I spent all spring blogging on the Tonya Craft trial in North Georgia and witnesses one legal disgrace after another, from perjury to outright judicial and prosecutorial misconduct that was up-front, in-your-face, and perfectly accepted by the "oversight" authorities of Georgia. Having written on the federal "criminal justice" system for the past decade, I have lost any hope that "justice" can be reformed in this country. Furthermore, I believe that what we are seeing is the logical extension of the Progressive Movement that began in the late 19th Century and continues through today.
Progressivism was about creating a "reformist" government that would be administrative in nature and would depend upon "experts" and others who were "superior" in intelligence and virtue to others. It is reminiscent of Nietzsche's belief that one could create the "Ubermensch," and we know how that turned out in Germany. Progressives were scornful of the need for Constitutional checks and balances that, in the view of Woodrow Wilson (perhaps the most virulent racist ever to occupy the White House and the man who brought Jim Crow policies to the federal government), kept the federal government from being able to do what would be "good" for the people.
Instead, Progressives believed that the state should be run by people like them, people who were more intelligent than others, and who could move quickly and decisively, unlike the corrupt legislatures and the various markets. So, I include my post from my other blog today. In one sense, it is a repudiation of Krugman's "Progressivism" and his belief that a government composed of people like him would run the world perfectly. (No, I don't believe that a government of "libertarians" would "run the world" particularly well. There is no Utopia, libertarian or otherwise.) [End Note]
During the erstwhile Duke Lacrosse Case, Joe Neff from the Raleigh News & Observer helped carry the day. In the early days of the affair, the N&O drove the coverage in a dishonest, smarmy way, with one of its resident leftists, Samiha Khanna, writing most of the copy.
However, the adults soon took over and Joe Neff from late spring until the end of the case compiled an extremely impressive list of articles that ultimately exposed the case for the sham it was. Since then, Neff has written a series of article on the scandal that has engulfed the North Carolina "justice" system involving the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) crime lab, a place where "forensics" often was a sham and where employees tricked the results in order to help prosecutors gain convictions.
If you wish to get a good sense of what happened, read the series in the N&O, as well as Radley Balko's excellent Reason crime column. Balko writes:
A stunning accompanying investigation by the Raleigh News & Observer found that though the crime lab’s results were presented to juries with the authoritativeness of science, laboratory procedures were geared toward just one outcome: putting as many people in prison as possible. The paper discovered an astonishingly frank 2007 training manual for analysts, still in use as of last week, instructing researchers that “A good reputation and calm demeanor also enhances an analyst's conviction rate.” Defense attorneys, the manual warned, often “put words into the analyst's mouth to try and raise inaccuracies.” The guide also instructs analysts to beware of “defense whores”—analysts hired by defense attorneys to challenge their testimony.Indeed, it was that same mentality shown by prosecutors in their "win at all costs" (the main cost being the truth) in the Tonya Craft trial that led Chris Arnt and Len Gregor to tell a jury that highly-respected defense witnesses Dr. Nancy Aldridge, Dr. Nancy Fajman, Dr. Ann Hazzard, and Dr. William Bernet were nothing but "whores of the court" and people who "lied for pay." At the same time, "Alberto-Facebook" and "The Man" expected people to believe that the poorly-trained and educated, giggling, eye-rolling, sighing, and shoulder-shrugging charlatans at the local Children's Advocacy Center were crackerjack experts.
Why do these things occur? They occur because the legal system protects the criminals within it. Suborning perjury, tampering with evidence, forging documents, and lying in official documents all are crimes, yet no matter how egregious the violations of the law, no prosecutor (and usually no cop) ever is in danger of facing the bar of justice.
In short, prosecutors run the system, and judges (most of whom are former prosecutors) go along with the crimes, and then make rulings that protect all of the wrongdoers from punishment. As a woman at the Georgia State Bar told me, all of these things are just examples of prosecutors "doing their jobs," and she approved of everything I just have listed.
As I have read through the years of example after example of prosecutorial misconduct, I have come to realize that there really is no more hope for the system. The defense bar has been emasculated, and innocent people are convicted each day as prosecutors run about like wild animals. Indeed, if you want to find a group of criminals in the LMJC, don't go to the local jails; just go to Buzz Franklin's office.
While North Carolina claims to be trying to "reform" the system, one cannot "reform" anything when the prosecutors are in charge. The only way there can be any meaningful reform in American criminal justice is to end immunity for prosecutors, police, and judges. If the rest of us have no immunity, and we continue to do our jobs, then why should this class of people be protected from having to obey the law?
As I go through the various links demonstrating misconduct on behalf of prosecutors around the country, I come to realize that nothing is going to change. We see a charlatan like "dentist" Michael West testifying for prosecutors and helping to win convictions, even though all prosecutors who use West know that he is a fraud. Radley Balko explains:
I’ve written extensively on West over the last few years, most recently in a feature about the 1992 Louisiana murder trial and eventual conviction of Jimmie Duncan. In that case, I obtained a video showing West repeatedly jamming Duncan’s dental mold into the body of the young girl Duncan was accused of killing. Forensic specialists say that what West does in the video isn't a remotely acceptable method of analysis, and may amount to criminal evidence tampering. Duncan is on death row in Louisiana, based in part on West's analysis.The whole thing is so outrageous that one does not wonder why West is not behind bars, but even today, prosecutors in Mississippi seek out the services of this lying charlatan and the disgraced "forensic pathologist" Steven Hayne. (I am sure that both men would be welcomed with open arms in the LMJC both by prosecutors and judges. Liars and charlatans feel very, very comfortable around each other. Maybe they can have a group hug.)
In a country where people actually cared about justice, men like Arnt, Gregor, West, Outhouse, and many others would be looking for honest work or would be sitting in the crowbar motel. Instead, they draw large salaries on the public till, lie in court, present false evidence, send innocent people to prison, and are touted in the local press as "heroes."