New York – Everyone knows the Miranda warning – you have the right to remain silent, and so on and so forth. And now a city councilman thinks New York civilization is so benighted and backward as to require more.
David Greenfield of Brooklyn would minister to the sensibilities of criminal defendants by, in effect, adding the following: You have the right to be shielded from being photographed by the press while you are in police custody.
As high-minded claptrap goes, this is a doozy.
Outraged that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a very powerful, very prominent, very wealthy, very French criminal suspect, was photographed and videotaped in cuffs, Greenfield is proposing a law to ban the NYPD from “facilitating the public display of an individual arrested for a crime.”
He seeks to ban the perp walk, seeming to believe the wildly fanciful notion that cops parade defendants before the media as if they’re on a Fashion Week catwalk. Actually, the typical occurence is benignly mundane:
Police arrest newsworthy individual. Police bring suspect to stationhouse in car. Press learns of arrest. Press assembles outside stationhouse. Police bring suspect out for transport to court. Press takes pictures there and as suspect is led into court.
The photos capture history. They do not punish. They record how punishment is meted out, or not. Entertainment value aside, the public should see and know.
Would Greenfield also bar courts from allowing cameras at arraignments? Would he have denied the public televised access to the Casey Anthony trial? After all, she was acquitted of murder. And what, exactly, would Greenfield have the NYPD do? Give suspects clown masks?
Our suspicion is that Strauss-Kahn was happy to appear as if he had been put through a wringer. If not, his lawyers did him a disservice. They should have used the great raincoat dodge invented by PR whiz Morty Matz.
Stand tall. Straighten your tie. Hang raincoat over handcuffs. Walk to your fate like a carefree country gentleman.