Update: 911 audio/arrest video released, KING-TV report below; Bremner called cop "Nazi," pleads guilty, PI.com reports. "I made a mistake," she told judge who gave her two days in jail for a DUI caused by, she said, combining alcohol and bipolar medication.
It would subject her to embarrassment and ridicule if police records are released to the press about her arrest for drunk driving, says popular Seattle attorney Anne Bremner. Instead, she has chosen to be embarrassed and ridiculed for not releasing those records. For such a media-savvy attorney with an impressive legal background, it appears she has already lost in the court of public opinion.
The Times, PI.com and KIRO-TV all want a gander at the documents detailing her DUI arrest two months ago in Kenmore by the King County Sheriff's Department. She's a person of public interest - a familiar face on CNN, Fox News and other cable channels where she comments on the Crime of the Day. She's usually more rational and sensitive than most talking heads.
As a legal analyst, Bremner also helped cover the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial in 2005 and is involved in the Amanda Knox case. Her impressive resume is detailed on the many pages of her website along with video clips, glamorous photos and the latest news releases - last month she was named one of Seattle's top lawyers by Seattle Metropolitan.
A month earlier, she was nailed for a DUI, on June 3, the eve of her 52nd birthday. She was taken to jail and bailed out. She has not yet been officially charged. But word of the arrest leaked out, and Bremner went immediately to King County Superior Court seeking an injunction to keep the press from obtaining details about the stop.
It's not clear what she has to hide. She's worried about her national reputation, obviously. But it appears she hasn't successfully hidden much. The story of her arrest is in the papers, online and on TV today. It clearly has gotten more play not only because of her attempt to cover it up but the excuse she gives. As the Times reports:
Bremner says she had drinks with dinner the night of June 3, but was not drunk. Instead, she says she was the victim of a hit-and-run accident before her arrest and suffered a brain injury, resulting in behavior that mimicked the signs of alcohol impairment. She says she is seeking the court order to avoid negative publicity that could damage her reputation as a legal expert.
In documents the Times has already seen, the Sheriff's Office says Bremner didn't report an accident or request medical attention when arrested. A deputy saw her driving a BMW with a flattened tire. Once stopped, Bremner showed signs of impairment. "This is a straightforward DUI from our standpoint," said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart.
For a smart and creative lawyer whose client list includes cops and other public officials, the brain-damage excuse - while an oldie and a goodie - isn't much of a defense. It's a sure-fire headline maker, in fact. Of course, we're assuming that wasn't her intention. But her battle against disclosure conflicts with what's she's espoused in the past.
Under the headline "Justice rarely served by a rush to judgment," Bremner warned the public in a 2002 Times op-ed piece about rashly deciding a person's guilt. She had successfully defended a Bellevue foster mother, at the wheel of her car, accused of dragging her foster daughter through a parking lot.
Bremner noted that the "dragging mom" suffered from the public's early reaction - somewhat like Bremner is going through after her DUI arrest. "One of the most important protections in our criminal-justice system," she wrote, "is the presumption of innocence. That protection is not necessarily extended to someone tried in the court of public opinion."
But her point was that both sides should be heard from.
Readers and viewers exposed to earnest yet incomplete reports of an incident jump to conclusions, especially when the accused's version is not immediately provided. The fallout lands not just on the accused, but also on her family and friends.
Truth is complex, she stated, "and people are often not as bad as they are made out to be. In this case, [the "dragging mom"] made the difficult decision to come forward at enormous personal cost, and the media did the right thing and allowed her to tell her story."
Though Bremner, a former deputy prosecutor, is refusing to allow her story to be fully told today by challenging the release of public records to the public and media, she told readers back then they should "pursue justice" by seeking out the truth:
Savvy consumers of the news need to recognize the natural limitations of what they're seeing or reading. When a report sounds too simple -- or too one-sided -- ask yourself who didn't get a chance to tell their story.
In today's case, that would be the cops.