In TV interview, Elon Law scholar talks individual rights & police interactions

Senior Scholar and Professor of Law Steve Friedland told WXII 12 viewing audiences that "we need to do more training for people so they don't end up with misconceptions about what their rights are."

An Elon Law professor with experience as a former federal prosecutor spoke at length with WXII 12 News for a report on the rights people have when interacting with law enforcement.

Steve Friedland, recipient of Elon University’s 2020 Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching, was interviewed by journalist Lee Anne Denyer on November 10, 2020, in her coverage of a viral video showing an encounter between officers of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Police Department and a group of teenagers.

In “Elon University School of Law professor offers insight into police stops, knowing your rights,” Friedland did not discuss the specifics of the viral video, which emerged from over the previous weekend when officers responded to a report of young people trying to break into a vacant house.

Friendland instead encouraged viewers to wait for evidence from the internal investigation to possibly be shared before making judgements.

However, he said, part of what leads to poor interactions with police is the public not understanding the officers’ roles and what legal authority they have to ask for identification when they believe a specific crime or traffic infraction took place.

“It may seem to people who are innocent, ‘Why am I being asked these questions?'” Friedland told the NBC affiliate. “There’s a problem when there’s miscommunication, when people don’t understand what the purpose is and that’s something we all need to, I think, work on. How do we create the kind of safe community we all want. I think knowing one’s rights and using one’s rights help in that regard. That’s why we have them.”

Friedland is a founding member of the law school faculty. In addition to law teaching, he has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and as an Assistant Director of the Office of Legal Education in the Department of Justice.

An accomplished scholar who has published articles in several renowned journals, Friedland’s books on Evidence Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Procedure and Law School Teaching have been published by the West Publishing Company, Aspen Press, Lexis Publishing Company and Carolina Academic Press.

Friedland was elected to the American Law Institute, served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council, and is a current member of the Lexis Advisory Board. He has won numerous teaching awards at several law schools over three decades and was named one of the best law teachers in America by the Harvard University Press book, “What the Best Law Teachers Do.”