Is Posting Drunk Driving Suspects On Net “Wall Of Shame” Legal?


A defendants on Nassau County, N.Y.’s drunken driving Wall of Shame has demanded that her name and photograph be removed from the online gallery of defendants because it’s unconstitutional, Newsday reports. Attorney Brian Griffin says that by posting the names and mug shots of people who are arrested on drunken driving charges, County Executive Thomas Suozzi is punishing people who have not yet been found guilty of a crime. Griffin wants his client, Alexandra Bursac, 27, to be removed from the county’s Web site.

Nassau County Attorney Lorna Goodman said posting public information – the name and photo of a person who’s been arrested – on the county’s Web site is “not a punishment. These are public documents being given a public airing.” Griffin said whether or not his client is acquitted, people who type her name into an Internet search engine will know about her arrest for years to come. Legal experts said the law is unclear on whether the Wall of Shame is constitutional. Eric Freedman, who teaches constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, said there’s nothing wrong with telling the public who’s been arrested. He said Suozzi would have been on firmer ground if he had not called it the Wall of Shame. Law Prof. Bruce Winick of the University of Miami said it is important to look at how much a person who is acquitted has been harmed by a name and photo posted. Griffin’s claim that Bursac could be harmed when potential employers and others find her name and photo on the Internet is a gray area, he said.


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