There are the people on the front lines who have to make snap judgments. Sometimes, they overreact, and it's up to someone else to put on the brakes. When the police are too zealous, it's up to the prosecutor's office to be the voice of reason and restraint. Here's a case where it worked the way it was supposed to:
CHICAGO - Charges will be dropped against a woman who briefly left her 2-year-old daughter alone in the car to take her two older daughters to pour coins into a Salvation Army kettle, prosecutors said Thursday.
The woman, Treffly Coyne, was charged with misdemeanor child endangerment and obstructing a peace officer after a Crestwood police officer spotted her sleeping daughter alone in the vehicle Dec. 8. The mother claimed she was close by at all times and was gone for just minutes.
Coyne's trial was supposed to begin Thursday, but prosecutors could not meet the burden of proof and decided to drop the charges,said.
Her husband reacted with relief and anger. If convicted, his wife faced up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500.
In the newsroom, it's usually the reporters who get excited over a story that will "blow the lid off this town." It is the role of the editor to say, "Well, wait a minute. You don't quite have the facts to back up that claim. Dig a little deeper." I've been on both sides of that divide.
One of the things "Absence of Malice" (a movie I liked) got wrong was that it reversed those roles. The reporter (Sally Field) was the one calling for restraint, and it was her editor who pushed her into reckless reporting. Lots of you probably threw popcorn at the screen during "The Rocky Horror Picure Show." This was the movie that did it for me.