Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just another cover up

A Florida judge approved a cosmetologist's $125 per day charge for covering up the tattoos of a man accused of murder. Mr. John Ditullio has acquired multiple tattoos, quite a few on his head and neck, since being jailed  for a 2006 murder.

Among the pieces or art needing to be covered up were a large swastika on the right side of his neck, a crude insult on the left side and barbed wire running down his face. Said his defense attorney, Mr. Bjorn E. Brunvand,
“It’s easier to give someone who looks like you a fair shake.”
Mr. Brunvand has a very valid point. I think it would be quite difficult to get a jury of twelve folks to disregard the elephant in the room at trial. No matter how you dress Mr. Ditullio up and no matter how much you build up his reputation, those tattoos are just screaming out that he's one bad dude.

Everyday at the courthouse I see people with tattoos on their necks. I see folks milling in the elevator lobby dressed up like gangbangers and dope fiends. I'm sure that some of them really just don't give a damn about what's going on. No one inside the courtroom is going to take them seriously. Their pleas will fall upon deaf ears.

I know an attorney who had a client with a shaved head full of tattoos. He told his client he was going to grow his hair out and leave it that way until his case was resolved.

In an era when states and counties are trying to keep down the cost of indigent defense by slashing vouchers and denying requests for funds for investigators, why did the court approve this expense? Mr. Ditullio certainly wasn't attacked by a mob of inksters, he chose the art and he chose his canvas. His appearance was his own creation.

Maybe the argument is that a defendant who could afford to retain private counsel could also afford a makeup artist who could cover up the tattoos and that should the court deny the request, Mr. Ditullio could have grounds to appeal a conviction (a mistrial was ordered the last time the case was tried).

The only thing is some wounds are self-inflicted.

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