Glenn R. Bruno, Esq.
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Working Hard to Protect Your Rights As a Poughkeepsie criminal defense attorney, I have been serving the people of the Hudson Valley for more than 20 years through diligent, assertive and quality criminal defense. I am prepared to put my experience to work for you.

A look at public opinion when it comes to the appeals process

When you have a deeper understanding of criminal law like our Poughkeepsie readers do, you tend to look at news stories differently than most New York residents. While many writers try to look at criminal cases objectively, other writers may try to put a spin on a case as a way to sway public opinion. Sometimes, a writer's efforts fall on deaf ears. But sometimes it works, perhaps even leading to public opinion that has less to do with justice and more to do with shaming the courts into ignoring a person's civil rights.

Our New York readers can see just such a thing happening in New Mexico where a man is trying to appeal his conviction on the grounds that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated during the investigation. Because illegally obtained evidence was not suppressed during trial, he was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated, and other crimes. He is now serving a 29-year prison sentence for crimes he insists he did not commit.

But instead of focusing on the fact that police seized evidence during his investigation without a warrant, one news source has chosen to focus attention on the disappointment the victim feels about the possibility of a retrial and suppression of the evidence against the New Mexico man. Though putting this twist on the story may garner public sympathy, it also ignores one valuable fact: the man's civil rights were violated, which means he has the right to an appeal.

One of the main problems with the writer's twist on this story is that it bolsters public sentiment that convicted criminals should not receive appeals; and if they do, the appeal is somehow illustrating an injustice in the courts. This simply isn't true though. Appeals can effectively show when a wrongful conviction has occurred, which can lead to the release of an innocent person.

Regardless of what the public may believe, people do have the right to an appeal of their case in instances where a procedural error has occurred. In the end, a retrial could prove their innocence, which is better than forcing someone to serve a sentence for a crime they didn't commit.

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