A primer in Innocence

I sent a version of this to WildBigSur in response to Bill Monning’s comment, but Jack has a way of censoring me, and not posting my comments, so I wanted to share this here.

Please remember, we only have allegations at this point, and we only have a very narrow, and incomplete story. All these individuals are INNOCENT until they are either found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers, or they plead guilty to any possible charges, which may be much less than what they were arrested for. Family members and loved ones of those accused are reading the comments posted online at news sites, and it is adding to the pain they are already feeling. I have talked to several of them throughout the day and night, and they are in shock, pain, and reaching out to make sense of what is happening. Public comments make that harder.

My 31 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney for indigent clients has taught me that the initial charges are often times very exaggerated, and the charges actually filed by an attorney for the District Attorney’s Office may be less than what the police are asking for, and what is found true or admitted may be even less still. “Overcharging” is a common way to “force” a plea’bargain, which might not otherwise happen, and a way to keep defendants locked up in jail on outrageous bail amounts.

Be considerate and kind in your thoughts and comments. Unless you are on the jury with evidence from both sides presented to you, it is not up to us to judge.

A failure of the Press

My information is that one of the current employees was arrested, but later released, with no charges pending. I was told of his arrest by CHP last night at 6:30 pm, confirmed by the jail as arrested at 7:00 pm, and yet the press release issued jointly by CHP and Cal Trans just after 3:00 pm, doesn’t list him as being arrested or as a suspect. I also find it interesting that the only media to carry this information is bigsurkate and the Cambrian, who called me. All the major news networks are reporting, almost word for word, the statements issued in the joint press release. NONE, of our local media seem to be doing any independent investigation at all! I am extremely dismayed to discover that the Herald and KSBW, at least, are just reporting what they are told to report. So much for independent, investigative journalism. PLUS, in my humble opinion, it is biased. Where do we go for honest, and in depth reporting, if we can’t count on our biggest newspaper and local television station? Please don’t say bigsurkate. I can only cover the South Coast, sometimes the North Coast, and I haven’t had time to train my volunteer.

This has been a day of lessons for me. Many people prefer to condemn without knowing the facts. Local media prefer to just publish press releases, rather than do their homework, no one notices except those who have access to the inside story. We wonder why our economy and democracy are in jeopardy? A true democracy does not work without an informed constituency, and it hard for the public to stay informed if the media just publish what they are told to publish. Shame, is all I can say.