And it wasn’t referring to the Pet Shop Boy’s song

While in St. Louis last weekend we got lost. Ended up, as always, it seems, in a not great neighborhood. People hanging out on street corners, people talking to themselves (loudly), run down buildings, currency exchanges and quick cash places… actually, it looked a lot like University St.
But what really shocked me was a billboard, picturing a man making the “shhhhh…. ” sign with one pointer finger to his pursed lips and the slogan “If you want to walk, don’t talk.”
It was for a lawyer.
I’m sure this affected me so much because of recent shootings in Peoria. People not coming forward when a crime happens, not wanting to “rat someone out.” That an attorney would propigate this trend, exploit it, just struck me as immoral. I am unable to put it into words, how aghast I felt, and still feel, about that billboard.

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3 Responses to “And it wasn’t referring to the Pet Shop Boy’s song”

  1. Ms. PH Says:

    As an attorney, I will point out that people do have the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement and this billboard was mostly likely directed at the criminal offenders, not the witnesses.

    However, I think it is completely irresponsible to promise that if you (a defendant) don’t talk, you will not be convicted and punished. First, it is simply not true. Although many suspects talk and it is always used against them, there is often more evidence than the suspect’s confession. Second, even if the defendant remains silent, there is a high probability they will be convicted once they are charged with the crime. I never tell clients they are going to “walk.” It is against the cannons of professional ethics to promise such a thing.

  2. jenjw4 Says:

    PH,
    Yes, I should have been clearer about that; in my original draft I mentioned the whole witness vs. perpetrator, right to remain silent aspect, but it seemed wordy and in cutting it, I think I made it less clear.
    And, of course, I do believe that one should have a right to remain silent. There was just something so blatant about this billboard that shocked me, I guess the message I got from it was “You’ll get away with the crime if you keep your mouth shut,” rather than the more sophisticated notion of not incriminating oneself.

  3. Jeep2000 Says:

    It would have shocked me, too. The implication seems pretty clear.

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