Holding My Tongue

Last weekend a story lit up around the legal blogosphere about a troublemaker named Carlos Miller.

Miller, it seems, wanted to take pictures and video on the Miami-Dade Metrorail. The security guards — a private company called 50 State Security — told him to stop, because it was illegal. He said no, because he knew it was perfectly legal. He got roughed up and arrested for his efforts.

He could have said no, of course, and gone on his merry way. That is, in fact, what 99% of the population would do. It seems like such a small thing to do; just turn off the camera.

But Miller isn’t part of the 99%. He’s part of the 1%. He has a website called Photography Is Not A Crime, where he documented his altercation. You can see the video of what happened. With a website by that name, it doesn’t take a genius to quickly figure out that Miller has an agenda. He risked being beaten up — or worse if things escalated as such things tend to do — for his agenda.

The story buzzed quickly around the blogosphere, so I won’t rehash all the details. You can read them from , GreenfieldPhilly Law Blog and many more.

But I held my tongue, or in the case, backed slowly away from the keyboard. The story broke January 21st, and I was picking a jury in a medical malpractice case the next day in an upstate (read: conservative) county.

While it wouldn’t take me long to type up a post on the subject, what would happen if a juror (impermissibly) Googled me and saw the post? What if I had a different opinion about troublemaker Carlos Miller than the juror?

I have the burden of proof at trial and need five out of six jurors to agree with my presentation to return a favorable verdict. And that post would be the very first thing that a juror would see.

The criminal defense bar gets the opportunity to be, well, a bit more colorful if they want. They only need one juror on their side, giving them more leeway.

Two short points: First, clients come first. They always have, they always will. Any practicing lawyer who blogs, and has the burden of proof at trial, has to pick stories very carefully.

Second, about Miller. While it might sound trite for me to quote a commercial when discussing him, I couldn’t get it out of my mind on the long drive back home. Nor could I dismiss the images used in that commercial, of Einstein, King, Ali, Earhart and so many more. The commercial is iconic:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

You can read Marc Randazza’s take on the case for the reason’s why Carlos Miller is a troublemaker to celebrate.

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