Here’s something I’ve thought about a lot, and for quite a long time, but an incident a while ago reminded me that I need to put it out there. If I am ever in a situation that would involve the criminal justice system – whether as victim and/or witness or defendant – I will not comment on what I might testify about until the trial is over. I won’t talk about it, and I certainly won’t blog about it.
The reason is that I believe, in the United States, too much information is disseminated about what a given person might be saying on the stand, and I think that the publicity before or during the trial negates the possibility of a fair hearing, perhaps in the court, and even more likely in the court of public opinion.
I might talk about items peripheral to the case, but that would be based on the specific circumstances.
What triggered this was that I was walking home from the bus stop after work one night a few weeks ago. On my very block were two people on the third floor of a house cursing and screaming at four or five people on the street, about what I do not know. They were responding in kind. A couple of the folks on the street attempted to climb up the exterior steps to reach the couple, but were thwarted by the locked door. As I walked past these people, a guy in a car came from who knows where and drove up into the driveway, nearly hitting me; he got out and joined the rabble against the couple.
I walked home quickly and called 911, but the cops had already been summoned. The cops arrived and, presumably, the issue was resolved. Incidentally, I knew none of the parties involved.
If this situation had escalated – guns were drawn, or Crazy Driver had hit me – then I might have become a witness. And in that case, my cone of silence would have taken hold. If I had gotten hurt, I might note that I was feeling hurt, but not specifying how so in re: the event.