Today you reported on the arrest of the widely-hated Martin Shkreli on securities fraud charges. You ran a picture of the "perp walk" — the once-free now-defendant being led away in handcuffs by law enforcement:
Here's your oblique comment about getting that sought-after shot:
Reuters witnessed Shkreli's predawn arrest at the Murray Hill Tower Apartments in midtown Manhattan. Law enforcement, including FBI agents, could be seen escorting the hoodie-clad 32-year-old into a car.
Now, it's possible that Reuters photographers were outside those apartments before dawn because of moxie and hustle. Maybe someone tipped them that a whole bunch of feds had just shown up at that building, and they put two and two together and ran right over in time for the shot. Maybe they heard coordination with the locals over police scanners.
Or maybe not.
Based on my experience with perp-walked clients1, I think the more likely scenario is that a government agent responsible for investigating and prosecuting Mr. Shkreli tipped Reuters off about the arrest — that someone told Reuters to be there to catch the perp walk.
If Reuters was there through independent investigation, then good for them. But if Reuters was there because of a tip from law enforcement, then I'd like to ask a couple of questions.
There are two subjects on which Reuters could have informed its audience, two sets of questions it could have answered:
Subject One: Who leaked the time and place of the arrest? Was it an FBI agent, a prosecutor, staff, a coordinating local cop? How high up in the government did the decision to leak the arrest go? Did the leak violate the law? Did it violate the defendant's rights? What was the government's purpose in leaking the time and place of the arrest? How does this instance fit into the pattern of which arrests get leaked and which don't? Which nonviolent defendants without records get arrested, and which get summonsed in (or self-surrender through arrangement with their lawyers), and why? What impact does a front-page picture of a defendant in handcuffs have on the jury pool? Is that impact a feature, or a bug, of leaking it? Was the leak intended to inflict extra-judicial humiliation and punishment on the defendant? If the government lies about whether or not it leaked, would you still keep it secret?
Subject Two: What would Martin Shkreli look like being led away in handcuffs?
It seems Reuters chose to address the second subject.
I don't know whether or not you two personally had a hand in accepting any leak from the government, or whether you even know what happened. But I'd still like to ask you about that choice.
Why did Reuters choose Subject Two over Subject One?
Why should I trust Reuters' reporting on criminal justice matters when it is the type of organization inclined to answer the banal tabloid question posed by Subject Two, rather than the questions contained in Subject One?
Edited to add P.S.: Someone better than I at paying attention points out that the photo credit on Reuter's page gives Mr. Raymond himself the credit for the shot. So.
- That link leads to my favorite perp-walk story. My second favorite press-and-cops-hand-in-hand story: cops showed up at client's house with a search warrant and a bunch of ready-assemble boxes to cart stuff away. But they found almost nothing. But they had tipped the press, and the press was outside. So inside the house, they assembled the boxes and put the lids on the boxes, then carried the boxes to their cars in a manner suggesting they contained lots of stuff. The press obligingly reported that the cops had seized boxes of materials from the client's house. ▲
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- On Punching Nazis - January 21st, 2017
- How To Read News Like A Search Warrant Application - January 19th, 2017
- The Latest Defamation Case Against Donald Trump, and the "Trump Defense" - January 18th, 2017
- The Selma March In Some Rare Photos, And The Obligation To Speak - January 16th, 2017
- "Clock Boy" Gets His Clock Cleaned with Texas' Anti-SLAPP Statute - January 11th, 2017