Sunday, February 08, 2015

secrecy has no place in our criminal justice system

silive |  Do grand juries really protect the public against overzealous corrupt prosecutors? Was the Fifth Amendment provision of the U.S. Constitution requiring grand jury presentment for felony crimes really included in the Bill of Rights in 1791 to protect the public? I truly believe that this provision was intended to protect the rich and powerful who wrote the Constitution and controlled the wealth of the new nation. Consider the fact that only white male property owners were permitted to sit on grand juries and that everyone non white and non-male was excluded from the judicial and legislative process. Thus, the rich, white and powerful were guaranteed that only their true piers would judge them and determine their criminal liability.

Now I didn't start this race business, I'm just dealing with reality. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney started it in 1857 when Dred Scott asked for his full rights of citizenship. Justice Taney denied his plea, stating: "The framers of the constitution believed that a black man had no rights that a white man was bound to respect."

You remember the Central Park jogger defendants? Swiftly arrested and indicted by a grand jury based upon incomplete evidence and police coerced confessions. All defendants were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms before the guilty party confessed and exonerated them all. Its nice to believe that all prosecutors will be fair and honest, but we need only look at the record of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.  Convictions by Hyne's office of 11, yes 11, black men have been overturned following the revelation that the testimony and evidence offered by the assigned detective and accepted by the courts, was false, shoddy and manufactured. None of these men benefited from a secret grand jury proceeding, an honest prosecutor or a courageous judiciary.

We have entered an era when more rather than less openness is sought in legislative, regulatory and judicial proceedings. Is a witness more inclined to tell the truth if his/her secrecy is guaranteed or are they more likely to lie and slip the truth if they know that their identity and testimony may never see the light of day or the eyes of a competent defense attorney? I'll take openness and transparency over protection and secrecy any day.


CNu said...

It's not a trick question Feed, it's a stupid and racist question. Anything involving the term "black people" as if you can factually proceed from the specific to the general - is a priori stupid. The only thing clearly superceding that form of stinking thinking, is the fantasy diaspora or community to which you chronically and non-ironically refer.

So, I'm very interested in having the Federal government confront voter suppression. In fact, one of my primary concerns about Bill Bratton's request to the NY State Senate to make resisting arrest a felony, goes straight to the intended aim of that absurd policy to engage in voter suppression since felons can't vote and can't get jobs.

Anyway, for policing, I'd like to see all police departments use emerging best practices in law enforcement by conducting social network analysis and then very specifically targeting that specific population of violent offenders and their social networks that are responsible for the overwhelming majority of crimes and criminality. That's being done in KC now and is increasingly gaining traction as the science and data driven way for all police departments to go.

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