It was reported in The Tribune-Democrat tribdem.com on September 13, 2016 that Assistant District Attorney Joseph Green of Johnstown, Pennsylvania dismissed DUI charges brought by the arresting officer after it was discovered that the officer testified under oath falsely, contradicting the dash cam video recording of the same traffic stop. After reviewing the video, the prosecuting attorney withdrew all charges, saying of the officer:
“His testimony in Court was in direct opposition to the images I saw on the dash cam.” “I’ll be damned if I’m going to support cops who lie to me.”
Lawyers like Joseph Green are a credit to the pofession, and know their job as a prosecutor. A prosecutor’s first duty is not to obtain a conviction; it is to seek and obtain justice. That’s exactly what happened here, thanks to the recording of this police encounter and a first class prosecutor.
Occurrences like these are happening with increasingly frequency in direct proportion to the increasing use of body cams, dash cams and video capable cell phones. Were it not for this recording of police encounter’s few such potential miscarriages of justice as spotted by Mr. Green would come to light.
When I was an assistant prosecutor, and a police officer was caught lying in Court, he not only was not supported by the Chief Prosecutor, my boss, the Chief of Police was told that any future cases brought by the offending officer would not be presented in Court, and the police chief might as well assign that officer to permanent desk duty or fire him. One lie and his career on the street was over.
Today, undoubtedly there are many Joseph Greens out there prosecuting honorably and ethically, just like the majority of officers who don’t lie about what happened and do their job professionally. These officers should have no fear of being video recorded on the job. What “A Toast to Silence” talks about is not the lies told in Court about the evidence obtained, but about the lies told to you to get evidence when they stop you. That’s when the preventable damage is done by you to your own defense and you lose in Court. With increased use of dash cams and body cams, cops lying in Court is less likely. The officer, on the street, is not under oath and neither are you. He wants to get evidence from you that the constitutional right to silence, and due process says your don’t have to give; so he lies to get it and hopefully, the camera is capturing it all. If the camera records you running your mouth, the officer doesn’t need to lie after that point. If you are fooled by the office into talking, you have made the case for him and against yourself. His out-of-court lies are dismissed as applied police training and technique; your running your mouth is not dismissed and is remembered as evidence.
Exactly, word-for-word, what those lies are, is set out in “A Toast to Silence“. As in the game of chess, if you can see what your opponent, the cop, is doing, you can prevent it from happening to you. Between the combination of self-help (well timed silence by you), and honorable men like prosecutor Joseph Green, the criminal justice system will start working better, and actually produce justice for a change.
Hats off to Joseph Green, Esquire!