Monday, April 5, 2010

Danny Brown

The case of Danny Brown has surfaced again in the Toledo Blade.  Gamso - For The Defense blogged about the case here, the discussion on Toledo Talk has resurfaced here.  Lisa Renee's Glass City Jungle is carrying the story here.  In summary, Danny Brown was convicted of murder in 1981 and spent about 19 years in prison.  Many years after his conviction DNA testing was used to eliminate the only physical evidence against Danny, and at the same time Danny passed a polygraph exam.  Danny was released from prison but the Lucas County prosecutor, Julia Bates, refuses to drop Danny as a suspect, which would allow Danny to collect money from the County for wrongful incarceration.  Danny had a public defender at his trial, and, to be blunt about it, Danny got shafted.

I'm not going to write in great detail about Danny's case of injustice, mainly because it's being done everywhere else.  What I'm going to write about is how to stay out of Danny's shoes.

Being arrested by the police is a frightening experience.  The police like it that way for any number of reasons, but mainly because it's fun.  Maybe only a little bit fun, but fun.  Another reason police want you, a mere civilian, frightened is because you'll make less mischief if you're scared, and you may inadvertently say something linking you to a crime.  Therefore and thus, I have the first rule.

Rule Number One: Do not talk to the police.  That means that when you're pulled over for a moving violation and Officer Friendly asks if you know why you're being pulled over, don't answer.  You can say that you choose not to answer, but do not confirm nor deny.  You could ask Officer Friendly why you were stopped, or ask if you're being detained, or ask if you're free to leave.  Other than that, keep your yap shut.  About the only thing better than not talking to Officer Friendly is recording the entire conversation, which is illegal in some States.  Funny how police officers are so camera shy, isn't it?

If you're a typical law abiding civilian, you should know and understand that Officer Friendly doesn't care about that.  Officer Friendly wants bodies and numbers.  Bodies and numbers make for better statistics which tell Officer Friendly's superiors, Sargent Slammer, Lieutenant LetEmHaveIt and Chief PainInTheAss that Officer Friendly is doing a good job.  Prosecutor Persecutor likes numbers as well, mainly for the same reason.

Rule Number Two: Know Your Rights.  Take a hard look at your Miranda rights and learn them, then learn their ramifications.  For instance, Officer Friendly would like you to talk.  You have the right to remain silent.  Do so.  Shut your yap.  Officer Friendly would like to search your car.  Fuck him, he doesn't have any right to do so without a warrant.  Officer Friendly will insist he can get a warrant and keep you waiting until it gets here.  Again, fuck him.  He can't and he knows it.  Officer Friendly would also like to walk around your home or apartment just to see what he might see, or smell.  Tell him to go and get a warrant, and decline to allow him to step inside just for a minute.  While I'm on the subject, if Officer Friendly comes to your door and asks you to step outside, know that you do not have to do so.  Stay inside.  Also, you don't have to answer your door if Officer Friendly knocks.  There is no law stating that you must answer your door or telephone.  If Officer Friendly wants you to come downtown to answer questions or to clear a few things up, do not go unless Officer Friendly tells you that you have no choice.  Which brings up rule three.

Rule Number Three: Know Your Attorney. You have the right to an attorney.  Get to know him and, if you can, find out what his home number is.  Get the number of a good bail bondsman as well.  If you are arrested or even questioned about a crime, the police are automatically trying to build a case against you.  The police will lie to you.  They'll get a search warrant for your home and will trash the place while they 'search' it for contraband or evidence.  While they're searching they'll find other things that you'd sooner not show them.  Case in point, if you're married or living with a girl, how do you feel about having several fat cops searching through your wife's underwear drawer, carefully examining her lingerie?  They'll do that.  They'll make crude comments about what they find.  An attorney can change a lot of this.  Even if you're a witness to a crime, having your attorney present before you talk to the police about the crime is never a bad idea, and it's a very good idea if the police think you know something.

Rule Number Four: If you're involved in a shooting... Lord help you, and I mean that literally.  If you're involved in a self-defense shooting, remain as calm as possible in spite of all the adrenalin making you nuts.  Keep your gun out of your pocket and do as you're told, except - confine your talking to your name and the following litany: I have done nothing wrong.  He/she tried to kill me.  I want my lawyer.  The police will bait you, they'll rough you up and they'll scream instructions at you.  Sometimes those will be contradictory instructions, and that will be done on purpose.  Keep repeating your litany.  If you're lucky enough to have a close friend with you, pass everything on your person including your car keys to your friend.  Everything, including your ID.  Have your friend take off and call your attorney for you.  It's likely that you'll get lost in the system, but that's how police work.

Allow me to reiterate: Tell the police your name (not your phone, not your address, not what happened), and "I want my lawyer.  Now."  You'll likely spend the night in jail, but so what?  You're getting out.

When your attorney arrives, the demeanor of the police will change.  Your attorney will help explain to the police just what it is they need to know.  The police won't like this, but believe me, you will.  You'll like it a lot, because it means you are not likely to end up like Danny.

Readers may think I'm being a little hard on the police and that I'm tarring them all with the same brush.  True, I am being hard on the police.  Maybe too hard and maybe not.  Anyone who is either a cop or has worked for or with the police will know that there are absolutely sterling examples of humanity on any given police force.  At the same time, every police force is mostly made up of average men and women who put their job (bodies and numbers) as priority one and are not aware of the latest district court rulings on police conduct.  When you observe your constitutional rights, you aren't doing anything wrong, insulting or obstructive.  You are taking care of your own welfare.


Stephanie Lorée said...

Rule #1 is so important. People run their mouths way too often. The only thing they should be saying is, "I want my lawyer, please." Once this is made clear to the police, it is a violation of your rights for the police to continue questioning you. If they do, your lawyer can bring that up later in court and it will not go well for the police.

Also, I think it should be noted that there's also no reason to be outright rude to the cops. They are, in the end, just trying to do their jobs most times. Just be polite and keep asking for your attorney. If you get nasty with them, they have a tendency to get nasty right back, only they can call it "resisting arrest" or "assaulting an officer." Don't do that.

Mad Jack said...

Good point. Treat the police with courtesy and show some respect, but continue to ask for your lawyer. The advice from my own attorney started with "Call me, then call the police." Do not volunteer any information to the 911 dispatcher either.