Media Blog

RE: Public-service homicides

A former prosecutor weighs in on “public-service homicides.”

Perhaps you have had heard the term “Misdemeanor Murder” as well. In truth, it does have something of a racial history. Though I don’t have an opinion regarding the NAACP’s response, I would have to tell you that if I were the DA assigned to the murder prosecution, assuming there is one, I would be [unhappy with] that cop for shooting off his mouth. I can assure you that the criminal defense lawyer will want that quote leaked before the jury. It is no revelation that most murders–two of the four trials I did would likely fall in this category–do not have angels as victims or witnesses. But to get an appropriately lengthy sentence you have to address that “he’s just a drug-dealing gangbanger who had it comin’ ” issue head-on during jury selection and get rid of people who will openly say a priest is more important than a prostitute or that the life of a dentist is more sacred than that of the dope-slinger. When a cop runs his mouth like that, he gives greater credence to imposing a lighter sentence on shooters who don’t just endanger other gangstas, but all of the folks who may get hit by stray bullets. Cops like talking street-wise. They put up with a lot of [buffoonery] every day and need to vent; they also render pious summary judgments, which can be fatal to successful prosecutions. Once again, discretion is the better part of valor.

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