Friday, April 30, 2010

Jury Gets It (Half) Right

WELL, THIS IS ONE of those rare cases where we'd much rather have been wrong than right. But as we hinted might happen, after a two-week trial, the jury acquitted the ex-cop of reckless assault charges against the bicyclist stemming from a critical mass ride two years ago. Patrick Pogan was found guilty of making false statements to an ADA -- but that charge does not carry a mandatory jail sentence. His June 23rd sentencing hearing will determine whether Pogan goes to prison for any or all of the maximum four years he can be given.

The split decision came late yesterday afternoon, with the jury evidently choosing not to believe its own eyes when presented with clear video evidence of rookie cop Pogan body-slamming cyclist Christopher Long to the pavement. We had a sneaking suspicion that the jury might go all weak at the knees at the sight of an authority figure on the stand -- even an incompetent bully like Pogan. Then when we heard news of an alternate juror being rushed to the courthouse to replace someone who became too ill to serve, I thought a mistrial was imminent. In a nutshell, as the New York Post story put it: "The shove, they forgave. The framing was another story."This is a story we thoughtfully followed for you all week long here at Warden's World, but due to recent staff cutbacks we were unable to send anyone to physically cover the trial itself. Instead we've had to make do with reportage from the local papers, the all-news radio stations and of course The Internets.

It took the jury three days of deliberations to reach its decision, but according to John Eligon of the Times, none of them was available for comment following the trial. Pogan also left without commenting, wearing a "blank stare" following the verdict. And Long declared himself satisfied with the jury's verdict, in part because it would prevent Pogan from joining the police force again -- but curiously went on to say, "I don’t think he ever really intended to assault me.”

But even that bit of double-talk was not the most bizarre statement following the outcome. Predictably, that honor went to defense attorney Stuart London, who showed he would have fit right in with the Bush Justice Department -- if not Soviet Russia -- with his Orwellian declaration that even though his client made false statements,
"The important part to remember is, regardless of what’s on these documents, if at the time you filled them out you believe you’re being truthful, then that’s really all that should matter."
What a load of crap! That's what law schools are teaching these days? That the facts of a case or the truth about what happened do not matter as much as what the arresting officer "believes" he saw?

No, the important part to remember here, despite the testimony of what a born liar and coward like Pogan and the opinion of a paid, professional prevaricator like London, is that before multiple videos surfaced, it was the 150-pound cyclist charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct stemming from what the 260-pound police officer apparently believed happened during a critical mass protest on the evening of July 25, 2008.

In conclusion, we submit that Exhibit A of why lawyers are almost universally detested is serial bad cop enabler Stuart London. All remains to be seen is whether the sentencing judge sees fit to set his own precedent against cops who have a problem with telling the truth despite being under oath.



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