Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Liar, liar, pants on fire! The consequences of lying to the court...

I'm sure that by now you've all heard that George Zimmerman's wife has been arrested for perjury stemming from the misrepresentation of her and her husbands financial status to the court during her husbands bond hearing in the Trayvon Martin murder case.  There's a comprehensive article here from the AP.

I don't necessarily disagree with this arrest as I believe that lying to the court or in any other instance when under oath should be punished severely. Here are some notable quotes from the article...
“Prosecutors sent a strong message that you have to tell the truth in court, because it is the whole basis of the judicial system,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who spent weeks pushing for Zimmerman’s arrest in the Feb. 26 killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. “The credibility of each witness is always at the crux of every legal case,” added Crump, who represents Trayvon’s parents.
When Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester learned of the scheme earlier this month, he revoked Zimmerman’s bond. Another bond hearing is scheduled for June 29. George Zimmerman “does not properly respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process,” Lester wrote.
That last bit really resonates with me, that part about respecting the law or the integrity of the judicial process and "the credibility of each witness is always at the crux of every legal case", yet why does it seem that it's always the defendant that's getting punished for perjury?  When attorney Crump says "Prosecutors sent a strong message that you have to tell the truth in court...", he doesn't discriminate between who has to tell the truth in court.  How many instances have we seen over the last several years where prosecutors, cops or state's witnesses have been perjuring themselves under oath?  How about the fiasco before Judge Bloom in the Airways Auto Tag case when the state attorneys office brought forth a witness who gave a sworn statement saying that the three defendants were harassing her in violation of their pretrial release in an effort to get their bond revoked and have them thrown in jail?  In that case the witness recanted her statement and admitted to lying to the court.  Think of the consequences for the defendants if the defense attorneys didn't expose the witness, all three defendants would have had their bond revoked and would have had to sit in jail till trial, yet somehow there were no consequences to this witnesses actions.

Even worse, how many times have we seen prosecutors and cops lying to the court?  Here we have our very own favorite crooked prosecutor, Bill Kostrzewski, lying to the court under oath during on of the many hearings in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case,  yet here we are several years later without a single perjury charge leveled against him.

Woodward Brooks
What about when there's a dishonest cop that lies under oath?  If and when they do get caught, the punishment seems minimal, a few years back we discussed the case of Surfside cop Woodward Brooks who had a nasty habit of writing fake police reports to help his friends defraud insurance companies.  That's a pretty serious charge, you'd think that considering the magnitude of the allegations against him, this guy was going to do a pretty serious stretch in the big house.  I had all but forgotten about Mr. Brooks since I figured his conviction was a forgone conclusion, that is till I checked his docket and found that despite the seriousness of his crimes, he'd gotten probation!

So what's the takeaway from all this perjury business?  Make sure you don't lie to the court, that is unless you're prosecutor or a cop!

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