Archive for December 5th, 2011

What you need to know about “The System”:

The Pro’s:

What I’m going to discuss here is the “Pro’s and Con’s” of the system.

The Pro’s would normally cover the prosecution or rather the good guys. The Con’s would normally describe the bad guys, the inmates, and the convicts. Unfortunately the roles can sometimes get interwoven and it can be difficult to figure out who’s who.

As stated before, I cannot possibly comment on the criminal justice systems outside of California. In fact, I can really only comment on the systems that are near the area that I work in. But most criminal justice systems consist of the same players. A criminal case going before the court system can almost be compared to a football game.

· The head referee is the “Judge”.

· The other referee’s and officials are the jury.

· The coach of the home team is the district attorney or their representative, the deputy D.A.

· The players on the home team are the victims of the case, witnesses, and the cops.

· The coach of the visiting team is the defense attorney or public defender.

· The players on the visiting team are the defendants in the case.

What occurs in the courtroom is just like what you watch on Sunday Football games.

There are good plays made, bad plays made cheap shots, dirty play, incredible strategies, and every now and then a “Hail-Mary” that can win the game.

Keep in mind how the coach of the team keeps his job. By winning games! The coach of a losing team isn’t going to benefit in the area of job longevity. On a similar note the district attorney is an elected official. The D.A is evaluated by the county government and by the voters, as to the number of “wins” the office scores. The DA is voted into office by YOU the voting public and that in itself gives you more power than you could possibly imagine. That gives YOU the power to decide who is going to coach your team.

Speaking along those lines, you as a defendant also have the power to control who represents you in your case. An attorney with a poor track record of winning cases isn’t going to be your first choice. A public defender with a non-caring or burnt out attitude that was assigned to you because you have no funds, is not going to help your case very much.

I’m not going to address private attorneys or public defenders here because as we all know there is no drastic shortage of them. The person I’m going to address is the one responsible for sending bad people to jail. The coach of your team. The DA.

Before I got into law enforcement I paid little, if any attention to the people who were running for the office of district attorney. I had the mindset that the person in office was probably doing a good job and that they would have the best experience and background for doing the job because they’ve already been doing it. If you share that line of thinking as I did, you will need to change that thought!

The wrong person in the wrong office can make all the difference in the world as to how criminal prosecutions are handled in your county! Good, bad, or indifferent.

There are district attorneys that do an outstanding job. They have a “Zero Tolerance” approach to the job and I respect their outlook towards their objectives. If someone is guilty of a crime they charge for that crime and go after it. One hundred percent! Their passion is going after someone that wronged someone else, and their motivation is to do “what’s right”.

The case has to be correctly presented to the DA’s office for prosecution, and any deficiencies on the part of the police are evaluated. If it’s a solid case they take it. If there were mistakes made they immediately say “Hey, you guys blew this one, our hands are tied. Learn from it and bring us a solid case next time.”

No Bull crap. Right to the point. They aren’t going to waste taxpayers money in court by going after a weak case hoping for a “plea bargain” that will give them a “win” on paper.

On the opposite side of the coin, there are some DA’s that demonstrate questionable motives and ethics. These traits and expectations are passed down to the “Deputy DA’s” in the courtroom. Win cases at any expense and make me look good, or you won’t be employed in this office very long. It’s all about winning cases and having a good track record on paper.

They get to the point where they don’t really care what the particulars of the case are, or who got victimized. They only care about the end result on paper. The “stats” at the end of the year. The ammunition that they can take out to the voters by means of saying “Hey, I’ve got a 99 percent closure rate of guilty verdicts and I’m doing a great job for you!”

What you need to know, is how many of those serious “felony” cases were reduced down to a petty “misdemeanor” on a plea bargain. A reduction that will result in little or no jail time for the defendant. A reduction that will usually result in the defendant getting “probation” that he or she will violate in the next month or two.

The problem with this, is that the bad guy goes out and commits a felony with the mindset “No big deal if I get busted, I’ll “cop a plea” and get a slap on the wrist.” And the bad guy is right! And the bad guy tells his friends, and those friends tell other friends, and soon you have a whole lot of people running around with NO incentive to not commit serious crimes because they have learned how to “work the system.”

I’m not going to name names, but I’ll say this. I have worked with a number of outstanding deputy district attorneys who make me proud to be in law enforcement. They are a total credit to their profession and to you the taxpayers. They have been around the block a time or two and they believe in standing up for right over wrong, even if it goes beyond the political aspirations of their boss, the “head coach”.

I will always remember one of the first deputy DA’s that I worked with on a court case. He called me several days before the court date to discuss the case. On the date of the preliminary hearing he called me in an hour early to again discuss the case. During the preliminary hearing the case was so strong that the public defender offered the deputy DA a “plea”. Her defendant would plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation with credit for “time served” (no jail time) and limited terms of probation.