Wisconsin Cases Show Dangers Of Small-Town Justice


Steven Avery’s attorneys charge that Manitowoc County, Wi., officials for imprisoned him 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Matthew Sheridan’s attorneys charge that Mequon, Wi., police – among others – are responsible for the 20-year-old’s death. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Mike Nichols says both cases “suggest the same overarching problem: a sort of misguided small-town justice where law enforcement officers were extremely likely to know the people they were arresting but quite unlikely to know – or at least listen to – officers from surrounding areas involved in the same case.”

In small towns where everyone knows each other, Nichols says, there is no place to hide. Mequon Officer Gregory Klobukowski arrested Sheridan because a crack pipe was found near him in a car that had been pulled over. Officers present from another jurisdiction didn’t speak up because they assumed, it appears, Klobukowski knew what he was doing when he put a mask on Sheridan. Nichols says that litigation is only beginning in both cases. He concludes that neither “would have happened in a big city where suspects are more likely to have anonymity and law enforcement officers more likely to have the same uniform.”

Link: http://www.jsonline.com/news/ozwash/oct04/265839.asp

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