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Police: 13 dead; 58 injured in Colorado theater shooting

Discussion in 'The OT' started by Unknown, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Aug 1, 2012 #681 of 714
    djlong

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    From the real world: http://www.policemisconduct.net/police-prosecutorial-misconduct-texas/

    That's just ONE county in ONE state.

    From: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-05-20/wrongful-convictions-exonerations/55098856/1

    I'm not criticizing you for not believing it happens much. We just haven't been hearing about it much.

    Would these statistics indicate to you, in your opinion, that it's more common than "very unlikely in the real world" - to use your words?
     
  2. Aug 1, 2012 #682 of 714
    SayWhat?

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    Misconduct of prosecutors and investigators is a much bigger issue than most care to believe. As long as careers and promotions are based on 'win' rates, misconduct will continue to happen. Many Assistant DAs have ridden conviction rates to election as DA. Some of them see that as more important that getting the RIGHT person(s) convicted.

    The 'real world' is a pretty crooked place.
     
  3. Aug 1, 2012 #683 of 714
    RunnerFL

    RunnerFL Well-Known Member

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    I'll "chill" when I stop getting attacked by people like you, and others on ignore, who seem to make it a sport. Your post indeed came at me. Remember, perception is the rule.

    I still say you can't compare the two in the context I was speaking of.
     
  4. Aug 1, 2012 #684 of 714
    runner861

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    It is important to clarify what we are talking about here. What we were talking about, as I understood it, is intentional prosecutorial misconduct. In other words, the prosecutor has something exculpatory in his/her hand, but decides to intentionally suppress it. That is extremely rare.

    That does not include situations of poor document handling, of documents inadvertently not being handed over, of defense attorneys being asleep at the switch and not properly reviewing documents handed over. What the 60 Minutes report showed was a huge tragedy, one not to be minimized. And the innocent man who spent 25 years in prison suffered greatly. But I wasn't convinced, and didn't see any evidence, that the document was intentionally withheld. Instead, as I stated in my previous post, I saw a great likelihood that the prosecutor either inadvertently did not hand over the document, or the defense attorney did not notice it when it was handed over.

    Today prosecutors and defense attorneys are subject to greater scrutiny, and documents and other items are handled in a more orderly fashion.

    I read the article you attached about the situation in Dallas. It really doesn't provide enough information to get a full picture.

    The other article, from USA Today, was better. It identifies 873 convictions over the past 23 years that were faulty. It also notes that about 400 million non-traffic prosecutions occurred during that same time. So we are talking about a very small percent. By far most of the convictions occurred as a result of faulty eyewitness identification, an area that is dicey. Eyewitnesses can be wrong, but they can be right, too, so how does one evaluate the testimony of an eyewitness? But that is a separate issue from a prosecutor intentionally withholding evidence.

    The report indicates that of the 416 homicide exonerations, in 56 percent of those cases official police or prosecutorial misconduct contributed to the conviction. So that is about 233 of the cases that misconduct contributed to the conviction.

    Remember, misconduct by the prosecution does not have to be intentional. It can be inadvertent, as in inadvertently not handing over a document. The study did also conclude that the "overwhelming" number of persons convicted are in fact guilty. The study did not draw a distinction between inadvertent misconduct and intentional misconduct. But 233 cases of misconduct, either inadvertent or intentional, out of 400 million prosecutions is a very small number.

    That does not diminish the tragedy for the person who is wrongfully convicted. No one wants to see an innocent person convicted. But intentional misconduct by our nation's prosecutors--that is very rare indeed.
     
  5. Aug 1, 2012 #685 of 714
    runner861

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    With beliefs like you espouse here, no one can ever be convicted of anything. Any evidence that proves guilt you dismiss as the result of fabrication or misconduct. Any person who lives in the real world, that is, has been a victim of a crime, wouldn't be saying this. Remember, we are talking about real people who experience real tragedies, not some game of chess. What you are expressing is extreme naiivete disguised as sophistication. I ask you again, where is your evidence, rather than just unsupported assertions? Remember, it is easy to make allegations, but getting at the truth takes some work.
     
  6. Aug 1, 2012 #686 of 714
    runner861

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    I will note one case of prosecutorial misconduct. It was the case against Republican senator from Alaska Ted Stevens, brought by the Justice Dept. of the George Bush administration. The prosecutors were found to have not turned over numerous documents that could have helped Stevens in his corruption prosecution. He was found guilty and lost his election in 2008.

    The Dept. of Justice under Barack Obama's administration corrected the situation and sought the vacation of his conviction and did not refile charges. It didn't do former senator Stevens any good. He had lost his election and he died in a plane crash on the Alaskan tundra shortly thereafter.
     
  7. Aug 1, 2012 #687 of 714
    Stewart Vernon

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    It doesn't matter if the misconduct is intentional or not... if the prosecutor does something incorrect that results in the conviction of an innocent person... then we have a problem... and if that person has already been executed, it is an infinitely uncorrectable problem.

    That's the important point.

    So, yes... while victims should be considered in all of this... remember, convicting an innocent person for a crime he didn't commit means he too is a victim! Don't forget ALL the victims in such a case.

    Obviously there will be crimes and criminals for which there is no doubt because they are caught in the act... and for those, we don't need as much time for appeals. Just don't pain every possible future crime with the same limited brush.
     
  8. Aug 1, 2012 #688 of 714
    BattleScott

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    I'll note another one where NC DA Michael Nifong (D), appointed to his post by Governor Mike Easley (D), tried to further his own career by attempting to destroy the lives of 3 lacrosse players. He ended up destroying his own.
     
  9. Aug 1, 2012 #689 of 714
    runner861

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    Another good point, an example of prosecution at its worst.
     
  10. Aug 1, 2012 #690 of 714
    runner861

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    If prosecutorial misconduct is intentional or unintentional, it must be corrected. A criminal defendant should never have to suffer from misconduct by a prosecutor.

    However, whether it was intentional or unintentional does bear on the culpability of the prosecutor and how that person should be dealt with. And despite a few well publicized cases, prosecutorial misconduct remains very, very rare. Just look at the USA Today article posted by djlong. Any misconduct is too much, but it is very, very rare.

    For that matter, exonerations are very, very rare. Most of them are based on faulty eyewitness identification.
     
  11. Aug 1, 2012 #691 of 714
    BattleScott

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    While I agree with your general view on the occurence of misconduct at the level we're talking about here (withholding evidence, tampering, etc.) I disagree with your portrait of the vast majority of prosecutors being humble servants of the people simply looking to do what is right. We're talking about political offices, and as such, they're daily decision process is always influenced on some level by the need to be re-elected.

    "Do I take this case on knowing that I might take a beating in the media?"

    "Governor's not going to be too happy if I go after this guy, if I want the lt. gov spot, maybe I just say there's not sufficient evidence at this time..."

    "Wow, not the best evidence in the world, but I think I could get some real mileage out of this one. I can show how tough I am on gun crime..."

    "Hmm, Mr. Gov really wants to push the "Tough on Drug Dealers" persona this year. Let's just plea bargain these robberies and assault cases and work on getting these dopers strung up..."

    "I don't think this is right, but I know the DA really wants this case prosecuted. If I don't do, he'll just get someone else..."


    Fortunately, I think our system is robust enough to protect us from a great deal of it, but that doesn't really change the fact that it is taking place.
     
  12. Aug 1, 2012 #692 of 714
    SayWhat?

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    You're talking about the high profile cases.

    I'm talking about the small town cases nobody ever hears about. There are still a lot of Boss Hogg/Roscoe P Coltrane operations out there where people that cross them are deliberately put away.

    Quote cases? Nope. They bury them so they can't be discovered. And it ain't fiction either.
     
  13. Aug 1, 2012 #693 of 714
    BattleScott

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    Yeah, but then they will just call their Lawyer cousin from New York and him and his hot mechanic girlfriend will figure out that it was a '63 Pontiac Tempest and not a '64 Buick Skylark... :lol:
     
  14. Aug 1, 2012 #694 of 714
    Stewart Vernon

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    There are some in this thread who made the statement that shootings like the one in the title of this thread are very rare too... in fact, based on the numbers... it would appear this shooting is more rare than is prosecutor misconduct! How's that for irony?

    If the argument is we don't need to worry about possible misconduct by a prosecutor that leads to a guilty verdict for an innocent man because it is rare... then devil's advocate says you must also say we don't need to worry about prosecuting shooters like this because he is rare too.

    I don't mean that of course... but that's where the logic trap leads you.

    Convicting an innocent man is far worse than letting a guilty man go. I grant you that victims of a crime will not feel that way... but consider (as I said before) that an innocent man who is convicted now becomes a victim too and so he would argue like I am that it is a "lesser evil" to let a bad man go than to lock up a good man.

    And the key thing is while we can apologize and even throw money at an innocent man released from prison... some small consolation for the injustice... we can't rectify an execution of an innocent man.

    So I stand by the statement that it doesn't matter how rare or if intentional... since the possibility exists for an innocent man to be wrongfully convicted, we can't just limit the appeals for all people and all convictions. Each one has to be case-by-case to determine how long you can appeal before the sentence must be carried out.
     
  15. Aug 1, 2012 #695 of 714
    runner861

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    If you look at any/all of my prior posts, you will see that I never said that prosecutorial misconduct is ok, or shouldn't be worried about. Quite the opposite, I have said that no defendant should have to suffer as a result of prosecutorial misconduct. I have also said that when it occurs, it must be corrected. So I never said anything about not worrying about prosecutorial misconduct. On the contrary, I take it very seriously.

    I never commented in any prior posts on the appropriateness of the death penalty, nor on the appropriate number of appeals. All I commented on was the statements by some (not you) that seem to imply or state that intentional prosecutorial misconduct is frequent (as in deliberately suppressing exculpatory evidence). This type of misconduct is extremely rare, and I have seen nothing in the news or in my personal experience that convinces me otherwise.
     
  16. Aug 1, 2012 #696 of 714
    runner861

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    You make some good points, and political considerations can enter into the decisionmaking process of the elected prosecutor. But, as you acknowledge, what I am talking about is intentional misconduct (as in destruction of evidence) by the career prosecutor or line prosecutor. That type of misconduct must be dealt with harshly when it occurs, but it remains an extreme rarity. That being said, any prosecutor who engages in intentional misconduct is not worthy of carrying the badge.
     
  17. Aug 1, 2012 #697 of 714
    SayWhat?

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    As much as I hate to bring up the Peterson trial, there's some possible misconduct going on there that has the Judge ticked off and considering a mistrial.
     
  18. Aug 1, 2012 #698 of 714
    phrelin

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    In passing, the latest news is worth noting:
    I'm sure that doesn't justify my belief that we ought to have a better mental health system in this country.
     
  19. Aug 1, 2012 #699 of 714
    dpeters11

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    That's one that I wouldn't mind if they were never named again. Both Drew and Scott.
     
  20. Aug 1, 2012 #700 of 714
    SayWhat?

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    And in the Maryland copycat case, they're finding they don't have laws in place to charge the guy the way they would like to. He is still under psychiatric observation though.
     

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