March 24, 2009 Bobby G. Frederick 14 Comments
Police Misconduct, Prosecutorial misconduct
Two police officers, a prosecutor, and a judge have been charged with conspiracy to commit perjury and with misconduct in Detroit.
Former top drug prosecutor Karen Plants and two Inkster cops were arraigned today and face up to life in prison for an alleged conspiracy to use perjured testimony to convict two drug dealers in a 2005 cocaine case, according to charging documents filed this morning.
In all, Plants is accused of five felonies and two Inkster police officers are each charged with four felonies in the court documents, filed by the Michigan Attorney General’s office after a nine-month investigation. Among the charges faced by the trio is conspiracy to commit perjury, a potential life offense.
Retired Wayne County Circuit Judge Mary Waterstone faces four felony counts of official misconduct, according to charges filed this morning in Detroit 36th District Court. The maximum penalty for those felonies is five years.
Plants is charged with conspiracy to commit perjury, one count of official misconduct for provide false information to defense lawyers, one count of misconduct for failing to correct false evidence and two misconduct charges for allegedly holding improper meetings with Judge Waterstone.
David Moffitt, one of the defense attorneys at the trial, asked Attorney General Mike Cox to investigate the case three years ago, but apparently was ignored until recently. The attorney general’s investigative report alleges that the state’s informants lied on the stand at a preliminary hearing, with the proseuctor’s knowledge. Later, the prosecutor had an ex parte meeting with Judge Waterstone where she told the judge about the perjury, and asked for and received an order signed by the judge preventing the defense attorneys from obtaining cell phone records that would have revealed the perjury. At trial, the prosecutor again met with the judge ex parte and discussed the perjury which was allowed to continue at trial without the knowledge of the defense attorneys.
They should be prosecuted. There are cops who lie under oath and there are prosecutors who will do anything to obtain a conviction. There are judges who will look the other way (although I hope it is rare that a judge will actually participate in unethical conduct such as what is alleged in this case). The only way to ensure the credibility of our justice system is for cops to know that they will be prosecuted for perjury and for prosecutors to know that they will be held accountable for their actions.
When prosecutors know that they will not be charged with anything, they know that they will not be disciplined by their state bar, they know that they are immune from lawsuit, and they know that judges will not dismiss cases for prosecutorial misconduct, there will be prosecutors who will take advantage of their free pass and do whatever it takes to win their cases. As much as we want and need to believe that prosecutors and police officers will be moral and upstanding by virtue of who they are and what they do, they are human and it simply is not always true.