U.S. Capitol building

Open Letter to an Honest Cop

Jamison KoehlerD.C. Superior Court, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

Dear Officer Parrish:

A couple of weeks ago, I cross-examined one of your colleagues from the 3rd District.  The issue at that hearing was similar to the one under consideration today:  Whether or not the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain my client.

Your colleague decided to strengthen the government’s case against my client by lying.  She did not look at me once during the first part of her testimony.  I knew she was going to lie when she looked across the room at me for the first time and narrowed her eyes.  Call me naïve but I am still surprised every time this happens.  Did she not know I had the radio tape contradicting her testimony on the laptop in front of me, cued up and ready to play for the court?  The judge “credited” her testimony anyway and denied my motion.  My client was ultimately convicted.

The prosecutor today gave you every opportunity to “improve” your testimony.  I could have objected when the prosecutor went back to the same line of questioning again and again.  But something about you – something about our conversation in the anteroom prior to the hearing – told me you were not going to shade your testimony.   You were not going to budge from the truth.  And, although I am not right about many things, I was right about this.  “No,” you told the prosecutor, “there was nothing else about my interaction with the defendant that raised any suspicion.”

I know you will not be rewarded for your testimony.  If anything, I imagine that the testimony you gave today will go unnoticed and unremarked upon by your bosses.  I assume also that accolades from a criminal defense attorney will only embarrass you.  At the same time, I get the feeling that preserving your integrity is personal reward enough for you.  You were doing your job when you arrested my client a couple of months ago and you were doing your job today when you testified to the circumstances of that arrest.  I hope that you will take pride in knowing that, motion granted or denied, justice was done today.  Sometimes everyone does what he or she is supposed to do.  Sometimes, win or lose, the system actually works.

Respectfully, Jamison Koehler