Friday, June 12, 2020

"Cellphones haven't stopped cops from lying — only courts can do that"

That's the title of my latest piece in The Hill.  Here's the intro:
A 75-year old man was injured when he “tripped and fell.” That was the scenario the Buffalo police department released to the public before it knew that there was a video showing two officers shoving the old man to the ground and then walking over him while blood poured out of his head.

Many express shock that police officers would misrepresent — even lie — with such impunity. Those people naively ask what would happen if there wasn’t a video of the whole affair. Criminal practitioners know exactly what would happen — because, sadly, it’s what has been happening in courtrooms around the country every day for years. Too many officers are known to lie under oath, and there are judges and prosecutors who let them get away with it. This dirty secret is a true epidemic in the criminal justice system; it’s called “testilying,” and it has been around a long time.
Please let me know your thoughts. Have a nice weekend!


Anonymous said...

You write that "there are judges and prosecutors who let them get away with [lying under oath]." This seems to imply that there is a critical mass of judges and prosecutors who don't let them get away with it. I have never heard of a prosecutor in this district informing the Court that an officer lied under oath. And how many Judges in this district have ever affirmatively found that a cop or agent lied on the stand?

Anonymous said...

One of the great quotes of all times has been attributed to one of the greatest judges of all times, Judge Alan Schwartz, who has been reported to have said: "Anyone judge who sits in the Gerstein Building knows that cops lie."

Anonymous said...

There is a SDFL case going thru exactly that right now.

The government ignores the conduct and argues that it doesnt matter.

the trialmaster said...

While I would not classify Alan Schwartz as "one of the greatest of all time", his quote is true as any lawyer knows. The same is true in the civil arena with insurance retained doctors consistently testifying that the Plaintiff is not injured.The insurance defense firms use the same ones over and over. Schwartz was very opinionated and treated some attorneys harshly. But when he was on your side it was great. Finally a great judge would not have to be reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court. He was a very troubled little man who allowed his personality to conflict with his legal brilliance. He died a lonely old man at the Palace. Sad end to what could have been a great legal legend, which he was not.

Anonymous said...

Judge Schwartz was not lonely. He was spending a great deal of time with a lovely lady who I knew personaly, and was quite charming and engaged intellectually. You are a sorry person to be taking shots at a dead man, which by the way, are quite wrong. The rest, is fairly accurate, but wouldn't you rather have him back then be dealing with the introduction and growth of the harmless error rule that has developed since rothenberg?

Anonymous said...

Judge Schwartz was a trip. He would take the bench at 8:58 am so he could see who strolled in late for court. He was one of the few judges who sat with defense lawyers at lunch. He once interrupted the beginning of my oral argument at the Third, saying, " I was born at night, but not last night." I'd take a judge with a caustic personality and a steel trap legal mind over a judge worried about a damning Miami Herald article any day of the week.