Are “perp walks” getting out of hand? That’s what former federal prosecutors William Mitchelson and Mark Calloway, now at the private law firm Alston and Bird, suggest in the National Law Journal. “The courts have indicated that letting the public know that a criminal prosecution has commenced is a proper government function; imposing humiliation on the accused before a finding of guilt isn’t,” says the lawyers.
“Does the defendant have the right not to have his own image used against him before trial? Can the defendant avoid being handcuffed and arrested in full view of the media, which often are tipped off to the arrest, and then paraded about by the police while the cameras click and videos record? Unfortunately, for criminal defendants, the answer often is no,” say Mitchelson and Calloway. They say that perp walks are becoming “an increasingly common and popular media phenomenon.” They add, “Whether for a law enforcement purpose or less laudable objectives of gaining advantage or inflicting intimidation, it now is common for white-collar defendants to be placed in what one federal appeals court has described as ‘a posture connoting guilt.’ ”