On March 11, 2014, Glen Ford was released from Angola after spending almost 26 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. The courts vacated his convictions after the discovery of evidence that had been withheld from the original trial. In August of 1988, Ford was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death row for the murder of Isadore Rozeman. There was evidence to suggest that Ford did commit the murder, however further investigation showed that he could not have been the one to pull the trigger. According to Gary Clements, who represented Ford, his trial was “profoundly compromised by inexperienced council and the unconstitutional suppression of evidence at his trial.”(Associated Press,2014) The evidence that was unlawfully suppressed by the prosecution included information from an informant, a police report that stated the time of the murder, and evidence regarding the murder weapon. This evidence regarding the murder weapon actually implicated the true perpetrator. A faulty police report was filed, possibly in order to just get a conviction, nevertheless, faulty police reports are a huge issue.
Whether a police report is inaccurate because of an honest mistake, or because of a corrupt officer, they can be detrimental to criminal cases in court. Defense lawyers will try every way they can to get their client a deal, and when a faulty policed report is discovered, it is possible it could throw the whole case. Sometimes, officers can make a mistake when recalling exactly what happened when they write their report. Police officers are expected to make split-second decisions that could result in life or death, remembering these decisions step by step, exactly how they happened, can be difficult. Unfortunately, an officer making an honest mistake is less likely to be the case. Charles M. Sevilla, a professor of law wrote, “For the most part, police perjury in courtrooms of the United States is recognized by the defense, winked at by the prosecution, ignored by the judiciary, and unknown to the general public.”(Kittel,1986) Police perjury is becoming more and more common. Officers lie in court, conduct illegal searches, and even plant evidence in hopes that this will guarantee a prosecution, but on the contrary, perjury jeopardizes justice being served.
A study was conducted by some students at Columbia Law School and they found that police perjury started becoming prevalent after Mapp vs. Ohio. In order to obtain valuable evidence, officers would lie, not only in court but to get warrants. (Cunningham,1999) “Testilying” is a term that was coined by police officers in New York City. This term was used to describe the perjury committed by police officers. Testilying covers a broad spectrum of actions, it can be anything from lying on the stand at trial, to falsifying a police report. In Larry Cunningham’s article titled, “Taking on Testilying: The Prosecutor’s Response to In-Court Police Deception,” he describes testilying as a middle ground between pure honesty and pure dishonesty. He theorizes that officers feel they can tread conscientiously within this middle ground because they “have society’s best interest at heart,” which means the conviction of the guilty. (Cunningham,1999)
There have been several explanations for testilying. Officers, the ones who get caught, justify testilying by wanting a guilty person to go to jail at whatever cost. However, this is causing our criminal justice system to be corrupt. Our criminal justice system was developed to convict fairly, not just to find and convict the guilty. The Exclusionary Rule was developed in order to deter police from purposely making constitutional errors in future cases, instead it has encouraged them to lie in order to get a conviction. With this happening, it has basically left guilt-finding up to the police.
Larry Cunningham, graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, believes another reason for law officers testilying is to get in extra over time by processing arrests and testifying(lying) in court.(Cunningham,1999) As one may know, the salary for a police officer is extremely low. Some officers may feel that they deserve more for putting their lives on the line every day in order to protect society. An officer’s job not only affects them but their family as well. The family worries about their safety, they are also affected by the low pay, and sometimes they do not understand how stressful policing is. Therefore, officers feel stretching the truth some here and there to get in some over time is not going to hurt anyone. But indeed it does, it is hurting the justice system.
In conclusion, when reading the Glen Ford story and seeing that an innocent man spent years in jail for a crime he did not commit, police corruption immediately came to mind. Not only is police corruption and testilying causing some innocent people to serve time, it is also slowly destroying America’s justice system. Our fair justice system is one of the factors that sets us apart from the rest of the world. Once our system becomes faulty, and police are allowed to run the courtrooms, we will be no different than a totalitarian country.
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers. You can order our professional work here.