The Amanda Knox Witch Hunt

We have little idea whether Knox or her co-defendant did the crime.  As usual, we;d have to be on the jury to see if there is any evidence to rely on.  If the appeal fails I suspect she will try the Human Rights Act over the ‘witch’ accusations.  I think if such matters were put to me as a juror I’d just start to question everything the prosecution put forward – if they were concerned with such piss and wind I’d doubt there was any.  It’s even less relevant than the stuff dug up on the innocent Mr Jefferies by our hapless press, but this is coming out of the mouths of lawyers.  I also wonder what the general relevance of stuff on Facebook and the rest has on character – if we take this stuff as real be’d have to lock up a few million.

Newsnight produced some harpies to make out this is a feminist issue, but it’s wider than that.  Whether Knox offered it up on a plate is hardly relevant to much other than the wise man’s barge pole effect.  If she has some demonic shadows lurking you’d expect a psychologist to be explaining or an antecedent history of real events.  Otherwise I’d have put my hand up to ask the judge why he was letting us hear any of it, because if likely to be influenced by it I’d not be fit to be on a jury.

When I did jury service, we were instructed we could take notes but be careful this didn’t distract us from juror demeanor and such.  Most people are so hapless on behavioural cues they should be instructed to ignore them, especially as witnesses are coached.  The wider issue is our antiquated court systems.  It seems we can’t challenge some gold digging slapper (unless rich like DSK) as without credibility, but can appeal to crass Idols that are sexist elsewhere.  It’s embarrassing.


Typical academic consideration of police lying

Police lying is not best described as a "dirty little secret."' For
instance, police lying is no "dirtier" than the prosecutor's encouragement
or conscious use of tailored testimony2 or knowing suppression of Brady
material;3 it is no more hypocritical than the wink and nod of judges who
regularly pass on incredible police testimony4 and no more insincere than
the demagogic politicians who decry criminality in our communities, but
will not legislate independent monitoring of police wrongd~ing.~
Police lying is no "little secret" either.6 Juries, particularly in our
urban criminal courts, are thoroughly capable of discounting police
testimony as unbelievable, unreliable, and even .mendacious.' Judges,
prosecutors and defense attorneys report that police perjury is commonplace,'
and even police officers themselves concede that lying is a regular
feature of the life of a cop.g Scandals involving police misconduct-
brutality, corruption, criminality-are regularly featured in the daily
nei~spapers,'a~n d periodic investigation reports and blue-ribbon commis-
sions come up with the same conclusions: police scandals are cyclical;
official misconduct, corruption, brutality, and criminality are endemic; and
necessarily, so is police lying to disguise and deny it."
there has been a fierce
controversy on how the procedural requirements placed on police conduct
encourage police lying and duplicity in order to tailor the facts to these
legal requisites.I5 Specifically, scholars, judges, pundits, and law
enforcement professionals argue back and forth on whether or not the
exclusion of illegally obtained evidence actually deters police misconduct,
or rather encourages police perjury and "scamming," while rewarding
undeserving criminal offenders.16
Proving the Lie:
Litigating Police Credibility
David N. Dorfman*
Pace University

I take the view that police lying and the kind of stuff going on in the hacking scandal give us the paradigm case of much going wrong across society.  In this article, if you read long enough in the opening above, you can see part of the concern is that the apparatus of rules of evidence encourage lying.  This is not an attack on cops and it does not become one in the 50 or so pages that follow.

Our legal system has long relied on fictions like ‘witness credibility’ and our business system.  Journals on business ethics carry similar papers on the dirty world of commerce and banking.  For that matter, none of us in the UK or US know why our soldiers died and are dying and why we’ve been killing people in wars we don’t understand.  There are questions about our institutions, education, media and the state of public knowledge and how it is influenced we should be asking.  The repeated problem might be described as the ‘back-fire of ignorance’ – what should be dialogue turned to adversarial debate.  How can an MP, after the expenses scandal, be fit to ask a former Met detective about cover-up and corruption when they all so singularly failed with their own – a matter that only came out by whistle-blower leak for money to the press?

Scandal blows away – otherwise how could Keith Vaz be chairing a committee on, essentially, corruption (as Dickiebo despairs if you need reminding)?  There’s a better way to be doing this kind of thing.  It isn’t academic debate, though should be much better informed by this – a difficult matter as most people don’t read and are very set in their ways.  We still do public debate through Idols Francis Bacon outlined more than 400 years ago.

We have the technology (a combination of IT and ideas) to change.  History always throws up ‘cheating’.  Central banks all cheated the gold standard when it was being used, practising “sterilization” to prevent gold entering the money supply – a direct contravention of the rules.  They had ‘noble cause’ excuses just like the Met.  The ‘Innocent Project’ has thrown up at least 50 cases where DNA proves innocence and yet the defendants confessed (these are people without low IQ or mental problems).

My own belief is we are scared of transparency, partly because all our cupboards hide skeletons.  When the ‘red witch’ placed at the heart of the hacking scandal admitted she knew her organisation had paid police officers, this was seen as a blunder and admission of ‘criminality’.  This is not the right approach and seems to be putting people we want to tell the truth in the same position as the police officer having to ‘game’ in the legal system.

Our own IPCC (four words all made lies by the first?) privilege what police present in a manner that can only suggest they are ignorant of academic material – and they are well-populated with graduates (this is not contradictory to me as I mark graduate submissions and find little critical ability or evidence of reading).  For all the blather about not wanting a blame culture, they (and the rest of us as public) remain clueless about what one is.

If we didn’t live in such a medieval society, I’d be a rational optimist.

12 retired police officers to stand trial in Wales

12 retired police officers are to stand trial for perverting the course of justice in two separate trials over an infamous miscarriage of justice dating back 20 years.

That’s right – 20 years.  Some of the details can be found in the link above.  All the officers are pleading not guilty – I guess most of us would try our arms after 20 years!

The case, involving the murder of a prostitute, is as dire as that involving Nico Bento, the guy convicted on a non-murder through the use of a loony forensic non-expert wheeled in instead of our own internationally renowned expert.

In the US they believe they are seeing cases of acquittals because juries don’t trust either police of prosecutions, partly through personal experience and perceptions of wider injustice in society.

I doubt I have any sympathy for the former officers in this case, but I’m concerned that only police are the only officers on trial.  This case and Bento should have led to defence and prosecution lawyers being put in the dock, and probably people from PSDs and elsewhere for suppressing doubts relevant to the defence.  The Met is looking as bad as ever in the current phone tapping farce too.  Judges should be struck off in cases like this too.

At deep levels the problem concerns the cowed state of our society which resembles the performance management of the Soviet Block.  There is a problem in public perception of the difficulties of policing and it is difficult to justify anything that makes policing more difficult given the current failure to prevent anti-social crime.  I believe it’s time for root and branch changes across the CJS.

In a way Gadget-type commentary is right in that we are bureaucratising everything to death, but the people into this really don’t see themselves as a big part of the problem.  Much is known in good practice about what to do, but this is left in the hands of people with no interest in achieving such good practice because their own jobs, pay rates and fees are bound up in keeping things as they are.

Miscarriages of justice are not rare, but daily and in substantial number.  Judges estimate about one case in ten and some decent statistical work concludes a range of 10% to 15% on jury trials.  Massive numbers are hidden in the daily routines of not dealing with anti-social crime, the treatment of witnesses and bungles like Baby P.  The Welsh case is already a failure – if there is a case why was it not pursued much earlier?


Time To Root Out Corruption in Police Complaints

A jury has delivered a verdict of unlawful killing in the Ian Tomlinson case.  I doff my cap in the direction of the IPCC investigator who put such a good case togther.  Sadly, it was all too late, after skulduggery at the Yard, the bent pathology and duck-egg Hardwick at the IPCC, who initially denied there would be CCTV evidence.

Harwood should be put on trial for GBH with intent, but this piece of scum is the least of the problems.  He should have been sacked within weeks.  We have seen civilians (also scum) convicted for substantially less brutality.

I think it’s now time to make some examples of those involved in the skulduggery, and those officers who failed to stop Harwood, or at least arrest him on the spot.  Deterrence is the major reason for the legal system and it is hards to think we can achieve attitude change when one reads Gadget’s contributors and her/him at their worst.

There is no point allowing the same old votaries to investigate or make changes – this has repeatedly produced cover-up, and for police to evade real investigations when the evidence is available.  Decent cops deserve as much protection as we can give them, and there is a serious problem with false complaints.  I believe there are ways forward in this area and that many doing the real work of policing and investigating police incidents would welcome this.

I do not believe we have the best police in the world, though clearly not the worst.  And the police are not the major problem in our justice system either.  The debate needs to be opened-up.  We get poor service and some grow rich in providing it.

Incidentally, what kind of fuckwit thinks a jury of us lot can’t judge between a bent autopsy done by a discredited guy with a record of ‘helping police’ and decent evidence?  The kind we let become a votary is the kind.

Good luck to the Tomlinson family.  Sue the pants off the Met – I won’t begrudge my contribution.  The tedious work done showing “Harwood’s Progress” through CCTV deserves credit.  It is a matter of public interest to put Harwood on trial in order to get as much of the dirty linen into the public domain as possible.  Sadly, Scumboy was only a problem because we won’t address wider issues.