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Review of Supreme Court Cases

PART1

Untruthfulness used to be a common phenomenon among police officers before the year of 1963. It was manifested in the failure of prosecutors to disclose exculpatory information concerning the defendants. The withholding of this evidence led to numerous unjust convictions. The courts have managed to reverse a number of these cases after the appeal of the defendants. However, the reversing of such cases usually depends on the ability of the defenders to identify whether the prosecutor has suppressed material evidence. It also depends on the willingness of the courts to overturn the convictions and accept application for new trials. The knowledge concerning the untruthfulness of police officers is important for the dispensation of justice and fairness in the criminal justice system. This paper reviews the supreme cases on untruthfulness of police officers. It asserts that the police officers who lack untruthfulness, lack the most important quality for their duty and, hence, are a liability and unfit to serve in the police service.

Brandy V. Maryland Case

In the case, Boblit and Brandy were convicted in the first-degree murder that was committed along with robbery. Before the trial, Brandy’s lawyer asked for Boblit’s prior statements from the prosecution. The prosecution revealed many of the statements except the statement where Boblit admitted the actual killing. The court convicted and sentenced the two defendants to death citing the first-degree murder at separate trials. Brandy admitted his involvement in the crime but stated that it was Boblit who carried out the killing. The court vacated Brandy’s conviction on appeal and admitted that the withholding of Boblit’s statement was a violation of the due process. The court held that the prosecution’s suppression of evidence in favor of the accused violated the due process where evidence was material regarding either punishment or guilt (Gardener & Anderson, 2013).

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The withholding of such material information is called a Brandy violation and violates the US Constitution. Consequently, the Supreme Court emphasized that the prosecution ought to present Brandy material to the defense whether it was requested or not. The Supreme Court noted that Brandy material ought to include impeachment evidence, exculpatory evidence and evidence in the possession of the law enforcement even if prosecutors did not possess or know the evidence.

The defense should be aware that Brandy is a rule of fairness. The court has identified the motivation on Brandy because of the belief that the society wins when the courts convict the guilty and when it conducts fair criminal trials. The system of justice administration suffers in the event of unfair treatment of the accused. The court held that the prosecution ought not to facilitate proceedings that contravened the standards of justice.

Giglio v. United States, (Case 1972)

In Giglio case, a government witness against the Giglio failed to testify a promise of prosecution immunity that was offered by an assistant in exchange for his testimony. The witness was a co-conspirator of Giglio and his testimony caused Giglio to be convicted of forgery. The trial prosecutor was not aware that another prosecutor in the office had promised the witness to protect him from prosecution if he testified against Giglio. Having discovered this, the petitioner filed a motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court decided that the prosecutor had the duty to make the defense aware of any expectations or promises of leniency it provided to the witness (Mauet & Wolfson, 2009). The court emphasized that the state’s Brandy obligation applies to all prosecutors in the office. The offices have a responsibility to provide systems to ensure disclosure of such information. The court further emphasized the necessity to disclose impeachment evidence as it constituted the Brandy material. The credibility of Taliento as a witness was important in this case. It was necessary for the jury to know the evidence of any agreement of leniency as it was relevant to the witness’ credibility.

The case led to the creation of the Giglio violation. The violation takes place when the withheld evidence indicates that the prosecution has deliberately made false statements or allowed false trial testimony. For a Giglio claim to be successful, there should be sufficient evidence to show three aspects. First, it should demonstrate that the testimony is false. Second, it should show that the state is aware of the false testimony and third, the testimony should be material. This category of Brandy violation allows the defendant to request a new trial if there is likelihood that the undisclosed evidence has affected the jury’s judgment. However, the prosecution has a defense against the application of a new trial. It can persuade the court that false testimony is immaterial. Giglio violation is based on the fact that the deliberate presentation of false evidence deceives the courts and jurors and contravenes the primary demands of justice.

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United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97 (Case 1976)

In this case, the court convicted Agurs of second-degree murder after a trial in which she stabbed a male acquaintance to death. Agurs defended herself stating that it was self-defense. Later, the defendant realized that the state prosecutor failed to disclose the criminal record of the victim such as previous charges of weapon possession and guilty pleas to assault. Consequently, Agurs applied for a new trial. The Supreme Court held that the difference between the defense counsel’s general request for Brandy material and the absence of the request was insignificant (Park & Lininger, 2012). The prosecutors had the obligation to present exculpatory evidence whether the defense counsel asked for it or not, and failure of this disclosure violated the due process.

The above cases indicate that honesty of police officers is extremely important in the investigation of cases, proceedings of the cases and prosecution of the defendants, if the convicted person is found guilty of the offenses. Untruthfulness obscures justice. Even the Bible recognizes the benefits of truthfulness in the dispensation of justice. According to Deuteronomy 32:4, the Bible says, “God is a God of justice, and he demands justice for His people.”The decisions of the courts in the cases imply that all parties that are involved in criminal justice heavily rely on the honesty of police officers. According to the doctrine of collective action, police officers depend on the integrity of information that other police officers provide regarding the investigation of criminal cases.

The supervisors also make decisions on the basis of the information they receive from the police officers. The tenets of community policing urge the citizens to cooperate with law enforcement officials. The citizens are free to offer information to the officers if they trust and respect them. If the officers cannot uphold honesty, the police service does not need their service. The objectivity with which the prosecutors prosecute criminals depends on the honesty of the affidavits, statements and reports that the police officers present to them. The judges evaluate warrants based on the honesty of the information the police officers present. The objectivity of the police officers’ investigation and testimonies help the jurors determine whether the defendant is innocent or guilty (Bibas, 2005). The importance of honesty in the duties of police officers dictates that officers lacking this crucial quality are liability and the department does not need their services.

Police Officer Case Analysis

PART2

Truthfulness is among the essential features of character of the police officers helping them to effectively carry out their duties and responsibilities. However, there has been pervasive deficiency of integrity in terms of the significant fraternity of police officers. Furthermore, politically elected officers and board members have exhibited a conspicuous lack of support for all disciplinary measures. Lack of truthfulness has an adverse impact on the credible performance of the police officers. The common cause of untruthfulness among the police officers is excessive force on the part of the seniors and uninspired working performance. When attorneys evaluate internal investigations, they should take integrity and ethics into consideration as the main target. When police officers give truthful information about some misconduct, the seniors should provide them with total support by citing the case as a mitigating factor. According to Richard (2004), the senior police officers should emphasize that lies that is common among the police officers is a serious offense that can lead to termination. This paper analyzes a case of a police officer who was found to have inappropriately used a computer in the patrol division.

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Definitions and Discussion

The police officer bridged ethical requirements by inappropriately using the workplace computer to view some sexually explicit materials and other related information. The officer used the facility for personal pleasure which does not belong to the official’s job function. The use of an official computer for viewing vulgar films has a potential to cause an adverse effect on people’s lives. Therefore, the officer is required to take strict actions to serve as a warning to other police officers who may be willing to commit the offense. The department policy provides a clear warning against the use of computers owned by the municipality for personal and inappropriate purposes. The new law enforcement does not provide room for such kind of behavior. Further, the officer deliberately refuted the allegations when he knew for sure that he committed the offense. To preserve the integrity of the entire department and give a warning against such actions, the officer should face termination.

The inappropriate use of computers poses various risks to the organization. It can expose the organization to hostile lawsuits. It is also a waste of the IT resources such as the internet bundles (Peak & Glensor, 2004). The viewing of pornographic films can expose the computers to the risk of viruses. Most internet fraudsters use pornographic videos to entice the users to log in on websites that may threaten the security of information. For example, pornographic popups on computers can be computer viruses with the help of which fraudsters regain access and control the computer system (Peak & Glensor, 2004). States have imposed restrictions on their employees’ access to the information infrastructure. According to the Code of Virginia 2. 2.2827, it is illegal fo agency employees to access, download, print, or store information containing sexually explicit contents (Government of Alberta, 2013).

The exculpatory evidence and the material information presented by the police officers can be approved by the defense as it has the potential to influence the decision regarding the defendant’s guilt. The police officer already has a tarnishing record of untruthfulness resulting from his lies or lack of knowledge of the alleged claims concerning the inappropriate use of the computer. The bibe clearly states that God does not approve of lying. In the book of Nubers 23:19, the bible says, “God is not a man, that He should lie.” This scripture illustrates how much God abhors liers. According to Nockleby (2012), the police officers who lie should face termination so as to comply with the public policy.

The factors that inform about the decision concerning the need to terminate the officer include the offense of untruthfulness and erratic behavior. The integrity concerns regarding the police officer’s aptitude to testify indicate that he is not suitable for carrying out the duties related to his job. Based on the example of the case of Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court of USA stated that the prosecutor had the obligation to disclose information favorable to the accused with or without request (Bibas, 2005). Thus, in case a need for the police officer to testify in certain criminal proceeding arises, the law and ethics will require the prosecutor to make disclosures to the defense counsel regarding the past incidences of the police officer’s untruthfulness. The officer’s proven record of dishonesty totally bars him from any service as a law enforcement officer. Regardless of his apology, acceptance of his reinstatement to a position of public trust, where he is unfit to serve, will be a violation of the public policy. For this reason, the police officer should be terminated.

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Another case that is instrumental in making this decision is the Moscow vs. United Paper Workers International Union. The court held that it could set any arbitration award if the contested arbitration award provoked controversies between the law and the legal precedents (Ghosal, 2011). The public policy is of great importance in Washington. If the courts proved the officers to be untruthful, any appeal aimed at reversing their termination would be limited disregarding whether the courts proved their untruthfulness or not. In case the untruthfulness was proved, the arbitration panel and the judicial authority would have no option of mitigating the penalties.

The police department in the municipality has clear policies known to all police officers. The police officer violated the policies regardless of full knowledge of their existence. Hence, the officer is bound to break the policies in future and the best remedy for this case is termination. The municipality has another option of imposing administrative duties on the officer with impeachment problems. In this position, there is no chance of him being a witness in a criminal case. However, this action can create liar squads in the municipality. The failure to terminate the officer will create a portion of the workforce who are unfit to investigate and testify the investigation related to crimes.

In the case of Giglio vs. the United States, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution’s nondisclosure of material impeachment evidence could justify that the defendant had a right to initiate a new trial (Mauet & Wolfson, 2009). It follows that as the chief of police municipality allowing the police officer to get away with the offense might implicate future proceedings. The credibility of the officer is already tainted because he has a record of dishonesty. The Supreme Court expanded the policy in the case of United States vs. Agurs. It stated that the prosecutors had a constitutional obligation to disclose any exculpatory evidence to the defense counsel. Further, the Supreme Court in Kyles vs. Whitley held that the prosecutors had a constitutional obligation to learn from any favorable evidence clear to others and act on behalf of the police.

There are numerous cases that condemn dishonesty and untruthfulness among the government employees. An example is the LaChance vs. Erickson, which merged numerous government workers under a similar holding. The case of King vs. Erickson described the underlying facts regarding one of the cases (Park & Lininger, 2012). The agency had terminated Erickson citing misconduct and making untruthful statements. The court later determined his refusal of being untruthful. The Supreme Court confirmed that the denial of Erickson was untruthful and unanimously affirmed on the agency’s ability to terminate Erickson. The court cited the case of Bryson vs. the United States where the court decided that the system of legal justice provided options of challenging the government’s right to ask questions. However, it held that lying was an exception (Mauet & Wolfson, 2009). The court stated that a citizen can either answer the question with honesty or refuse to answer, but they should not answer falsely.

Statutes also address the issue of termination of untruthful officers. The Connecticut General Statute in Title 7 of Section 7-294d states that officers found to have committed acts aimed at fabricating physical evidence or presented false statements that violated particular state statutes would face revocation of their certification (Adams, 2010). The statute implies that if a police officer is proved to lie intentionally in a way that amounts to the violation of the statutes, they will be unfit for rendering service as police officers in the entire state. By telling lies, the officer violated section 5.2 of the Police rules and regulations which require all police officers to be truthful. He also violated section 2.3 of the Police rules and regulations that state that police officers should desist from unbecoming conduct (Ghosal, 2011). The violation of these core rules and regulations governing the conduct of police officers is the main reason for the final decision to terminate the officer.

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In case the commission examines the entire evidence and identifies that there was just and reasonable cause for the actions of the police officer, it will affirm the entire action. It will subsequently reverse the action and reinstate the police officer to his initial position and provide him with reserve rights and compensation. The decision will be based on the fact that the police officer provides sufficient proof to all legal officials stating that the cause of his action was an error.

According to the first charge, the officer was aware that the inappropriate use of the computer for personal purposes was against the department’s policies and the law. According to the second charge, he lied to the investigators that he was actually aware that he used the computer for watching pornographic materials. Unfortunately, his untruthfulness was rife in the entire investigation.

Strict disciplinary actions are based on the evidence obtained and the police officer’s final statement that he used the computer for purposes that were against the policies and rules of the department. I have identified that the officer was engaged in untruthfulness and unbecoming conduct. Though the previous disciplinary history of the officer did not cast him in the bad light, it does not cushion him from termination. The gravity of the charges including providing untruthful information requires strict discipline in the form of termination.

The decision to terminate the untruthful police officer will demonstrate my commitment to create a workforce that would consist of honest police officers. There are numerous benefits of encalcating honesty in police officers by administering punishment of terminattion. It will ensure that everyone involved in the criminal justice system becomes conscious that police officers would desist from lying for the fear of losing their jobs. The belief in truthfulness of police officers will not be encouraged due to the rampant issues of credibility. The standards that this ruling will make will facilitate successful prosecutions, minimize cases of constitutional violations and reduce liability losses. The ruling will facilitate the implementation of the public policy of honesty and increase the moral and ethical standards of the police. The risk of discipline will increase the reluctance of police officers to stand for their colleagues charged with acts of misconduct. The fear of covering untruthful officers arising from the risk of termination will eventually eliminate dishonesty among the police officers. This ruling will make up a case law that will be important for teaching in-service officers and recruits about the importance of upholding honesty. It will put them on notice that credible evidence of untruthfulness against them will render them unemployable as police officers in all states. The case law will send a firm signal to the participants in the police service that untruthful officers will be terminated for a single offense.

Conclusion

The inappropriate use of the facilities of the institutions and untruthfulness in providing incriminating information can lead to various sanctions against the individuals responsible for the offense and administration. It is harmful for the officer’s reputation and their career. It can also damage the aptitude of the law enforcement agency to maintain public trust and confidence that makes up the primary mission of the law enforcement agencies. The law enforcers should be aware of the adverse effects of untruthful officers such as becoming impeachable witnesses during the criminal trials. Administrators should emphasize high morals and truthfulness as core values. All officers should be conscious of the risk of termination when it is proved beyond doubt that they provide untruthful information. Further, I will ensure that the agency revokes the certification of law enforcement officers who are found guilty of untruthfulness and incredibility discharging their duties. The department should rationally handle ethical violation in terms of untruthfulness on the part of the personnel. In case of sustenance of ethical violations, the officer in question should face strict disciplinary measures including termination and desertification. Truthfulness is the fundamental bedrock of ethical policing. The law enforcement practitioners should not compromise personal and professional integrity as it is the mainstay of their mandate.

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