Public Trust & Lawlessness

Every time the public encounters a law enforcement officer, all the experience they have EVER had with police, ever seen other people have with police, and also every story they have ever heard are present. Every story they heard on the news about the breach of trust in overzealous and lawless cops are sins that every cop carries to every encounter. More times than not, the public lacks confidence that law enforcement will help them if they need it, make arrests if necessary to provide a measure of justice.

This has never been no truer than in recent years. In order for a community to feel safe and in turn, be safe, is to have a measure of trust that law enforcement assigned to guard them from harm is actually doing just that. The people must feel and see law enforcement as the good guys doing good work. When that ceases to be the case, public unrest leads to crimes against police, and vigilantism can develop to overcome the sense of helplessness when law enforcement is not there to help for one reason or another. This hurdle has to be addressed by leadership in law enforcement. Perception is reality to people.

Having said that, my hometown of Escambia County, Pensacola, Florida, is facing an epidemic of ECSO lawlessness. WEAR had a story last week about this same issue but the story you are about to read is a separate incident and it is a distressing story has come to me and frankly it should scare the hell out of everyone who lives in the county.

The details are that a neighbors’ squabble results in one neighbor calling ECSO on another playing loud noise on the porch. When the ECSO arrives, the music is off. No more issues, right? Wrong. Deputies arrive and unbeknownst to them, there are outside cameras. Watch for yourself.

The biggest problem here is the report of the incident here:

The two are not even partially the same. The report is pure fiction. Why is that? Because the resident involved called to report the stolen stereo. He spoke with Sgt. Jason Young, who told him that the deputies would NOT ARREST him for disorderly conduct and in exchange they would return his stereo. Arrest him? No crime was committed other than the stolen stereo. But this is the manipulation to act as if Young is doing the resident a favor, for in turn not making any waves about the stereo. This unfortunately is a common thing. Assuming people don’t know their rights and believe if a deputy does it, it must be legal is a fallacy that most in this ECSO administration count on.

This report shows the lengths of the cover up and perjury that several deputies entered into in this one incident. Frankly, if so many will risk their badge and effortlessly cover up something like this, one has to question what major things are handled just the same. This one act of a deputy committing, what amounts to, an armed robbery is white washed and covered up because it was thought the resident would not know their rights.

The most egregious part of this is that this resident is unemployed and not in a financial position to make a fuss. He’s a vulnerable citizen. When law enforcement abuses power, people, like this resident are typically the ones they abuse because the victims of their abuse are marginalized by a criminal history, poverty, or both. When people of power victimize the most marginalized in their charge, that is such a deep violation of public trust. No one is safe.

What about Ethics?

 

I was looking over a case Masters vs Gilmore, et.al.  It’s a case of a prosecutor’s misconduct. The beginning of the lawsuit cites the ethical canons of the office of prosecutor. I thought they would be interesting food for thought. 

Canon 5 of the American Bar Association (“ABA”) Canons of Professional Ethics adopted in 1908 provides:
The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict, butto see that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the secreting of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible.


In turn, Ethical Consideration (“EC”) 7-13 of the ABA Code of Professional Responsibility
adopted in 1969 provides:

The responsibility of a public prosecutor differs from that of the usual advocate;his duty is to seek justice not merely to convict. … With respect to evidence and witnesses, the prosecutor has responsibilities different from those of a lawyer in private practice: the prosecutor should make timely disclosure to the defense of available evidence, known to him, that tends to negate the guilt of the accused,mitigate the degree of the offense, or reduce the punishment. Further, a prosecutor should not intentionally avoid pursuit of evidence merely because he believes it will damage the prosecutor’s case or aid the accused.

These principles have been acknowledged by the Colorado Supreme Court in

People v.District Court, 632 P.2d 1022 (Colo. 1981). The Court stated

Our analysis begins with recognition that the duty of the prosecutor is to seek

justice, not merely convict. As stated in Singer v. United States, “… the (prosecutor) in a criminal prosecution is not an ordinary party to a controversy, but is a ‘servant of the law’ with a‘twofold aim … that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer.’”

… But there is more. These principles are enshrined in the jurisprudence of the United

States Supreme Court. See Young v. United States ex rel. Vuitton et Fils S.A.,

481 U.S. 787(1987); Singer v. United States, 380 U.S. 24 (1965). In Young, the Supreme Court said


This distinctive role of the prosecutor is expressed in [EC] 7-13 of Canon 7 of the[ABA] Model Code of Professional Responsibility (1982): “The responsibility ofa public prosecutor differs from that of the usual advocate; his duty is to seek justice, not merely to convict.”


...These principles even find expression chiseled into the stone of the Robert F. Kennedy Center (Department of Justice Headquarters, Washington, D.C., constructed in 1935)

where it is admonished that [t]he United States wins its case whenever justice is done one of its citizens in the Courts.”  


Implicit in these principles is the notion that justice be done to victims, to their families,and to the United States Constitution. This happens when fundamental fairness applies to convict the truly guilty. Bedrock principles, yes. Fundamental and objectively reasonable
within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution,of course. And, these principles long pre-date the events of the case now before this Court.  


Now, average citizen, I defy you to look at the Billings’ Murder case and the role of the prosecutor and find any actions within this ethical requirements.  If these things are supposed to be the status quo, how can a man be tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 3 days?