Every case, traffic ticket, summons goes through the court system. Any case that goes to trial is heard by a Judge, Magistrate or some kind of hearing officer. The vast majority are lawyers but there are some cases that are heard by individuals that have no training at all. Many cases have witnesses, officers and suspects. Most felony cases have a prosecutor and a defense attorney. It is rare, by the statistics, that someone goes into court and pleads guilty without any legal representation. No matter what you see on TV. It is the successful case in the investigators eyes, that they have a confession on video or in writing that they celebrate. Things can still go wrong. Defendants will get a defense attorney who will trump up excuses for why the confession was coerced, the evidence was tainted and when the court sides with the defendant, the case may not be able to move forward and so it gets dismissed. Is that the Officers fault? The prosecutor’s? No, it is the courts and this can be traced back decades as to why this happens. It is the reason why we have so many frivolous law suits year after year. The liberal Judges have allowed and given decisions on cases that sometimes they shouldn’t have even allowed to move up to the higher courts. When a higher court hears a case and makes a decision to question if the defendant was given their rights, it goes back to the lower court for additional review, new trial, invalid search, etc. Police Officers deal with this on a regular basis as well.
How often does this occur? Every day in the courts. There are so many cases that there aren’t enough judges to hear them. Dockets are overflowing and cases are dismissed or continued to try and hear the ones that are running on a timeline. In many states, there are laws that mandate a defendant have a speedy trial and that means it has to be heard in 90 days, 6 months, whatever the timeline is. There are so many cases that there just isn’t enough time and staff to hear all of them within the requirements unless a defendant waives the speedy trial rule. I had DWI cases that were still pending 2 and 3 years after the arrest! I was contacted by a US Attorney about a report that I had written 5 years prior and I had no recollection of it. I didn’t even remember taking the report. I was then berated by the attorney and called names, cussed at and told that it was my job to remember and how could I not, I was the one that had taken the report? I hung up the phone. How many of you can remember what you did 5 years ago on a specific date and time. Most people wouldn’t be able but because I was a Police Officer, I was supposed to have a photographic super brain. Cops are human, too. We forget things, we remember the worst and forget the best.
The court system is out of balance. It favors the defendant and not the victim. The defendants are guaranteed their rights but what rights do the victims have? Very few, if any. The victim’s are put on the stand, they testify what happened and then they are verbally beaten into submission by the defense counsel. A “good” defense lawyer can make you say anything they want. Especially if it will get their client off. That’s what they are paid to do. How they can do this with good conscience, I’ll never understand. I have been on the stand and lied to, deceived and had defense attorney’s try and twist my words of my testimony. Believe me, it gets old, fast. You lose faith in the system and find out the dark and seedy side of it. The truth is that any attorney, can make a case against anyone and make it look like they did it, with just a little evidence and some “creditable” testimony. Now, I do not say this to make you believe that they are all unjust and cheaters but it’s to show that the system is broken and has been for decades. When you have judges who are former defense attorneys, who believe that the defendant is entitled to every chance available and that police officers are liars and crooked, they will always side with the crook. I never knew a judge that was truly impartial and objective. They were always either edged towards the prosecution or the defense. So, how long does it take before you just don’t care anymore and fall on your sword and give up? I knew many of my fellow Officers that were this way and many times didn’t show up to court. They start to just go through the motions. That’s when it’s time to get out. Unfortunately, you have 15 or 20 years in to your pension and you just have 5 years to go so you try and tough it out. The cases that I put my heart and soul into were the ones that I had an actual, viable victim, one that would testify and would fight. Those were the ones that you knew were worth the fight. If you don’t have a victim that is willing to testify, you don’t have a case. Domestic violence cases were like that. Many victim’s, primarily women, were reluctant to testify for fear of being targeted by the offender. Then there were the women who just wanted their man to go away and would use the system to get their way. They didn’t want him arrested because he was the bread winner and if he went to jail, there wouldn’t be any money to buy food, pay rent, etc. So what do you do? It becomes a waste of everyone’s time. He would leave, we would leave and he would be back within the hour. Again, the system failed.
We have specialized courts, drug courts, juvenile court, domestic violence court, traffic court, etc. They are all over loaded. Unless, they can find money to employ additional judges, staff and court rooms, there isn’t going to be any improvement soon. Then there is the prison system. Judges, no matter what they say, take into account the prison conditions, staffing, overcrowding, etc. They aren’t able to actually put somebody in prison and so they end up on probation or house arrest. That means, that this defendant, who may be a repeat offender, is out in the public and having the ability to continue to offend. Where do they get the learning experience of prison, the discipline and message that they did something wrong and need to change their behavior or they will spend the rest of their life inside? It becomes nothing more than an inconvenience. The crooks all know that tor certain crimes, they will only see a certain type of punishment or amount of time behind bars. Even if they do go into the prison system, they only learn how to improve their skills and make new contacts with other criminals. The system has failed, again.
The next part will speak about what a Police Officer goes through within the Department.