Now it's time for My Word about the lawyer for the National Lawyer's Guild I talked about Tuesday.
She witnessed a protestor stomping a cop and I made the point she had an obligation as a lawyer to come forward to help identify the perpetrator. As far I know, she didn't. But it became a moot point because the cops arrested the stomper Tuesday night. He was at another protest — probably looking for another cop to stomp.
Anyway, I got a letter from a lawyer, Jeff Prince, which reads in part:
“Journalists hide behind the First Amendment (search) when they protect sources, even if that journalist has personal knowledge of criminal activity committed by that source. If you are going to criticize the attorney from the National Lawyer's Guild (search) for not identifying the perpetrator of a crime, it is only fair that you hold your fellow journalists to that same standard.”
Well, Jeff, I do. I think journalists — I call them reporters because the “J-word” sounds pretentious, doesn't it? — I think journalists are citizens with the same responsibilities as others. I know they don't always follow this rule, because if they are just an arm of the cops then they are in danger when they try to get next to lawbreakers.
But this was different. First of all, it was just a street demonstration. I can't imagine a reporter wouldn't help identify the stomper.
Second, reporters go to jail all the time refusing to reveal sources. The reason that happens is the reporter identifies him, or herself and they are part of the legal process, subject to orders of the courts and the law. This lawyer is unknown. We don't know who she is, or where she is. By not revealing her identity she is hiding behind an anonymity that a reporter doesn't have.
Sorry, Jeff. She should have come forward immediately and the fact she didn't indicates she had an agenda, which an officer of the court is not supposed to put above the law.
That's My Word.
What do you think? We'd like to hear from you, so send us your comments at email@example.com. Some of your e-mails will be featured on the air or on our site.