IV. ALMOST ALL POLICE LIE ABOUT WHETHER THEY VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION IN ORDER TO CONVICT GUILTY DFEENDANTS.Those are interesting concepts, but the following 4 statements will encourage more discussion:
V. ALL PROSECUTORS, JUDGES AND DEFENSE ATTORNEYS ARE AWARE OF RULE IV.
VI. MANY PROSECUTORS IMPLICITLY ENCOURAGE POLICE TO LIE ABOUT WHETHER THEY VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION IN ORDER TO CONVICT GUILTY DEFENDANTS.
VII. ALL JUDGES ARE AWARE OF RULE VI.
VIII. MOST TRIAL JUDGES PRETEND TO BELIEVE POLICE OFFICERS WHO THEY KNOW ARE LYING
IX. ALL APPELLATE JUDGES ARE AWARE OF RULE VIII, YET MANY PRETEND TO BELIEVE THE TRIAL JUDGES WHO PRETEND TO BELIEVE THE POLICE OFFICERS.
So what is to be done about lying police officers? We need to change rules 8 and 9. Judges need to start calling them on it. And of course, lying officers aren't the only problem with the criminal justice system that people have been writing about for years.
There has been a lot said about prosecutors overcharging, the trial tax, and the Sentencing Guidelines just to name a few of the problems.
What can be done? Article III judges, with life-time appointments, need to start speaking up and checking the executive branch with more vigor.
--Dismiss more cases. (See, e.g., Judge Scola in the "Pakistan terror" case by granting a judgment of acquittal; Judge Cooke in Ben Kuehne's case).
--Grant more and longer variances. Judges are starting to grant more and more variances, but they are of the 6-12 month variety. There are too many people in jail for too long because of the Sentencing Guidelines. A federal conviction ruins people's lives. Not every case necessitates lengthy sentences and many don't require jail at all. The Guidelines are made up numbers without any real data to back them up. I trust judges more than I do the grid.
--Don't punish defendants for going to trial. There are too few trials, mostly because the consequences of going to trial versus pleading are way too severe. Going to trial doesn't mean that every enhancement applies or that variances are off the table.
--Grant some pretrial motions and require prosecutors to turn over evidence. I know that judges hate dealing with pretrial motions, especially those dealing with discovery. But instead of denying them all, it's time to hold prosecutors' feet to the fire a little more. The feeling out there right now is that each prosecutor decides for him or herself what to turn over and when and that judges aren't going to get involved. It's also OK to throw out counts (yes, prosecutors overcharge) or to sever a case or to give teeth to any of the other Rules of Criminal Procedure.
--Grant motions to suppress when the officer is lying. This goes to the NY Times article and Dershowitz's rules.
A big part of all of this goes to the court of appeals. The 11th Circuit rules for the government even more than the district court does. This has been the culture for a long time. (When is the last time the court reversed a sentence within or above the guidelines?) But there is new blood on the 11th. And three new open spots (two now, and one more this summer) will really change the court.
See what happens when there is a blackout during the Super Bowl. The game is now back on, so I'll get off the soapbox.