Thursday, January 04, 2007

From the Power and Control Blog:

Corruption Is Routine

For those who have been following the Duke "Rape" Case you will know that it is a case of egregious prosecutorial misconduct. And yet there are similar cases every day in the USA. Why don't such cases recieve wide publicity? Simple - if such procedures were shown to be widespread the "justice" system in America would collapse.

Ankle Biting Pundits are outraged at the misconduct in the Duke case. Yeah. Sure. The outrage is palpable. No doubt.

Now tell me why testilying in drug prohibition cases is so common that we have a name for it? Alan Dershowitz in testimony before Congress said:
Police perjury in criminal cases - particularly in the context of searches and other exclusionary rule issues - is so pervasive that the former police chief of San Jose and Kansas City has estimated that "hundreds of thousands of law-enforcement officers commit felony perjury every year testifying about drug arrests" alone.
A few bad apples no doubt.

BTW any one notice how alcohol prohibition corrupted our justice system? I thought not.

In other words save your phoney outrage for the ignorant. What Nifong (the DA in the Duke case) did is an outgrowth of what goes on in America every day in every jurisdiction. Who will call for a clean up of that? Or is it another case (like Nifong) where jobs depend on it?

Christopher Slobogin in the University of Colorado Law Review shows why testilying is so corrosive:
Perhaps most importantly, police lying intended to convict someone, whether thought to be guilty or innocent, is wrong because once it is discovered, it diminishes one of our most crucial "social goods" — trust in government. First, of course, the exposure of police perjury damages the credibility of police testimony. As the aftermath of the Fuhrman debacle has shown, the revelation that some police routinely and casually lie under oath makes members of the public, including those who serve on juries, less willing to believe all police, truthful or not. One comment that a New York prosecutor made about the impact of the Simpson case illustrates the point: "Our prosecutors now have to begin their cases defending the cops. Prosecutors have to bring the jury around to the opinion that cops aren't lying. That's how much the landscape has changed."

Police perjury can cause other systemic damage as well. Presumably, for instance, the loss of police credibility on the stand diminishes law enforcement's effectiveness in the streets. Most significantly, to the extent other actors, such as prosecutors and judges, are perceived to be ignoring or condoning police perjury, the loss of public trust may extend beyond law enforcement to the criminal justice system generally.
Here is a bit by Scott Morgan on the corruption of police power in drug prohibition:
First, a revealing story of police misconduct from The Journal Inquirer in North Central Connecticut:
A Hartford police detective arrested days after his retirement in 2004 on charges of falsifying an arrest warrant has been granted a special form of probation that could lead to his arrest record being expunged.

The decision came after a hearing in which [Sgt. Franco] Sanzo's lawyer, Jake Donovan of Middletown, called another retired officer who said that police frequently sign their names to warrants - and swear before judges - that they've seen things they haven't.
So basically Sanzo's defense was that this type of misconduct is a matter of routine at his department. And it worked! I don't know if I'm more shocked that a defense attorney would offer an argument so contemptuous towards the Fourth Amendment, or that a judge would actually be persuaded by an attempt to rationalize police misconduct.
When this all comes crashing down it is going to hurt America for decades. Just as alcohol prohibition did.

Here ia another case where the town fathers are trying to steal a man's business based on trumped up drug charges:
This is the story of David Ruttenberg, the totally law-abiding owner of Rack N' Roll billiards in Manassas, Virginia, who for years now has been targeted in repeated and fruitless attempts to link his business to drug activity. His livelihood is now almost completely destroyed and most of the cops and public officials in Manassas seem to be in on it. Motivated by an apparent desire to build an off-track betting facility on the property, Manassas police and others have spared no expense in this otherwise inexplicable series of bizarre events.

My favorite part is when Ruttenberg tries to explain his plight to a local news reporter at 1:00 in the morning and the Mayor suddenly jumps out of the bushes and tells the reporter not to trust to him.

Balko's research illustrates the ease with which ambiguous allegations of drug activity can be used by politicians as leverage against their enemies. Still, I suspect that the only thing unique about this story is the fact that someone as meticulous as Balko took an interest in it. His work on the Cory Maye case similarly illustrates the improbability of severe police corruption coming to light absent the involvement of a politically savvy blogger from Washington, D.C.

When business owners can be held liable for activities they had no knowledge of, it becomes painfully easy for corrupt officials with ulterior motives to capitalize on malfeasance.

If you were trying to screw over a business owner, how would you do it? Think about how easy it is to frame someone for drugs. Think about it, then ask yourself how often it happens.
That is a pretty good question. My guess? Often enough so that if this kind of behavior was public knowledge it would bring down the justice system.

Public Integrity has pages, and pages, and pages of this stuff. Probably just a few bad apples.

Here is just a bit from one of the articles at Public Integrity:
It is impossible to know for sure how often a specific prosecutor (or a specific defense attorney, judge, police officer, etc.) bends or breaks the rules. In most jurisdictions, at least 95 percent of the cases that pour in from the police never reach a jury, which means any misconduct occurs away from public view. The only trial those defendants receive takes place in the prosecutor's office; the prosecutor becomes the judge and the jury. The prosecutor is the de facto law after an arrest, deciding whether to charge the suspect with committing a crime, what charge to file from a range of possibilities, whether to offer a pre-trial deal, and, if so, the terms of the deal.

Katherine Goldwasser, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who served as a prosecutor in Chicago before joining academia, suggested that misconduct often occurs out of sight, especially in cases that never go to trial. Those cases by definition do not generate appellate opinions (and thus are for the most part beyond the scope of the Center study). Goldwasser told the Center. "It is not a safe assumption that cases ending with guilty pleas are absent prosecutorial misconduct."
Here is an interesting list of serious cases of prosecutorial misconduct. Men and women sentenced to death or long prison sentences because of the prosecutor's desire to win at all costs. Murder is no object. Scary.

Here is the case of James E. Richardson, Jr.:
In September 1996, a Kanawha [West Virginia- ed.] circuit judge overturned Richardson's conviction based on allegations that state police chemist Fred Zain fabricated evidence and that prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
Which sounds a lot like the Duke case. Except in the Duke case all this is coming out before trial.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


gledwood said...

Just wanted to say it's 31/12/6 already...
So here's wishing you a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2007!
Have a great one.


Sun Dec 31, 02:22:25 PM UTC
M. Simon said...


Sun Dec 31, 03:06:15 PM UTC
Gabriel said...

I think the quality of law affects the quality of the justice system. If you pass laws that are unjust it's hard to be just in their execution. If you pass laws that are unrealistic or unenforceable it's hard for those involved not to become cynical.

With that in mind, I get concerned when I hear people talk about "the system" because it's really "the laws" that need our attention.

Ponnaru has mentioned something to this effect at The Corner. I think there is some sort of theory on the subject.

Tue Jan 02, 05:10:19 AM UTC
M. Simon said...


When I said "system", I was refering to it in engineering terms. How all the parts of the system work together to produce an output.

The system has a defective machine (prohibition) producing defective parts (crime and corruption).

To fix the system the management must remove the machine from the production process. In that sense the system is broken.

Magic word: wweeds

Tue Jan 02, 07:05:06 AM UTC
Anonymous said...

The system isn't broken if it's a feature that's been designed into it. Fines and penalties are escalating for minor, non-criminal and victimless infractions.

The laws seem to intentionally mire individuals or families in the legal system not so much to "rehabilitate" as to reward lobbying groups, such as the insurance or 'social service' (Family Independence Agency et al) industries and supplement the coffers of local governments.

The practice is so pervasive it does'nt seem to be accidental.

The above found here on the web.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illegal Drug Scene Spurs Rise in Police Corruption Crime: Number of officials jailed has multiplied 5 times in 4 years, study says. Effect is felt in big, little towns. By JACK NELSON, RONALD J. OSTROW, LA Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON--Law enforcement corruption, sparked mostly by illegal drugs, has become so rampant that the number of federal, state and local officials in federal prisons has multiplied five times in four years, from 107 in 1994 to 548 in 1998, according to a new study. The official corruption, which has raged for years in the nation's big cities, is also spreading to the hinterlands. "It's a big problem across the country, in big towns and small towns, and it's not getting any better," says Chicago Police Supt. Mike Hoke. Hoke was head of the force's narcotics unit until three years ago, when officials, suspecting that some officers were deeply involved in the drug rackets, put him in charge of internal affairs to begin an investigation that is still underway. "So far, we've sent 15 police to the penitentiary," Hoke said. "And we're not done yet." Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Washington, New Orleans and Savannah, Ga., are among the other cities that have experienced major law enforcement scandals involving illegal drugs in recent years. And many smaller communities, especially in the South and Southwest, have been hit by drug-related corruption in police or sheriff's departments. Police officials from more than 50 major cities are meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho, this weekend to review the new report, "Misconduct to Corruption," compiled by officials from 15 cities with assistance from the FBI. The authors of the report sent questionnaires to 52 cities. Of the 37 that responded, all acknowledged continuing problems with general corruption and misconduct in 1997. Altogether, they reported 187 felony arrests of officers and 265 misdemeanor arrests. Eighty-five officers were charged with illicit use of drugs, 118 with theft, 148 with domestic violence and nine with driving under the influence of alcohol. The report cited several cases of officers robbing drug dealers. In Indianapolis, one of two officers charged with murdering a drug dealer during a robbery admitted that they had been robbing drug dealers for four years. A big-city police chief, the report concluded, "can expect, on average, to have 10 officers charged per year with abuse of police authority, five arrested for a felony, seven for a misdemeanor, three for theft and four for domestic violence. By any estimation, these numbers are unacceptable."

Numbers Tell Only So Much

"You can't just look at the numbers" in measuring the effect on the community of "a police officer abusing citizens through corruption," said Neil J. Gallagher, deputy assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division. "Corruption erodes public confidence in government." Gallagher, as special agent in charge of the New Orleans FBI office several years ago, directed an investigation that led to convictions of 11 officers and a sweeping overhaul of the city's police department. Underlying causes of corruption there, he said, ranged from "severely underpaying officers to lack of training, poor selection of officers and very little command and control." Some veteran police executives said that, despite recurring reports of corruption, they have the impression that the problem of police corrupted by drug money has subsided somewhat in recent years. In this camp is Robert S. Warshaw, associate director of the National Drug Control Policy Office at the White House and former Rochester, N.Y., police chief. Warshaw said that law enforcement agencies have become much more aware of the problem and "there's a high level of accountability internally." Many other experts see little or no abatement of police corruption. "It's going on all over the country," said former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara, "and corruption ranges from chiefs and sheriffs on down to officers. Every week we read of another police scandal related to the drug war--corruption, brutality and even armed robbery by cops in uniform." McNamara, now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, has concluded that preventing drug trafficking is "an impossible job." "The sheer hopelessness of the task has led many officers to rationalize their own corruption," McNamara said. "They say: 'Why should the enemy get to keep all the profits?' Guys with modest salaries are suddenly looking at $10,000 or more, and they go for it." Even veteran officers can succumb. One is Rene De La Cova, a federal Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., whose photograph ran in newspapers from coast to coast in 1989 when he took custody of Panamanian strongman Manuel A. Noriega from the U.S. military forces who had captured him. Five years later, De La Cova pleaded guilty to stealing $760,000 in laundered drug money and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Protecting Others Seen as a Virtue

Police often work in a culture in which protecting their colleagues is a virtue. Ed Samarra, police chief in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va., learned that during his five years in the internal affairs section of Washington's police department. "I never encountered an officer willing to talk about the conduct of another officer, even if he was videotaped committing a crime," Samarra said. "Some went to prison even though they could have remained free if they had agreed to cooperate." More than 100 Washington officers were arrested during Samarra's five years in internal security. In every instance, he complained, the police union "said our responsibility is to defend our people regardless of whether they are guilty." In Alexandria, by contrast, the police department has a reputation for zero tolerance of misconduct. The police union tells new officers to report misconduct by their colleagues. Those who lie, it warns, will be fired. In Los Angeles County, Sheriff Sherman Block credited his own task force with directing an investigation from 1988 to 1994 that led to the conviction of 26 former narcotics deputies--about 13% of those assigned to narcotics enforcement--for skimming drug money they had seized. Not all county officials agreed with Block that his aggressive internal investigation had been so successful that the scandal actually "somewhat enhanced" the sheriff's department's reputation. He was widely praised, however, for rooting out corruption and condemning the deputies for violating their oaths and dishonoring their badges. The Los Angeles Police Department, while sharply criticized for use of excessive force, has been remarkably free of corruption linked to money or drugs. The independent commission that examined the department in the wake of the Rodney G. King beating noted in its 1991 report that the department had done "an outstanding job, by all accounts, of creating a culture in which officers generally do not steal, take bribes, or use drugs. The LAPD must apply the same management tools that have been successful in attacking those problems to the problem of excessive force." New Orleans, which had one of the nation's most corrupt police departments in the early 1990s, is widely recognized today for its reforms--a sharp increase in hiring standards, pay increases of up to 25% and a reorganization and restaffing of the internal affairs unit. New Orleans officials, working with the FBI, uprooted the bad cops and tightened controls that not only curbed corruption and drug dealing but also helped reduce homicide and other crime rates.

Sting Operation Becomes Violent

In the FBI's New Orleans sting operation, undercover agents acted as drug couriers who were protected by police officers. The situation became so violent that at one point FBI agents overheard a policeman using his bugged patrol-car phone to order another policeman to kill a woman who had filed a brutality complaint against him. Ten minutes later, before the agents could act, the woman was shot to death. An FBI memo on the killing noted that the undercover operation was terminated earlier than scheduled "because of the extreme violence exhibited by the officers, which included threats to kill the undercover FBI agents acting as couriers and also to steal the cocaine being shipped." Eleven officers and a civilian police employee were convicted of corruption and about 200 police officers were fired. In another major FBI sting operation earlier this year, 59 people in metropolitan Cleveland, including 51 law enforcement and corrections officers, were arrested on charges of protecting the transfer or sale of large amounts of cocaine. DEA Administrator Thomas A. Constantine, a former New York state police superintendent, said that many police departments have adopted policies similar to Alexandria's zero tolerance for misconduct. These departments, he said, have beefed up their internal security units and are recruiting better quality officers by providing better salaries and conducting thorough background checks. But many police departments have failed to take these steps. Raymond Kelly, the U.S. Treasury Department's undersecretary for enforcement and a former New York City police commissioner, contended that many departments conduct inadequate background checks and some are using internal affairs units as "dumping grounds" for problem officers. Kelly said that police forces should be careful to check the lifestyles of their drug investigators. "I've never seen an officer get involved in corruption to put food on the table," he said. "It's always for something like cars or drugs or girlfriends." As New York's deputy police commissioner in 1992, Kelly headed an investigation of the department's internal affairs unit during a drug-linked corruption inquiry. Kelly, seeking to become more directly involved in law enforcement and the war on drugs, has stepped down as the No. 2 Treasury Department official to become commissioner of the Customs Service. In that role, which he will begin next week, his first challenge will be to take a hard look at Customs' internal affairs unit.

Copyright Los Angeles Times

Thursday, January 04, 2007 11:06:00 PM  

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