My point in writing these ditties, in addition to shameless self-promotion, is to try to demonstrate how various issues in the news would play out in the world of lawyers.
Category: Police Brutality
That has to be one of the World’s most Ironic Quotes Ever.
It came from Rodney King, who was in the middle of two of the most notorious violent episodes in the 90’s. First, his own videotaped beating at the hands of some of LAPD’s finest. Second, the riots caused when those same cops were acquitted of that beating and South Central Los Angeles erupted in violence.
But who better to ask the question? Why CAN’T we all just get along?
I’ve had it.
For some reason that video, the one with idiot cops screaming about blowing a hole in the poor guy’s head, got to me. No, the victim wasn’t black. And no, he was not actually shot and killed. But maybe that’s the issue. There was nothing else going on with this one other than the fact that the cop was a complete jerk.
Which, unfortunately, is simply too often the case. Of course this is the part where I am supposed to point out how wonderful most cops are and how this is just one bad apple. But, I am sick of saying that. Why? Because it is total politically correct nonsense that we are basically forced to say and I refuse to keep playing that game. It is a lie.
We are forced to say that because we don’t want to alienate people or lose potential clients by simply speaking the truth. Not to mention that there really are plenty of nice decent police officers; but why is it whenever I meet one, they seem like such a breath of fresh air? Such an anomaly? Oh, yeah, I remember now. It is because they are the EXCEPTION, not the rule. Take my word for it. I know.
Although it is never a happy event when someone is gunned down, at first I was almost pleased when I heard the news about the Boston Police ‘taking out’ what appeared to be a dangerous terrorist about to commit some heinous violent crime. But then I did some research. And, as usual, once I had a chance to investigate and actually think about the available evidence, I was confused, which makes me curious about what other people think.
There it was all over CNN. Dangerous ISIS terrorist pulls giant knife on Boston Police, who were innocently just trying to talk to him, before they are forced to gun him down in self defense! Wow. Finally. A righteous example of police protecting the public.
Or not, as the case may be.
When I first heard the news that there was a verdict in Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo’s shooting case I was pleased. I thought it would give me a great opportunity to demonstrate what I had been talking about in prior posts regarding these types of cases: Let the Jury Decide, Let the Jury Decide, Let the Jury Decide. Except this case was not decided by a Jury. It was decided by a Judge. Ugh.
A judge trial, more properly called a ‘bench trial’, is rare. Very rare. As in, you almost never seriously consider it in criminal cases. In divorces, at least in Washington State, you are stuck with them. I guess that is because there is no Constitutional Right to a jury trial in those cases, no presumption of innocence, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Just two angry former lovers fighting over toasters and pet dogs and who gets to (or in some cases, has to) take the kids over holiday weekends. (Sorry Mimi and SDS, but you know it’s true. As I always say I’d rather handle a rape or murder case any day than a divorce. Much less nasty.)
I’ve been watching the events in Baltimore over the past two weeks with fascination. And Horror. It’s like watching a Shakespearean drama unfold, only it’s real.
When I first heard the news about Freddie Gray dying in police custody I groaned out loud for several reasons, one of which was my totally selfish desire to be able to go one week without another death at the hands of the police forcing me to blog about it. So, I resisted.
But I also hesitated because the facts were so bizarre. I listened to the usual suspects all over the airwaves, opining away, when it was obvious that it was going to take some very thorough investigation and analysis to get to the bottom of what occurred during Mr. Gray’s arrest and transport.
Tampering with Evidence Makes You Guilty… of Tampering with Evidence, not Murder.
This is, for now, the final installment of the sad saga of Officer Slager’s shooting of poor Mr. Walter Scott.
People are talking about how Slager must be guilty because he apparently planted the Taser next to Scott’s body. The one that he probably thought Mr. Scott had grabbed out of his hand, but which in fact had flown out behind Slager and hit the dirt after Scott appeared to grab it.
It seems that Slager picked up the Taser and dropped it next to Scott’s body. Looks very bad. But remember what I said in my prior post about how Slager might have believed that if Scott had grabbed his Taser it might create an argument that Slager was shooting him because he thought Scott was a fleeing felon who was armed and dangerous.
I say might because it is not exactly an easy argument to make. However, that does not mean that his lawyer should just give up and not make the best argument he can for his client. That is the every decent criminal defense attorney’s job, like it or not.
It’s a giant flood of bad cops, raining down from the internet skies. A veritable avalanche of bad behavior, much of it caught on tape. Bad cops on tape.
By bad I don’t necessarily mean dishonest. Just bad. Take the case of the Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy, Robert Bates, an insurance agent who gave a lot of money to the elected Sheriff in Tulsa for his campaign. Voila. Like magic. Somehow at 73 years of age this guy is smack dab in the middle of a major sting-bust.
A bust for selling illegal firearms, no less. Really?? Could there possibly be a more inappropriate place to stick an old fat campaign contributor?
The Right to a Good Defense.
Sorry if I am going overboard on the case of Officer Slager’s shooting of Walter Scott. I just can’t help it. If law school exams had been this interesting I would have enjoyed them much more. Real life is so much more interesting than anything you can make up.
Even when it’s tragic.
What has me going this time is the behavior of Slager’s original “Lawyer”. I am very tempted to rant about what this lawyer did. Instead I will try to simply state what he did, according to news reports, and I will then point out what I would have done differently. He won’t be able to sue me that way.
I LOVE the Witness organization. Founded by Peter Gabriel, their mission is to help people create valid and admissible videotapes of wrongdoing by authorities. How can that not be great? It is totally turning everything on its head. Watching the people watching us. In a way that works.
My initial reservation is the one I have expressed previously: When cops are misbehaving it might be better to just do what they say rather than it risk your life. You are just as dead right as you are dead wrong and so on.
Still, when it works, it is wonderful. And, as I noted in my last post, it can cut both ways. In the now infamous Officer Slager shooting of Mr. Scott in North Charleston, it may even provide a defense for Slager, depending on the other evidence that exists.
Cameras are inherently neutral witnesses after all.