Monday, July 16, 2007

Video of police encounters would reduce perjury

Police Perjury: "Judges let it slide. Prosecutors often encourage it," says Steven Gustitis, a criminal defense lawyer from Bryan, Texas blogging at The Defense Perspective. He laments Gov. Perry's veto of a bill in 2005 that would require written or recorded consent at traffic stops, legislation I wrote about quite a bit on Grits. Writes Gustitis:
I can't count how many times clients told me about the police searching their vehicles without consent, but the police report showed the officer's justification for the search was consent. Had these encounters been video taped I bet we'd have beaten some of those searches. However, since nothing was recorded it was always my client's word against that of the officer. Who do you think the judge and prosecutor believed?

10 comments:

Todd said...

"Had these encounters been video taped I bet we'd have beaten some of those searches."

And I'm willing to bet the opposite. Everyone always claims they didn't give consent. Just like everyone claims that their confession was coerced. Bull puckey. I've been there on enough of them to know that people will make up anything to get out of trouble.

Anonymous said...

Todd, can you explain why there is opposition to recording or obtaining written search consent and video of all "voluntary confessions"?

If what you say is true, I'm sure you would enjoy recorded and/or written confirmation of your point of view.

The fact is that judges, prosecutors and police will say and do anything to justify their actions. To them, the individual's rights are a joke! I've heard enough of them laughing to know.......

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Videotaping these encounters, like videotaping interrogations and confessions, prevents perjury by both parties and makes the system more honest all the way around. I'm with anon, any officer who doesn't perjure him or herself should be thrilled at the added confirmation - certainly prosecutors like it better when consent is written or recorded.

JT Barrie said...

My bet is that a lot of these "voluntary" admissions of guilt are taken under false pretenses. Police will lie about what they know to coerce confessions. Police work is all about "fishing expeditions": finding "suspicious" people and inventing allegations that must be refuted or accepted. Most low income people are just too intimidated by these heavy handed tactics.
The more outrageous the invented allegation is the easier it is to find "probable cause" as the suspect reveals information that the police are not entitled to - to refute the more serious made up allegations. Allowing searches for weapons to disprove allegations of murder often reveal hidden illegal drugs.
I was killing time after a 50k race and was accused of stalking a minor by a local cop. My crime was that I was hot and dirty after a long run and looked "suspicious". After this incident I have been very suspect about police motives - and for good reason. I've also been stopped on early morning and late night runs when I've lived in low income areas. These clowns can't distinguish between a regular training run gait and the adrenaline pulsing run of a felon escaping the scene of a crime. Of course now that my training gait is slower, I don't encounter that problem. Thank goodness for asthma!

As long as the police use subterfuge to combat crimes that involve micromanaging peoples' personal lives their motives should always be questioned. Back to my post 50k incident: the local DA stood behind his police misconduct - and all I wanted was an apology in writing from offending police. The local race director was not so forgiving. The police involved were eventually disciplined.

Anonymous said...

This is a false issue. All patrol vehicles are equipped with video cameras and every traffic stop and consent to search is videotaped right now. The legislation also required a police officer to advise someone that they did not have to consent. This admonition would reduce the number of consent searches. The only ones who would benefit from this legislation would be those are guilty of a crime that is uncovered by the search.

If you are into legalizing drugs or want to allow safer transportation of durgs, then this bill is for you!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So 2:33, your main complaint is that people might actually understand their rights before they decide about giving consent? That's pretty weak. If you're right they're all recorded anyway, I see no reason why you'd have a problem with this.

Anonymous said...

Coming from an officer's perspective, mobile video has been a savior. I record everything! Officers who have the equipment available, but don't use it are the ones you should watch for. Smart defense attorneys would be wise to get a copy of agencies' recording policy.

Todd said...

I don't have any problem with videotaping of incidents. However, the problem starts when an incident is discounted because it's not recorded. Sometimes, equipment breaks and isn't avaiable. Sometimes, the cop is on foot or bike patrol. Sometimes, the equipment runs out of batteries.

I think that they should be taped if possible but still be admissible if there is some malfunction.

Now if officers seem to have a high number of "malfunctions" close supervision should be implemented.

jt barrie,

How dare the police try to deter crime by making contact with a person running late at night in a high crime area. The nerve. Of course, if break-ins occur, you accuse the officers of not doing their jobs. Catch 22.

Anonymous said...

Love having video. Wish we had a helmet cam so that every crook's every move was recorded. Sure would put an end to a good bit of police bashing, and this blog would be so much more boring...possibly.

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