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.
4 thoughts on “"No comment"”
Wow. I remember years ago we were living in a three-floor apartment building, so there was someone above us, and one night they had a MASSIVE argument. Yelling yielded to screaming which yielded to loud thumps which yielded to the sounds of stuff breaking in the hallway. I called the police, only to be told that they were already en route. When they arrived and I stuck my head in the hallway, one of the windows had been busted out and there was a smashed laptop computer on the stairs.
Those folks moved out soon after…and so did we.
Probably the most sensible approach you can take.
I live in a third-floor apartment in a college town, and I hear lots of fighting. One time it got so bad from across the hall that I was about to call the cops. Then there was a loud THUD. I grabbed my phone and saw there were already two police cruisers in the parking lot; there were cops out in the stairway, and they’d heard the thud, too. They were starting to draw their weapons, and I was trying to figure out if I should go hide in a back room or something.
Turns out the couple across the hall had been fighting about something to do with their baby (!) and she had knocked down the entertainment center in a fit of rage. The police officers came over to us to ask us what the noise situation usually was. The woman’s parents came and took her the next day, but I don’t know where. They were near the end of their lease and they may have gotten kicked out.
This place, sometimes…
I agree, if one is participating in a trial one should respect the legal process and keep quiet for the duration. However, I’ll tell you, if I’m involved in a trial that is obviously biased or unfair, then I will see it as my responsibility to make a lot of noise and disrupt the proceedings.
Got called for jury duty last week, but they didn’t need me, They probably wouldn’t have let me near the jury box anyways.