When a Suspect Becomes a Photo Op
Washington, DC (March 3, 1999) -- “‘Perp walks’ are offensive to any conceivable notion of justice in America and to the Constitution that underlies our justice system. This self-serving, police practice of parading citizens under arrest — alleged “perpetrators” — before photographers and TV cameras destroys their presumption of innocence. Police departments across the country should cease and desist immediately,” Larry Pozner, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) said today.
Manhattan Federal judge Allen Schwartz last week allowed a defamation lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages to go forward against the New York City police department following a “perp walk” of an apartment house doorman suspected of burglary. A petty larceny charge was later dropped, but the plaintiff, John Lauro, Jr., suffered humiliation and harm to his reputation as a result. In light of the judge’s ruling, the NYPD has suspended the practice, and NACDL calls on other municipal, state and federal law enforcement agencies to quickly follow suit.
“These staged ‘photo-ops’ serve no purpose but to inflate the egos of arresting officers by degrading the citizen in their control. The police get to show off their cunning in nabbing the bad guy,” Pozner said. While prisoner transfers though public areas are sometimes unavoidable, perp walks are staged events solely to benefit the media, often explicitly at the request of a newspaper or TV police reporter. In the incident which precipitated the New York lawsuit , Mr. Lauro was already in custody when, upon a media request, he was hauled out of the police station to a patrol car, driven around the block, and walked back into the police station for the benefit of local TV news crews.
Perhaps the most infamous example of a perp walk gone wrong occurred the morning of Nov. 24, 1963, when JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was paraded through a crowd of reporters and other spectators in the basement of Dallas police headquarters. Local club owner Jack Ruby, apparently enraged by the killing of the president, shot the prisoner in the abdomen, killing him.
“Citizens under arrest — many of whom prove to be innocent — are not trophies to be bagged and mounted,” Pozner said. “Treating them as such is disgraceful and counter to everything our justice system stands for. We are not a jungle society. When you have this kind of unconstitutional invasion of privacy and an innocent arrestee is exonerated, how is he to get his reputation back?”
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.