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Old 09-12-2008, 10:34 AM   #1
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Nassau County (Long Island)'s "Wall of Shame"

I wanted to gauge some opinions on this...

Just before Memorial Day this year a Nassau County Police officer was pulling over a drunk driver on the Long Island Expressway. While he was performing the field sobriety test, another drunk driver swerved off the road, striking the officer's patrol car, criticaly injuring the officer.

The NCPD and Nassau County's government freaked out over this and instituted what they've called the "Wall of Shame." Anyone who is arrested for a DWI has their mugshot placed on Nassau County's webpage, and also released to the local press. Newsday places these mugshots on their webpage.

Technicaly there is nothing illegal about this... 'cause mugshots and arrest records are public domain. And obviously if shame tactics can help lower DWI rates, then it's a good thing.

The problem I have, and many have, is that Nassau County is humiliating people who still have the presumption of innocence. They put "all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty" as a disclaimer, but still... the point is to humiliate. Up until this point nobody who's been on the Wall of Shame has been found to be innocent. Well... that's changed.

Quote:
Newsday.com
Judge dismisses "Wall of Shame" DWI prosecution
BY ALFONSO A. CASTILLO

alfonso.castillo@newsday.com

8:19 PM EDT, September 11, 2008

As part of Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi's Wall of Shame program, Andrea Sangermano's name and photo were published on the county's Web site and elsewhere after her arrest on drunken-driving charges over Memorial Day weekend -- but the Bellerose woman was not drunk or high when she was arrested, a Nassau County judge ruled as he dismissed Sangermano's charges yesterday.

Her erratic driving was the result of complications from diabetes, officials said.

In a statement, Suozzi spokeswoman Jennifer Kim said, "We hope that this ... will restore her good name. This is the first time this has happened and we are terribly sorry to Ms. Sangermano."

Sangermano declined to comment yesterday. Her attorney, Elizabeth Kase of Garden City, did not return calls.

Prosecutors with the office of Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice recommended yesterday that the county and Newsday remove Sangermano's photo from their Web sites. Both did so. Nassau's Wall of Shame photos appear on Newsday's Web site.

Sangermano, 50, was pulled over in Hempstead on May 23 at 9:12 p.m. after driving erratically on Franklin Street in Hempstead -- crossing double yellow lines, driving onto a sidewalk, veering into oncoming traffic and hitting two cars.

When a Hempstead Village police officer pulled her over, she was "unable to get out of her car without assistance and was unable to stand on her own," according to police records.

Sangermano was arrested and given a breath test, in which she registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.00 percent. She also consented to a urine drug test. While being processed that night, Sangermano "stated she was a diabetic, and last took her insulin at 5:30 p.m.," records show.

Before the results of her urine tests came back, county officials released Sangermano's mug shot and personal information along with those of 80 other people charged with driving while intoxicated over Memorial Day weekend. Suozzi said the goal was to use the humiliation of the defendants to deter other drunken drivers.

Rice spokesman Eric Phillips said Sangermano's urine tests recently came back negative for drugs. Prosecutors spoke with Sangermano's doctor, who confirmed that she likely suffered from "hypoglycemia unawareness" at the time of her arrest, "which is a numbness to the initial signs and symptoms that your sugars are dropping," Phillips said. Sangermano's doctor told prosecutors that the episode could have caused behavioral change, confusion, loss of consciousness and seizure.

Albany defense attorney Peter Gerstenzang, author of "Handling the DWI Case in New York," said Sangermano's case highlighted the unfairness of the Wall of Shame, which he said punishes defendants who are presumed innocent.

"You will never give back this woman her reputation," Gerstenzang said. "You will never compensate her for her humiliation."

County officials, who have published the photos and information of nearly 900 DWI defendants since May, said they will remove from their Web site any defendant who is acquitted or has his or her case dismissed.
So what do you think? Legal? Illegal? Unethical? Perfectly fine with it?
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Old 09-12-2008, 10:42 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Headache in a Suitcase View Post
I wanted to gauge some opinions on this...

Just before Memorial Day this year a Nassau County Police officer was pulling over a drunk driver on the Long Island Expressway. While he was performing the field sobriety test, another drunk driver swerved off the road, striking the officer's patrol car, criticaly injuring the officer.

The NCPD and Nassau County's government freaked out over this and instituted what they've called the "Wall of Shame." Anyone who is arrested for a DWI has their mugshot placed on Nassau County's webpage, and also released to the local press. Newsday places these mugshots on their webpage.

Technicaly there is nothing illegal about this... 'cause mugshots and arrest records are public domain. And obviously if shame tactics can help lower DWI rates, then it's a good thing.

The problem I have, and many have, is that Nassau County is humiliating people who still have the presumption of innocence. They put "all people are presumed innocent until proven guilty" as a disclaimer, but still... the point is to humiliate. Up until this point nobody who's been on the Wall of Shame has been found to be innocent. Well... that's changed.



So what do you think? Legal? Illegal? Unethical? Perfectly fine with it?
I've sort of felt that no one's face should be posted until they are convicted of DWI. I'm not a big fan of using humiliation as a deterent - it's the same principle as putting someone in the stocks. The law is designed (or should be) to punish the crime. I think the whole thing is low-class, even if it's legal. Newsday should report news, I don't think DWI arrests are newsworthy. On the other hand, I do look at the pictures on the newsday website - I keep thinking I'm going to see someone I know.
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Old 09-12-2008, 11:27 AM   #3
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I think this country has forgotten all about 'innocent until proven guilty'...
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:48 PM   #4
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Why don't they just simply wait until they are indeed proven guilty?
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:50 PM   #5
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Why don't they just simply wait until they are indeed proven guilty?
Usually there is a very low rate of prosecution when it comes to drunk driving for a number of reasons so that may be why.

Which of course doesn't make it any more appropriate.
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