Constitutional Law

Utah AG's New Website Posts Suspect Video, Sparks ACLU Complaint

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In a move that has raised the hackles of the ACLU, the attorney general of Utah has publicly posted on his newly redesigned website additional photographs and other documentary material related to suspects who are charged but not yet convicted of crimes.

What has attracted the most critical attention, reports KSL-TV, is a videotape of a handcuffed 26-year-old man who is suspected of arranging to have a sexual encounter with an underage girl. “The arrest happened at a Salt Lake shopping mall where (the suspect) allegedly arranged to meet a young girl for sex,” the NBC affiliate says in an article on its website.

AG Mark Shurtleff plans to post other suspect videos and audio clips, in cases including white collar crimes. He sees publication of the material as a crime deterrent and an aid to the news media–which, as he points out, already regularly airs such footage on news reports, writes the Associated Press.

However, a spokesperson for the civil liberties group says the plan tramples on suspects’ rights.

”We are concerned that by posting the arrest video of an unconvicted person, the attorney general is more interested in political grandstanding than protecting the public,” writes ACLU staff attorney Marina Lowe in a prepared statement. ”This action amounts to a gratuitous attempt to convict this man in the court of public opinion.”

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