Thursday, April 14, 2011

Don't talk to the PO-lice

The title uses the Southern pronunciation.  For purposes of this post, the police are anyone in authority investigating a crime.

The grand jury exchange which the Barry Bonds jury found to be an “obstruction of Justice:

"Q: Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?

Bonds: I've only had one doctor touch me. And that's my only personal doctor. Greg, like I said, we don't get into each others' personal lives. We're friends, but I don't — we don't sit around and talk baseball, because he knows I don't want — don't come to my house talking baseball. If you want to come to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we'll be good friends, you come around talking about baseball, you go on. I don't talk about his business. You know what I mean? ...

Q: Right.

A: That's what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that — you know, that — I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see ..."

Jurors were only supposed to make their decision based on the second answer, the one beginning "That's what keeps ..." However, it seemed after the verdict on Wednesday that they looked at the whole exchange. The foreman of the jury, who said his first name was Fred, repeatedly used an expletive to describe Bonds' answer to the question from the prosecutors.

"When you're in front of a grand jury you have to answer, and he gave a b------- answer. It was a b------- answer," Fred said. "He gave a story rather than a yes or no answer."

In January 2000, Ray Lewis, an NFL player, was in Atlanta for the Super Bowl.  He almost certainly saw, and may have participated in a murder.  There wasn’t much of a case against him.  He pled to misdemeanor obstruction for making a “misleading” statement to the police the morning after the murder.

In October 2005, Scooter Libby, an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, talked to federal investigators about their inquiry into leaks about Valarie Plame’s connections to the CIA and was later convicted on four of the five counts in an indictment (one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and one of the counts of making false statements) and acquitted on the second count of making false statements and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service.

None of the three is in anyway an attractive example; but, they are the examples that I’ve got.  None of them would have had any problem had they just kept their mouth shut when the police knocked at their door.

I don’t and would never do criminal defense work.  A couple of decades ago I’d have done anything I could to help a criminal investigation.  I’d have to think long and hard about having any conversation with the police these days.

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