ironphoenix (ironphoenix) wrote,

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Distilled from my comments in theweaselking's journal here:

The rules of evidence have annoyed me for quite a long time. As it is, if police get evidence illegally, it isn't admissible, but no action is usually taken against the officers in question.

I believe that evidence should be admissible and judged according to its reliability, regardless of its provenance.

Anyone who commits an offense against the law or a professional code of conduct in acquiring evidence should be accountable and liable for the offense. Police who obtain evidence illegally should be punished for it, and not with a slap on the wrist, a wink, and a whispered, "Good cop! Donut!"

It can be argued that this will lead to, as ungulata put it, "law enforcement [recruiting] 'suicide officers,' people ready and willing to go on witch hunts for the [greater] good," but I think it's a little paranoid to expect this to be the norm: relatively few people are willing to jettison their career that casually. Besides, said witch hunts are unlikely to be more intrusive or abusive than they would be under the current system.

That said, I think there will be, and that there should be, cases where officers make that judgement call and pursue evidence beyond the law, to their own detriment, in order to convict a truly deserving serious offender. That kind of personal courage is laudable, but the consequences they're accepting have to be real in order for it not to get out of hand.

I know this isn't a perfect solution, but a perfect solution would be one where police weren't needed in the first place. The law must strike a balance between the rights of freedom, privacy, safety and property, as well as the practical considerations of the police and judiciary. In my view, evidence being ruled inadmissible irrespective of its reliability makes a mockery of justice in the courts. Likewise, police who are free to make their own rules and suffer no consequence worse than having their evidence ruled out when they get found out makes a travesty of the principle of the rule of law. I'm proposing this as a better compromise than what we have now.

I'm getting close to agitating for this as a serious option, but want to get a bit more feedback on it before "going public" (well, more public than my little fourth-tier blog, anyway) with it.
Tags: politics
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