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Posts Tagged ‘prosecutor’

Prosecutorial Misconduct-A Right According to Some Prosecutors

“Prosecutorial Misconduct-A Right According To Some Prosecutors” by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

My last post was about prosecutorial misconduct and was based on an article by Radley Balco, who writes “The Watch” for the Washington Post. Here’s a followup by the same writer that validates the wording of the title of this post.

When a judge calls a prosecutor on the carpet for misconduct and that prosecutor accuses the judge of bias and asks him to recuse himself from criminal cases in her jurisdiction, something is seriously wrong. Prosecutorial misconduct should be a felony punishable by disbarment and jail time. Bust a few of these arrogant slimeballs and put them in prison with people they’ve convicted and we might see a revival of the quaint concepts of ethics and morality in the criminal justice system.

Here is an article on the topic in The Post and Courier, a Charleston, SC newspaper.

Kudos to South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty; and shame on Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.

 

Do Prosecutors Cheat?

“Do prosecutors Cheat?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Do prosecutors cheat? The short answer is yes.

Sometimes prosecutors cheat. Sometimes police cheat. Sometimes judges cheat. Sometimes defense attorneys and defense investigators cheat. Sometimes jurors cheat. When any players in the game of criminal justice cheat, the whole system fails. It fails the defendant and society, as a whole.

This article in “The Atlantic”, by Andrew Cohen and dated March 4, 2014, tells the story of a prosecutor who admitted the prosecution’s failure in a specific case. This sort of cheating happens all the time; but how often do we see the prosecution or any other players in the process own up to their failures? Laura Duffy did the honorable thing. Kudos to her; and heads up to any criminal justice system players who might play fast and loose with the law.

 

Prosecutor to be Jailed for Sending an Innocent Man to Jail?

“Prosecutor to be Jailed for Sending an Innocent Man to Jail?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Blog headline, “For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man” by Mark Godsey, should astound the general public; but it shouldn’t cause the same reaction among people who work in the criminal justice field or those who have been harmed by prosecutorial and/or police misconduct.

This isn’t the first case where an innocent person has gone to jail under similar conditions. If this is the first prosecutor to be held accountable, it is potentially revolutionary. Prosecutors are now on notice. It’s way past due. I predict (and hope) that we’ll see more of these cases, now that the ice has been broken.

 

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification?

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification? by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Drug War is a total failure. What started out and continues as a way to target minorities for discriminatory police attention has become one of the biggest domestic and foreign policy failures in our history. One set of beneficiaries of this domestic and foreign “war” are the police officers, the prosecutors and the judges who are paid drug-war-subsidized salaries. The only other beneficiaries are the cartels and gangs that were formed to take full advantage of this controlled, high value market. The gun-toting gangs and the shootings on our streets are the bloody pay-off we get along with the tax bill we pay to support this deadly boondoggle. We continue to pay for years for each conviction, resulting in the largest per-capita prison population on the planet. Don’t you just love getting so much value for your hard earned tax dollars?

When legislators pass bad criminal laws and police, prosecutors and judges continue the charade by enforcing the bad law via the criminal justice system, the public has few options to stop the ongoing tragedy.

The root of the problem is bad law; so going after the law makers is one route to take. But this is very slow and subject to the usual political BS. Washington and Colorado have recently passed laws legalizing limited pot sales, possession and use. The Feds will probably try to coerce the states to counter the voters’ will. We do not have to sit still for that.

There is a tool we have as citizens that is little known and seldom invoked that might break the back of the Drug War. It’s not a total solution; and it has some potential negative side-effects to consider. But it might speed up the process of converting the “war” into the medical/mental health issue it actually is.

[At this point I feel the need to state that I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I am a citizen and voter and have a right to speak out. The law belongs to the people, not the lawyers.]

What I propose is a minor rebellion. What if no court of law, federal, state or local, could get a jury to convict a person technically (under Federal law) guilty of limited drug sales, possession or use in the States of Washington and Colorado? What if this rebellion spread across all 50 States? See my earlier post on jury nullification and think about it.

Of course, the legislators who pass irrational, illogical, unenforceable laws and the police, prosecutors and judges who get paid to enforce these laws don’t want the public to be fully informed about such a subversive concept. So get informed and spread the word. If we can cripple the courts on these cases and, at the same time, pressure the law makers to eliminate the laws and funding underlying the war, we can have success in years, rather than generations.

What do you think?

 

 

Jury Saves Justice System

Jury Saves Justice System by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

The justice system didn’t have a case and they wasted my taxes, but the justice system ultimately worked.

My first and only experience on a jury was an eye-opener and, in fact, very disturbing. I had been called to jury duty a couple of times before but had never ended up serving. I was actually looking forward to the experience. I got more and less than I expected on the third call to duty when I survived the selection process and was actually chosen for the jury.

The defendant was charged with trading crack for cash. The SPD had been conducting a sting at the busy drug market on the SE corner of 2nd and Yesler in Seattle. SPD officers were everywhere in plainclothes and in uniform, in marked and unmarked cars and on bikes, on the street and on rooftops.

This should have been an easy bust but wasn’t as the seller spooked after taking the plainclothes  officer’s money and handing over the crack in a baggy. The seller made the trade while sitting in his idling car at the curb with the buyer standing on the sidewalk. Something about the situation caused the seller to panic and run.

He took off southbound on second and turned left to go east on Washington. He blew the 4-way stop at 3rd and the stop sign at 4th, a very busy, three lane northbound road. He headed uphill to 6th and turned north towards Yesler. He almost ran over two bicycle cops and evaded hot pursuit by an officer in a marked squad car when the officer stopped the pursuit for safety reasons.

The seller got away and was not arrested ‘til months later. He was arrested for the sell during the sting described above; the arrest was based on identification of the seller by the buying officer. The prosecutor decided there was enough evidence to support prosecution. This led to the trial where I got some education about how the system sometimes works.

The prosecution’s case consisted of: Officer X says the defendant was the person who sold him the crack. The prosecution had no other witnesses, no tie in to the seller’s vehicle, no marked money, nothing but the officer’s assertion.

The prosecution managed to mention that the defendant had a criminal record. The judge rightly ordered this struck from the record and told the jury to ignore the information.

The defense denied the accusation and said the officer was mistaken. It came down to one man’s testimony versus the other’s. Prosecution and defense had made their cases; it was time for the jury to decide.

I was a bit perplexed. My reaction to the trial up to this point was that the defendant was likely guilty, but the prosecution hadn’t proved it. Furthermore, it seemed to me that the prosecution must have counted on the jury to be ignorant and prejudiced. I was wondering why the prosecutor had wasted our taxes for such a weak case.

The defense attorney had failed to point out the weakness of the prosecution’s case.

The judge’s instructions to us were to decide if the defendant was guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt. If a reasonable doubt existed, we were to find the defendant not guilty.

We began deliberating and immediately deadlocked; six said guilty and six said not guilty. Guilty versus not guilty really boiled down to six saying the prosecution had proven the defendant’s guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt, and six saying there was reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt and, therefore, we should find the defendant not guilty.

Notice that I said that six said he was guilty and six said there was insufficient evidence to affirm guilt. Actual guilt could never be known by anyone but god and the defendant. The faction that said he was guilty actually said that the defendant must be guilty because the police officer said he was.

On top of my observations about the prosecution and the defense now I had to reconcile the idea that a jury of twelve is not such a reliable group to make decisions having such consequences for a defendant’s life.

The bad thing was that six of twelve were so ignorant of the concepts of  “innocent until proven guilty” and “reasonable doubt” and so willing to bow down to the power of the government in the form of law enforcement. The good thing was that the other six of us were able to block a railroad job by the same forces.

A justice system in which the police, as agents of the government, have the power to act as law enforcement, judge, jury and executioner is a police state. I still have concerns about the experience I had in that court. That experience still resonates in my experience as a private investigator. It is one reason that I have such a burn about the work.

It takes diligence on the part of each player in this process to make it work properly. It is critical for the health of our justice system that all citizens have an appreciation for how the law is supposed to work.

After all, whose interests are at stake in the court rooms of this country? If you don’t understand that it is the interests of us all that are at stake, we are in a whole lot of trouble.

You reactions? Your experiences?

 
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