Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Informant in Kathryn Johnston case sues Atlanta police; 'Snitch' discussed all week at TPM Cafe Book Club

A couple of national items on the subject of informants caught my eye today:

TPM Cafe Book Club Discussing 'Snitch'
First, via the ACLU informant blog:
Check out the play Ethan Brown’s new book Snitch is getting this week at the TPM Cafe Book Club. His book will be the featured subject, with special guests contributing to the conversation, throughout the week. Each post has a string of comments and the conversation is hot!
Besides Brown himself, contributors to the discussion so far include Grits favorite, Loyola (CA) law professor Alexandra Natapoff and Doc Berman from the Sentencing Law & Policy blog.

I got to chat a bit with Ethan in New Orleans last week and have just begun to crack open his book myself, but definitely check out these writers and Ethan's commentary on TPM in the meantime.

GA man says snitching was his job, sues over blown cover, lost wages
Second, in a bizarre turn of events, the informant in Atlanta who police tried to get to perjure himself to cover up police misconduct in the death of Kathryn Johnston has sued the agency because the event ended his ability to get informant work, which was apparently a significant part of his income. Steve Rose in the Atlanta Constitution Journal blog, View from a Cop, writes:

Alex White, professional snitch, is suing Atlanta Police.

First, let’s get this out of the way: Should he have told on those narcotics cops? Damn right! No doubt. They got what they deserved. There’s plenty of dope out there without having to fabricate facts and doing what they did. Kathryn Johnston should not have been shot and killed that night. Alex White should have told the truth and Alex White did what he should have done. Whether or not he did it because it was the right thing to do or doing to cover his fanny is a matter of discussion I’m sure. Maybe it was the lesser of two evils.

Alex White’s “credibility” as a confidential informant has been damaged due to the fact that his face was on television. Now he can’t get a job as a confidential informant. That’s horrible. Is there some sort of pie chart or graph showing the dramatic decline of confidential informants? Those guys need a union.

I have no idea what are the merits of Mr. White's lawsuit, and from the description in this police officer's blog post it sounds a little squirrelly. But one suspects the court pleadings will provide interesting reading, giving a lot more first-hand, nitty gritty detail than we usually get to see about how police handle snitches.

It's a safe bet that a guy who made most of his income as a police informant to the point where he sued over lost wages has a lot of stories to tell.

RELATED: See also Radley Balko's coverage of the Kathryn Johnston case.


Anonymous said...

The informant hasn't a snowball's chance of making it past summary judgment.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Perhaps so - it does seem pretty off base. But I still bet the pleadings will be interesting reading! And it's amazing to me that this guy considered this his "job."

Anonymous said...

That's his problem. I can't imagine a federal judge agreeing that this was an employer/employer relationship.

It will be fun to read, but just another case that shouldn't be there. Bad cases like this lead people to be mislead about tort reform issues, so even the good cases will suffer.

Anonymous said...

The press has posted his picture on the net, I'm surprised he's still alive and walking the streets. But for how much longer?