Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why Lie To Get Convictions?

What kind of a person would lie, knowing that their lies will be depended upon by others in assessing judgment? That their lies will be used by those of us who do not specialize in their field, to determine whether someone is the perpetrator of some crime? Who would make up garbage, call it science, and swear it is dependable, knowing that another person's freedom is at stake?

Think about the junk science you have heard about over the years, that people have depended on because someone claimed that it was reliable. I remember the days when lab techs would come to court and testify that two hairs were microscopically the same or at least so similar that they could be relied upon to prove that they came from the same person. This kind of crap testimony occurred in many, many trials for years to connect suspected persons to rape, murder, and other crime scenes. Jurors relied on it. Hell, so did many lawyers. But what did we find out - it was bunk. A bunch of crap.

[I try to imagine what went through these "experts'" minds as they looked at the hairs and KNEW they could not rely on such science because it was not true? when they lied after swearing to tell the truth and looked jurors, judges, and lawyers in the eyes swearing they were correct. What did they think when the accused was convicted, in many cases, in heavy reliance on their lies? when we lay people finally figured out they were doing a "David Copperfield" on us? when they lay in their bed at night knowing someone sits in prison in large part because of their lies? What they will tell their maker. They had good intentions when they lied? Are they sorry? I mean do they feel sorry about what they did because they are DEFINITELY sorry.]

Dog sniffs. Does anyone really believe that a dog can smell a rock of cocaine inside a baggie, inside a box, inside a safe, in the closet in the back bedroom by sniffing at the front door? Seriously? I've had a case with similar facts & just cannot believe that we have to sit there & take it because some idiot says it is so. (I'll agree that dogs can smell some things that humans cannot but come on. Be a little realistic.) Yet here we are in 2009 and judges, and intelligent jurors, buy that crap just like they bought the hair lies.

Now we have scent lineups. A dog is allowed to smell some object from a crime scene, then he is taken to a lineup of persons & sniffs to tell his handler which is the perpetrator. There is, in fact, a cop who is famous (and soon to be infamous) who testifies that he does not keep records on his dog, but that he knows that his 3 dogs have made only 3 mistakes in almost 10,000 efforts. Wow.

However, the real evidence in some of those cases (including some that were dismissed without trial - AFTER the accused smellee sat in jail for at least some period of time) - exonerates the individuals. DNA says SODDI (some other dude done it).

The perpetrator of the falsehoods continues to testify but now the tides are turning. He and his law enforcement group have been sued. Moreover, private dog handlers as well as criminal defense attorneys have gathered the testimony of this proven liar as well as dissected his bunk claims, and are now demonstrating for juries through elaborate cross examination the falsity of the supposed science. In fact, in June of this year, a lawyer in San Jacinto county (where prosecutors proclaimed scent lineups to be as reliable as DNA) handed this liar his butt in cross examination. Her client was found not guilty of murder in 13 minutes.

The losses are mounting for Officer One Sniff Will Do Ya. But one thing that has not changed is this - until they are told essentially DO NOT USE THIS LIAR by an appellate court, the prosecution will continue to present to juries this emboldened witness and his majic dogs to help obtain convictions. Why? Because it is easy. Because no one is stopping them. Because they don't care about the truth.

[And, those real prosecutors who can smell dog crap when it is placed before them - like Vic Wisner formerly of Harris County - will refuse to engage in seeking a conviction for the numbers and will refuse to use Officer One Sniff Will Do Ya. Not only do they prosecute with what they believe is real evidence, many of them actually care to seek justice. What about the rest of them? Never mind. This was about why people lie.]

There are many reasons Officer One Sniff Will Do Ya might lie. We can all guess some nasty little explanations (or at least I can. And by nasty, I mean ugly & mean.) But heck, who cares? The fact is, his lies have resulted in convictions for some people who have since been exonerated. So what shall we do about the other convictions in which he was involved? ? ?


  1. Justice should be about the truth. It makes no sense to put an innocent man in jail because a guilty man will still be walking the streets. Justice is about putting the guilty where they belong and giving peace to a victim. I guess some people's ego get in the way of that. I know there are good people on both sides of the bar that is seeking true justice and I think you are one of them.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Texas Ghostwriter. And I believe from reading your blog that you are on the up and up. I think that in most professions you will have a lot of good & perhaps a few bad. It is just more important when you are talking about taking away freedom, or even life, that all be fair & truthful. While this guy's dogs may have superior smell, he has been dishonest about their reliability and the fallibility to the deteriment of more than a couple of people.

    I can swear that in my 21 years as a lawyer (always on the defense side), I have never tried to alter evidence or obtain false testimony. I've had to deal with conflicts in testimony, and have even presented conflicts in my defense because it is the way the witnesses remember the situation, but I have not encouraged anyone to lie (and I'm essentially trying to keep people out of prison or keep the term of imprisonment as a lower number.)

    Anyway, thanks again!

  3. The prosecutors in a cap murder case we were defending last year utilized one of Mr. Pikett's magic dog-sniffs to try to place the defendant at a crime scene over 17 year old.
    I was kind enough to drop off a copy of the Innocence Project Report to the DA recently (in fact, Lisa Tanner of the AG's office had crowed about the identification of our client last April on the TDCAA forum a couple of days after the 'line-up'--the project makes rather disapproving note of these statements by Ms. Tanner in the the final report issued last year).
    The DA in our case told me he was never told any of the bad info on Pikett by the AG's office (and it seems that certain prosecutors kept these things under their hat for some time before the cat was let out of the bag).
    Keith Pikett should be prosecuted for the criminal that he is. Why he has not I do not understand. If a defense expert were caught knowingly presenting such fraudulent evidence in criminal trials, I am quite sure that there would be significant adverse consequences for that person---and quite likely, the attorney who assisted in the fraud and perjury on the court and the defendant.

    Sorry for the screed. It just still pisses me off to think about that snake-oil salesman getting away with having accused and probably caused possibly innocent people to go to prison.

    Bryan Simmons

  4. Thanks, Bryan. I agree with you. I hate it when the injustice system is run by hypocrits who want to prosecute the heck out of some people, yet turn their backs to those like Pikett & cops caught in the headlights lying - why AREN'T they prosecuted?!


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