Police officers have an instinctual unwillingness to agree with a defense attorney. Call me old-fashioned but I think it should be “just the facts, ma’m.”
Imagine my delight upon seeing the term “stuporous” used in the police report. Sometimes officers try to do too much. They should stay in their lane.
Q: So you followed him back to his house? A: I didn’t follow him. I was on my way to my mother’s house. She lives in that area. Q: You told police that your mother lives on B Street, right? THE COURT: Is that… Read More
It is true that police officers have no stake in the outcome of the case. But they are hardly neutral and disinterested witnesses.
Q: Ms. Jones. You realize that when the police interviewed you, they were wearing body worn cameras? A: Actually I didn’t know that. That’s not something I was aware of.
At a recent trial, I called my client’s mother as our only witness. I regretted this almost immediately. We had interviewed her. We had subpoenaed her. We had prepared her. And I should have left her sitting in the hall outside the courtroom as I rested my case.
“What is your name?” That is a non-leading question. Compare that with “Your name is John Smith, isn’t it?” That would be leading. It basically tells the witness what his answer should be.
A man is charged with soliciting a prostitute. He is a Lyft driver who, on the night in question, drops off a customer in D.C. A female undercover officer approaches the car while he is pulled over. What happens next is contested.
Q. Officer. When you arrived, the altercation was still on-going, right?
A. That’s right.
Q. So you have no idea how it started?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. When you arrived, my client had a bottle in her hand?
Q. And he had a piece of wood in his hand, right?
I like most of the police officers I work with. Access to body worn camera footage has also given me greater respect for what they do: I have seen them deal with volatile and potentially dangerous situations with sensitivity and respect. But this notion of police officers as neutral, disinterested third party observers who testify impartially on behalf of the government is ridiculous. The officers do pick a side – and it is the government’s.