You could have heard the phrase, or even used the phrase, “My name is mud.” A lot of historians attribute the phrase to Dr. Samuel Mudd who soon after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was convicted of conspiracy in 1865. Mudd was saved from the gallows by 1 vote and was sentenced to life in prison. Following serving 4 years in a South Carolina prison, he was pardoned by President Johnson due to Mudd’s help treating prisoners in the course of a yellow fever epidemic. Dr. Mudd spent the rest of his life attempting to clear his name, and his descendants have tried by way of present time, including a case that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, to posthumously clear the stigma from their family members.
How was Mudd linked to John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, and the other conspirators? What was his purported participation in the conspiracy? Dr. Mudd was a nearby town physician in Maryland. He had met Booth in November of 1864 when Booth was hunting for real estate in Maryland. Booth visited Mudd’s home and bought a horse from a neighbor. A number of weeks later in December, Mudd and Booth met once again in Washington, DC exactly where they shared drinks at a local tavern. The two did not see each and every other once more until April 15, 1865, the day after Booth assassinated Lincoln at the Ford’s Theater in Washington. Mudd treated Booth for the broken leg he suffered when leaping from the balcony following shooting Lincoln. Booth left Mudd’s home the following day and the two in no way met again.
Dr. Mudd was questioned about his association with Booth by authorities initially as a witness. However, he told authorities that he had met Booth only as soon as just before when he initially met him for the actual estate matters. Whether it was deliberate or inadvertent, he did not tell them about the second encounter with Booth many weeks later. Mudd later wrote that the second encounter was a likelihood meeting while on a Christmas purchasing trip. Regardless of how the encounter occurred or if it was a deliberate omission or not, the reality that Mudd failed to inform police of that meeting led him to then be viewed as a suspect.
At Mudd’s trial, prosecutors had been capable to paint Mudd as a liar and argue that he deliberately misled investigators basically due to the fact he failed to mention that second encounter. The jury, based on that proof identified Mudd guilty of the conspiracy.
Unless you are the victim of a crime, or you are a entirely unrelated and innocent eyewitness, you need to usually seek the guidance of a criminal defense attorney prior to giving ANY statement to police. As illustrated with the case of Dr. Mudd, if you do give a statement which is incomplete, even if that omission is an innocent error, you can be portrayed as untruthful and misleading, and in the end guilty of a crime.
The best thing to do if you are approached by police for a statement is to immediately demand that you have a criminal attorney present throughout all questioning. Anything you say to your attorney is confidential. Moreover, if you do give a statement via your attorney, that statement may not be utilised against you in any way.