On July 31, 2015 @RBianchiEsq was asked to debate the comments made to the media by the prosecutor in the #RayTensing case @FoxNews with host @LelandVittert and co-guest @tomkenniff.
This is the case where a man was shot by officer Ray Tensing on a routine motor vehicle stop in Ohio. The officer has been indicted for murder for that event, and I have no problem with that. The shooting was captured on the officer’s body cam and has become a national sensation.
So has the prosecution. Again, (as we saw with the prosecutor in Baltimore), yet another prosecutor who is hitting all of the news outlets looking for their 15 minutes of fame, and trying to win support from voters, as opposed to doing their job in the court of law.
There are reasons that we have ethics rules as attorneys against these kinds of press events where as here the prosecutor went well beyond the allowable remarks and attacked the defendant in the case personally and made such incendiary comments that now his judgment and independence is highly questionable. So is the prospect of finding and impartial jury due to these outrageous comments.
This is not good for anyone in the justice system. If the prosecutor wants to make remarks about the case, the place for that is in the courtroom, not outside of it. The purpose of his comments should be to advance the merits of the case in a courtroom and not to advance the merits of his elections in campaign speeches to the media outside of the courtroom.
We have so politicized the legal process in this country and these prosecutors are placing the justice system, the defendants, and yes, even their own prosecutions in jeopardy by acting in such an unprofessional manner.
As a former head New Jersey Prosecutor, I followed the ethics rules and did not engage in such obvious pandering. I believed far too much in the system of justice and diligently ensured that the rules were followed so that if there was a conviction of a person I was prosecuting, it was unassailable on appeal and done correctly and justly.
I have great concerns about what I am seeing prosecutors doing these days and I feel the defendant(s) (guilty or not) are in a sort of public witch trial, not a professional courtroom trial. We will eventually look back upon this in some years and be embarrassed by these officials that allowed their professional oaths to take a back seat to their personal gain.
And on that note, we have made police officers in this country second class citizens who are discriminated in the justice system, as they are not treated equally when they are charged with crimes- – but rather being made targets of overzealous prosecutors looking to make a name for themselves. If we treated others in the system similarly there would be a revolt and the public would not tolerate it. Officers, like any charged person under our law, are entitled to the same rights and protections as any defendant.
If they are guilty fine – but let’s ensure that they get a fair trial as any other citizen would!