We like to think that our system of justice is fair. We like to believe that the police conduct their investigations in an impartial manner and collect the evidence that exonerates as well is damns the accused.
That was the ideal but we have strayed sometimes in desperation to skew the process and convict who we think the public wants convicted. Modern investigative techniques and tools such as DNA, surveillance video and the data of credit and debit cards and the cell phones we all carry today exculpates rather than implicates those investigated for serious crimes.
Today there is wholesale cheating in evidence collection and inside our crime labs to bring conviction. Fingerprint and DNA evidence has been faked redundantly and the penalties for officials involved are minuscule when compared to the life prison terms and death penalties the victims of evidence fraud face.
Every year lazy prosecutors bring to Congress and 50 state legislatures proposed new laws that attack the due process rights of accused Americans. It used to be said any prosecutor worth his salt could indict a ham sandwich. Now they can convict a ham sandwich with the same amount of ease.
Americas true crime buffs assume every man charged is guilty and demand the harshest of penalties. They assume every police arrest is based on some secret fact that cant be disclosed as they wring their hands while waiting for a conviction in the theater of the courtroom.
Court trials are theater in every respect. They are rehearsed and acted out by the players. The final chapter is written by the jury who wants always to be on the side of right. Right meaning the side of the heroes they see on TV and in the movies. The Cops and prosecutors have a huge advantage.
That brings me to the German, Volksgerichtshof (Peoples Court). In 1942 the most despicable Nazi ever, Roland Freisler was appointed as its President. Freisler started out as Communist but switched his brand of Socialism to the National Socialist variety. He was a cunning and brilliant man who knew how to please his beloved Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler.
Freisler may have been motivated by his Bolshevik past. He may have had a desire to prove himself especially loyal to Hitler and his Reich by being so ruthless.
The Gestapo was the Third Reichs version of the FBI. They were skilled investigators appointed from the ranks of the best German police agencies. Many of these men were nothing more sinister than hard working and honorable cops collecting evidence for their government. Of course there were those tyrants who were promoted based on their phenomenal efficiency in arrests and convictions.
June 4, 2010