For years, prosecutors have used press conferences and their web sites to present evidence unfavorable to defendants. When car theft defendant Reeco Richardson set up his own web site – www.justiceforrecco.com – Montgomery County prosecutors went ballistic.
This much is agreed upon. Reeco was a back seat passenger in a fatal car crash which killed the other 3 teens in his car. He is now charged in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland with auto theft.
But Reeco’s story – he claims that he is legally blind and that a police video contradicts the official version of the crash – was lost in the flood of state-sponsored news. So his opened his own web site, which includes a link to the police cruiser video from the night of the crash.
Enter Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy, whose office has now filed a motion asking the Court to order Reeco’s site closed. McCarthy’s theory is that if enough people see Reeco’s site, and make up their minds that he is innocent, the State will never be able to find an impartial jury to hear the case.
While McCarthy is known to be fairly reasonable in Maryland marijuana cases, in this case he’s gone off the deep end. Montgomery County numbers almost one million people. It’s unlikely that even a tiny percentage will have seen Reeco’s site. The County has successfully impaneled impartial juries in other cases where the publicity was much more intense.
A more likely explanation is that the County doesn’t like the negative publicity generated by a questionable prosecution. Closing a defendant’s web site is not the right solution. Stay tuned.