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Use Evidence Even if Tainted to Convict the Guilty

June 14, 2010


We are told, "It is better to free 100 guilty men than risk convicting one innocent man," but that is absurd. While no fair and sane person wants to see an innocent individual go to jail, the above statement is fraught with error. Those "100 guilty" people will be free to prey upon hundreds of innocent ones and will not be limited to one innocent person.

Because of the above warped, witless, and wicked principle, the courts, in 1966, swung to the extreme of protecting the rights of the accused at the expense of the abused with its Miranda ruling. Since then, thousands of felons have walked out of court (or never arrived there) because investigators followed numerous silly, senseless procedural rules–rules put in place to protect crooks not to ensure fairness and justice. However, that may be changing with the Supreme Court’s decision last week to soften the Miranda ruling and it should correct judicial abuse as illustrated below.

Years ago, the U. S. Supreme Court released a confessed rapist (who raped again) because 7 1/2 hours was thought too long a delay between arrest and arraignment! Sure, as a Supreme Court Justice said, "Justice delayed is justice denied," but 7 1/2 hours? In such cases, justice is being sacrificed on the altar of procedure and while procedure is important, it is not an article of faith.

A man beat a young lady to death in California and after being read his rights (the victim had no rights) he refused to have a lawyer present. He waived all his rights and confessed to the murder; however, an appeals court tossed out his conviction (the judges should have been tossed out) because he hadn't been permitted to see his mamma! Those judges should be banned from the courtrooms and driving trucks for a living.

A Pennsylvania man admitted killing his mother, sister, and grandmother yet was released to freely walk the streets because the arresting officer told him that anything he said could be used "for or against" him. A court decided that the word "for" made his confession invalid! Why shouldn't an accused person's statement be used for him if it will help ferret out the truth?

If a police officer is careless in gathering and handling evidence, the criminal should not go free. The question should be: Did the accused commit the crime? If so, he should get slammer time, and if the officer broke the law in getting evidence, he should be disciplined, demoted, or dismissed or even go to jail. He should not go to jail unless there was criminal intent.

Extreme procedural rules are unreasonable, unnecessary, and unwanted. They handcuff the cops, handicap the courts, horrify the citizens, and honor the criminal. Thankfully, that changed last week and a suspect’s statement can be used against him if he does not clearly tell the police that he does not want to talk.

Innocence or guilt can only be determined by having all the evidence–knowing all the truth and having it presented in court. How the evidence was obtained is not relevant to justice being served. It may affect the way police officers are trained, promoted, etc., but it should have no impact on the accused. Justice should be primary.

Police, judges, prosecutors, etc., must all be held accountable for their actions, and surely that includes the criminal. If he is guilty, put him in jail; however, the evidence was obtained. The basic question is: Did he do the crime? Is he guilty? If so, then sock it to him, and then go after the cops if they broke the law.

Sometimes investigators make mistakes, get careless, get in a hurry or are incompetent. Such officers should not be treated as criminals but should be admonished and given further training to ensure that they do a better job the next time. However, the criminal should always be found guilty if the evidence substantiates it.

After the 1966 ruling, a criminal who made a voluntary confession could not be convicted unless the police officer "read him his rights." If the constable bungled, the criminal went free, and truth, justice, and the victims had no recourse. We all know that justice is blind, but we didn't think she was stupid. Maybe we are wrong. Too often justice is deaf, dumb, and blind as well as stupid.

It is time to get serious about putting felons in prison, and we must stop putting unreasonable, unnecessary, and unworkable restrictions upon police officers. Let's try to make their jobs easier rather than harder, and if they break the law then put them in prison.

Maybe the Court’s recent decision in favor of the cops instead of the crooks is a return to sanity. It’s about time!

Copyright ©2010 Dr. Don Boys, Ph.D.

Dr. Don Boys is a former menber of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 15 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows.

 


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