Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When justice and the Police State collide

The Washington Post has a very interesting analysis of how police surveillance overreach led to the collapse of a criminal case and the perpetrators getting off with a far lighter sentence than they'd normally have received.

The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison.

But before trial, his defense team detected investigators’ use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys.

Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain.

Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months’ probation ­ after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century.

There's more at the link.

I'm sorry that a criminal seems to have 'gotten away' with his crime;  but I totally support the outcome.  If police are allowed to hide evidence like this, the administration of justice becomes less than transparent, and the rule of law breaks down.

We have GOT to find a way to rein in this sort of prosecutorial and law enforcement overreach.


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