Friday, December 22, 2006

Letter to TheFirstPost about prosecuting...

  • TheFirstPost seems to think we run the police department.

  • And a response, from some other hunting prosecutor! Who-woop!

  • And a response, from some other hunting prosecutor! Who-woop!

  • M(r, Miss, Mrs, Ms.). Bright is dead on, though there's quite as much whipping in as there is hunting with that pack. I suspect dramatic silliness on the stupidity machine has led British audiences to misunderstand our system. It looks very interesting to see some suit (usually well filled by someone who looks like Angie Harmon or Jill Hennessey) telling the detectives to dash out and do something, but there is much more to it.

    We are separate organisations with separate functions and chains of command. I can't make myself a witness, either, or I can't try the case.

    I'll give an example. Some years ago, there was a murder in my county. The murderer (a well known dangerous and violent criminal) told his
    roommate (a mousy, inoffensive character) what he had done, and the roommate
    called the police. In the course of searching the house, arresting the
    killer, and so forth, I was already envisioning the trial. I suggested to the
    officers, "What will the defendant try to present as a defense? He will say the
    roommate did it." Knowing the two people as we did, the theory was silly. But
    a jury wouldn't know them. So I suggested that every thing we did to confirm
    the defendant's guilt- gunshot residue tests, fingerprints, shoe dirt samples-
    we would hear about at trial, because the defense would say we "rushed to
    judgement" and should have done the tests for the roommate, too. So they saw
    the need to do everything on the roommate. The police officers weren't stupid,
    their focus was just different.

    Which is an important point, NO ONE wants to charge the innocent, so
    eliminating them is something we both want to do.

    The British system as it is is unfortunately our default system, too. In MOST U.S.
    jurisdictions, including mine, prosecutors have NO connection with a case until they see it in court. I am unusual in working with officers. Most prosecutors have full plates just going to court, and rolling out at two in the morning isn't something they can reasonably be expected to do. I'm considered a bit odd for doing it, fortunately I have no life.

    It's a shame, too. I believe that a good, enthusiastic prosecutor and good, enthusiastic police officers have better success in forcing the system to put criminals away. And just as in hunting, a good staff can improve indifferent hounds, and vice versa.

    But I do recommend TheFirstPost, it's great. (Servant Problems especially.)

    1 comment:

    TheRep said...