Sunday, June 06, 2004

Lying Gang Experts

As many of you know, gang "experts" (cops who make money by calling everyone they meet - except prosecution witnesses - gang members) piss me off more than just about any other type of cop witness.

Yesterday took the cake. My client has just about no record (certainly nothing gang related), has told the police on numerous occasions that he's not a gang member, but he grew up in the hood and hung out with plenty of them, and has gang member friends. His dad was once upon a time a gang member (but not since the my client was just a few years old).

Police expert: I believe he is a gang member because I saw him 4 years ago at a location frequented by gang members (1/2 a mile from my client's home) and he had a nickname (given to him by his dad when he was an infant). Therefore, in my opinion he is a gang member. My questions (in 3 weeks, when I get the transcript, I'll post the actual questions so you won't think I'm making this stuff up, you tell me who the criminals are here): did you ask him if he was a gang member? No, in my experience gang members lie about this. How do you know they lie about this if you don't ask them? They've lied to me about it, I have asked them. Why didn't you ask him if he was one? I already knew, I didn't need to ask. Did he have any gang tatoos? I didn't see any (he doesn't). Did he have any particular gang clothing on? I don't recall any.

The best part, the officer gave some vague time where this happened, implying it was in the last year or two. I happened to have all Field Interview (or FI) cards from everytime police had ever contacted my client, including this officer's FI from that time. What did the FI say? It took place 4 years ago, no mention of gang location, no mention of talking with gang members, NO MENTION OF GANG INVOLVEMENT OR TIES, nothing at all but a contact for no reason at all.

The final curtain was when the detective took the stand and spoke about the search warrant executed at my client's house. Detective, did you find any gang related items at my client's house? No. No gang writing? No. No gang attire? No. No guns? None. No gang pictures? Well, there were a few pictures I thought were gang related (these pictures were pictures of his father, his brother, and a family member of theirs in prison from prison). So there was actually nothing gang related about those pictures at all, was there? No.

These lies are the kind of lies that piss me off. When we talk about the threat of facism taking place in this country, and abuses from the Patriot Act, all you need to do is look at the moral and intellectual dishonesty that takes place every day in our courtrooms from these gang "experts" to see what kind of trouble we're in on a national level.

Well, right wingers would say, this would never happen to anyone but those scumbag gang members, so screw them. First of all, this client is not a gang member, he is being tarred as one due to his being a poor minority living in the hood.

Secondly, consider these cases: Richard Jewel (purported Olympic Bomber). How many people had spoken about how he perfectly fit the profile of a bomber after the FBI arrested and smeared him for life when charging him with the Olympic Bombings in 1996. Or, more recently, Brandon Mayfield, Portland, OR area lawyer arrested (on a material witness warrant!!!) for involvement in the Madrid bombings 2 months ago. The FBI refused to listen to Spanish police when they insisted that Mayfield's prints did not match those found near the scene on the bag containing explosive devices, and some dozen FBI experts swore the prints were the same. But here's the kicker, they searched his house and found, among other things suspicious items like Muslim writings and Spanish Documents. The FBI called the items Spanish Documents. What were they in reality? His kid's Spanish homework.

Why is it that some law enforcement officers get so excited about solving a case that they are willing to be so dishonest in their descriptions, to call spanish homework "Spanish Documents," or to call otherwise innocuous family photos "possible gang-related photos?" I don't know, but I know it proves you cannot give the government unfettered power, because they simply cannot be trusted.

People ask me how I do this stuff, all I have to say is that these seemingly absurd procedures protecting people, things that we take for granted like Miranda, search and seizure, rights to speedy trials, and everything else that the public bemoans, are the only thing that separates us from becoming Venezuela under Chavez, or Russia under Putin, or America under some tinpot dictator like I'd expect an unfettered John Ashcroft to be. God help us if we ever let these protections out the window, because they don't only protect "scumbag" gang members, they also protect do-gooder security guards working in the Olympic Village and small-time family lawyers who committed the unspeakable crime of converting to Islam. And they protect me and you.

Well, I got way off topic there, but I just had to vent a little.


Anonymous said...


Read your rant about "gang experts". Tell me more. I'd like to read the questions given during the trial you mentioned.


Anonymous said...

and i suppose you get angry when you have to wait in the long security check point lines at the air port, feeling that your rights are being violated right? not everyone is perfect, people do good while we all know some do bad in the world. you defense attourney types make me sick. lets just let all the convicts in america go free. that is really what you want

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