June 10, 2020

all cats are beautiful

Woke up to a thunderstorm and an internet outage. Apparently, there was a power flicker earlier—not enough to set the clocks blinking, but enough to conk out the router, which is always kind of a princess even at the best of times. Having nothing else to do, I settled down to read the murder trial articles that I downloaded last night.

But geez, I cannot read this transcript the same way any more. Every time a police officer opens his mouth, I wonder: Is he lying? What about now? What about now? My view of cop credibility is just utterly down the drain.

Was this defendant railroaded? That's what he claims.

Honestly, it wouldn't take intentional railroading to obtain a wrongful conviction in this case. Defendant was convicted solely on the basis of eyewitness identifications which were all extremely dubious. The shooting took place at dusk. All the witnesses were strangers, and most had only a few moments to see the culprit before he started shooting and they were all running and ducking for cover. All the identifications were cross-racial, which studies show are less accurate. Also the police procedure was very dodgy: they didn't put defendant in a proper lineup, they just had him in a one-man showup in a squad car after dark and asked all the witnesses to identify him.

But it puts a whole different cast on things when you think about how those police had an incentive to get him convicted to boost their ratio of solved homicides.

I feel like judges and juries automatically believe anything that comes out of a cop's mouth. To be fair, I have a biased sample, I only hear about convictions in the news. But also, consider every suppression hearing ever: The defendant testifies, "They didn't read me my rights and shackled me to the wall for 12 hours and wouldn't give me food or let me use the bathroom." And cop #1 testifies "nuh-uh" and cop #2 testifies "what he said" and the trial judge says, "I find the cops' testimony to be credible and compelling, motion to suppress denied." And I just cannot look at these things the same way any more, any of them.

Written by Achaius

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