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Rush to Judgment: The Knife-Wielding Morgan Stanley Exec

Ron Koeberer | Aurora | Getty Images

The facts of the case are grim. One night in December, a bond trader for Morgan Stanley named William Bryan Jennings was trapped in the back of a taxi speeding away from his home. The driver would not stop and Jenning had no way of knowing where the trip would end. He had been, more or less, kidnapped.

And now he has been charged with assaulting the driver during his escape. He allegedly resorted to stabbing at the driver with a pen knife. The driver's hand was cut. Jennings finally escaped the cab a mile and half from his home.

The driver says Jennings refused to pay the agreed upon $200 fare. Jennings says the driver was trying to extract $300. Since only the two men were present during the dispute, we'll likely never know who is telling the truth.

The police point out that Jennings never reported the incident, from which they expect us to infer a guilty mind. But no such inference is warranted. It's very possible that Jennings just wanted to put the awful night behind him. As the head of North American fixed income for a Wall Street firm, he may have thought it unwise to invite public attention to his fight to flee the driver.

There's also something very strange about the driver's actions. Why not let Jennings exit the car at his home? The driver could then have sought police assistance is collecting the fare. Driving off with Jennings in the car seems imprudent and coercive.

Everyone seems to be jumping to the conclusion that Jennings is the bad guy. That's what we do when Wall Street "Masters of the Universe" are accused of wrong-doing. Wasn't Morgan Stanley once run by a guy nicknamed Mack the Knife? Certainly the police think he's the villain.

Maybe the cops are right. But surely we don't know enough to make that judgment now.

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