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Ed Shaw Law No Nonsense Legal Advice

Local Solutions For Local Problems


by | Mar 18, 2024 | General Law |

When I started practicing law many years ago, my kids would say just about back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had more faith in the criminal justice system and believed that it just about always worked. As I have gained experience, I have learned that, unfortunately, there are serious flaws with our legal system. While I believe that most prosecutors and police officers are honest, the willingness of some police officers and investigators to lie, the willingness of some prosecutors to go along with the lies, the lack of courage on the part of too many judges and prosecutors to stand up to what is clearly misconduct on the part of law enforcement and prosecutors, all of this adds up to some people being convicted of crimes they did not commit.  I once had a case where it was as clear as day that the leadership of his local police department was falsely accusing my client in order to settle a grudge that they had against him. The prosecutor went full speed ahead with the case and two judges refused to dismiss any of the charges against him. Only after 3 separate trials, did the members of three different Jurys, see through the charade, coming back with not guilty verdicts after very short deliberations.

I had another case where a client was falsely charged with assault based on a witnesses’ not credible claim that he swerved towards him, with no physical evidence to back up the claim. The prosecution finally dismissed the charge after being repeatedly pressured to turn over evidence which was never disclosed.

I wish that I could say that I just had bad luck, just happen to see the cases where the system goes wrong, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Many others working in the system have had similar experiences. Recently the Minnesota Supreme Court overturned a conviction where a doctor testifying for the prosecution provided a false expert opinion, used his position as a doctor to offer a medical opinion at the trial that made it look like the person charged had committed a crime when the opinion was not correct and the doctor almost certainly knew at the time, that the opinion was not correct.  The end result, someone spent several years in prison for a crime they probably did not commit. For more info look up State v. Kaiser.

How do we fix this, how do we make sure that the guilty are convicted, and the innocent are not? There are a lot of ideas out there, most of them relate to accountability, anyone who lies in a court proceeding, whether on court documents or at a hearing, needs to face serious consequences, including criminal charges. This should include investigators of any kind, police officers, and prosecutors. Right now, there are almost no consequences for those who lie to convict innocent people. Having consequences is a first step in avoiding those convictions.




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