Friday, December 29, 2006

Corruption Is Routine

For those who have been following the Duke "Rape" Case you will know that it is a case of egregious prosecutorial misconduct. And yet there are similar cases every day in the USA. Why don't such cases recieve wide publicity? Simple - if such procedures were shown to be widespread the "justice" system in America would collapse.

Ankle Biting Pundits are outraged at the misconduct in the Duke case. Yeah. Sure. The outrage is palpable. No doubt.

Now tell me why testilying in drug prohibition cases is so common that we have a name for it? Alan Dershowitz in testimony before Congress said:

Police perjury in criminal cases - particularly in the context of searches and other exclusionary rule issues - is so pervasive that the former police chief of San Jose and Kansas City has estimated that "hundreds of thousands of law-enforcement officers commit felony perjury every year testifying about drug arrests" alone.
A few bad apples no doubt.

BTW any one notice how alcohol prohibition corrupted our justice system? I thought not.

In other words save your phoney outrage for the ignorant. What Nifong (the DA in the Duke case) did is an outgrowth of what goes on in America every day in every jurisdiction. Who will call for a clean up of that? Or is it another case (like Nifong) where jobs depend on it?

Christopher Slobogin in the University of Colorado Law Review shows why testilying is so corrosive:
Perhaps most importantly, police lying intended to convict someone, whether thought to be guilty or innocent, is wrong because once it is discovered, it diminishes one of our most crucial "social goods" — trust in government. First, of course, the exposure of police perjury damages the credibility of police testimony. As the aftermath of the Fuhrman debacle has shown, the revelation that some police routinely and casually lie under oath makes members of the public, including those who serve on juries, less willing to believe all police, truthful or not. One comment that a New York prosecutor made about the impact of the Simpson case illustrates the point: "Our prosecutors now have to begin their cases defending the cops. Prosecutors have to bring the jury around to the opinion that cops aren't lying. That's how much the landscape has changed."

Police perjury can cause other systemic damage as well. Presumably, for instance, the loss of police credibility on the stand diminishes law enforcement's effectiveness in the streets. Most significantly, to the extent other actors, such as prosecutors and judges, are perceived to be ignoring or condoning police perjury, the loss of public trust may extend beyond law enforcement to the criminal justice system generally.
Here is a bit by Scott Morgan on the corruption of police power in drug prohibition:
First, a revealing story of police misconduct from The Journal Inquirer in North Central Connecticut:
A Hartford police detective arrested days after his retirement in 2004 on charges of falsifying an arrest warrant has been granted a special form of probation that could lead to his arrest record being expunged.

The decision came after a hearing in which [Sgt. Franco] Sanzo's lawyer, Jake Donovan of Middletown, called another retired officer who said that police frequently sign their names to warrants - and swear before judges - that they've seen things they haven't.
So basically Sanzo's defense was that this type of misconduct is a matter of routine at his department. And it worked! I don't know if I'm more shocked that a defense attorney would offer an argument so contemptuous towards the Fourth Amendment, or that a judge would actually be persuaded by an attempt to rationalize police misconduct.
When this all comes crashing down it is going to hurt America for decades. Just as alcohol prohibition did.

Here ia another case where the town fathers are trying to steal a man's business based on trumped up drug charges:
This is the story of David Ruttenberg, the totally law-abiding owner of Rack N' Roll billiards in Manassas, Virginia, who for years now has been targeted in repeated and fruitless attempts to link his business to drug activity. His livelihood is now almost completely destroyed and most of the cops and public officials in Manassas seem to be in on it. Motivated by an apparent desire to build an off-track betting facility on the property, Manassas police and others have spared no expense in this otherwise inexplicable series of bizarre events.

My favorite part is when Ruttenberg tries to explain his plight to a local news reporter at 1:00 in the morning and the Mayor suddenly jumps out of the bushes and tells the reporter not to trust to him.

Balko's research illustrates the ease with which ambiguous allegations of drug activity can be used by politicians as leverage against their enemies. Still, I suspect that the only thing unique about this story is the fact that someone as meticulous as Balko took an interest in it. His work on the Cory Maye case similarly illustrates the improbability of severe police corruption coming to light absent the involvement of a politically savvy blogger from Washington, D.C.

When business owners can be held liable for activities they had no knowledge of, it becomes painfully easy for corrupt officials with ulterior motives to capitalize on malfeasance.

If you were trying to screw over a business owner, how would you do it? Think about how easy it is to frame someone for drugs. Think about it, then ask yourself how often it happens.
That is a pretty good question. My guess? Often enough so that if this kind of behavior was public knowledge it would bring down the justice system.

Public Integrity has pages, and pages, and pages of this stuff. Probably just a few bad apples.

Here is just a bit from one of the articles at Public Integrity:
It is impossible to know for sure how often a specific prosecutor (or a specific defense attorney, judge, police officer, etc.) bends or breaks the rules. In most jurisdictions, at least 95 percent of the cases that pour in from the police never reach a jury, which means any misconduct occurs away from public view. The only trial those defendants receive takes place in the prosecutor's office; the prosecutor becomes the judge and the jury. The prosecutor is the de facto law after an arrest, deciding whether to charge the suspect with committing a crime, what charge to file from a range of possibilities, whether to offer a pre-trial deal, and, if so, the terms of the deal.

Katherine Goldwasser, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who served as a prosecutor in Chicago before joining academia, suggested that misconduct often occurs out of sight, especially in cases that never go to trial. Those cases by definition do not generate appellate opinions (and thus are for the most part beyond the scope of the Center study). Goldwasser told the Center. "It is not a safe assumption that cases ending with guilty pleas are absent prosecutorial misconduct."
Here is an interesting list of serious cases of prosecutorial misconduct. Men and women sentenced to death or long prison sentences because of the prosecutor's desire to win at all costs. Murder is no object. Scary.

Here is the case of James E. Richardson, Jr.:
In September 1996, a Kanawha [West Virginia- ed.] circuit judge overturned Richardson's conviction based on allegations that state police chemist Fred Zain fabricated evidence and that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
Which sounds a lot like the Duke case. Except in the Duke case all this is coming out before trial.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


gledwood said...

Just wanted to say it's 31/12/6 already...
So here's wishing you a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007!
Have a great one.


M. Simon said...


Anonymous said...

I think the quality of law affects the quality of the justice system. If you pass laws that are unjust it's hard to be just in their execution. If you pass laws that are unrealistic or unenforceable it's hard for those involved not to become cynical.

With that in mind, I get concerned when I hear people talk about "the system" because it's really "the laws" that need our attention.

Ponnaru has mentioned something to this effect at The Corner. I think there is some sort of theory on the subject.

M. Simon said...


When I said "system", I was refering to it in engineering terms. How all the parts of the system work together to produce an output.

The system has a defective machine (prohibition) producing defective parts (crime and corruption).

To fix the system the management must remove the machine from the production process. In that sense the system is broken.

Magic word: wweeds

Anonymous said...

The system isn't broken if it's a feature that's been designed into it. Fines and penalties are escalating for minor, non-criminal and victimless infractions.

The laws seem to intentionally mire individuals or families in the legal system not so much to "rehabilitate" as to reward lobbying groups, such as the insurance or 'social service' (Family Independence Agency et al) industries and supplement the coffers of local governments.

The practice is so pervasive it does'nt seem to be accidental.

Judicial Abuse said...

You are hitting the tip of the iceberg here. Organized Crime, the FBI (CT family connected in Connecticut), The Connecticut State Police, the Connecticut Judiciary, Yale University, and the elite investors in the US have long thought that they can do as they please, when they please.

Arrogance and cops literally getting away with murder is part of the Connecticut folklore.

All taxpayers are paying for this abuse of the rest of us on a worldwide scale. Be pissed and do something.

Try putting "Steven G. Erickson" in a search engine.

Anonymous said...

Good one, it's in, thanks!

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
all alcohol illegal...

increase black market profits
corrupt more law enforcement