General Question

flo's avatar

What if a journalist had contacted the following person for an interview instead of calling the police?

Asked by flo (12974points) January 12th, 2016

The example I’m giving is the surviving member of the Boston boombers of April 15, 2013. So, let’s say if a journalist came across him while he was hiding in the boat, and decided take him somewhere to get an interview instead of calling the police. What would he have been charged with?

What if a non-journalist contacted him (for whatever reason) instead of calling the police?

Does the “good samaritan law” related to this?

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50 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Probably a charge of obstructing justice or aiding and abetting or concealing a criminal.
The good samaritan law would not apply in this case as it is about acting reasonably and in good faith in, for instance, a situation of helping in some sort of accident or disaster that protects one from being, subsequently sued. Concealing a terrorist for the selfish motive of a getting the inside scoop for a self serving story would not apply.

flo's avatar

So if the taking him somewhere else part was removed, if he interviewed him in the boat he was hiding in, he would still be charged right?

Coloma's avatar

@flo I’d think so as he did not beat a hasty retreat to the authorities. It would be considered obstruction IMO, possibly harboring a fugitive etc. but I am not an attorney or judge. I am sure the legal system could find numerous charges to be brought against someone who willfully failed to take the prudent actions in revealing the whereabouts of a dangerous criminal. The chance of the person escaping, endangerment to the public and others, who knows but I’m pretty sure there would be a lot of potential charges involved.

flo's avatar

That would make sense of course. So, why hasn’t Sean Penn been charged?

Cruiser's avatar

In most cases of this nature a reporter would be subpoenaed by the court to testify and in many instances the report refused to disclose sources and was sent to jail for contempt f court and obstruction of justice. Mr. Penn would have equally had that opportunity to sing or go to jail. Because Chapo was caught it seems Penn sang and loudly at that. It will be interesting to see if there is any retribution sent calling on Sean.

flo's avatar

@Cruiser ”... and in many instances the report refused to disclose sources and was sent to jail for contempt f court and obstruction of justice.”
That is not related to this kind of case at all. For example if someone who working for some bad guy, and wants to turn his/her life around etc. wants to help society etc. that would be a source. El Chapo isn’t a source of anything. He is responsible for 3800? deaths beheadings etc. He’s the one that people would need to go to the journalists about.

marinelife's avatar

Unlikely that they would be prosecuted.

Cruiser's avatar

@flo Sean Penn acted as a journalist so he could and would be subpoenaed if and when an investigation ever was initiated to find Chapo and the court needed his source of information. Instead here it seems Penn provided information that led to his capture. Slightly different circumstances but the same levers of the law would be applied if Penn decided to exercise his right to refuse to disclose learned information from his interview with Chapo. It appears Penn felt jail was not an option for him.

msh's avatar

I’ve been trying to figure out the role of this actress Kate del Castillo, in this whole thing. She arranged this meeting? How would one have even put both of those men together? Her? Why would you make this so public? I know, I know, publicly, her image… However wouldn’t she be in mega legal trouble this side of the border, or the other?

Lightlyseared's avatar

You could argue it’s immoral but it’s probably not illegal.

flo's avatar

Please see @Coloma‘s last post, everyone.

Besides there is no journalism there, since RS and Sean Penn allowed interviewee to edit it.

ibstubro's avatar

Why, @flo?

As much as I like @Coloma, IMO means “In My Opinion”.
Interesting, but hardly a definitive legal answer to the question.

From my link:
Georgetown University Law School Professor Paul Rothstein, an expert in criminal law and procedure, tells PEOPLE that knowingly visiting a fugitive is not a crime:
“There is no criminal liability for seeing something illegal and not reporting it.” He added, “If Sean Penn did nothing more than visit and report, he is protected by the First Amendment, and is in the clear.”

Only if he arranged for Guzman to profit from the meeting would he be subject to prosecution.
What monetary gain could Penn offer a billionaire drug dealer that’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail?

Cruiser's avatar

@ibstubro I read similar things that confirm witnessing criminal activity and not reporting it is not a crime but if you get subpoenaed and refuse to provide testimony you can be held in contempt of court and for obstruction of justice and probably convicted. Many a journalist has spent time in the cooler for just this reason. But Penn is clearly not a journalist and may get a free pass here.

ibstubro's avatar

Why would Penn refuse to testify, @Cruiser? To what? Hearsay?
I doubt he toured the clandestine heroin cutting room.

Cruiser's avatar

@ibstubro If you read the article he wrote he wrote he did see and hear quite a lot of admissions from Chapo and if he says something that contributes to Chapo’s drug charge convictions I am sure that would not bode well with Mr. Chapo.

ibstubro's avatar

It’s hearsay, at best, unless Penn has a when-and-where.
Guzman can say he cut off GW Bush’s head and spit down his neck. That doesn’t make a murder case.

Guzman’s lawyer now says Penn made it up, and Penn has no audio (BIG surprise).

Looks like another black eye in the making for Rolling Stone to me.

flo's avatar

You’re all looking at it from a defense lawyer’s point of view. Now address it from a procecuter’s point of view.

@ibstubro ”... who willfully failed to take the prudent actions in revealing the whereabouts of a dangerous criminal.” (quoting @Coloma )That’s a fact not opinion. It’s not illegal to rape your wife somewhere on the planet. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1170175/New-Afghan-law-does-allow-marital-rape--lets-men-refuse-feed-wives-deny-sex-says-cleric.html
@Cruiser You keep bringing up “protecting source”, eventhough I pointed out how it’s got nothing to do with source.

Cruiser's avatar

@flo from the prosecutors side it is similar to the answers I gave except the prosecutor would ask Penn to tell him all he saw and heard while with Chapo and if Penn says “No I won’t” to protect Chapo the prosecutor then threatens Penn with Obstruction of Justice charges and informs Mr. Penn to tell what he knows or go to jail. Pretty straight forward stuff.

flo's avatar

@Cruiser This is not about what he saw and heard, it’s simply about failing to reveal the whereabouts of a dangerous criminal whether he knew it before he got there, or after he did the “interview” and is in safe territory.

Cruiser's avatar

@flo I am very well aware of that dynamic and as others here have pointed out, keeping Chapo’s whereabouts a secret is not a crime. But as I said the courts could subpoena Penn to force him to tell or risk going to jail if he does not. In this case the authorities did not need Penns help as they already knew where Chapo was.

ibstubro's avatar

No, @flo. @Coloma expressed opinion not fact.

”...I am not an attorney or judge. I am sure the legal system could find numerous charges to be brought against someone who willfully failed to take the prudent actions in revealing the whereabouts of a dangerous criminal.”

If Penn had witnessed a crime Most of the time, ordinary citizens are not legally required to report a crime or to do anything to stop it. In other words, there is no general duty to be a ‘good Samaritan.

He did not witness a crime.
He was not in the United States.
He did not break the law of the United States.

There is no US law that requires a citizen to reveal the whereabouts of a criminal.

FACT:
Over the past 10 years, I have met dozens of people involved in criminal activities and I have interviewed many of them.

flo's avatar

@ibstubro I already countered that in in my last posts. Again you can address it from the opposite point of view if you want.

As to your Fact: link, the man is just making excuses for himself. You wasted your time with that.

ibstubro's avatar

You covered what, @flo?
That @Coloma was stating opinion, not fact?
or
That there is no US law that requires a citizen to reveal the whereabouts of a criminal?

The journalist is not making excuses. He legally published interviews with known criminals that were not in custody.
That is a fact.

If you consider facts a waste of your time, you wasted time in asking the question.
I cannot find a single source that believes Penn is in jeopardy of having charges brought against him for interviewing Guzman.
Because he broke no law?

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ibstubro's avatar

Perhaps in your own mind, @flo.

“Georgetown University Law School Professor Paul Rothstein, an expert in criminal law and procedure, tells PEOPLE that knowingly visiting a fugitive is not a crime.”

How can it be more plain?

flo's avatar

Now we’re talking about “visiting a fugitive”? Again, you’re wasting you’re time and to hurt yourself!

msh's avatar

OK KIDS!
On Sixty Minutes- CBS
Sean Penn on with Charlie Rose interviewing.
About this veeeerrrry subject.
This evening…..

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ibstubro's avatar

Okay, @flo, I’ll bite.

What was Guzman when Penn interviewed him if not a fugitive?

Exactly what is “your side”? Because I assure you, I’m not hurting myself.

flo's avatar

@ibstubro Now we’re talking just about visiting a fugitive”?
You sound like his mom or dad.

flo's avatar

@msh Thanks for the info, did you watch it?

msh's avatar

Yeah. His attitude is not new for him. I have not read his go at journalism, yet. I believe he jerked himself back from a deep abyss by back-pedaling about having ‘found’ him before all others. I’m not convinced he had only a journalistic intent while there. Something just doesn’t fit. He is almost distancing himself from this too much. He gets by on his bravado, and it’s as though he is standing behind his rep for other reasons. I don’t know, the government is a little too quiet. I believe he’d better be very careful about any future forrays into territory he may not come back from. Or if he does- it’ll be in pieces.

ibstubro's avatar

No, @flo, I’m not “talking about…”. I quoted Georgetown University Law School Professor Paul Rothstein, an expert in criminal law and procedure.

Georgetown University Law School Professor Paul Rothstein, an expert in criminal law and procedure, told PEOPLE Magazine that knowingly visiting a fugitive is not a crime.

I would ask that you cite a legal or professional source supporting whatever position you’re trying to make?

flo's avatar

The Mcdonalds vs hot coffee case lawyer

flo's avatar

@ibstubro there should be a question mark at the end of my post above.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's_Restaurants

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ibstubro's avatar

You never made a case, @flo.

I don’t know that anyone ever even understood what your argument was.
You certainly were never ever to articulate it.

Sean Penn broke no law of the United States in interviewing Joaquin Guzman.

You do know that the Daily Mail is considered a tabloid newspaper and that the term tabloid journalism, along with the use of large pictures, tends to emphasize topics such as sensational crime stories, astrology, celebrity gossip and television.

As such the Daily Mail is not reliable as a promary news source.

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flo's avatar

… Re. Daily Mail, once in a while even an unreliable paper can have reliable content once in a while. Point at what is inaccurate in there if you can.

ibstubro's avatar

Inaccurate:
Knowingly visiting a fugitive is not a crime.

Glad we cleared that up.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
flo's avatar

@ibstubro So, at least now you’re no longer at “it’s not a crime to not report a criminal’s *whereabouts position.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)

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