It’s been several weeks since a DeKalb County jury convicted Andrea Sneiderman of perjury charges, but the significance of that verdict still resonates with me like a bad dream I can’t shake. As I former prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney, I have spent much of my career believing in the system. Believing that prosecutors are in it for the right reasons: to protect the innocent and punish those who harm others. Believing that juries will make the right decisions if given all the facts and the evidence. I’ve seen the system fail before but perhaps not ever so glaringly as in this case.
Broken down to its essence, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office prosecuted a widow for not being candid about a possible affair with the man that killed her husband. Never mind the fact that she told police in her very first interview with them about Hemy Neumann’s (the man ultimately convicted of her husband’s murder) interest in her. Never mind the fact that in another interview a few weeks later, she asked the case detectives whether they had, in fact, investigated him in connection with the murder. Never mind that there was never a shred of evidence that linked her to any conspiracy to have her husband killed. She pointed the police in the right direction from the beginning. Does it truly matter whether she gave the nitty-gritty details (if there were any) about her relationship with Neumann? I am reasonably sure that most people in her position would have chosen to not reveal everything out of a sense of embarrassment and to protect the memory of her now deceased husband, assuming, of course, that there were details to reveal.
The message I take from the D.A.’s relentless pursuit of a conviction of Ms. Sneiderman is this: don’t talk to the police, ever. My admonitions to defendants to not make statements to authorities now extends to anyone who finds themselves being questioned by police. Don’t talk to them unless you have a lawyer acting as your spokesperson because there clearly is NO guarantee that something you say won’t ultimately come back to bite you.
Now, the children of Rusty and Andrea Sneiderman have not only lost the father they loved to the crazy delusions of Hemy Neumann but they’ve lost their mother to, in my opinion, the overzealousness of a prosecutor who simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in the limelight. Absolutely no one wins on this one: not the public, not the tax payers, not the Sneiderman children and frankly not even the D.A.’s office who have now painted themselves into a bit of a corner by convicting what they considered to be a key witness in the Neumann trial of perjury (Will that conviction now be overthrown because it was based on perjured testimony? If her testimony wasn’t important to the Neumann trial, then how can it be perjury because it wasn’t about a material fact of the Neumann trial?) In my opinion, her prosecution and conviction is a horrible perversion of the concept of justice this nation is built upon.
If you or someone you know has been wrongly convicted, please contact me for a free and confidential consultation. My office number is 404-474-2531.