Civil Liberties

One More on the Johnston Case

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Cato's Tim Lynch:

In Georgia, the police are accorded special rights during grand jury investigations — rights that are not available to ordinary citizens. First, an officer can attend grand jury proceedings. Second, an officer can bring his lawyer into the grand jury room. Third, the officer's lawyer can cross-examine the state's witnesses. Fourth, an officer can make a "statement" to the grand jurors after the prosecutor has finished presenting his/her case. (See Title 45-11-4 of the Georgia Code).

A case can be made that those special procedures can help a bad cop avoid an indictment or conviction. On the other hand, a case can be made that prosecutors have too much influence over grand jurors and that those procedures simply make the process more fair and balanced. Whatever the merits of those arguments, the double standard is inexcusable. If anything, the police should be held to a higher standard than John Q. Citizen.

I can't conceive of a remotely convincing justification for the double standard.

NEXT: Kathryn Johnston Update 2

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  1. I can’t conceive of a remotely convincing justification for the double standard.

    Heres one, The Divine Rights of Cops.

  2. How does that not violate equal protection ?

  3. Them with the guns makes the rules. Which is why an armed populace is necessary.

  4. How does that not violate equal protection ?

    Because “non-cop” is not a protected class. It’s total bullshit, but it doesn’t violate the Equal Protection Clause.

  5. Because “non-cop” is not a protected class.

    I thought the whole point of the Constitution was to make “non-cop” a protected class.

  6. Game over. R C Dean wins the round.

  7. I would love to know when that law was passed. Just a guess but I bet it came about in the 1950s to protect white cops from uppity yankee prosecutors.

  8. I can’t conceive of a remotely convincing justification for the double standard.

    I believe the most common justification is “Why do you hate America?”

    The second most common justification is “Because whenever a policeman is indicted, Baby Jesus cries.”

  9. You know, when i read the statute linked to, it doesn’t seem to be referring to police officers at all, but rather to “public officers,” who seem to be state, county and municipal elected officials. In addition, these grand jury rights appear to apply only to prosecutions under this section, which relate to certain specified misdemeanor crimes of official malfeasance and misfeasance by public office holders.
    Frankly, the grand jury stuff still seems strange to me, but then i don’t know what the general rules are in Georgia; for all i know, that’s the way things are usually done in the GJ. Anyway, it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with cops.

  10. This law protects, not only police officers, but local elected officials. It applies to those investigated for violating the abuse-of-office standard. Basically, it seems to be aimed at protecting the local courthouse gang in any given county, and it only seems to apply during their incumbency.

  11. Them with the guns makes the rules. Which is why an armed populace is necessary.

    Yeah. Look what good being armed did Ms. Johnston. We’ve long since passed the point, technologically speaking, where a militia could effectively take on a national military, or even police force. Guns make sense for personal defense, but as a safegaurd against tyranny, that argument for the 2nd amendment is a little dated.

  12. Look what good being armed did Ms. Johnston.

    It might well have kept her house from being taken over by crack dealers while she was alive. An old woman living by herself in a bad neighborhood is completely vulnerable unless armed.

    It has done a service to the Republic by finally breaking this issue through to the consciousness of the masses.

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