Do Perp Walks Poison the Right to Fair Trials?


Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s “perp walk” before New York City photographers on Monday was described by a former French justice minister as a “brutality, a violence, of an incredible cruelty,” says the New York Times. France prohibits publishing photographs of an identifiable person in handcuffs who has not been convicted.

The Times calls the perp walk “a transportation imperative (as well as an opportunity for the police to demonstrate that a prisoner was not interrogated too aggressively).” Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union says, “The French have every reason to be indignant about this perp walk, and New Yorkers have every reason to be indignant about every other perp walk. It's a way for the police to try their case in the press and to get the intimation of guilt by virtue of an arrest. The question is, does it poison the right to a fair trial? And that depends on each case.”

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