By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Police agencies have public relations personnel. Their job is to issue press releases. Normally the press releases answer relevant questions the public has demand for.
We all want to know about bad crimes which affect our safety or our community. We need to know if a killer is on the loose or if an elected official is a crook.
But police agencies and their PR people are human. They are trying to paint the agency, their investigative abilities and their protection of the public in the best light possible.
Look at the DUMB Criminals!
I’m not sure why, but sometimes you get press releases which result in articles like this. Two people were caught with methamphetamine on a routine traffic stop and one claimed he was wearing pants that weren’t his. Hardy har har.
I’m assuming this was from a press release. I don’t know how else a beat reporter would get such specific details from a crime blotter. Normally this degree of detail would require access to a police report, PR person or press conference. I don’t blame the reporter for running with it. They’re just doing their job.
This is what I call a “look at the dumb criminals” release. I’m not going to lie. The defense this guy used is amusing. For about 30 seconds.
Blake Long and his girlfriend aren’t city council members, aren’t celebrities, and aren’t law enforcement officers. They’re the punchlines and the foil of today’s joke.
What I See in the Article
What I see is two things: First is a mother and father somewhere with a broken home and with broken hearts because of their adult child’s self-inflicted disease… and second I see readers (jurors) who are being taught to presume anyone sitting at Defendant’s table guilty and not innocent.
The Same System of Justice
The same system of justice is responsible for apprehension and conviction of Blake Long and Michael Morton — wrongly convicted of murder and released after decades of confinement. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this fact.
We like to pretend these two arrests happened in different worlds, on different planets, in different justice systems. But they didn’t. They happened in the same one.
So how are they connected?
They display polar opposite concepts in the criminal justice system. Between the Long arrest and the Morton arrest are tens of thousands of other arrests where guilt and innocence are more blurred.
When we win cases, we don’t typically make a big deal about it in the criminal defense world. Our clients want anonymity. They want the thing over.
Do yourself a favor next time you see or hear a “look at the dumb criminals” story and look deeper.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any situation contact an attorney directly.