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In a court of law, defendants have the Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify in their own behalf. And juries are instructed that they must not allow a defendant's refusal to take the stand to bias them toward a guilty verdict.
But a hearing before the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission is an entirely different animal. And last week, when Metro Council member Barbara Shanklin twice walked out of a hearing investigating allegations of wrongdoing in her office rather than answer certain questions, she left the door open for the commission to ask the questions anyway and assume her responses would be damaging to her case.
Why would a defendant in any probe offer a prosecutor such a gift? When you know your silence can be used against you, why would you not personally defend your actions that are being called into question? And even if you knew you were guilty wouldn't you want the chance to offer the most sympathetic possible explanation?
Unless…maybe you're afraid that even more wrongdoing might be exposed if the right questions are asked.
I'm no lawyer, but it seems that by her actions Ms. Shanklin has essentially declared "no contest" to all the accusations that have been brought against her and therefore deserves to be disciplined by the Ethics Commission.
But maybe you feel differently. Call and tell us how you feel about the Shanklin controversy.