This is an update to yesterday’s post on Maureen Dowd’s Sunday New York Times column No Stars, Just Cuffs, about “Sue Niederer, 55, of Hopewell, N.J., [who] got handcuffed, arrested and charged with a crime for daring to challenge the Bush policy in Iraq.” It turns out that the charges against Niederer were dismissed by the Mercer Country Prosecutor, who wisely exercised his prosecutorial discretion and declined to prosecute the case. In a published statement, the County prosecutor explained:
It is our determination that the police officers had more than enough probable cause to arrest Ms. Sapir-Niederer and were justified in the their actions . . . Taking all factors into consideration, including the recent loss of her son while serving in the armed forces in Iraq, I believe that the continued prosecution of this matter would serve no useful purpose.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this is the timing. Niederer interrupted the Laura Bush rally and was arrested on Thursday; the prosecutor declined to prosecute, had the charges dismissed, and released his statement explaining the decision on Friday. Maureen Dowd’s column describing how Niederer was arrested and charged to “squelch” her speech appeared two days later, on Sunday, without any mention that the charges against her had been dismissed already.
To be fair, Dowd does not say anything in her column about Niederer being prosecuted; she limited the description to Niederer’s being handcuffed, arrested, and charged. That is factually true. So here, unlike with Dowd’s statement that Niederer left voluntarily, my concern is with completeness, not inaccuracy. I realize that Dowd’s column is an opinion column rather than a news article, but the fact that the charges against Niederer had been dismissed already seems worth pointing out in the story.