By Jacquelyn Carpenter
Last summer, I wrote about the horrible experience of being stopped by police at gunpoint, removed from my vehicle, interrogated, handcuffed, and taken to the scene of a crime against my will. In The Client’s Shoes I describe the event as an arrest, though the police describe it as a detainer. Regardless, it was a horrific ordeal. Nevertheless, I was blessed to be released; the police realized I was not a party to the aggravated robbery for which I was arrested, or detained. Without being hauled downtown, having to post bond, spend a night in jail, and explain to my professional colleagues "what had happened", I was free to leave. No one would even be aware of my situation but for my blogging about it. It was never a matter of public record. My encounter with law enforcement allowed me to explain more easily to others exactly how easy it is to be charged with a crime. It only takes one witness, with no corroboration, for a person to be charged with a crime. Despite the legal mantra that people are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, as a society, our actions say otherwise. Let that person be someone held in high esteem, such as a politician, council member, or attorney, the presumption of innocence is afforded even less.
Earlier this week, I was dismayed to learn that a colleague, who I will not name out of respect, was arrested. I am aware of how frustrating the process is for a person who is not an attorney. I can only imagine that it carries a new level of embarrassment for someone who is a lawyer, especially if the media decides to report on the story. I am not in a position to speak with this attorney, but if I could, I would edify her as much as possible, reminding her that other lawyers have been in similar, or worse, situations, and survived if not thrived. I would tell her that God has not abandoned her, and neither has the defense bar. To the extent the defense bar remains silent, it is only out of respect; quietly, the defense bar is rooting for you and willing to help if you so choose, but we in no way want to invade your privacy.