Smile for the camera
Expect a decision by the district attorney in Cleveland County to have a ripple effect across Oklahoma. The office has decided that unless there is a legitimate “law enforcement purpose,” it won’t release mug shots of people who get arrested and booked. These photos have routinely been released to the media for years. The Cleveland County decision follows a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a Tulsa judge’s decision in 2011 that the U.S. Marshal’s Service didn’t have to provide the Tulsa World with mug shots it had requested of six people indicted by federal grand juries. Federal law allows mug shots to be withheld if releasing them could be considered an unwarranted invasion of privacy. “I think the application is clear in Oklahoma,” said David Batton, assistant district attorney in Cleveland County. Given that it’s unclear what constitutes a legitimate “law enforcement purpose,” and that bureaucrats much prefer operating in the gray instead of the black-and-white, the public — who pay for those booking cameras, by the way — can bank on fewer and fewer mug shots being released in the future.
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