Once largely reserved for notoriously violent crimes that threatened the safety and security of the community, the perp walk has been extended to indicted chief executive officers and other corporate executives. Indeed, whether for a law enforcement purpose or less laudable objectives of gaining advantage or inflicting intimidation, it now is common for white-collar defendants to be placed in what one federal appeals court has described as "a posture connoting guilt." Lauro v. Charles, 219 F.3d 202, 212 n.7 (2d Cir. 2000).
Prosecutors defend the use of the arrest power and perp walk for white-collar defendants on multiple grounds. First and foremost, forcing white-collar defendants to do the perp walk sends out a clear and strong message that, regardless of ethnic background, wealth or power, no one is above the law. Steve Reich, "Arrest and the White-Collar Defendant," Law J. Newsletters, Business Crimes Bulletin, May 2003. Second, the bold image of a corporate executive in handcuffs being escorted by police officers may deter others from similar conduct. Id. Third, prosecutors claim that the publicity surrounding the perp walk keeps the public informed of law enforcement's crime-fighting efforts and enhances transparency in the system. Id. Fourth, prosecutors argue that the media exposure of the arrestee's image may encourage unknown witnesses to step forward with information relevant to the case. Id.
Numerous legal challenges to the perp walk have been raised in the courts. Defense attorneys have argued for change of venue on the grounds that the perp walk has so tainted the jury pool that the defendant cannot have a fair trial in the district. Fastow, 292 F. Supp. 2d 914, 915-916. Others have pursued challenges under the Fourth Amendment, arguing that the perp walk in question amounted to an unreasonable search and seizure. See, e.g., Lauro, 219 F.3d 202, 207-208; Caldarola v. Co. of Westchester, 343 F.3d 570, 573 (2d Cir. 2003).