Friday, June 24, 2011

Trying His Case In The Newspaper

Not that anyone has asked me, but if I were approached by a freelance reporter who wanted to write a story about the police officer who busted him for allegedly being a drunk driver, I think I would have passed on the opportunity to publish the article, at least while the case is still pending. I usually prefer that the people who cover stories not have a stake in the outcome of the events they are reporting on.

But that is exactly what the News-Press has done in running a five-part series by Peter Lance which attempts to raise a lot of questions about the credibility of Santa Barbara Police officer Kasi Marie Beutel. Beutel arrested Lance shortly after midnight on January 1st of this year for allegedly driving his Range Rover while under the influence of alcohol. Lance denies the charge.

The first installment of his article, which appeared in the News-Press on Wednesday, sure uses the words "may," "might" and "possible" a lot, as in the headline, "SBPD officer may have manipulated DUI evidence." One of the people who Lance interviewed and who is quoted frequently throughout the article is Darryl Genis, the Santa Barbara attorney who specializes in drunk driving cases whom Lance hired to defend him in this matter.

Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez issued a lengthy press release on Thursday defending Officer Beutel and condemning the News-Press for running the story.

The series which has been running on the front page of the News-Press concludes Sunday and is on the website behind its pay wall. However, if you want to read the article and decide for yourself whom you believe, you have the option of going to Peter Lance's own website where the article is reproduced in its entirety.

And I do have a friendly suggestion for Mr. Lance. Dude, take some of the money you earned for writing the article and hire someone to redesign your website!

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Be sure to read my print column in the Montecito Messenger today where I explore Montecito's cafe society.
© 2011 by Craig Smith and