Dude! I Got Trashed Last Night!

Another story that isn’t really complete without the photos mentioned. Even before I posted them, a couple of readers thought I was too hard on the guy. Let’s start with the story, from True’s 19 July 2009 issue.

Another Career Trashed

A man called police in Jeffersonville, Ind., to say that there was a man sleeping on his property — inside his overturned trash can. It was no street bum: it was his next-door neighbor, Larry Wilder, police say. Wilder was apparently intoxicated, they say, but said no crime had been committed, and officers walked him home. Wilder is a private attorney on contract to represent the city and the local school district at $100 an hour; he has resigned both positions. “I can’t tell you what happened. I wish I could,” Wilder said later — the last thing he remembered was celebrating with a client. He thinks he only had “three or four” drinks, and “I take responsibility for my conduct.” He is upset that photos of him in the trash can were leaked to the media, and accuses the police of doing it. “I think the police officer who leaked the photos should only apologize to my kids,” Wilder said, but “I would defend that police officer if any effort is taken to discipline him.” (Jeffersonville News and Tribune) …For $100 an hour.

The Photos

Wilder, sleeping it off. Apparently he really got trashed at the party.
Officers walk Wilder home. Four cops out of service to deal with this (three shown, plus another who took the photo). Photos: Jeffersonville Police

Reader Reaction

John in Rhode Island writes:

Based on your story, I think you were hard on Mr. Wilder. He made a mistake and paid the price. And took responsibility for his actions.

Yes, I do have some sympathy for the guy. He’s made a statement to the local paper to say he takes responsibility for his actions, and also resigned his positions with the local governments (though will remain on cases that are already being litigated).

And it was quite the lucrative contract, too: in 2008 the city paid him $107,000 for services rendered, four times more than the next highest-paid city attorney, the source article notes (link removed: no longer online). And that apparently doesn’t include fees from the school district, nor any retainers paid.

In taking responsibility, Wilder said “I’ve made a mistake. I’ve embarrassed myself. I’ve embarrassed my family, and I’ve embarrassed my clients.” He apparently didn’t drive drunk, either: “Wilder said he was picked up and dropped off in a limousine, but says he does not remember having more than three or four drinks,” the story said.

On the other hand, he whines, “I think that those individuals who have chosen to revel in my embarrassment are certainly satisfied with what they’ve achieved, so they should be pleased.” (Source link removed: no longer online)

“Take Responsibility”

Wilder is indeed fairly angry, another follow-up story made clear (link removed: no longer online), over the leaked photos. He demands the officer(s) who leaked them to “stand up and take credit for what they did,” Wilder said. “They’re hiding behind the [Fraternal Order of Police union] like cowards because they think they did something wrong,” he said. “Be a man and take responsibility for your conduct.”

Thus my sympathy only goes so far. As a public figure — not only as a prominent citizen, but one who made a significant portion of his living from tax dollars — Wilder certainly knows that his public actions are subject to public comment. And he’s certainly seeing that! The story made national headlines, the Jeffersonville News and Tribune reported.

My sympathy is muted because his anger over the photos is misplaced. It’s smart for police to take evidence photos; now there’s no dispute that Wilder was in fact inside the trash can. So why shouldn’t the police release evidence of trespass by public figures in the town? Seems to me it’s public record, just like a mug shot would be.

And had his neighbor taken the photos and put them on their own web site, would Wilder have a fit over it? I doubt it.

There’s only one person to blame here: Wilder. Someone who has “three or four drinks” over the course of an evening doesn’t black out and do stupid things like dump out a neighbor’s trash can to take a nap. This is a case of “I take responsibility, but…!” — which is hardly true acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions.

So, Mr. Wilder: “Be a man and take responsibility for your conduct” — without equivocation. You did wrong, and it’s costing you plenty — probably more than it should, though on the other hand you didn’t get arrested, too, as most normal citizens probably would have been. But if you have a drinking problem, get help with it before it costs you everything else.

The blame here doesn’t lie with the police even if there was political motivation. You gave your opponents the opportunity, so who can blame them for simply showing your public actions to the public? And while I’m not an opponent, I want to make something clear: I don’t “revel” in your embarrassment, but I’m happy to use it as yet another example for others of what not to do.

Story Update

As of 2018, Wilder is still practicing law in Jefferson. In 2015, when his past came up relating to another case, Wilder commented to USA Today:

I have a very successful law practice, and it’s continued to be very successful in spite of what occurred in 2009. And much of that I think is because people understand there’s a value to being truthful and honest about things that happen, accepting the good with the bad, going forward and working hard and being the damned best you can be and better than everybody else.

Now that’s a better way to take responsibility.

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56 thoughts on “Dude! I Got Trashed Last Night!

  1. “Three or four drinks” and this trashed? This helps to perpetuate one of the great myths of alcoholism: that only a few drinks will make someone drunk. Sorry, but no. As an addiction researcher and author, I’d suggest that to be this blitzed requires a blood alcohol content of at least .24 percent, which would require about 12 drinks over the course of four hours for a 160-pound guy (he looks like a lightweight; 15 drinks if he’s 200 pounds in that time frame). To get to a BAC that high at his age, alcoholism is virtually required. Generally, my research shows that anyone past fraternity age who drinks to at least a .15 percent has the disease of alcoholism. This is especially true if they don’t show the classic signs of inebriation, for which there is admittedly no proof here.

    Responsibility requires, for the addict, self-acknowledgment of one’s affliction and admission to those he has harmed, along with amends. He could start by paying the salary for the police for the time they spent responding to the neighbor’s call.

    And stop with the distracting “persecution” of whoever released the public-record evidence photos! -rc

  2. “does not remember having more than three or four drinks” — 1 bottle of whiskey, 1 of Gin, 1 of Rum and he’s not sure about the vodka….

  3. “Most people live in a myth and become violently angry when anyone dares to tell them the truth about themselves.” ~Robert Anton Wilson

  4. I think you have very valid points, as do the previous posters. It is very uncomfortably close to home, this situation, and I’m reminded of the Demotivator poster from Despair.com that says something like “Maybe your purpose in life is to be a warning to others.” Crap. This guy has made a mess of it and needs to take full responsibility EVEN IF others have acted in less than honorable fashion.

  5. I must take issue with Doug from Northridge’s claims regarding what it takes to get the bad: Some people end up doing stuff that stupid when they’re BARELY drunk in regards to legal limit of .08. My brother’s proven that “three or four” of virtually anything with a higher alcohol content than your average can of beer can get one pretty blitzed, even if the BAL isn’t anywhere close to the .24 he estimates (luckily my brother never did anything THAT weird, and he overall is a very controlled and smart drinker).

    Doug, you have some definite working knowledge regarding this stuff, but you forgot one important factor: No two people are the same. How one guy responds to a certain BAL is not how another guy will respond to the same level.

    In any case, at least this guy’s taken more responsibility than most people who end up in his situation. I can kinda-sorta forgive the “BUT!” due to this fact. Willingly resigning your job over this instead of getting high-and-mighty and fighting like hell to keep it? IMO, that in and of itself outweighs his blatant failure of character in attacking the police for releasing that photo.

    That said, depending on laws in the area it may not be a failure at all. I don’t know about Indiana, but in these parts(translation: I don’t know if it’s a local or state law, only that it’s a law) it is illegal to leak evidence photos unless ordered to for purposes of gaining public assistance (IE, tips) to solve a crime. With Mr. Wilder publicly admitting to the incident, there was obviously no need to get tips from the public to solve matters. If those photos were leaked around here, somebody would be losing their job.

  6. A quote from your story

    “Wilder was apparently intoxicated, they say, but said no crime had been committed, and officers walked him home.”

    Had he been charged with something, anything, I might agree with you but as your article states “. . . no crime had been committed . . .” I think the officer(s) who released the photo’s to the public acted irresponsibly, perhaps illegally and possibly just to embarrass him. My father was a police officer for 20 years and a deputy sheriff for another 10 and I have several friends who are current officers so I tend to lean in favor of the police officers in general. In this case though, I feel they acted inappropriately. I also believe this may be the first time I didn’t agree with your take on a story.

    Keep up the good work. If my financial situation ever allows for it, I will be come a paid subscriber to your excellent newsletter.

  7. I think that there is another obvious possibility as to what may have happened here. Someone may have slipped him a mickey. Three or four drinks are not enough to intoxicate him to that extent, but a little something extra from someone with mischief in mind would be. You see, I’m one of those ex-cops that never used to assume a person was drunk when they might have suddenly developed low blood sugar while driving, or some other medical condition. So, I always checked things out a bit more than others, even when some people laughed. I know, you are still going to defend your position on the other issues here, but let’s at least be experienced enough to know that there’s often more than meets the eye.

    I agree with you in general, but in the specific case, not even Mr. Wilder is reported to have suspected being drugged by someone, so I have to consider that wild speculation. -rc

  8. With greatest respect (and perhaps this is a cultural difference from Australia) I disagree with Randy’s position on showing the photos of the lawyer. While I agree that his actions should be shown in the public interest, these photos were not taken by the PUBLIC! they were taken by the police and whether they were taken as evidence or as part of their normal behaviour (which I do not object to) they were attending as Police!

    The police are NOT public… they are servants to the community and should be bound by strict requirements as to probity and privacy!

    Had these photos been taken by the neighbour … I would have no objection… but from this crack in behaviour… what is to stop a policeman releasing a photo of me in a car accident with blood on my face, or my 16 year old daughter after a rape… or something equally distasteful! I realize I am using hyperbole to illustrate a point but the police should know and respect the bounds of their authority.

  9. If a blood alcohol test and/or breathalyzer test wasn’t given, then we only have the lawyer’s word on how many drinks he had to consume. I know some people who have a VERY low tolerance for booze. When these people do drink, they have problems.

    So, maybe this man did, indeed only have three or four drinks over the course of the evening.

    Additionally, making such pictures public (especially as no criminal charges were filed) could in many jurisdictions be thought by the courts to be a violation of a person’s civil rights.

  10. As a 10-year veteran of an urban police department and a current attorney, I excoriate what has all the indicia of a puerile and gratuitous act by the police officer in publicizing the pictures of a repentant man who made a one-time mistake. Preserving a crime scene in photos for possible criminal charges is one thing, but taking pains to assure that the attorney is publicly humiliated is both unwarranted and stupid. If there is one thing that every cop learns, it is that what goes around, comes around. The officer had his fun, his bravado, his revenge, his whatever. But his pathetic lack of good judgment (to say nothing of kindness), his vindictiveness, and his penchant to play fast and loose with another’s reputation will come home to roost, big time. Cops are forever in the spotlight and always kept to a much higher standard of conduct than the average Joe or Jane. Since he’s publicly displayed an abysmal lack of empathy, he shouldn’t expect any when it’s his ox being gored. And it’s just a matter of time. Keep your eye on the officer; his time in the limelight will come. Finally, the fact that he was paid with tax dollars hardly makes him a public figure of any kind. Yes, the taxpayers paid him, but the taxpayers likewise got the benefit of his education, skill and expertise. And any attorney today who agrees to work for $100 an hour is a genuine phenomenon.

  11. I’ll tell you what I like best about this story, Randy; it’s the comments! For me anyway, the story and the comments illustrate how difficult it can sometimes be to arrive at some sort of ‘absolute’ position on a given situation.

    For example, while I pretty much agree with your view here, I also found myself feeling kind of sorry for the guy. After all, he later comported himself in a decent manner – something we don’t see very often, especially where alcohol fueled foolishness occurs. On the other hand, probably in the long run of his life these photos have the potential of instigating thoughts and behaviors he really can benefit from.

    I’m sure we all have a surplus of moments we are glad were never photographed, but we are also better off for having been caught in our own foolishness from time to time. He has something he needs to think about, but so does the cop who published the photo.

    I don’t think there is one absolute or definitive way of seeing this story. I do think, though, there is a lot to think about here, for the people involved as well we the readers of This Is True. When the photos went public it created a different story which is far more nuanced than a drunk guy taking up residence in his neighbor’s trash can. For me anyway, I’m enjoying reading all the different points of view here. They bring a new dimension to the story.

    It’s because there were some nice twists and flavors to this story that I chose to go into it in more depth. But then, it’s likely that most stories (in True or just in the news in general) have a lot of detail that don’t come to light that could very well change your perception of the actors involved. Indeed, I’ve had a caveat in my books from the start (repeated on the sources page under the heading “Is it really ‘true’?”) to that effect. And yeah, I love watching the debate among readers. -rc

  12. No crime was committed here. One man drank more than he should have (we assume) and paid a heavy price for it.

    His accepting of responsibility wasn’t in what he said, it was in what he did: resigning from both positions.

    There was no reason to put his pictures on the web. You compare it to a mugshot, but in fact, since no crime was committed, no mugshot was taken.

    I think he’s right to call for the person who posted them to stand up and say so, although I doubt that person will actually do it. Anonymous is always so much easier.

  13. I read some of the argument of public vs. private. Although I most thoroughly disagree that what the police do on the job is ‘private’ (they are, after all, public servants), it is clearly a long accepted precedent that what Wilder did was nothing which could be considered private.

    Point of Law: Once anything is in the trash can, and said container at the verge, it is to be considered public property — to be looked at and/or taken by any and all comers, gratis.

    In addition, Wilder was clearly guilty of littering: He failed to place a large portion of himself properly inside the trash can.

    I think this one wins the unique argument of the day citation. 🙂 -rc

  14. Perhaps most of the posters that think you were too harsh with this guy would benefit from a few ride alongs to see what addiction does to the innocent folks around them, like the little children. Having seen enough 647f’s in your previous career, you have seen the devastation that often isn’t seen by the public, be it from alcohol addiction, drug addiction, whatever their addiction or chemical of choice happens to be. An officer will see the spouses, children, and other unseen victims of what many seem here to be a simple lapse in judgement, when we know all too likely this one example that was caught on film is perhaps just one of many that rip families apart. It was truly enough to make me stop drinking entirely. Thank you for bringing this one to light. Any of the ‘-isms’ are typically diseases; and are the only diseases that tell a person that they have no disease at all, altogether far too often until it is too late and the toll upon themselves, their families, friends, and even neighbors becomes more painfully obvious.

    The leaked pictures point out that nobody is immune, unfortunately as a subset of society Law Enforcement and other public safety officials who have a high rate of alcoholism and the associated problems than many other professions. Not making an excuse for it, but public service is a unique endeavor that exposes one to the underbelly of society, often daily, and a common reason given for why they have that high rate of alcohol addiction. Just a thought. I think that where I’m from, I would have bought a few days off if I had released those pictures to the public domain, but perhaps an officer got tired of “disturbance calls” for service to this guys place? Maybe more to the story?

    647f refers to the California Penal Code for “intoxicated in public.” It’s a misdemeanor offense. -rc

  15. Actually alcoholics will get to a point where there system can no longer process the booze they drink and a few drinks can get them completely wasted. If they get to this point then death cannot be far off if they keep drinking.

    As far as him saying four drinks I think most drunk people usually claim I only had two beers no matter what they drank!

    As to the question of if you were hard on him, no, I thought it was fair. If the attorney is on call for the city and school he should not be getting drunk and sleeping in trash cans. Then again, common sense, isn’t!

  16. I’m sorry, but you’re wrong on this one.

    As Allan from Sydney points out, if these were evidentiary photos, then they were exactly that and not for public consumption. I realize that my comment delves into the arena of woulda, coulda, shoulda and what if… but isn’t that what rules and laws are derived from?

    Such are the rules of evidence. These officers were not acting as private citizens. They were/are supposed to be acting as public servants, not “deciders” of who gets trashed in the media.

    Imagine this if you will: millions of officers patrolling the streets armed with cameras, taking photos and posting them on the internet. maybe one of Randy Cassingham doing…

    What makes this reprehensible is that this man was not ticketed, arrested, or accused of committing any crime. In fact your article states that “no crime had been committed, and officers walked him home”.

    Instead of vilifying this lost soul, maybe it would be prudent to find out who in the police department had been “wronged” by this lawyer.

    The officer(s) who leaked these photos betrayed the public trust and should be summarily dismissed.

    In which case Mr. Wilder would represent them in their appeal, because he indicates they did nothing wrong! That’s the point that I’ve been amazed no one has yet referred to. Also, you can’t expect privacy on a public street. -rc

  17. What surprises me is that his fee is only $100 an hour. In lawyer terms, that is incredibly cheap even if he had just been called to the bar. I don’t think I have heard of even new lawyers for less than $150 an hour, and with senior counsel the sky is the limit. If he is any good, his clients should forgive him and keep him on just to get that great rate. If he gets hammered on his own time, that’s his own problem.

    I doubt $100/hr is his “retail” rate. Remember that in 2008 he billed the city for 1,080 hours, or around half time. I would think he gave a discounted rate for such heavy use of his time. -rc

  18. I can’t help sympathising with Mr. Wilder, in that he took care to keep his complaint within reasonable limits. He is asking for an expression of regret for unnecessary publication of the photos, yet making it clear that he acknowledges that the police weren’t technically in the wrong, just rather tactless.

    I certainly can’t see why people would think you were being too harsh on him, however: your tagline merely says that he was expensive. I don’t think there’s doubt about that.

  19. I totally disagree with you on this one. The police have no business leaking photos taken by one of their own in the course of “doing their duty”. Leaving out any morality factors, should this go to court the photos could prejudice any potential jurors. Had the photos been taken by a member of the public and released it would be a different matter.

    If Mr Wilder has school aged children just imagine the hell they will now be subjected to by their peers. It’s a low blow, way below the belt, and is not up to the standards I have come to expect from you. Nor is it acceptable behaviour from any member of any police department to release photos of this type.

    Journalistic standards have fallen to a new low as it is. Please don’t help make those standards fall any lower.

    You say the release of the photos could lead to juror prejudice, but that it would be OK if a member of the public had taken them. Police photos prejudice jurors, but private citizen photos don’t? Doesn’t sound logical. And his school-aged children (if any) would be harassed by peers because of the photos, but mere news that their dad slept in a trash can wouldn’t? Doesn’t sound logical either. And again, the bottom line here is that Mr. Wilder himself believes there was nothing wrong (in a legal sense) about the release of the photos. -rc

  20. I have a lot of sympathy for this man. He probably did have only a few drinks before he blacked out. I only wish that he didn’t blame others for his actions; his actions look exactly like those of us who suffer from alcoholism. This is one more step to recognizing that he suffers from a disease that tells him it is somebody else’s fault. It’s not his fault either. IT’S HIS PROBLEM, and only he can take care of it. There is help if he is willing to ask for it and do what is necessary for recovery. Otherwise, something worse than a garbage can awaits him.

  21. Police evidence may be ‘public record’, but that doesn’t make them freely available for everyone to share. In running criminal background checks, I can assure you that your record and mine are a matter of public record, but I cannot simply request yours and find out about you. I need your consent in order to have the information released to me.

    I have no criticism NOR sympathy for Mr. Wilder. We’ve all done embarrassing things in our lives, and he just got caught in one of his. Life goes on.

  22. I did NOT say that it would be OK for a member of the public to leak the photos, I said “it would be a different matter”. For the police to leak ANY photos taken in the course of “doing their duty” is wrong, pure and simple.

    “The police have no business leaking photos…. Had the photos been taken by a member of the public and released it would be a different matter.” sounds a lot like “the former is wrong, the latter is not wrong” to me. But whatever. -rc

  23. There’s something in the photos inconsistent with the story. The lawyer is wearing slippers, and what looks like pajama bottoms and an undershirt. I think he went home and got ready for bed, and *then* for some reason went out and slept in his neighbor’s trash can. Some part of him might even have thought he was trash and belonged there.

    I guess this doesn’t really have much to do with the discussion thread of whether the photos should have been posted. I’ve read good arguments on both sides of that question. I think Randy’s point is that he apologized for his actions but followed up by blaming someone else, not a true making of amends. In any of the 12-Step programs, one learns one is responsible for one’s own actions, and to follow up with “but you…” is not in the spirit of the program. Keep the focus on oneself and let the other decide if s/he also needs to make amends.

    I wasn’t speaking specifically to 12-step programs, but to the concept of true contrition. I don’t consider the slippers/pajamas to be “inconsistent”, but rather just an interesting detail. -rc

  24. A small note of caution – there are cases of what might be termed ‘alcohol poisoning’ where the victim becomes seriously inebriated and blacks out after just a few drinks. My best friends ex wife was one such and it caused no end of grief before she figured out what was going on. Of course, you are correct as to the solution – no more drinking.

    As to Larrys’ resignation I’m a bit puzzled by that. Clearly he broke no laws, was not disorderly so the resignation went a little far. Maybe it was the right thing to do given the context, but I’ve seen worse behavior in public officials, many of whom retained their positions. $100/hr may seem like a lot, but it’s not much for a private attorney – rates twice that and more are common. Other professionals have to charge similar rates; as a Network Engineer I have to charge clients between $125-$150/hr except for long term full time contracts. At that I’m not exactly making a killing – just like the attorney I’m expected to maintain expertise on my own time and my own tools.

    The officer(s) who released the photos are another matter. It is a serious breach of professional ethics to leak evidence without a compelling reason; were I to do something similar (IT professionals are privy to an amazing amount of sensitive information) I would be summarily dismissed for cause.

  25. I must be looking at different pictures than you guys. I see casual slip-on shoes, jeans, and a shirt with a collar and pocket. Other than that, I agree with those that say the police were wrong in releasing the photos. Randy, you say that he, being a public official, should be held to a higher standard and I agree. However, the police should be held to that same standard. Is there a double-standard? yes, absolutely. I can be fired for passing information to our competitors on how my company does business but a customer that learns the same information and pass it on is held harmless. That’s just the way it is.

    Now, that being said, I see nothing in those pictures that indicate the photos were taken by a police officer. Anyone with a cell phone could have taken them.

    In the second photo, you can see the shadow of the officer — including the shadow of his holstered pistol — who is taking the photo. And yeah: looks like jeans and slip-on shoes to me, too, but still too casual for what a successful attorney would wear to a “celebration” with a client. -rc

  26. You say ‘pajawmas’, I say ‘puhjammas’ 😉

    First, I don’t see pajamas and slippers in the photo; but jeans and loafers (and a polo shirt).

    But that’s neither here nor there. I mention it because I’d like to offer a for-the-sake-of-argument alternative interpretation.

    People metabolize alcohol at different rates and in different ways. Many Japanese “salarymen” for example get falling-down drunk after only three or four stiff drinks. On the other hand, when I used to drink away half the night as a younger man–and I mean copious amounts of alcohol–only once or twice did I ever lose memory of what I had done or where I had been.
    Let’s say Mr. Wilder is basically a teetotaler, or “can’t drink” as we say in Japan. I know people who are basically non-drinkers, but who have an occasional drink. One such friend told me about getting “trashed” at Oktoberfest in Munich. It is conceivable that Wilder actually did get wasted on three or four drinks. There is nothing in the story as we know it to preclude this possibility. And this may be silly or naive to say, but Wilder just doesn’t look to me in these photos like a heavy drinker.

    I’m just sayin’….

  27. “He thinks he only had ‘three or four’ drinks” and ended up in his neighbor’s trash can? I think the man should not drink again!

  28. I don’t think he necessarily had to have had a lot to drink to end up in this condition. I’ve known people, some of them alcoholics, some of them not, who could not handle booze and got as drunk as this after about four drinks. The limousine driver should have helped him to the house.

    And it is fair to have printed the photos. He does public work and the public is entitled to know that about someone who does public work. This is particularly so in the United States, where so many people have such unusually strong views on the evils of drink. Besides, the media run names and photos of hapless individuals in trouble with the law all the time. This guy is an exception, because he is upper middle class? If he didn’t want his name and photo getting out, he should have behaved with more dignity. He isn’t claiming anyone slipped him a mickey. It was his own conduct and maybe publicly funded clients don’t want work done by someone so lacking in good judgment.

    Of course he is contrite now. Who wouldn’t be, after falling asleep in a trash can? That’s the kind of thing that happens to high school kids on their first drunk.

  29. IMHO The busy-body neighbor should have his ass kicd. A decent neighbor would have helped him home. End of story. I intensely dislike people with that kind of mentality. Grrrrrr

    I doubt the neighbor would have called police if he had any idea that it was his friend. But not everyone wants to confront someone trespassing on their property, especially if they’re obviously impaired. -rc

  30. I have to disagree with you on this one.

    It is not the job of the police to disseminate evidence of any type to the public. Doing so often causes more harm than good. Where do we draw the line? Today, its a lawyer being trashed, tomorrow it could be a photo of a rape victim. The police should only be releasing their blotters: arrests, fines, calls, responses, etc. Any relevant evidence will be made public during a trial, if one is warranted.

    The role of reporting people being idiots is supposed to be filled by the local news media and, today, the bloggers. I don’t think that the police should be filling this role. They have better things to do with their time.

    Where does one draw the line? When the person isn’t a public figure, and/or there isn’t a compelling public interest. Both were true in this case. And indeed, the police did not publish the photos. The local news media did, and then bloggers followed suit. So I’m unclear about your objection. -rc

  31. It is fact that each one of us has our own tolerance level. My sister told me long ago that I could out drink any man in the bar she was working at and walk out as sober as could be. Now, this is not saying that my drinking caught up with me. After many years I wound up in places I don’t remember, doing things I am sure I would be horrified to hear with persons unnamed. I am an alcoholic, with the blessing of recovery.

    Many nights were a ‘just two drink’ nights. The size of the glass comes into question here. Although I don’t remember waking up in a garbage can, I know I should have. Should have and didn’t. Especially if the police, who drank right at my side (working for the prosecutor made that possible), could toss them back with the same ease. Some had more expertise, some still do it. (THE BLUE WALL KEEPS THAT FROM OUR KNOWLEDGE)

    I woke up twenty some odd years ago feeling as if I were the garbage can and wanted to die, I came to the conclusion that drinking was killing me, slowly and painfully. It had stolen so much of my life from me that I could never regain.

    I would not trade my previous life and current life – with its challenges – for all the wealth in the world. I might not have everything I want, but if I did, why would I dream of greater things to come.

    The cops were wrong. The guy was hurting, maybe more than even he knows, and only HE can change — one day at a time.

    You started by saying people have different levels of tolerance, and then described someone who didn’t understand that they were not immune to the effects of alcohol, but luckily came to realize it after a lot of pain. So you disproved your statement of “fact”. Yes, as you started to point out but didn’t finish, alcoholics can and do justify that they had “only two drinks,” trying to fool others (and themselves) when the “drinks” were huge — doubles, triples, or more. A double is two drinks even if you get it all at once in the same glass, because there is a standard definition of what a “drink” is. 12 oz of beer is a drink. 5 oz of wine is a drink. 1.5 oz of spirits is a drink. “Just another splash” is more. You might fool yourself, and you might fool others, but you won’t fool the breathalyzer, and you won’t your brain. And you’ll rarely fool the police. -rc

  32. In response to one of the comments You wrote, that the photos was not published by the police, but by local news medias. Where did they get the pictures?

    I may have a somewhat twisted mind (having to read a lot of German official texts – whether English nor German is my mother tongue), but I don’t see the attorneys offer to defend the police officer as an acknowledgment of guilt. Rather I perceive it as a dedication to the principle of the right to a proper legal defense. A right that the vigilante police officer apparently was not willing to give the attorney when delivering his photo to the public. That was an act of taking the law into Your own hands.

    In Germany and my home country publishing full name and picture of someone charged with a crime would be a crime in itself as long as they were not convicted in a proper trial. And even then journalists (I’m one myself) would have to tiptoe through the tulips and ask if it is a public interest to know those exact details. If the person in question hold an elected public post there may be sufficient reasons to publish, but not always. Even they have a right to some sort of privacy if their actions doesn’t cause damage to the public. That is: They can get as drunk as a skunk without being placed on the front page as long as they otherwise behave within the law. Should they drink and drive or behave indecent in public – oh, boy will we publish.

    Fact: the police didn’t publish the photos, the newspaper did. The police and other government officials provide news media with all sorts of information daily, from “crime blotter” information to photographs to videos to recordings of 911 calls. It is up to the media to decide what of that stream of data, if any, to publish. The only time the police “publish” anything is when they control a web site or other publication and act as a publisher — which is not the case in this instance. And a journalist — even one from another country — should certainly understand the big difference between the two. -rc

  33. “In Germany and my home country publishing full name and picture of someone charged with a crime would be a crime in itself as long as they were not convicted in a proper trial. And even then journalists (I’m one myself) would have to tiptoe through the tulips and ask if it is a public interest to know those exact details.”

    Yeah, over here in North America, we call the difference “free speech.” So — if someone is arrested and charged with child molestation, or robbing a bank, you can’t report the fact until he or she is actually convicted? You must have a lot of stuff slip under the radar in Germany. In a free country, privacy only goes so far — you are entitled to know certain things about your neighbors, particularly if they did those things in public. I’d rather have hapless lawyers in the paper than the government telling me what I can print.

  34. “Yeah, over here in North America, we call the difference ‘free speech.’ … I’d rather have hapless lawyers in the paper than the government telling me what I can print. –Tim, New Brunswick, Canada”

    Good point Tim but the point I am most concerned about is not what people do in public should be available to all, but rather that Police should not set themselves up as arbitary moral guardians disseminating info about people they disapprove of… moreover photos police take should stay completely within the system and NEVER be distributed to media… separation of law and independent media… to connect the two leads to China and North Korea!

  35. Chris hit the nail on the head when he wrote:

    “An officer will see the spouses, children, and other unseen victims of what many seem here to be a simple lapse in judgment, when we know all too likely this one example that was caught on film is perhaps just one of many that rip families apart.”

    Sunshine, too, got it right: “his actions look exactly like those of us who suffer from alcoholism.” Cathi, too: “After many years I wound up in places I don’t remember, doing things I am sure I would be horrified to hear with persons unnamed. I am an alcoholic….”

    Rodney, however, gets it wrong: “It is conceivable that Wilder actually did get wasted on three or four drinks…. And this may be silly or naive to say, but Wilder just doesn’t look to me in these photos like a heavy drinker.” While there are no 100%s in the field of alcoholism, practically the only people getting this “trashed” on three or four drinks is someone whose definition of a “drink” is a 27-ounce Long Island iced tea. As for “doesn’t look like a heavy drinker,” neither did Ty Cobb or Elizabeth Taylor. Many alcoholics never get the “look” because they are not every-day drinkers, or simply have a metabolism or offsetting regime that keeps them fit. Many recovering alcoholics admit they drank only once a month or even once a year — but when they drank, they acted badly, which is a useful definition of alcoholism (not the “loss of control over use” def., which is worthless for identifying early- to middle-stage addicts).

    As for the plethora of comments about releasing the photos: the odds of getting and staying sober are greatly increased with photos and videos of misbehaviors. If releasing such photos isn’t legal, it should be. Many criminal and unethical acts would never occur. Many lives would be saved.

    Doug Thorburn is the author of multiple books on addiction, especially alcoholism, and is the founder of the PrevenTragedy Foundation. -rc

  36. Allan — I’m not sure about the law in the state in question. It may be that the police photos, in these circumstances, were public documents. If a reporter asked for them or made a formal request they might have had to turn them over. Or maybe they just didn’t like the lawyer for whatever reason and emailed the photos to their chums at the local paper. Cops tend to dislike lawyers even more than reporters.:)

    Privacy? Why? Why is there a reasonable expectation of privacy for something that you did openly and in public, on a public street, and why should it matter if a cop took the photo with his camera than if a neighbour took it? And did the cop take the photo for official purposes, or on his own? It is hard to imagine why such a photo was needed for evidence, if the lawyer wasn’t going to be charged. I think there was a case in the United States where cops got in trouble for leaking evidence photos of a girl’s body from a particularly horrific crash, I think because they wanted to prove something about the dangers of driving fast cars at high speeds. In Canada, getting photos from cops is a difficult process, particularly with the RCMP — even of mug shots of people they are trying to locate and arrest! Small forces are often much more accommodating. If they are entered into evidence in court then that is a different story, although even then you often have to get a judge’s order releasing them. However, if you do get them, by hook or crook, there is generally nothing stopping you from printing them, at least in provinces outside Quebec. In the US I don’t think there is any bar to it anywhere.

  37. I cannot fault Randy for posting them photos: they were leaked (by others) and made public knowledge. I can fault the people who took the pictures and had certain duties of propriety. But, karma says: What goes around, often comes around. Perhaps the photo takers may see pictures posted on the net… that they would prefer kept quiet, some day.

    I agree with Randy that often pictures by police and others are a good thing to have. But they should be tagged as evidence, kept quiet, and when longer needed, either destroyed or returned to the proper owners. Clearly, someone is guilty of leaking/losing what we up here in Canada would call “crown evidence and property”. And that, if the guilty person is found, this person could possibly face charges, discipline, or whatever.

    The most that I can say, is that Randy might have chosen to self-censor. It might have been “in better taste”. On the other hand, I did purposely click the link to go see the photos, so my “taste” here is in question, too! I think the net does that to people. We gotta click and go see!

    Indeed, this whole technology and privacy thing is something we need to address as a society. Hopefully, soon, we will.

  38. Can’t fault Randy – he’s given all sides of the picture, as always.

    I just don’t get the comment on the photos – 4 cops out of service?? I see only two in the photo, plus the one that took the photo. I can only guess that the fourth guy was in the squad car, given that cops ride in pairs!!

    Even the shadows in the photo confirm only three cops, and Wilder.

    Three officers are visible on-camera: the two obvious ones, and the edge of one on the far left (you can see his holster). The fourth, seen only in shadow, is the officer taking the picture. -rc

  39. Just a short comment on the fact, that, sometimes, 3 or 4 drinks will get someone completely “drunk” (out ot it, anyway).

    My brother’s wife, in spite of being a wine-farmer’s daughter, has some intolerance to red wine, which gets her completely “drunk” after a few sips, even if embedded in punch or the likes.

    So, it might be very unlikely in this case, but I have seen it before, so it is not completely impossible :-p

    Plus, having had some (too) wild times with alcohol in the past, I’ve still always managed to find my bed…

  40. 1. The paper where I used to live had this on their masthead: “If you don’t want to see it published in this newspaper, don’t do it.”

    2. Some people ignore the little warning label on the prescription bottle which says: “Do not consume alcohol while taking this medication”. If he admits to 3 or 4 drinks he probably had 5 or 6, and some medicines will turn that into “10 or 12 drinks”.

  41. I’ve read the comments and I may have missed it, but I’m shocked that no one has suggested that he is the one who should be apologizing to his kids.

    You didn’t miss it. And you’ve made an excellent point!

  42. I’m one of those people who could easily get very completely trashed on four standard-sized drinks. I don’t drink enough, or often enough, to develop much of a tolerance, and my ADHD puts me half-way to tipsy before I even start drinking.

    The question of the photos is interesting. If the police found him in his own trash can, or if the owner of the home where the photos were taken objected, then their release would be an absolutely inexcusable invasion of privacy. In this case, I still think the release was unprofessional: police should behave in a way that inspires trust. Releasing embarrassing photos of citizens does not tend to lead others to reach out to the police when in need or to assist the police in investigations.

  43. Since when is EVIDENCE public?

    Why are police taking pictures to preserve evidence if “no crime had been committed??

    Since when is “drunk in public” NOT a crime???

    I’m all for giving police the benefit of the doubt, especially when one considers the garbage they have to put up with day in and day out, but something isn’t right about this one.

    All that being said, Mr Wilder embarrassed himself. Mr Wilder, and no one else, owes his children an apology.

    Lots of evidence is public. Right off the top of my head: security camera photos/videos. “Do you know this man?” from robberies abound. -rc

  44. I agree with most of your comments… BUT… it got me thinking (which is, of course, one of the aims of TRUE).

    I don’t reckon that these photos were officially released as a press release by the Police (unless you tell me otherwise).

    I’m thinking the police wouldn’t do this as they don’t systematically publish ‘evidence photos’ of people not even charged, let alone found guilty of anything. That would make me uncomfortable the same way that publishing the names of accused rapists but not their accusers makes me uncomfortable.

    I also wouldn’t like the idea that calling out the police might involve appearing on youtube, for example, based on whether the responding office thought I looked funny or not.

    Basically the lawyer did what he did, and in a public place, so he can’t complain about his actions being recorded by any individual. (your point about if it had been a neighbour taking the photos).

    I also believe it matters less whether he is an important public figure or not, as you have shown us with your many delightful examples of private individuals doing wonderfully ridiculous things.

    The issue, in my mind, is whether the police as an organisation would / should endorse officers publishing material collected as part of their jobs, except through established police publishing channels (e.g. press releases).

    If they do, then there is a great opportunity for you to launch a new website allowing members of the public services to anonymously post pictures of stuff their find funny or entertaining in their jobs.

    I’d love to know what you think about this, as with all individuals having access to global media publishing it’s ripe for discussion what limits organisations could or should put on the freedom of speech of their employees.

    An individual has the right to take photos in a public place and publish them. Does joining an organisation like the police curtail those freedoms or not?

  45. I don’t think the police should release official photos for any case where the person has not been charged with a crime; but in any other case I would say that he passed out in a public place, which would make photos of such a thing of public concern, and not an invasion of privacy at all.

  46. Regarding alcohol tolerance; my mother weighs 110 pounds, yet can drink incredible amounts of alcohol and not pass out. I have never known her to do anything that was very weird while drinking; she’s just unfortunately extremely unpleasant to be around when she drinks. Then there is myself, who weighs 30 pounds more than she does, yet can’t have more than one glass of white wine without it going straight to my head. If I had 3 drinks, as this man claims, I’d have passed out before leaving the bar. So there is definitely differences in tolerance levels, not necessarily even dependent on weight.

  47. It is too bad for Wilder that he passed out in his neighbor’s trash can and that photos were taken and published in the local paper. It’s a rough way to find out that he can’t handle alcohol. What is more important is where he goes from here. He has started by resigning from his public position. That leads me to believe that he may have the integrity to realize that he simply cannot drink. If he does have children, I hope that he has already apologized to them privately.

  48. Freedom of speech (and of the press) is guaranteed here too in the constitution. Any paper and person is allowed to publish what they like to, but if You convey rumours, slander or pure lies about another person You’ll probably appear before a judge Yourself as the accused person.

    The law and the tradition of law is different from country to country (and often also from state to state within unions). Whereas I too strongly support free speech I also adhere to the old saying, that God gave us two ears and two eyes, but only one mouth as an indication not to forward everything we hear.

    Tim in New Brunswick apparently sees no problem in publishing names of people arrested for or charged with bank robbery or child molestation. How abominable a crime somebody is charged with it still is but an accusation until a court has found beyond any doubt that he is guilty.

    If You start publishing names and photos in advance You may also put innocent in situations where they are acquitted by the law, but still condemned by the public (no smoke without a fire).

    A colleague of mine published a story about a family accusing a locally well-known doctor of killing their mentally handicapped son. This proved to be totally false accusations based mainly on the fact that the father of the boy had a heavy grudge against the hospital for not getting a job there.

    The knowledge of this came too late for the doctor. Seeing his good reputation ruined he in despair jumped of a 150 foot bridge when he was smeared over the front page as a murderer.

    I may be wrong, but I believe even in North America public lynchings and vigilantism is illegal?

  49. These photos put things in a different light for me, I must say. It says something about the neighbor that would make this a police matter in the first place. This is clearly no bum in the trash, based on his shoes and clothes, and it wouldn’t have taken much effort to handle it discretely. He would have gained a friend for life, and fulfilled the requirement to treat others the way we would want to be treated. Who hasn’t made a bad decision and lived to regret it? There used to be some grace in the way we treated each other, but not today. Wilder takes a verbal swing at the cops because as a lawyer, that’s his training and instinct coming out, to play the blame game. But that’s relatively mild under the circumstances, when he could be suing the limo driver who shoved him out in that condition, or the client who was along for the ride.

    I don’t fault the neighbor at all. What if it’s an elderly widow who heard a big crash right outside her window? Or even a middle-aged man …who has recently been mugged? Hard to say. -rc

  50. Yeah, dude screwed up and did something stupid while drunk. So it was in public, so what. We’ve all (most of us who drink to excess anyway) done something stupid while drunk. I could think of a lot worse things to do. I actually see a lot worse things to do walk in the bar every night lookin skanky.

    The real question is: Where the heck is this 4th officer in the picture the caption is talking about? I only see 2 cops, a drunk dude, and the shadow of the photographer (presumably also a cop).

    Read the comments, and you’ll find out. You could probably see it yourself if you hadn’t had so much to drink last night…. -rc

  51. Well, compelled to my first comment on a story. I think what bothers me most about this story is its personal aspect. In spite of the obvious attempt by Mr. Wilder to reclaim dignity by facing up to his actions, both by his resignation from the public positions and by his acceptance of the humiliating publicity, he is being publicly poked. I have taught my children that it is rude to kick someone when they are down, especially if they are trying to get back up, so why fuel the gossip mill? What public good is this story serving? Intolerance? I think a lot is being made of a little here with a huge dose of speculation. With the lack of personal responsibility reaching epidemic heights, let’s encourage what little there is, especially by lawyers.

    What’s the purpose? You don’t see the huge discussion here? Forget entertainment at someone else’s expense (which is, in fact, a large part of what TRUE is, and you’re being disingenuous if you’ve glossed over that!), what good is “provoking thought” if it’s not followed by discussion once conclusions have been reached — or to help people reach those conclusions? That there are more than 50 comments addressing the many concepts that the story has raised is proof that there needs to be discussion of the issues the story raises. -rc

  52. As a former spouse of an alcoholic, I can attest to the staying power of an alcoholic when it comes to downing the brew. And if this man’s only public humiliation is these pictures, I say be thankful you left the bar with your pants. My divorce came after my ex-husband’s 2nd DUI after three years of marriage, pretty harsh people might think. However the 2nd DUI involved a felony hit and run while he was driving my car. He had no wallet, because he left his pants in the bathroom of the bar he had just left.

    The police in any state that do NOT enforce the laws so people are held accountable and suffer the consequences of violating these laws DO NO SERVICE to the drunk or their community. Many people look at driving under the influence differently now VS 20 years ago. However there are still too many second and third chances being given to certain individuals based upon the position they hold in their community. What is the difference between an injury caused by a car driven by a drunk and one caused by a gun or knife?

  53. Considering only the facts in this incident, this individual should be made to do more than face up to his responsibilities. It should be recognized for what it is, irresponsible noncognitive behavior. The people around him have the right to know just how dangerous and unpredictable he may be. He should be watched.

    Facing up to what he had done is one thing, but taking steps to insure it will not happen again would be even better.

    If this individual has an automobile or firearms he has the potential to be a danger to the people around him.

    Personally I believe waking up in the street in a garbage hopper rarely happens to normal, rational people.

    Excusing this incident because he had been drinking is irrational.

    FYI Those of you believing I do not imbibe are wrong those of you thinking I am inflexable on this point are correct.

    I don’t recall anyone “excusing” his behavior at all, let alone because he had been drinking. -rc

  54. Good points as usual, Randy, but a key element you aren’t addressing is the line in the original where the police said “no crime had been committed”.

    So your subsequent statement about “why shouldn’t the police release evidence of trespass by public figures in the town” is where the otherwise fine line of reasoning detours to visit Pet Peeve Circle.

    No crime was committed, the police are not the morality enforcers so they have no right and should have not interest in shaming people, public or private.

    And the part about “Four cops out of service to deal with this” reeks of faux outrage. I trust the cops know their job and did not apply resources that were critically needed to this call.

    It’s not “like a mugshot” because there was no crime.

    There is no disconnect between “trespassing” and “no crime was committed” — he was in fact trespassing on his neighbor’s property, but clearly the neighbor didn’t wish to press charges, so it’s not “criminal trespass.” So yes: by definition we end up with a fine line here. I put it out for discussion, and it is being discussed. -rc

  55. Out here in the sticks this tale and the comments smells just a tad like ZT.

    Stipulated: the guy was stupid drunk.

    Stipulated: He’s a $@#$!@#$ Lawyer! so he’s fair game, right?

    Um… HE DIDN’T DRIVE!

    Any damage done was limited to litter in a very small radius.

    He went a HELL of a lot farther in accepting responsibility for his action than 99.4% of public figures caught in 1/10th to 10x of a similar situation.

    I recently had the experience of a bartender pouring me two drinks super extra strong. Perhaps she was flirting, I dunno. Those two drinks were the total of that day’s consumption. I knew I was hammered had to hand my keys to someone else to drive. That’s consumption of regular stuff, in surprise quantity.

    We are not told anything about Mr. Wilder’s drinks other than his memory of a quantity that should have left him able to navigate home. Was he taking meds? Was he catching something? Did someone boost his dose? Too many unanswered questions to trash the man in the court of blog opinion.

    I didn’t trash him, Scott: he trashed himself. That was the point of this entire page. I also said I have “some” sympathy for him. But I do disagree with the police, who claimed “no crime had been committed.” Yet public intoxication is a crime, and so is trespassing. It would have been more accurate to say that the neighbor chose not to press charges. Still, as far as I understand it, those crimes had been committed. Yet no one has ever said anything about him driving, so I’m unclear why you’re defensive about that. Meanwhile, while you expect people to read your comment, you clearly didn’t read the ones already here: you covered things that have already been discussed, and completely ignore the real victims here: Mr. Wilder’s children, about whom he professes such concern. That’s no “small radius.” -rc

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