Laura (madlawstudent) wrote in criminal_law,
Laura
madlawstudent
criminal_law

Perjury?

I suppose that most people recognize that cops aren't always wonderful people who do the right thing. They are human beings and as such they make mistakes. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the police. I think that police brutality is a huge problem here in San Francisco. Also, I see a lot of instances where police officers do unconstitutional stuff and get away with it. Nevertheless, I was completely shocked by something I saw yesterday.

One of my fellow interns was representing a client charged with simple possession during a preliminary hearing. The officer on the stand testified to facts that were completely different than what was written in the police report. Moreover, his testimony was impossible based on the lay-out of the room. The intern was unable to impeach the officer because we all were unaware that he would stray so far from the police report. Moreover, he did not write the police report so we couldn't impeach him with it. This actually turned out well for our client because all this stuff will be impeachable when or if it goes to trial. We expect the charges to be dismissed in the very near future.

Still, I was totally disturbed by the officer's testimony. Does this rise to the level of perjury? Where do we separate a mistake of fact with out right lying? Anyway, it's not like the D.A. is going to charge a police officer with perjury. I guess I still had a lot of faith that taking an oath in court is important.
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