Saturday, August 01, 2009

When Public Safety Trumps Justice

There is a common thread that runs through any discussion of lying cops. First we start with the premise that cops lie. Then someone says "well not all cops lie," or "yeah, but those are isolated incidents." Then the discussion of dash cams and recorded interrogations begins with someone invariably saying "we need to trust the cops."

There are those who don't trust cops, period, and there are those who believe that hey, if a cop lies to get a "bad guy" off the street, so what?

The most recent discussion began with this video of what is nothing less than a conspiracy to obstruct justice. It was not done in a murder case or a multi-defendant drug trafficking case, but a DUI case. A misdemeanor DUI case.

Here's the question: Is this the first time, in the history of law enforcement, that this has happened?

Of course not.

It goes on all the time, unrecorded, disputed by prosecutors and ignored by judges, and all in the name of "public safety." How many times does a criminal defense lawyer hear stories like this only to hear the client say, "but no one will believe me over the cop."

They're right.

Then we have to move the discussion to "but cops put their life on the line every day, and never know when some gun-toting asshole will put a bullet in their head." True.

I just never understood the comparison.

This is not about "public safety." It's about "justice."

This comment I read says it all: "It's a tough call for me because lying about drugs & guns does take them off the street but violates personal freedom."

There you go. That's where we are.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com

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