Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Response To: The Prosecution Rests, but I Can't

I found an interesting article in the New York Times today that you can read just by following this link. It is about a man named John Thompson falsely convicted of robbery of murder who was freed by a supreme court decision. About 15 years after his conviction, his lawyers found evidence that had been covered up. Most interesting was details about the blood sample which did not even match his. The prosecutors had covered up this evidence, but they face no penalties and continue practicing today.

He makes a very interesting point; why were the prosecutors not tried in court themselves? Now surely hiding evidence so that they could get a conviction that would put an innocent man to death seems immoral. Does it seem like it should be illegal? I will get back to this point at the end.

The reason that I put this article on a libertarian blog is because it relates to a kind of unique position I have about tainted evidence. Say a policeman goes into a home without a warrant and finds a bloody knife with the DNA of the victim and the murderer. A court would throw out the evidence in today's system even though we all would know who the murder was. If that was the only evidence, then the murderer would go free. Personally, I think that is insane. I realize that it is a deterrent toward that kind of activity, but I think there is a better solution. Instead of throwing out the evidence, why not use the evidence, but then hold the policeman liable for what essentially boils down to breaking and entering? This way, you would have a deterrent against this kind of unlawful activity by the police, but the guilty would also still face their punishment.

And I think that ties back to this case. By holding back their evidence, they indirectly lead to what would have been the murder of an innocent man. The person in the getaway car for a murder is also charged with murder, even though the contribution is indirect. In this case, this also seems to be the same. The prosecutors tried to indirectly put a man to death. That seems, very logically, as though that should be grounds for a conviction. It is something that we as a nation need to look at and decide, because this kind of manipulation of justice is immoral and directly harms innocent people. This kind of situation is exactly what the law was created for.

In case you were interested, the man was awarded money for his time spent on death row, so at least he is not completely without justice.


  1. An interesting subject, Tony. I've made almost identical arguments to yours for years. I accept that even criminals have rights; but those rights should not allow them to escape justice. I believe that if a police officer commits an illegal search and seizure and the person is found innocent, the officer should probably lose his job. If the person is guilty, then maybe the officer should be disciplend with time off and loss of pay.

  2. How would you feel about having those police officers charged just as a private citizen would be? Do you think that goes too far or it would it be just?