The lesson from the jury was clear: while they believed that there were too many discrepancies and inconsistencies in the police officers’ stories to convict our client of evidence tampering (whew! one felony avoided), they couldn’t go the rest of the way to believing that the police officers planted drugs on the defendant (damn, a felony possession conviction). It’s not surprising really. We all want to believe that the people entrusted to protect us are good and honest.
Sometimes, they’re not, but it’s a world where you need video to prove police misconduct or it didn’t happen. This is one of the reasons Scott Greenfield’s “But for Video” series is so powerful. It’s difficult for even the most open-minded to believe some of the things on these videos and even more difficult to fathom why. Sometimes police officers do misbehave, but trying to prove misconduct without really compelling evidence is often a losing proposition.
Edit: I think the above is a little too pessimistic. Yes, you want to go into trial with your eyes open, but sometimes the trial gods smile on you. In this case, we didn’t get a total win, but we were able to get a not guilty verdict on a felony charge that would have otherwise led to a consecutive prison sentence. The client was actually happy about it – he is now eligible for a probation sentence instead.