I would support a joint effort by the DA and the defense bar to prevent DWI, so long as it does not include the publishing of names on the DA's website.RELATED: Does preconviction shaming deter DWI or just obliterate the presumption of innocence?
The Texas Disciplinary Rules for lawyers specifically state that a lawyer is not supposed to seek publicity to gain an advantage in a proceeding.
Prosecutors have their own special rule stating this. They are to seek justice, not merely be advocates and seek convictions.
Alpert has stated that merely publishing the names is not a comment on the case for giving evidentiary details.
This contradicts what Alpert states on the website:
"Over the years, we have tried to make it clear to the public that during a 'no refusal weekend' there will be no way to hide the evidence of their intoxication. This year we are adding the promise that they also won't be able to keep their charges a secret."
Such rhetoric goes beyond merely publishing the names. The direct implication of having the name of a person charged with DWI on the DA's website is that the person is guilty.
All people are presumed innocent until found guilty in court. A police officer's finding of probable cause for DWI is not legal proof, yet that is all that is required for a DWI arrest.
Potential jurors will have access to the DA's website and the names of persons accused of DWI.
I think Shannon and Alpert mean well, but they need to rethink this policy and remember their role in the system.
Thursday, January 05, 2012
On preconviction shaming and the role of the prosecutor
Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Richard Henderson authored a response in the Star-Telegram to the Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon and assistant DA Richard Alpert, who held a splashy press conference last week announcing a new policy of publishing DWI defendants' names on their website as a shaming tactic (discussed here on Grits). Wrote Henderson: