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Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:48 PM

 

Why Police Lie Under Oath (NYT)

THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”

But are police officers necessarily more trustworthy than alleged criminals? I think not. Not just because the police have a special inclination toward confabulation, but because, disturbingly, they have an incentive to lie. In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.

That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

The New York City Police Department is not exempt from this critique. In 2011, hundreds of drug cases were dismissed after several police officers were accused of mishandling evidence. That year, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn condemned a widespread culture of lying and corruption in the department’s drug enforcement units. “I thought I was not naïve,” he said when announcing a guilty verdict involving a police detective who had planted crack cocaine on a pair of suspects. “But even this court was shocked, not only by the seeming pervasive scope of misconduct but even more distressingly by the seeming casualness by which such conduct is employed.”

More at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/why-police-officers-lie-under-oath.html?_r=1&

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Police Lie Under Oath (NYT) (Original post)
Whovian Feb 2013 OP
Nevernose Feb 2013 #1
ChoppinBroccoli Feb 2013 #2
Whovian Feb 2013 #11
Jim Lane Feb 2013 #13
kenny blankenship Feb 2013 #3
Bigmack Feb 2013 #4
jayfox122 Feb 2013 #5
Archae Feb 2013 #6
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 #7
OldDem2012 Feb 2013 #8
eppur_se_muova Feb 2013 #9
Comrade Grumpy Feb 2013 #10
Agony Feb 2013 #18
RedCappedBandit Feb 2013 #12
grahamhgreen Feb 2013 #14
Logical Feb 2013 #15
Agony Feb 2013 #16
dogknob Feb 2013 #17

Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 10:56 PM

1. Ultimately, what's the difference between a narcotics cop and a member of a drug gang?

Leaving aside the simple beat cop of average drug addict, what's the difference between narcotics-oriented LEOs and members of drug gangs?

Prone to violence, carry weapons, incentives to lie under oath. Destroy lives and neighborhoods. Hurt innocents frequently, although usually not intentionally. Both make their money from the drug trade. These days, many of their offices are paid for be asset forfeiture, i.e. legalized theft -- at least the drug dealers worked for their money.

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 11:39 PM

2. Speaking As Someone Who Sees This Every Day..........

...........I can tell you that the answer to your question is a simple, one-sentence response: To get the conviction. An arrest without a conviction is proof of incompetence on the part of the police. And since the police must NEVER be questioned or undermined in any way, every arrest MUST result in a conviction.

So, not only do police officers lie under oath, they're actually given TRAINING COURSES in how to do so. How do I know this? Because a few years ago, a couple members of the local bar (defense attorneys) actually managed to sneak into one of these courses. They're taught how to fill out their reports in order to get the conviction, and what to say on the stand in order to make it all stick. Trust me, after you've read a few thousand police reports, as I have, it becomes pretty obvious (they all say the same things, and they all contain the very same "magic words/phrases" pretty much verbatim).

Want another reason why cops lie under oath? Because they can get away with it. If you live in a "get tough on crime" State, as I do, the vast majority of the Judges are former Prosecutors, and the Prosecutors generally consider all police agencies de facto branches of the Prosecutor's Office (and vice versa, I'm sure). So when you've got the cops, with the Prosecutors on their side, and the Judge (who makes the decision as to what evidence is allowed to be presented) on the Prosecutor's side, guess what happens most of the time.

I actually had a case a few years ago in which I conducted a Suppression Hearing (a hearing to determine whether certain items of evidence will be permitted to be presented at trial--when police officers violate your Constitutional rights during an arrest, any evidence they collect can and should be suppressed). I presented witness after witness contradicting the testimony AND the reports the cop wrote. The police provided detailed reports of a battery of Field Sobriety Tests (which, of course, they reported that my client failed--all of them) that they never conducted (I had the passenger in the car, who testified that they never gave any of the tests they described in their report). The police claimed they pulled my client over just outside the bar at 7:30, and I presented the bartender who testified that her shift didn't begin until 6:30 and by the time she came in, my client had already left. The officer testified that he followed my client for over half a mile, and I presented pictures which proved that he could have only possibly followed for roughly 20 feet. Then the coup de grace came. When I started questioning the officer about the copy of the police report he gave my client after releasing him that night (which, by the way, was blank), THE JUDGE pointed out to me that the copy of the very same report which appeared in the official Court file was fully filled out. Translation: the cop filled it out after the fact. Further translation: the report was falsified.

One would think that I won that hearing with a slam dunk. I thought so too. I actually lost. The Judge said he didn't believe my witnesses. I later found out that the Judge was up for re-election that year and was desperately seeking the FOP endorsement (because in this State, you can't win without the FOP endorsement--people around here LOVE them some hangin' Judges........until they find THEMSELVES in front of one, that is).

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Response to ChoppinBroccoli (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:47 AM

11. So sorry this is all too familiar.

 

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Response to ChoppinBroccoli (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 09:27 AM

13. Choppin, thanks for this detailed and informative account! (n/t)

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 11:52 PM

3. Same reason dogs lick themselves.

It suits them to do so, and they can.

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sat Feb 2, 2013, 11:57 PM

4. I've heard this referred to as "testi-lying"... nt

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Response to Whovian (Original post)


Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:27 AM

6. It's called "testifying," and "testimony,"

Because those under oath in ancient Rome put their hands over their balls. (Testes)

Maybe if those who lied under oath had to lose their balls like Romans did, they might actually think twice about perjuring themselves.

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:30 AM

7. We need to fix the rotten police culture in this country.

Who will guard us from the guardians?

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:42 AM

8. Makes you really wonder how many innocent people are currently in US prisons. nt.

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:43 AM

9. Not surprised. Even traffic cops lie. nt

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 12:46 AM

10. I think we need a national commission on police misconduct.

And the proper role of law enforcement in our society.

Whatever happened to Officer Friendly? He turned into a SWAT goon.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #10)

Sat Feb 9, 2013, 05:25 PM

18. we probably need to make that national commission permanent...

given the repetitive and institutional nature of the problem.

my local small town police officers are now carrying tasers FFS! Why? ! one more thing I have to follow up on... do they have a departmental policy on appropriate use? etc... maybe a local commission is in order....?

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 03:47 AM

12. Surely this only applies to a few bad apples!

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 04:27 PM

14. Kick!

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:29 PM

15. This needs to be bumped for a while longer! n-t

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:13 PM

16. Kick nt

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Response to Whovian (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 08:18 PM

17. Bumpitty-bump! n/t

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