Posts Tagged ‘drugs’

COPS Episode Ends with Victory for Client

June 9, 2010

My daughter recently recorded an episode of “COPS” that was filmed in Jacksonville. The whole family sat down together to watch just for fun.  To my surprise, I soon realized that one of my cases was featured on this episode!

It was a re-run of an old show that originally aired at least eight years ago.  The case was one of those that I’ll never forget.  And since “COPS” doesn’t tell the whole story, I can reveal how it ended favorably for my client.

The officers went to an apartment to serve a search warrant. Prior to the execution of the warrant, there was some discussion at the police station indicating confusion over the address at which the warrant was to be served.  On the show, you see the officers use a battering ram to burst into the apartment (without the constitutionally-required knock and announce, but that’s a story for another day) and arrest the people inside.

Here’s what happened off-camera.  The sworn affidavit for the search warrant that the officers presented to the judge alleged that a confidential informant had bought drugs at a specific address, but when I deposed the officer who prepared the affidavit, he testified that he had mistakenly written the wrong address on the affidavit.

I filed a motion asking the court to force the State to reveal the identity of the confidential informant so that I could question him regarding where he bought the drugs.  If the address alleged on the affidavit for the warrant was in fact not the one where he bought the drugs, then the warrant would be invalid.  The judge agreed that these unusual circumstances justified the extraordinary remedy of compelling the State to reveal the identity of the CI; otherwise, my client’s Fifth Amendment right to cross examine the witnesses against him would be denied.

The State chose to drop the charges rather than reveal the identity of its confidential informant.

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Cops in Jail

February 5, 2010

Kudos to the Jacksonville police officer who had the courage to turn in two fellow officers recently for committing a crime on the job.  Apparently the officers wanted to look for drugs in a house located in a high-crime area, but they didn’t have a search warrant.  So instead of developing the probable cause they would have needed to get a warrant, they decided to take matters into their own hands.  They removed a room air conditioner and went into the house, then made up a story about a lady driving by who reported a burglary so it would look like they were justified in going into the house.

They didn’t find any drugs in the house.  Now they’re in jail.

Sadly, too many officers take shortcuts.  Over the course of the last 18+ years as a criminal defense attorney, I’ve seen it too many times.  I’ve had clients tell me about it again and again.

I guess these officers feel like the ends justify the means, but they never do.  Their actions taint all of the hard-working, dedicated officers who play by the rules while protecting the public.

The criminal justice system is designed to ferret out the truth, and most of the time it works.  Usually, when it fails, it’s because a cop or a prosecutor decides that winning is more important than justice.  It never is.

I’m sure the officers charged in this case will feel entitled to a fair trial, which they are.  I’m sure they’ll want the evidence used against them to be obtained legally, which it should be.  That’s the thing about the Constitution—it covers all of us, in all cases.

You can read more about this story at http://bit.ly/dChmmy.