An Essay By Kevin Brian Dowling, Pennsylvania
False Oaths and Fatal Lies
The criminal justice system is not a world of black and white, but of greys and shadows. The policy of mass incarceration is structured to reward dishonesty Perjury is the most common crime followed closely by the subornation of perjury Very few are ever charged, let alone convicted.
Perjury is a legal term defined as deliberately making material false or misleading statements under oath. The legal effect of an oath is to subject a person to the penalties for perjury Perjury is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison for each count Both prosecutors and defence lawyers must tell the court if one of their witnesses gives testimony they know to be false How often does that happen? Failure to do so is a crime, subornation of perjury.
The Oath of Affirmation clause of the US Constitution requires all Federal and State officials in the Executive, legislative and Judicial branches of government to pledge to uphold said Constitution, which includes specific rights to those charged with crimes The most vital is the right to a fair and unbiased tribunal and jury There are many types of oaths.
Lawyers swear an oath upon admission to the practice of law and are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct. Suborning perjury can result in prosecution and disbarment.
Judges swear an oath upon taking the bench and are bound by the Rules of Judicial Conduct. They promise to be a neutral arbiter and to protect the rights of criminal defendants Pennsylvania still elects judges rather than appoint on merit Political elections guarantee that mostly former prosecutors become judges, their robes do little to conceal their bias and slant to assist the prosecution. Prosecutors are the apex predators in the legal food chain.
Jurors swear an oath during the selection process to answer questions truthfully, so that lawyers can uncover valid reasons to excuse them for cause, or use a peremptory strike. They take a second oath when seated for a trial, promising to obey court instructions and to weigh the charges only on evidence presented in court. Yet, jurors lie to get selected and convict based on personal bias and evidence not heard in court.
Law Enforcement officers swear oaths when given their badges and every time they testify. They are permitted to lie to suspects, but not under oath. Yet a high percentage commit perjury daily, including forensic experts who are often sworn officers as well The blue code of silence ensures that an honest cop will not report a corrupt one.
All citizen witnesses swear an oath before testifying Many have a reality show mentality, a poor understanding of the burden of proof and are vulnerable to manipulative police and prosecutors. They consciously lie to help lock up the perceived bad guys
Prison inmates swear an oath before testifying as well Most are already convicted felons, career criminals, and enjoy testifying against those who worked for a living Prosecutors openly coach these jailhouse informants and provide them with information on the case. They give them free passes on their admittedly serious crimes In effect, prosecutors commit a crime against the victims of these snitches One former prosecutor likened the relationship between informants and their handlers to 'falling in love with your rat' Rewarding snitch testimony constitutes bribery of witnesses and manifests itself in many forms Serious charges are dropped, sentences reduced, preferential treatment and jobs in prison, money placed on commissary accounts, financial help to move and even purchase a business.
From 2008 to 2013 nearly 50,000 Federal convicts (out of 400,000 convicted) had their prison terms reduced in exchange for testifying against someone Pennsylvania state cases are even worse Virtually all of the current 181 Death Row and over 5,000 life sentenced prisoners had lying snitches used to convict them Entire state prisons are dedicated to housing them.
Death penalty statutes list aggravating factors warranting the imposition of death California has a unique one 'Perjury Causing Execution.' If an executed inmate is later determined to have been innocent, and your perjury was the prime reason for conviction, you can be charged with his murder and face execution yourself.
Legal scholars estimate that at least one percent of American prisoners are innocent The number is closer to four percent, with Death Row and lifers the primary victims of the perjury parade. When your lies take someone's freedom or their lives, it is no minor sin. And remember that all harm suffered by that person's family is a plague on your accursed soul as well.
An unknown author said "The rule of Law is like a three-legged stool supported by an honest judge, an ethical bar and an enforceable oath." What happens when all three are broken? In the 18th century English legal scholar William Blackstone is credited with saying "It is far better to let ten guilty people go free, than to convict a single innocent person."
Kevin Brian Dowling, Pennsylvania