One episode was about the term “person of interest”. The basic story line was a person had been labeled a “person of interest” by police, although he wasn’t a serious suspect or even under ongoing investigation. However, since the case remained open, his “person of interest” designation remained and was impacting his life, his job, his family, etc.
|No, not these guys.|
…someone law enforcement authorities would like to speak with or investigate further in connection with a crime. It may be used, rather than calling the person a suspect, when they don't want their prime suspect to know they're watching him closely [uslegal.com]
Someone who isn't a suspect in a crime, but just in consideration. alternate definition: This is the libel-proof way of really saying "we think this guy is a suspect but we don't yet have probable cause and we want to talk to him and hope he's stupid enough to confess and make our case." [urbandictionary.com]
… a phrase used by law enforcement when announcing the name of someone involved in a criminal investigation who has not been arrested or formally accused of a crime… It is often used as a euphemism for “suspect”… [Wikipedia.com]
Whoa. So this term that has no legal meaning, and by definition means someone who is not a suspect, is generally accepted to mean a “suspect who just hasn’t been officially named as a suspect…yet.”
In the 1996 bombing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, security guard Richard Jewell was labeled a "person of interest," sparking a media frenzy despite a lack of evidence of his involvement. Jewell was tried in the media for three months before being cleared. He was never charaged or even declared a "suspect". He was only a "person of interest". Once exonerated, Jewell brought a number successful libel suits against media organizations whom he accused of ruining his reputation.
Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a "person of interest" in the 2001 anthrax attacks case, was hounded by the FBI and the media for six years without being called a "suspect" or having legal proceedings brought against him. Dr. Hatfill also won several lawsuits subsequent to his being cleared but his professional reputation and employment prospects were ruined.
Listen to the news this week. Listen for the words "person of interest". How are they used? What impressions are being given? Do you find this a little scary?
(Um...and do you also see a good plot device?)
Please share your thoughts.
My apologies on the late posting today. We had some severe windstorms roll through Ohio the last few days and I'm the volunteer coordinator for a local disaster response team. Been busy rallying the troops.
Trivia Question of the Day:
What problem did Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and General George Patton have in common?
The answer will be in Wednesday's blog.