EMAIL TO THE EDITOR: Real Punishment is Being in Online Articles

The following is an email submitted by Quinton Schubmehl to the GeneseeSun.com for publication. The attitudes and ideas expressed below should not be interpreted as the opinion of the GeneseeSun.com.

‘California Man Scratches Car, Sniffs Felony,’ was the headline of an article about me in your August 22, 2016 edition. Included was my photograph, and my name, Quinton Schubmehl. My arrest was based on a video of me walking past a car in the Walmart parking lot, which was shown to me by the arresting officer. He neglected to mention the police first searched for another man who had worked with the victim, and had a conflict with him. This man was identified by the victim’s wife when she viewed the video of those who had walked by the car; unfortunately for me she couldn’t recall his name and the police weren’t able to find him. Then the police got a lucky break, a sheriff department officer had been kind enough to assist me when I had gotten lost the previous week and could provide an identity and address for someone who’d walked by the car. The video shows me walking by, it did not show me doing anything to the car. I was charged with a felony. I’m 64. I’d never been arrested. Why would I do this? When my attorney received the video which would have proved my innocence, he couldn’t get it to play, even when he took it to another Walmart. The assistant d.a. thinks it may have been damaged, and apparently there was no copy. My attorney advised me to accept a plea bargain. The victim’s car was a new Lincoln, meaning he might have a lot of influence in the community and a trial would be risky. I accepted the plea bargain, because the real punishment had already been imposed. The charge was reduced to a violation with a fine, around $200.00.

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The larger punishment was being named in the article. I’m a home care nurse. We often work alone with vulnerable elderly and very young patients. When my name is googled, you’ll see a photo credited to the Geneseo Police and the headline, “California Man Scratches Car, Sniffs Felony.” Nurses are carefully vetted; I won’t be able to work as a nurse again.

I know many newspapers publish the names of those accused of crimes. Most are probably guilty, but The Innocence Project has proven that even those found guilty of murder after trials and appeals are sometimes innocent. The sixth amendment guarantees citizens be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Would you consider not printing the names of the merely accused in your reporting?