Wednesday, October 20, 2010

UW-Green Bay students learn their rights from defense attorney - FOURTH ESTATE

By Starla Golie

Every year, college students have the possibility of a confrontation with police, which could lead to receiving a ticket. If students know how to deal with the police in the correct manner, it could mean preventing a ticket from being issued.

Erik Guenther, attorney for Hurley, Burish & Stanton S.C. Law Firm, represents a range of clients and cases, and has had experience with college students.

Guenther was recognized as the Volunteer Attorney of the Year by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation and was also a recipient of a 2003 Journal Times Award for his contributions to Racine County.

October 6 was the third time he spoke at UW-Green Bay. Since 2002, Guenther has been speaking at campuses nationwide.

Guenther spoke at UWGB about knowing what rights to stress when dealing with the police. He felt it was important to discuss the rights of students, because there are times when they can be taken advantage of by the police.

"Bullies can take on a lot of different forms in a criminal proceeding," Guenther said. "My job is to balance the scales to help get my client through a tough time with the best possible outcome."

Throughout the event, Guenther touched on many topics. He talked about sexual assault, disorderly conduct, drugs, drunk driving, obstructing and resisting an officer, underage drinking, fake identification cards, house parties and what to do when the police are knocking at the door.

Brandon Vest, sophomore business administration major, attended the event for a class, but ended up learning many new things.

"This event was really helpful for college students," Vest said.

Alex Vogl, sophomore theatre and psychology major, thought it was a good idea to attend the event as well.

"This will help me in the future," Vogl said. "I learned if an officer comes to my door, I know what I can refuse. It's really good to know."

Guenther said the most important topic students need to be aware of is that they have the choice to turn down speaking with law enforcement.

He discussed how it is vital to never lie to an officer. If students can't remember every detail, they can wait until a later time to talk with the police, while also having a lawyer present.

Sometimes, if students talk to police without a lawyer, they can get in more trouble than if they would have waited.

"It's important to know and assert your rights," Vest said. "I thought it was interesting to learn it is not smart to talk without a lawyer. You're better off saying nothing at all."

Besides informing students about their rights, Guenther answered questions throughout the event and helped many students with their personal issues as well.

He also gave students the opportunity to approach him after the speech to ask questions they didn't feel comfortable asking during the event.

Guenther encourages students who have questions or who weren't able to attend the event to e-mail him at

(The article is available here.)


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