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When courts screw up

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  • When courts screw up

    I would like to know how you police officers feel when the justice system screws up, especially on cases you work hard on.

    There are a lot of stories in which criminals walk free due to bad prosecutors, bad judges, flaws in the law and so on.

    When this stuff happens, what gives you the will to go back on the streets and keep on going with the thought in the back of your head that even though you make an excellent job, there is always a chance that the justice system screws you up.
    Last edited by hd556; 09-17-2008, 05:33 PM.

  • #2
    A lot of our officers have a saying: "We just catch'em. We don't clean'em and cook'em".

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    • #3
      I stopped following my cases after about 5 years on the job.....I put my best into the arrest/report ect.....if it gets kicked later for any reason, its not my concern.....

      This job WILL eat you up if you let it......
      The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

      "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

      "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

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      • #4
        Take a deep breath...gaze wistfully at my paycheck stub...get in the car and bust someone else...repeat for 20 years.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by LA DEP View Post
          I stopped following my cases after about 5 years on the job.....I put my best into the arrest/report ect.....if it gets kicked later for any reason, its not my concern.....

          This job WILL eat you up if you let it......
          Well put.

          Those who are lucky enough to get off on a BS technicality will eventually get caught again. No skin off my back.
          I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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          • #6
            You can only do your best, then let the chips fall where they may. Filing D.A.'s with skewed world views, trial DA's more interested in politics than case management and juries as dumb as a box of rocks, will all conspire against your best efforts.

            I used to hang around and wait for the outcome of my cases, it was more frustrating than I care to recall. Just walk away and know that you did your best, you'll be much happier and sleep better
            LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRINK CHEAP BEER!

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            • #7
              As someone who has actually prosecuted a few cases and reviewed many more for filing, I can say that sometimes errors by the police officer are responsible for losing case.

              Omitting important facts from a report and then testifying to them at trial can hurt the officer's credibility. And conducting a search prematurely can also result in suppression of evidence that could have been obtained legally.

              Unfortunately, search and seizure law is so complicated that it is not realistic to expect police officers to know and understand.
              Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
              Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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              • #8
                While I certainly don't obsess about cases that I have lost, I have lost a few, sometimes it's my fault, sometimes not. However, I do hang around and wait for the judges decision for two reasons: If the judge sees that you're not interested, that may be all it takes to tip the scales for him to the other direction (I know it's not supposed to be that way, but sometimes it is). The other reason is that if I am in front of a judge that takes the time to explain why he decided what he decided, I can potentially learn from that and either 1. make sure I don't do it that way again, or 2. do it that way every time.

                In the end, it's just a job. If there's something simple I can do to make better cases, I'll do it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by WKT View Post
                  While I certainly don't obsess about cases that I have lost, I have lost a few, sometimes it's my fault, sometimes not. However, I do hang around and wait for the judges decision for two reasons: If the judge sees that you're not interested, that may be all it takes to tip the scales for him to the other direction (I know it's not supposed to be that way, but sometimes it is). The other reason is that if I am in front of a judge that takes the time to explain why he decided what he decided, I can potentially learn from that and either 1. make sure I don't do it that way again, or 2. do it that way every time.

                  In the end, it's just a job. If there's something simple I can do to make better cases, I'll do it.
                  Good attitude. Also speak to the prosecutor for pointers.
                  Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                  Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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                  • #10
                    I have to say here in this county our DA's office is only really worried about getting cases off the docket. They don't care about dismissing anything or giving someone an unheard of plea. It gets really old but once they're in jail not my baby. We also have a lot of DAs that quite understand the elements of certain crimes and just retire them. I wish our DA's office had more training in criminal law I believe that would help smooth the bridge between them and the officers.

                    As DAL said there is always instances of officers causing the case to be dismissed. But it happens on both sides and I don't want their job and they probably don't want mine so I leave it alone.
                    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WKT View Post
                      While I certainly don't obsess about cases that I have lost, I have lost a few, sometimes it's my fault, sometimes not. However, I do hang around and wait for the judges decision for two reasons: If the judge sees that you're not interested, that may be all it takes to tip the scales for him to the other direction (I know it's not supposed to be that way, but sometimes it is). The other reason is that if I am in front of a judge that takes the time to explain why he decided what he decided, I can potentially learn from that and either 1. make sure I don't do it that way again, or 2. do it that way every time.

                      In the end, it's just a job. If there's something simple I can do to make better cases, I'll do it.
                      That might influence some judges....the main one we had to deal with could care less.....former prosecutor that has completely fallen to the Dark Side.....he also isn't into 'explaining' anything....particularly to us....or the DA...........

                      Since the DA's office 'cherry picks' their cases anyway, we rarely go to trial....they only want the 'sure win' that they can plea down....that way it counts as a 'guilty stat' for them.....so they can brag later about having a 80-90% conviction rate.....which is a complete bald faced lie......

                      Yes, I'm a bit 'crispy'.....I got to the point years ago that I couldn't care less what happened to the case after I had done my job......the less personal investment you have in your cases, the longer you will live, and the fewer ulcers you will have
                      The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

                      "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

                      "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Simple I just remember I need probable cause, but the court requires beyond a reasonable doubt. My standard is much lower than the court's. Although I ca say I have never lost a criminal case due to my error. Many have been dismissed before court, normally due to it being a weak case (probable cause met, but no way to meet beyond reasonable doubt) or "he said-she said".
                        But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

                        For the intelectually challenged: If the government screws the people enough, it is the right and responsibility of the people to revolt and form a new government.

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                        • #13
                          If it's my fault, I fix it for the future. If it's not, I just move on. Sometimes, we make arrests when we know it's going to be a weak case and their won't be a conviction if any type of decent defense is put up. So why do we make the arrest? Because that's our job. One case of this would be a DUI crash where the DUI driver refuses all tests (here in Florida anyway, this isn't much of a problem in other places). Do we know they're drunk? Yes. Do we know they were driving? Yes. Is there a whole lot of evidence that can't be "explained" ... aka pushed aside by legal loopholes... Yes. So if they pay $10,000 for a lawyer to simply look at their case, it's probably not going to go on their record.

                          Sometimes the disposition does annoy me, but if you let it bother you for longer than it takes to crumple up the disposition paper and throw it away, than it's just going to eat away at you until you grow (prematurely) cynical.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LA DEP View Post
                            I stopped following my cases after about 5 years on the job.....I put my best into the arrest/report ect.....if it gets kicked later for any reason, its not my concern.....

                            This job WILL eat you up if you let it......
                            X-2. Do your best, your honest best. A great baseball manager said it better than I can. "Ya win a few, ya lose a few, some get called on account of rain".

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by StudChris View Post
                              If it's my fault, I fix it for the future. If it's not, I just move on. Sometimes, we make arrests when we know it's going to be a weak case and their won't be a conviction if any type of decent defense is put up. So why do we make the arrest? Because that's our job. One case of this would be a DUI crash where the DUI driver refuses all tests (here in Florida anyway, this isn't much of a problem in other places). Do we know they're drunk? Yes. Do we know they were driving? Yes. Is there a whole lot of evidence that can't be "explained" ... aka pushed aside by legal loopholes... Yes. So if they pay $10,000 for a lawyer to simply look at their case, it's probably not going to go on their record.

                              Sometimes the disposition does annoy me, but if you let it bother you for longer than it takes to crumple up the disposition paper and throw it away, than it's just going to eat away at you until you grow (prematurely) cynical.
                              2ND this also being from Florida (8th Circuit). Another type this could include is disorderly intox. Quite often these get thrown out for whatever reason and, often, I know it's going to happen when I make the arrest. This doesnt stop me though because I know damn well that if I dont take some action vis-a-vis a drunk right then; I and the rest of the community will be dealing with him for the rest of the night.

                              As far as DUIs are concerned, he may well worm his way out of it but I can still say that I may have save some lives by getting him off the street when I did.

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