Overaggressive Handshake Lands Attorney in Jail

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"It all stems from a handshake," said Gwendolyn Tuggle, who is defending attorney Kathy Brewer-Rentas against charges that she assaulted a federal prosecutor.

"It was definitely more than a handshake," said court security officer Gilberto Pay, who witnessed the shake between Brewer-Rentas and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Keene.  That is more consistent with the U.S. Marshall’s arrest report, which describes a handshake plus a little extra:

Brewer forcefully grabbed onto Keene’s right hand and squeezed it, pulling Keene toward her, forcing Keene off balance.  With Keene in hand [or, Keene’s hand 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.

Unless Keene’s balance is really bad, that does seem to be more than a handshake.  In fact it was enough, the marshall wrote, to snap Keene’s head forward and then back sharply; Pay apparently told investigators that it looked like Brewer-Rentas was trying to pull Keene’s arm out of its socket.

This took place after a hearing on February 7 involving Brewer-Rentas’s husband, who had apparently violated the terms of his federal probation for distributing cocaine.  The judge ordered Mr. Rentas to be put under house arrest for 90 days, which doesn’t seem that bad under the circumstances, but didn’t make Mrs. Rentas very happy.

According to court officials, Brewer-Rentas "insisted on shaking hands" with Keene, who seems to have refused.  Brewer-Rentas continued to insist, following Keene down the hall, and apparently at some point decided to go for the unilateral megashake.

The extent of the injury to Keene was not clear from the report, although she did miss work on Friday.  Brewer-Rentas spent the night in jail and has been ordered to get an evaluation for possible anger- or handshake-management training.  This may not be based solely on the handshake — Anthony Rentas was charged last October with domestic abuse, but that charge was dropped, possibly due in part to Brewer-Rentas’s testimony that during the incident, she was "never in fear for her life," but rather "it was [her husband] who should have been in fear for his safety from her."

Maybe Anthony ought to rethink his decision to plead in order to get house arrest.

Link: South Florida Sun-Sentinel