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May 2014 Archives

Department of Justice FINALLY Requires (Most) In-Custody Intgerrogations to be Recorded. Finally!

Finally the Department of Justice does the right thing and (sort of) requires agents to record all in-custody suspect interrogations.  There are still lots of absurd exceptions (only if the interrogation is in a "secured" police building -- so if they're in the car on the way, not obligations -- I can see some unscrupulous agents exploiting this), and they only did this because, more often than not, it's been turning out that jurors don't believe police or agents when they claim a suspect said this or that, and when there was taping equipment available but the agents didn't "bother to" record. So, the bigger benefit really still goes to the government, but it will nevertheless help that certain subset of defendants who are amazed by what the agents' reports claim they said in interrogation.  Better than nothing, yet sad that it could only come about because the government was losing cases, and respect, without it. Most of this is thanks to stupid, unrealistic TV cop shows, but, as a defense lawyer, I'll take the gain wherever I can find it.  Justice will be better served.,0,899210.story

More on Robbie Tolan - Details of What Happened the Night the Police Shot Yet Another Unarmed Black Man

Turns out that, when a second cop on the scene "instructed" Tolan's Mom, who was on her own porch, to stop yelling, "Why are you doing that to my son," the police decided that was refusal to accept police instruction.  Laying aside the question of who made the police the arbiter of who could say what, the second officer on the scene, a sergeant, while Robbie was face down on his own front law, grabbed Mom and slammed her face first into the front door.

United States Fifth Circuit - Mostly Texas Judges, of Course - Take the Word of Police Automatically, According to the United States Supreme Court

It's rare for the United States Supreme Court, with 5 ultra conservative justices, to ever side against police or prosecutors.  But some right-wing judges take that history as a license to go even further out from reality to help police to the detriment of regular citizens.

Real Life Crime Labs Not At All Like TV

The crime lab procedural has been among the most popular genres at least since "CSI" debuted in 2000, and devotees of blood-spatter patterns and advanced DNA analysis have no shortage of programming to choose from. There's "Person of Interest," "The Good Wife," "Blacklist," "Castle," and "The Mentalist." All are in the top 20 best-rated shows on television. And let's not forget "Bones," "Dexter," "CSI: Las Vegas," "Cold Case Files," "The Real NCIS," and "Forensic Files."  But you ought not believe any of the fancy (not to mention instantaneous) forensic "results" shown on these TV dramas.  Television writers give the public a perception of forensic science that is anything but accurate.  Sadly, the public believes it - and that includes jurors.  (Fairness Admission: I have used that very misperception to the great advantage of several clients at trial by pressing police witnesses to explain why they "didn't bother" trying to get fingerprints from this or that piece of evidence, why they didn't conduct various tests as seen on TV everyday -- and the jurors frankly were very impressed each time.)