Professional Snitch

This is a very long article.  That everyone in the United States should read closely.

The journalistic focus, of course, is on the snitch himself, and his victims.  To a lesser extent, it’s on the appalling behavior of prosecutors who one day vouch for the snitch’s veracity to obtain a conviction, and the next call him a liar because he is now exposing them.

In the article the judges get a pass.  They shouldn’t.

But first, turnabout is fair play, as they say:

Just as the men whom Skalnik [the snitch – ed.] leveled outrageous claims against over the years had faced accusations that were maddeningly difficult to disprove, prosecutors found themselves on the defensive, scrambling to discredit what Skalnik claimed was the honest truth. In formal responses submitted to the court, the state attorney’s office categorically denied his assertions, dismissing them as “falsehoods, ranging in degree from gross exaggeration to preposterous fabrication” — a richly paradoxical about-face for an office that had asked scores of jurors to take him at his word. Trying to preserve the integrity of the cases Skalnik had participated in, prosecutors simultaneously argued that his earlier testimony as a state witness “was credible, was often independently substantiated and withstood extensive cross-examination.”

In fact, behind the scenes, an investigator with the state attorney’s office had difficulty verifying that Skalnik had provided information that could be independently corroborated…

But when one of the many travesties inflicted by this sick man and his incredibly irresponsible handlers in the law enforcement-prosecutor community reaches the ears of some Florida appellate judges – well, to those of us who know the system the outcome is tediously familiar:

In a 2007 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court noted that Skalnik’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct had never been substantiated. “Skalnik disavowed the accusations,” read the opinion, and “unequivocally stated that they were false.” The court also accepted the government’s assurances that prosecutors had not engaged in wrongdoing. “The prosecutor in Dailey’s case also testified that she believed Skalnik’s testimony to be truthful at the time of trial,” its justices wrote in their opinion. And with that, any hope of challenging the veracity of Skalnik’s testimony effectively came to an end.

Here’s what the courts “find”: the snitch was credible enough when he implicated “criminals”; but when he implicates government officials his credibility disappears.

And of course there has to be a judicial finding at some point that if this really is as bad as it looks it must all be the fault of the defense lawyers and it’s too late to do anything now so let’s just get the execution over with:

But Florida’s highest criminal court was unmoved, finding that Smith’s account, and other evidence Dailey’s lawyers presented, including proof that Skalnik misrepresented his criminal record at Dailey’s trial, had come to light too late. “Dailey neglects to explain why this information could not have been discovered earlier,” the court stated in an opinion on Oct. 3 — in essence blaming Dailey’s lawyers for not uncovering facts that prosecutors had spent years obfuscating.

Yes, read the whole thing. It’s an embarrassment for anyone calling themselves lawyers.




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Filed under epistemology, Judicial lying/cheating, wrongful convictions

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