I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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A couple of observations on part of what is outrageous about the Madison County cases….

These charges about these cases about the invasion of Rose Cochran’s privacy are outrageous.  The degree to which they charge outrageous conduct makes one aspect of this mess easy to ignore:  that bonds being imposed in these cases are outrageous.  A bond is supposed to be the amount needed to assure the defendant will show up.  They are presumed innocent.  To an extent the amount is a discretion call, but Judge Danks is making a mockery of that in the amounts he is setting.  It is an embarrassment to our legal system.  He’s set a bond with the blogger that he is certain not to be able to meet, which itself is illegal, and, given the police statements he is cooperative, is an outrage.  With all of the defendants, they have roots in the community, and there is no suggestion they are a flight risk.  The only justification I can imagine involves virtually assuming they are guilty.

Online reports I have seen (who knows?) suggest that Mayfield, a lawyer, was arrested at his office by a swat team.  A post by his lawyer on Facebook (I consider his lawyer a friend) suggests this is so.  Even if they were serving a search warrant, that’s ridiculous.  They were dealing with a defendant who would have come in to the police in response to a phone call, and a swat team approach is calculated to, eventually, produce injuries if not fatalities.  This militarization of our police forces is producing this sort of outrage, and something needs to be done about it.

These people are presumed innocent by the legal system, which means the municipal court and the police (“presumed innocent” does not mean that those of us outside the legal system are unable to discuss our own responses about what went down).  In this case and many, many others, the lower levels of the legal system are failing to act as if that was so.



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