The Costs of Sanctioned Police Dishonesty

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

A really stellar opinion (PDF) from Florida Circuit Judge Joseph G. Will. The police lied to get into a woman’s home. This isn’t disputed. They then claim she gave them permission to search further. This, she disputes. So it’s her word against the police officer’s. Over to Judge Will:

Many have unsuccessfully argued in the course of this evolution in the law that in permitting, and thereby encouraging, dishonest conduct by the police we have corrupted not only our police, but also our communities. While it is certainly true that these techniques are very successful in arresting some lawbreakers, there may be a standard to which our society and our government should aspire that is loftier than simple expediency. Dishonesty is seldom without consequences for any of us. When the government lies to its citizens, though, the consequences are dire. What of the societal costs included when officers of the law offend law-abiding citizens by lying to them? Or the costs of teaching and encouraging young officers to be dishonest in their work for the sake of enhancing their arrest rates? Or the costs suffered when naturally enthusiastic officers who are taught to be dishonest in one “investigative” realm come to appreciate that dishonesty “works” just as well when it is not legally permitted? When a “white lie” told for legally permissible reasons morphs into the “white lie” told for noble, but illegal, reasons? What are the costs of alienating those growing segments of the community where “knock and talk” sessions are more likely to become a standard practice? Or the costs incurred when police come before the court, time after time, employing deceitful law enforcement practice?

What are the costs of teaching the community that law enforcement officers, whom ideally deserve the trust of the citizen, cannot be trusted to tell the simple truth? That no one is wearing the white hat anymore? That the ends justify the means? That the virtue of honesty is essential in our families and individual lives, but that same virtue is optional for the executive branch of our government in the exercise of its police powers? A nation founded on the notions we find in our Constitution is surely better than this.

The mother of the defendant was not shown in any manner to be a person unlikely to tell the truth. The officer, on the other hand, clearly lied to gain access to her home. A person who admits his lie in the opening seconds of his testimony before the court cannot be heard moments later to say that his first lie was his only lie. Culling the lies from the truth in the testimony of a single witness is, indeed, an exercise in futility. This court suggests that none of us has the ability to parse the truth that well, and it would be intellectually dishonest to even tread that path. As discussed above, there is a significant sacrifice by the state when it relies upon dishonest police conduct at the base of its prosecution. Once the character or reputation of any witness has been dru11aged, it is difficult to reconstruct, in whole or in part. As we all know, a little boy may falsely call “wolf’ only so many times before no one listens. A simple statement, it is hoped, that does not fall upon deaf ears in the law enforcement community . . .

One is tangentially reminded of the story of the man who offered a woman one million dollars for sex. She agreed, which led him to ask if she would agree for ten dollars. She angrily asked: “What do you think I run?” He replied: “We know what you are. We are just haggling over price.” It is embarrassing, at best, in this or any other case to be haggling over the degree or extent of truthfulness in the testimony of an officer of law. We shame ourselves when we entertain the notion.

And we allow it because we think it’s more important that we continue to try to prevent people from getting high.

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56 Responses to “The Costs of Sanctioned Police Dishonesty”

  1. #1 |  John P. | 

    The police have, once again. Taken a tool or legal instrument entrusted to them by the public and began wildly abusing it.

    In the history of police work has their ever been a law, a legal instrument or piece of equipment they public has entrusted to the police, that they haven’t abused?

    Yeah I can’t think of one either…

    Some people don’t like to blame it on their lack of intelligence, education or training because that does nothing to address the problem.

    But to address the problem you must first identity the primary cause.

    And in my opinion, ONE of the primary causes for the horrible condition of our countries police is the lack of any meaningful standards.

    Many in the legal profession know that cops love to fashion themselves as the “warriors” of the justice system… but everyone else in the legal profession knows differently.

    A judge I know personally likes to say the cops are the janitors of the legal system.

    Either way the problem is we hire people with little to no eduction, give them seriously deficient training in the law and the legal system. A gun, a badge and uniform and give them enormous powers over us.

    And then everyone is shocked when they quickly start abusing them and breaking the law themselves…

    Its about the lack of intelligence and education.

  2. #2 |  RT | 

    One wonders how much longer he will be on the bench, if the establishment has its way.

  3. #3 |  John David Galt | 

    The cause is the lack of accountability. Until cops who commit abuses face jail, they simply don’t have to care about the harm they do, and if we hate them they can just pretend we “don’t understand” them.

    Like hell we don’t.

  4. #4 |  Chuchundra | 

    That’s both sad and awesome at the same time.

  5. #5 |  DoctorT | 

    “… Its about the lack of intelligence and education.”

    That is just a small part of the explanation. The major part is the law enforcement culture: never rat on your fellow cops (or prosecutors) even if they regulary commit felonies, arrests and convictions of anyone are more important than ensuring that the actual perpetrators were caught, lying and entrapment are legitimate tactics, hiding exculpatory evidence also is a legitimate tactic, coerced confessions are good (especially if you can edit the recordings), fakery and fraud in your forensics labs are acceptable methods for getting convictions, displaying power and inciting fear are better than gaining community trust and cooperation, etc.

    This unethical, illegal, immoral law enforcement culture is found throught the US: FBI, DEA, ATM, Justice Department, Treasury Department, state police, local police, and federal, state, and local prosecutors. Many judges (some of whom were formerly prosecutors) actively support or passively enable our horrid law enforcement culture.

    “And then everyone is shocked when [law enforcment agents] quickly start… breaking the law themselves…”

    No, the problem is that almost no one cares about the police and prosecutors breaking laws. (Just as almost no one cares that many politicians and government bureaucrats are corrupt or behave unethically in office.)

  6. #6 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    If cops can simply lie about getting approval to enter people’s homes, cars, etc,that’s not acceptable. It turns the whole 4th Amendment into a
    make-believe obstacle, one that can always be circumvented, and
    therefore has no merit…
    The solution would be to make “You cannot enter” the default response and anything beyond that, in the absence of taped approval, would require a judge and a warrant…

  7. #7 |  John P. | 

    Yizmo Gizmo, the cops would simply go back to lying to the judge to secure search warrants…

  8. #8 |  Burgers Allday | 

    “What do you think I run?” seems like a typo

    Great post, mr. balko!

  9. #9 |  Other Sean | 

    John P and Doctor T (please consider forming a band with those names),

    I also passed through similar phases: First I thought: “these guys are just bad people.” Next it was “well they aren’t inherently bad, but they must be badly trained.” After that it was “the culture of the profession has turned vicious” But after prolonged contact with the facts, each of these ideas cracked into little pieces.

    Think of it this way: is there any way to “train” eight year olds not to eat cake, when they find themselves left alone with it? Is there any “culture” that could stop teenagers from having sex, once they gain sufficient privacy to do so?

    No and no, right? You could lecture an eight year old about self-control every day of his life, but is you leave him alone with cake for a couple hours, he will remember that it’s delicious and act accordingly. Likewise, even Islamic fundamentalists don’t rely on “culture” to keep the boys off the girls; they rely on physical separation and unremitting surveillance.

    Well…like most human beings, cops have a lot in common with hungry eight year olds and horny teenagers. You can bombard them for years with the history and meaning of the 4th Amendment, but it will not make them forget they want to find a way into your house. You can surround them with slogans about honesty, integrity, and justice, but they will remember that they want to score an impressive arrest any way they can.

    If you wait for better cops, better training, and a more refined culture in law enforcement, you’ll be waiting forever. Scalia would love for you to believe in those solutions, and so would your local FOP.

    The only hope there is rests with the brutishly simple application of incentives. Mostly, that means making police chiefs fear the public, and then giving them the power to fire people arbitrarily.

    After all…you would never say “there is something broken in the culture of the Starbucks near my house, maybe they need better training.” You would never have to say that, because if the service got bad enough for long enough, the manager would simply be fired.

    That’s what works…that’s the only thing that works.

  10. #10 |  Denise LaChance | 

    Well said! Thanks for posting.

  11. #11 |  C.E. | 

    I can tell you that Judge Will is an exception. Judges don’t seem to have the slightest problem with police lying, even if they are lying to the judge. It is dismaying how often law enforcement officers will prevaricate under oath–many times when it’s not even necessary. It is endemic to the profession.

  12. #12 |  marco73 | 

    Wow, I wonder how long Judge Will will be on the bench. I’d expect the FOP and Sheriff’s Association to draw straws to see who tries to run him out of town first.

  13. #13 |  SJE | 

    I don’t think its education, intelligence or personality. Education, intelligence or personality is not an excuse for breaking the law.

    The judge hits the nail on the head: if you allow corrupt cops or prosecutors to get away with it, the entire system is corrupted. I hope the judge has some venom for the prosecutor who brought this case.

  14. #14 |  Difster | 

    What continues to baffle me is that we continue to hold up the police as automatic heroes and good guys when they are most certainly not.

  15. #15 |  Whim | 

    I have a simple solution, aptly used by Soviet AgitProp during their Great Patriotic War:


    Just kidding of course…..

  16. #16 |  John P. | 

    Other Sean, your argument is a bit flawed, because you assume that our cops are 8 year olds or horny teenager… and just as with Starbucks we have viable alternatives than calling or dealing with the police…

    None of that is true.

    Cops are not 8 year old or horny teenagers… they are adults and we are led to believe professionals to boot.

    With Starbucks, if you get bad service you just stop going… you can;t do that with your police department.

    While I like your idea of making police chiefs fear the public, just as any elected or appointed official should.

    Again its an issue of intellect and education.

    I’d love to see a nationwide study of police misconduct, which categorized rates by level of education.

    I bet you a dozen donuts the overwhelming numbers of cops who engage in misconduct have no college education at all.

    Since most cops don’t even have highschool diplomas, only GED’s I’d bet many fall in tot his category… no college, non-highschool graduate and the only post-GED schooling they have ever had was a basic police academy.

  17. #17 |  John P. | 

    Difster, What you are describing is called the Cult of Personality….

  18. #18 |  Random Observer | 

    Well said. It’s a shame the judge feels the need to spell it out in such detail.

  19. #19 |  Other Sean | 

    John P (forgive me if I answer your points out of sequence),

    1.) “I’d love to see a nationwide study of police misconduct, which categorized rates by level of education.”

    I have done such a study on a regional basis. It did not show what you expect it to show. Neither would a nationwide study, because…as it turns out, the four years of drunken hook-ups and clumsily bluffed term papers we call “college” does not turn anyone into a good person. It just makes them sound a little smarter when they speak. And it doesn’t always do that.

    2.) “Since most cops don’t even have highschool diplomas, only GED’s”.

    That statement is just completely false.

    3.) “Cops are not 8 year old or horny teenagers… they are adults and we are led to believe professionals to boot.”

    That’s why they call it an analogy. The point is that the temptation cops feel to do certain things, under the pressures of the current system, is just as powerful as the temptation for little kids to eat cake.

    4.) “With Starbucks, if you get bad service you just stop going… you can’t do that with your police department.”

    That’s precisely the idea. Let this moment be your welcome to the brave new world of anarcho-libertarianism….or at the very least, to the slightly less brave world or resurgent federalism.

  20. #20 |  John P. | 

    Since you have done such a study, perhaps you’d let someone take a look at it, instead of just taking your word…

    My experience has been the exact opposite.

    We had the opportunity to look directly at 10 years worth of POST disciplinary records for my state. And nearly all the cops who lost their POST certifications had no college.

    Attempting to analogize this problem is a problem in and of itself.

    Perhaps thats where the breakdown in communications is occurring.

    Advocating a new political doctrine, that’s an interesting idea. The others seem to have failed us… but, I doubt an new one would change anything much… its the same players just in different uniforms, different team names…

    Perhaps its all simply too far gone?

    Perhaps anything we try to do is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?

    Perhaps the only answer is full blown anarchy, followed by revolution, followed by a completely fresh start.

  21. #21 |  Other Sean | 

    John P,

    “And nearly all the cops who lost their POST certifications had no college.”

    Most cops don’t have college degrees, so of course most cops accused of misconduct don’t have college degrees. You’d have to show a difference in the education levels between 1 (all cops) and 2 (cops found guilty of misconduct by licensure boards).

    But as we all know, the second group is always and everywhere too small for statistically significant comparisons. You can’t have 17,000 cops on one side of the comparison and on the other 36 exceptional idiots who took their cases all the way to the state POST commission and then somehow managed to lose, even in a system that is massively rigged in their favor. If anything, maybe your study found the 36 least convincing liars in the history of law enforcement.

    But would things really be better if they had learned to lie more convincingly in college?

    And more to the point, what is it that you think people get from college that would make them better cops?

  22. #22 |  Windy | 

    “dru11aged”? Was that supposed to be “damaged”? Or is it some arcane word only used in “law”?

    Good to see someone in the [in]justice system still has integrity, too bad it is not more widespread.

  23. #23 |  John P. | 

    Critical thinking skills would certainly benefit cops. They don’t get anything even remotely close in public school nor the police academy these days.

    Critical thinking is an important component of most professions. Yet our cops are seriously lacking in this ability.

    Having the capacity to engage in reasonable reflective thinking should be a quality all cops should possess. But what you see these days are public school dropouts, poorly trained at the basic police academy level, then turned loose upon the public, unsupervised…

  24. #24 |  Matt | 

    Its seems a bunch of you who are posting here know nothing about what you are talking about..I cant speak for the rest of the country but as far as Florida is concerned to get a job as a Law Enforcement officer with any department in Florida requires you to have a high school diploma (not a GED), a college degree and pass a battery of exams that are not easy. All you who say the problem is education level just are either naive or just plain ignorant. The real problem is the culture of “Us Vs. Them” attitude that exists in law enforcement. That is what has led to these issues and nothing else. This is a more complicated issue to resolve than any of you could understand unless you have worn a badge and know what its like. The whole system has failed from the top down and until you address that nothing is going to change and until the public (IE the uneducated people that seem to post here) educate themselves about what is really the causes and not just spewing non-sense that has no truth that is just nothing more than existing prejudice its going to do nothing but make the problem worse…..

  25. #25 |  UCrawford | 

    The police chief apparently didn’t take the opinion well.

  26. #26 |  croaker | 

    @7 “Go back to”??? They never stopped.

    @12 What’s the over/under for this judge getting arrested for .00 DUI or with drop drugs in his trunk?

    @24 This is my surprised face —> :|

  27. #27 |  J’raxis 270145 | 

    The “dru11aged” and “What do you think I run?” typos look like OCR scan errors for “damaged” and “What do you think I am?”, respectively.

  28. #28 |  marco73 | 

    @25. Based on the story from #24, looks like the police chief gets first crack at running Judge Will out of town. The sheriff will just have to wait his turn. Professional courtesy.
    I don’t think the chief would do something so transparent as to arrest the judge. I think it will be a campaign of leaks to the local badge-licking media about how the judge is “soft”, and how the judge is a tyrant to his staff, maybe the judge is misappropriating funds, of course all reported anonymously and with a drip, drip, drip quality.
    Now if I’m a relative of the judge, I’d make sure that my license, tags, and insurance all all up to date and available. You know that arresting someone’s child or niece/nephew is a great way to apply leverage.

  29. #29 |  MH | 

    @22 yes, the word is ‘damaged’ in the original. It’s a low quality PDF and the software did not read it correctly during copy and paste.

  30. #30 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    There’s a public and legal consensus that the police are allowed to lie during interrogations. This probably has something to do with the police lying at other times.

    Is there any reason to think that education leads to greater honesty? There are certainly enough scandals (the financial crisis, scientific fraud) caused by educated people. School doesn’t generally teach or encourage moral behavior, though I don’t think it discourages it either.

    I’m pretty sure that the best available tool for controlling the police is public outrage which is transmitted through the political system. This doesn’t mean success is guaranteed, just that I can’t think of anything better.

  31. #31 |  Other Sean | 

    John P,

    But that’s just it: there is NO reason to believe that people actually learn critical thinking skills in college. Probably they never did, but almost certainly they do not now.

    What college does these days is teach people a middle class vocabulary, so they can say things like “undercurrent of racism” and walk around using “privilege” as a verb. (That’s for humanities students, of course; the ones who just take business classes only learn to use phrases like”going forward” and “level five leadership”.) Outside of math and science, it’s all the most rancid shite.

    But you know what college does do, very reliably? It gives people just enough snobbery and aspiration to make them NOT want to apply for the local police academy.

    So your solution amounts to: we would have better cops if we could staff our police departments with people who don’t want to be cops.

    Unless you plan on using conscription, you got a serious problem there….

  32. #32 |  Other Sean | 

    Nancy #28,

    “Is there any reason to think that education leads to greater honesty?”

    You said it. I used to believe exactly what John P believes, until I got into the workforce and saw the absolutely hideous mischief carried out by middle brow people who embraced the polish and image of education, while cynically spitting out all of its content and values like a pistachio shell.

    Their essentially blue collar sensibility is one of the more likable things about cops. They would not be made better by developing the argot of baccalaureate elitism (of which that phrase was surely an example).

  33. #33 |  Mike T | 

    John P, you are making a category error in diagnosing why the cops do these things. You are assuming that they need more education to know what to do, and then they will do it. However, that makes no sense when you consider that the average small child knows that it is wrong to gain access to someone’s house by means of deception. If a small child can understand and apply this without even an elementary school education, then it defies logic to think that cops would need any “additional education” to not do this. To say that they do, would literally say that a small child typically has a higher comprehension of basic right and wrong than those we give guns and badges.

  34. #34 |  James | 

    As someone who’s had a police officer stand before a judge and give false testimony…and have that’s officer’s false testimony outweigh 4 witnesses in my defense (only due to their relationship with me)…I am so thankful to see some in our judicial branch understand the dangers imposed with allowing dishonesty in our legal system.

  35. #35 |  perlhaqr | 

    Well, that was a surprisingly cheerful read.


    Other Sean ++

  36. #36 |  Mario | 

    I read the bellyaching complaint from the police chief to the judge. Are we to believe that any time police get an anonymous tip they should, rather than seek a warrant or open an investigation, lie their way into a person’s home and begin searching it? Those cops are liars, but I’m not even sure what to call the police chief. I just know that we’d all be better off without people like him in such positions.

  37. #37 |  Supreme Court Announces Blutarsky Doctrine In Equal Protection Cases | Popehat | 

    […] Protection Cases Jun 4, 2012 By Patrick. Law, Politics & Current Events From Radley Balko and Scott Greenfield comes the heartwarming tale of Florida Circuit Judge Joseph Will, who, while […]

  38. #38 |  Robert | 

    So, if she had denied them entry when they first lied about the 911 disconnect, whould they have just ignored that and gone on in anyways? I’d say yes, the would have, and they would have lied about that as well.

  39. #39 |  James G | 

    John P.: While I understand your analysis to the root cause, education & intelligence. Isn’t this also the root cause of the deficit we see in public school?

    Both seem to suffer from economics. Demand is high — in an effort to meet that demand, society gives us more people to meet teacher & police, but at a cost/penalty; they aren’t as educated/intelligent/talented for that job.

    We hire more people, but the pool of talent is diluted, their education/intelligence suffers because the standards are lower. The standards are lower because there is a need for more?

    How do we solve this in an economy like we have now?

  40. #40 |  SJE | 

    From a legal standpoint, the judge called it right. There is a dispute as to whether the mother consented to the search. She says not, and there is no reason to disbelieve her. The cop said she did, but he had just admitted to lying to gain entry. “I was lying then, but I’m not lying now” If balancing the testimony of two witnesses, it should favor the mother.

    Why did the judge need to go into such a long statement? Perhaps he was PO’d by police behavior. But also, he needs to explain WHY he didnt just defer to the police, which is SOP.

    What I’d like to see is statement from the Chief Judge admonishing the Chief of Police. The police might not like a decision, but they should not attack the judge for one decision they don’t like. See Maricopa County.

  41. #41 |  DoctorT | 

    @Other Sean: “…You can surround them with slogans about honesty, integrity, and justice, but they will remember that they want to score an impressive arrest any way they can….”

    I’m old enough to remember when police culture was different. Most cops were trustworthy; they felt their primary duty was to be helpful to their community; and they could distinguish among good citizens, minor troublemakers, and criminals. No, it wasn’t always like Andy Griffith in Mayberry. But it certainly wasn’t SWAT teams shooting a guy who made sports bets.

  42. #42 |  Eyewitness | 

    #25 Crawford.
    This is not the first time Chitwood has taken issue with a judge. The police department and all of it’s functionaries are never wrong, and you’d better believe it, pal or Chitwood will straighten you out pronto. Chitwood is a grand publicity hound and the News-Journal caters to him.

  43. #43 |  Enos Eleazar | 

    This judge did nothing more than his job. Problem is most judges will and do not actually do their jobs. Their main job it to protect the people from the abuse of power. But for years the cops have cried like the 8 year old that they arrest the BAD GUY and the courts let them go.

    So a few years back we got TOUGH ON CRIME. What that actually means is that the procurers and police would charge everyone with so many crimes all related to one offense that they PLEA BARGAIN to a guilty plea and have forgotten how to honestly prove their case. (OJ Simpson, Kacy Anthony, Rush Limbaugh) are just the largest cases that prosecutor lost of did not file charges because these people had money to hire competent attorneys.

    So now the judges basically are just an extension of the prosecutors office in our kangaroo court system and prison industrial complex. Want to stop cops from lying get more judges that will do their job and throw out their cases based upon bad conduct.

  44. #44 |  John P. | 

    #24 | Matt says: “Its seems a bunch of you who are posting here know nothing about what you are talking about..I cant speak for the rest of the country but as far as Florida is concerned to get a job as a Law Enforcement officer with any department in Florida requires you to have a high school diploma (not a GED), a college degree and pass a battery of exams that are not easy.”

    Matt with all due respect you are the one who don’t; know what he is talking about…

    From the State of Florida’s own website..

    To becoming a certified police officer in Florida:

    1. Meet the Minimum Qualifications established in Florida Statutes 943.13

    Individuals must:

    be at least 19 years of age.

    be a citizen of the United States.

    have earned a high school diploma or equivalent (GED) for law enforcement and corrections applicants. A bachelors degree is required for correctional probation officers.

    Not have been convicted of any felony or of a misdemeanor involving perjury or false statement. Any person who, after July 1, 1981, pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, or is found guilty of a felony, or of a misdemeanor involving perjury or a false statement, shall not be eligible for employment or appointment as an officer, not-withstanding suspension of sentence or withholding of adjudication.
    never have received a dishonorable discharge from any of the Armed Forces of the United States.

    You only need a degree to be a “correctional probation officer” whatever that it…

  45. #45 |  John P. | 

    #31 | Other Sean

    I’ll grant you that an education would steer most away from LE… and those who still wanted to be in LE after graduation would most likely end up at the FBI et al…

    Not as mindless street cops.

  46. #46 |  supercat | 

    #6 | Yizmo Gizmo | “The solution would be to make “You cannot enter” the default response and anything beyond that, in the absence of taped approval, would require a judge and a warrant…”

    More generally, interactions between cops and citizens should be presumed coercive (meaning that even beyond proving that a person “consented”, a cop should have to prove that the person’s “consent” did not stem from a belief that a cop might decide to punish non-cooperation).

  47. #47 |  Other Sean | 

    Doctor T #38,

    I’m curious to know HOW you remember what police culture was like in the old days. Isn’t it just possible that cops have mostly stayed the same, while your knowledge and understanding of police misconduct has grown dramatically? Isn’t it possible that sources like The Agitator have merely exposed things that were always there, buried beneath the propaganda of the mainstream media and D.A.R.E.?

    Also…it’s really hard to accept the idea of a better time in police work when most of the issues we talk about here were fodder for the culture as far back as Dirty Harry (1971), Serpico (1973), Dirty Harry, Prince of the City (1980), etc.

  48. #48 |  Other Sean | 

    John P #45,

    I’m sorry, my friend…but it is lazy, counter-productive, and wrong to brand an entire group of people as mindless, even if that group happens to be “street cops”.

    It’s even worse for you to accept the notion that FBI agents are somehow better than patrolman. Better at what, I’d like to know.

    Because if I had to choose right now between a South Philly street cop kicking my ass and an FBI agent visiting my house to “ask a few questions”, I’d take the ass kicking twice with mustard.

    Orthopedic surgeons can sometimes fix the kind of damage done by regular cops, but I don’t know any lawyer slick enough to keep me out of prison when one of your highly-educated Quantico grads comes after me with a federal warrant in hand.

    You really don’t know what you’re wishing for.

  49. #49 |  CyniCAl | 

    This is exactly why there are no good cops.


    Fuck the police forever and ever, amen.

    And eternal shame on the judge for equating honest prostitutes with lying scum douchebag pigs.

  50. #50 |  KPR | 

    That’s nice sentiment from a Jurist, and it is terribly unfortunte that such sentiment is so seldom heard or read in stories eminating from American Courthouses.

    But there’s one difficulty.

    The police officer in question admitted he lied in order to get inside the defendant’s home. He admitted this, according to the Judge: ” A person who admits his lie in the opening seconds of his testimony before the court…” .

    Without that initial lie, this likely would have been another one of the great multitudes of cases where police lie under oath but because there’s no one coming forward to call them on it (other than non-sworn citizens… people who seldom count unless they have blue blood or connections to the Court) they get away with it over and over and over again.

    So, bully for the judge in this case. But by the same token, he made a frankly, OBVIOUS RULING. But I guess we have to be thankful for simple measures these days.

  51. #51 |  Avedon | 

    I realize I’m late to the party, here, but I have to ask: What makes anyone commenting here think there is something vastly superior in a regular highschool diploma over a GED?

    The former only means you spent a little more time in highschool classes. The latter means you took a long, arduous series of exams.

    How is, say, another year of highschool a more highly educational and maturing process than leaving it to, possibly, go out into the adult world? I know highschool drop-outs who now have good jobs and are some of the most erudite people I’ve ever encountered.

    The principal cause of cops lying to secure convictions is that they are encouraged at every step of the way to do so, from the top – that’d be by people who have been to college, by and large. Those people make arrest and conviction such a priority that they’ve made sure cops know that quantity, rather than accuracy and legality, determine their rise (or fall) in the ranks. Yes, they really do have quotas, although the authorities always deny it. And it is rare for anyone to be held accountable for even the worst police conduct.

    And no, it isn’t always this way. When the police see themselves as keepers of the peace rather than as a military operation acting against “the enemy” (the citizens), they don’t behave like this. It isn’t a matter of whether they have training, it’s what they are being trained *for*.

  52. #52 |  Other Sean | 


    “The principal cause of cops lying to secure convictions is that they are encouraged at every step of the way to do so, from the top – that’d be by people who have been to college, by and large.”

    That’s been my point all along. But the cops-are-douchebags-end-of-story-now-I-feel-better-about-myself crowd just refuses to understand that.

    You know what happens when an honest cop goes into a prosecuting attorney’s office with a perfectly truthful report? It sounds like this:

    Attorney: “If the knife was on the console you have no case. We won’t issue a warrant for 1st degree domestic assault. Although it would be very different if the knife was found in the suspect pocket. Judge Putzfeld would accept that.”

    Cop: “Are you asking me to…”

    Attorney: “Of course not. I’m just saying, you know, we could issue this warrant if the knife had been found in his pocket. I’m saying that’s the only way we can issue it.”

  53. #53 |  Other Sean | 


    Please see above: you’re blaming the stable boy for the fact that the carriage house reeks of horse shit.

  54. #54 |  CyniCAl | 

    Nah, Sean, I just think the judge should leave the purple prose to those who can form proper metaphors. He’s confusing the message, which was a good one before he decided to confuse good old honest whores with the scum he associates with.

  55. #55 |  The high cost of police officers lying to get arrests and convictions « | 

    […] This decision by a Florida Circuit Court judge regarding what he deemed to be obvious lying by police officers is great reading, even though it’s from way back in January. I just read about it in a blog post by Radley Balko, agitator extraordinaire at his web site. […]

  56. #56 |  Links 6/10/12 | Mike the Mad Biologist | 

    […] suicide is make-believe. Musing on government regulation (about NYC’s big soda ban) The Costs of Sanctioned Police Dishonesty Pope Paul VI’s Error on Birth Control Congressional staffers, public shortchanged by high […]