Thursday

Prosecutorial Witness Tampering...

Having been on something of a judicial jag here recently, I thought it important to shift the spotlight (if briefly) back to prosecutors. In this rather interesting article a defense attorney charges that the prosecution engaged in witness tampering.

Apparently the prosecutors agreed to pay a potential snitch 40,000 dollars

and to terminate his probation if he would set the guy up and then testify against him. The lawyer made the following reasonable argument...."If a defense attorney paid a witness $40,000 to testify for a defendant, she and the defendant would both be charged and indicted for witness tampering. So why should the prosecution be able to get away with it?' His client is a former police chief.

5 comments:

Mister DA said...

Ah, guilty until proven innocent,eh?

carpundit said...

Informants are paid all the time. As long as all the payments and the agreements are disclosed to the defense, there's nothing wrong with it. Defense counsel can impeach with it. Failing to disclose can rise to a Brady violation.

Why can't a defense lawyer pay witnesses? Because the defense lawyer would be buying only testimony. The prosecutor is paying for the activity itself, not the testimony about it.

Are there abuses? Do criminals make up stories about other criminals in order to stay out of prison? Yes to both. But that's why it's such a strong impeachment tool. Juries don't like what they -as you- perceive as purchased testimony.

Anonymous said...

Yikes.

What I object to is that tax money (where else is it coming from?) is being used to essentially manufacter crime, which is then prosecuted.

Sure, "just a tool in crime fighting", etc. But the fact remains that the state is using money to pay someone to cause a crime to happen, in order to bust them.

"Back in my day, sonny, we didn't need to create crime." Hell, makes me want to go back to a rural area - at least I can afford enough property there to keep the cops off of it.

(Carpundit - I'm the same one talking about video over at Ken's blog.)

Indefensible said...

DA--Not sure I understand the gibe--the post merely reported the charge leveled against the prosecutor. He's not charged, nor, it seems are the facts in dispute--so not the inconsistency you seem to imply.

Car--you're accurate in your description of the issue--yes, prosecutors regularly use paid informants. I think most of the readers are aware of this, but that doesn't really answer the question of whether it should be a form of tampering (nor does your act/testimony distinction for that matter). Why not allow everyone to pay and everyone to cross examine on bias? Particularly in cases where there's no set up--just paid testimony...

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised at how many people think "Paying for the activity itself" is justified in so many cases. When I was jammed by by some drug task force detectives (I got out of it - they lied to me about having any evidence) they encouraged me to talk my friends into buying drugs and then reselling them to me. So they could be arrested for distribution and jammed up just like me. Even if they had never sold drugs before. Great way to spend public funds.