Jennifer Wilbanks went for a run a few evenings before the big wedding she had planned, and kept running. She took a cab to the bus station and turned up in Albequerque several days later with a false report that she had been abducted. A media feeding frenzy ensued, helping to boost cable news ratings as the Michael Jackson trial becomes old news. Now the Gwinnett County District Attorney is talking about criminal prosecution and the City of Duluth wants her to pay for the extensive police search.
Who cares, and why? (Frankly, I preferred the “Runaway Bride” movie starring Smyrna native Julia Roberts.) Perhaps most disturbing question is the similarity to the fable of the little boy who cried wolf. What will be the implications when another young woman goes missing, and really is kidnapped? Will authorites then falsely assume they have just another case of a someone with a screw loose ducking out on a challenging situation?
What do you think of the legal issues involved? Can or should she be prosecuted on a criminal charge? Why or why not? What grounds, if any, are there for a civil action to require restitution for the costs of the search?
Below are links to just a few of the many news stories this case has generated. Please post your comments on the legal implications only.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).