Friday, January 22, 2010

Professional Courtesy: Part 2--Give Me a Break!

Disclaimer:  there are many fine and intelligent people working in law enforcement;  and, I'd be the first to acknowledge that all patrol law enforcement are routinely confronted with challenges I would not wish on you or me.  Some law enforcement acquit themselves with honor, most . . . with competence;  and, there are places on the web where you can read the heartwarming tales of these men and women;  but, as a rule, not here.  This blawg is interested in the fundamental problem of corruption:  the corruption of lawyers (including me), corrupt judges and corrupt law makers. 
The cops are a species onto themselves. Different rules apply to the cops, and we all have different expectations. On Bad Lawyer it is one of my missions to explore and expose Bad Cops--as we have done and will continue to do with the series of posts like :  Why I Hate the Cops!, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Boys and Their Toys.  Recently, I had occasion to post on the subject of Professional Courtesy  which deals with what we all know and suspect--law enforcement has a bifurcated set of rules:  the rules that apply to you and me;  and, the rules they enforce or should I say, don't enforce against one another.

Which leads to this morning's post about the cops of New York's Lower Hudson valley  who admit to covering up DWI arrests of one another, here's the report from  The article is part of a larger look by their reporting staff following the arrests of White Plains patrolman Joe Zepeda, Westchester Officer Joseph Kraus, Dobbs Ferry policeman Michael Huffman and  acounty Correction Officer Patricia Yancy-Johnson on misdemeanor DWI charges following accidents within a three-week period. The four officers were off duty, and each refused blood-alcohol testing.

It is cliche` among criminal defense attorneys that the cops reflexively lie on the stand;-- having handled on average one criminal case a year, I've not arrived at that impression.  I do suspect that law enforcement testimony is pretty "pat," which means officers tend to have canned impressions that come out in little packages of testimony that may or may not be credible.  The police contour their impressions in an outcome-based approach to offering testimony and evidence.  This sort of thing is expected by lawyers and judges, and, I think, to a lesser extent by juries.  In the extreme case, cops contouring their testimony perjure themselves, although I don't think it rises to that level all that often, at least I hope not, at least outside of Maricopa County, Arizona.

The point is: the wholesale practice of allowing Brother and Sister law enforcement to drive drunk drunk,  that my friends is scary, dangerous, and an abandonment by the cops of their sworn responsibility.  It is corrupt.

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