. There are no magic bullets, but these programs aim to meet each delinquent youth’s need to: (1) belong; (2) feel competent at something; and, (3) appreciate the strengths of their families. They don’t try to change kids by yelling or hitting and for good reason: Those are the very things delinquent children have often already been subjected to!

    Lawmakers must examine both the tragedy of guards forcing “ammonia tablets up Anderson’s nose in efforts to keep the youth conscious,” and how the State of Florida started setting “half a dozen of pretty strong men” on “a relatively small kid [who] seemed to be phasing in and out of consciousness.” Camps without a track record of success should be immediately closed with the money for them redirected to proven, non-violent methods of rehabilitating delinquent children.

  7. Anonymous2:37 AM

    his parents aint got nothing to do with this ok maybe he did have trouble at home but that dont have no reason for the boy to be dead right now

  8. Anonymous3:26 PM

    To Anonymous:

    Did you happen to hear the preliminary autopsy results today?
    What do you you think of that? You must not have viewed the same video we all did if you call that legitimate leg sweeps and arm bars.Hopefully the family will get their justice now. I'm waiting now for the arrest of everyone involved including the nurse.

  9. There are some people in the world that will never understand the human experience outside of their own narrow world. I do not proclaim to know your life, sir or madam, but I truly hope that you never have to go through this. How dare you comment on anyone's parenting skills? You have no idea what this family's situation is like or what they have been through. Having worked in the juvenile system for a short time, I was able to see the boys' situations and lives they were coming from, and some of them had excellent home lives. Situations happened and for whatever reason they made a mistake. Also, I was trained in PAR restraints taught to all employees of the florida juvenile system, and what I saw on that video was NOT PAR certified training. Each of us is just one experience from having our lives changed forever. It is my personal opinion that you are disgusting for looking down on anyone for any reason. In the end, nothing justifies this child's murder by a ridiculous amount of officers.I feel sorry for you and the disillusioned world in which you live.



  10. Anonymous10:15 AM


    Who says that birthing a child makes you immune from having your fitness as a parent questioned? I can't replace a hurricane damaged fence without permission from the local government, but according to you we should all be allowed to birth as many children as we can into unfit homes and then when the inevitable negative consequences of our poor decisions come to fruition we should then be immune from criticism or accountability?

    Perhaps if there was some sort of social mechanism to hold poor parents to account for their misdeeds, maybe then these prisons would not be so full of youthful offenders.

  11. Anonymous6:10 PM

    I feel that the person who wrote this is a racist ass hole he was still a child killed before his 15th birthday at that his parents are not to blame for that those boot camp officals are and hope the all get charged murder in the first degree

  12. Anonymous2:50 AM

    Pray for our country…. if there is even one lawman, prosecutor or judge that would try to even hint to justify, yet alone defend, the actions of these 9 cowards.

  13. Anonymous12:56 PM

    If the mother had been honest on the camp application and checked YES to his sickle cell (which she KNEW from his birth) he would never have been in that program.

  14. Anonymous12:17 AM

    I teach in Bay County, FL and hear both sides on our local news. Here are my personal observations (not heresay):
    1) Martin Lee Anderson lived with his grandmother.
    2) Martin Lee Anderson was an arrogant trouble maker.
    3) Martin Lee Anderson had numerous problems with the law and he was only 14 years old.
    4) His mother, who requested he go to boot camp for his latest legal problem and their inability to stay clean, could not properly take care of him and he was "too much" for his grandmother to handle.
    5) His mother knew he had sickle cell disease.
    6) Martin Lee Anderson did not deserve to die, he needed help, but what the video doesn't show is how spit in the face of the guards and nurse, cursed them, fought them before the restrained him.
    7) Did Martin Lee Anderson's grandmother receive any of the settlement money from the state? NO His parents took it and ran.
    From another article: "Since her grandson's death in 2006 after boot camp guards roughed him up, she has stayed quiet amid the clatter. State politicians closed all the boot camps. Martin's mom got an attorney, received millions in a settlement and moved out of town."
    This is a very sad situation, but I don't hold the guards/nurse responsible for trying to restrain a delinquent kid - one with a deadly disease that they had no knowledge of.
    There is no solution that will please everyone. Justice doesn't mean that guards must pay and pay for what happened to s sick, delinquent boy. It comes down to being a black/white case where no one wins, it just keeps racism (by both black and white) alive.

  15. Anonymous2:15 PM

    Amen. Finally someone not screen testing for the next deep pocket case. Most of these posts are so transparent and obviously the words of people who are in love with their own eloquence. Most of them would secretly avoid Martin Lee Anderson if they saw him walking down the street.

    Martin Lee Anderson’s death is a tragedy as was his life. To pursue manslaughter charges against these eight people, who seem more involved with his troubled upbringing than his own parents, is a colossal miscarriage of justice.

    The Boot Camp system is rough and controversial which is what all this criticism stems from. Basically their minds are made up.

    Boot camps, uniforms, authority... BAD. Boo hoo.

  16. Anonymous1:11 PM

    Look… this ‘boot camp’ was for people with serious problems. All of these ‘people’(white, black or green) are animals and should be kept away from the rest of society. They cause problems and instill fear in the good, hard working and ‘normal’(white, black or green) people in this country. I’m not saying this kid should have been killed… so don’t get me wrong… however, most of the troubled kids will kill the innocent people for $10. So, I should feel bad because this animal received a beating? Hell no… He stole a car right? If he stole my car and I was able to be in a room with him alone, I would have done the same thing the guards did.
    I had to listen to the nonsense coming out of his mother’s mouth this morning. That they covered his mouth and made him stiff ammonia? This chick is looking for more of a payday than she already received. She received 5 million because her son was an animal and got his ass beat in a boot camp where he chose to go. Yes, he chose to go… he chose to steal the car didn’t he?
    Maybe this will show the up and coming animals that this might happen to them.
    Keep the boot camps and make them even tougher! Turn the cameras off and treat them like the animals they are!
    Again, he didn’t deserve to die… however, he did deserve to get his ass beat on a daily, if not hourly basis.
    And I can’t wait to hear Al Sharpton or the Rev. Jessie Jackson comment on this one… hahaha what a joke those 2 douche bags are. Would have been better if both of them received the ass beating that this kid received

  17. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Is is a shame that the young man, Martin Lee Anderson, will never get the chance to kill someone and to spawn fatherless thugs of his own. The only consolation is that the people responsible for his death- his parents- have now been rewarded. Hopefully this will lead to even more swift endings in the future. I am sure that the criminal defense bar will rejoice.

  18. Anonymous9:55 PM

    I do believe if his parents had raised him the right way from the beginning...from a toddler he would have turned out 3/4 of the population. Lots of love and a little discipline works. I have 3 sons...25, 22, and a 17 yr old. I spanked them when they needed it and they have never been in trouble with the law. I knew (most of the time anyway) what they were doing or where they were at. I was raised to have respect and I raised my kids the same way. After kids become teenagers it gets harder to get them under control if you didn't control them when they were little.

  19. Anonymous12:00 AM

    This kid was most likely very defiant and thought he was 'Da Man' and had to prove it by not doing as he was told. His mother knew she wasn't sending him to daycare.

    My guess is had he not died then he would probably be in prison for victimizing someone at another time anyway. I know it sounds cruel but hey, life is cruel.

    These kids listen to crappy music that glorifies gang life and violence. They have zero respect for law and order. I really don't feel sorry when I hear about one getting killed in custody.

    As for his mother's parenting skills; I never met her and have no idea. My guess is she condoned his music and dress choices and in the end helped him on his way to being a thug.

    Tough crap to parents who neglect to raise their kids then look to society for help. When that happens shut the hell up and take what you get or do better yourself.

  20. Anonymous12:02 AM

    How much money did his mother get? Just what we need, more stupid blacks with money!

  21. Anonymous12:05 AM

    He's burning in hell so it doesn't really matter anyway. Just axe the devil! He there, dawg, he there!

  22. Anonymous12:42 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. what a remarkable illustration of the tensions and prejudices of american society these remarks are -how many connecticut white teens who drove granny's car without permission end up being restrained beaten and smothered to death with chemicals by 9 men? america is a country of high camp hypocrisy -whether it is the self interested support of saudi "democracy" or the 50 year trade and humanitarian bullying of little cuba. land of the me and home of the slave !