It is certainly sensible and convenient for every American to think that the country’s criminal justice system is essentially rational and protective of civil rights.
What other way is there to logically gauge the might and enforcement prerogatives of state and federal officials commanding the power to arrest citizens and, in select cases, incarcerate them behind bars for alleged acts of criminal wrongdoing?
Although it might be an accurate perception in general terms to view the criminal law process and outcomes it yields as fundamentally reasonable and fair, thinking people know that there are cracks in the armor.
Put another way: Stories chronicling systemic abuses and flat-out mistakes occur with sufficient regularity to render it an indisputable fact that flaws — as much as accurate and reasoned outcomes — are a core element in the country’s justice administration.
A recent story involving a married team of truckers — one of them a former Indiana police officer — demonstrates that well enough.
Here is a capsule summary of what happened to them: Police officers fixated on a bag of baking soda in their rig and pronounced it cocaine after testing it with a $2 narcotics kit.
Notwithstanding that the couple had top-rung security clearances and jobs hauling explosives for the military, their protestations of innocence were ignored, and they spent two months in jail before a proper lab test cleared them.
Unfortunately, the experience resulted in the revocation of their valued clearances and the loss of their jobs.
The case is certainly sad, and it is also capable of repetition, given the reportedly high use of such low-end testing equipment by police departments across the country.
The matter is also instructive, in this sense: It underscores the requirement for police officers to prove every element of their cases beyond a reasonable doubt, which a proven criminal defense attorney will ensure that they do.