When the Police Lie to Convict the Guilty

Gene Weingarten, the Washington Post columnist, wrote about his recent experience as a juror. It was a trial of a man accused of selling $10 of heroin to an undercover officer. Weingarten professed to be annoyed that such a small amount would justify an arrest and trial; he’s just wrong about that. Dealing a dangerous prohibited drug is still dealing, no matter what the amount. I know this is the kind of case that gets the legalize-drugs-so-we don’t-put-so-many-people-in-jail crowd all self-righteous, but “a smidgen of heroin dealing” still supports a destructive social problem, and law abiding citizens don’t deal even a little smack.

That’s not really the issue here, however.

Weingarten was convinced that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He was also convinced that the police were lying. Continue reading

Roshomon Ethics: Capping Jury Damages for Malpractice

Critics of the Democratic health care reform proposals routinely raise capping  jury awards for medical negligence and malpractice as a missing ingredient that would lower health care costs by making doctors’ malpractice liability insurance premiums less costly. It’s a legitimate issue worth debating, but cap advocates typically cite jury awards of outrageous damages in cases where the doctor’s conduct was defensible, while ignoring cases like this one. Continue reading

Strange But True: Judge Rules That a Defendant’s FACE is Prejudicial

And now, from Reuters, an instance of the American justice system violating principles of honesty, logic and common sense in order to be “fair.”

As a neo-Nazi gang member prepared to go  on trial for murder, he got himself some new tattoos:  a swastika, barbed wire, and an obscene word. On his face! Continue reading