A terrible injustice has been done, and continues to be done to a man, by a local police department and a local prosecutor for two reasons: because they can, and because no one has been willing to do the work necessary to force the police and the prosecutor to produce evidence that justifies denial of bail. That means that the district court judge(s) also are complicit in an informal courthouse agreement where the law enforcement arm of government “suggests” appropriate action to a judge, who readily accepts it because doing so make the judge appear to be on the side of public safety and caution, and also a supporter of the police.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures by agents and officers of the government.
The Fifth Amendment prohibits agents and officers of the government from compelling a suspect in a criminal case to be a witness against himself; and it requires the government to afford any such defendant due process of law before he can be deprived of liberty.
The Sixth Amendment requires that, in any criminal prosecution, the accused receives a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of legal counsel for his defense.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines, and the infliction of cruel and unusual punishments.
All of these Constitutional rights have been in effect since the day the Constitution was ratified, which was June 21, 1788.
The Fourteenth Amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868. It prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without due process, and it extends most of the Bill of Rights (Amendments 1 through 10) to the state governments.
You would think, in view of all this, and more, that there couldn’t be much doubt about what basic rights criminal defendants are entitled to. The preceding are not local parking ordinances, the are parts of the American Constitution – the supreme law of the land. You would be wrong. In fact, history shows the opposite has been the case.
Ever since 1868 the Supreme Court has had to hear and rule on what are known in legal circles as ‘landmark’ cases, just to reinforce to local and state government officials that the rights guaranteed in the first ten amendments really do exist, and that they – the state and local governments – really do have to respect and abide by them.
In 1963 – 95 years after adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court had to remind the state of Florida that the Sixth Amendment requiresthat indigent criminal defendants have a right to be provided counsel at trial. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)
In 1964 the Supreme Court reminded the state of Illinois that criminal suspects have a right to counsel during police interrogations under the Sixth Amendment. Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)
In 1966 the Supreme Court had to further remind the states of Arizona, California, and New York that criminal defendants in police custofy have no obligation to answer questions from the police, except to furnish information about their names, addresses, and other information needed to properly identify them for booking purposes. Just to permanently establish the point, the Court went so far as to create a requirement that it was up to the police to prove that they had complied with this Fifth Amendment requirement. Hence, the “Miranda warning.” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
I could go on for pages, but I think you get the point: it is the history of law enforcement in the United States to systematically deny to certain criminal defendants the very same basic civil rights that my father spoke of when he alluded to his men, lost in combat while defending our nation’s existence and the fundamental pprinciples on which it stands.
If nothing else, a career in law enforcement taught me that police officers, lawyers, judges, juries, corrections officers, probation officers, and everyone else in the so-called criminal justice system are just like the rest of us. Some are good, some are bad. Some try, some don’t. Some are idealists, some are cynics. Some do it to make a difference, some do it to make money. I have met only a small number who rose above my father’s estimation of the intelligence of the American people.
None of this would matter very much except for one little thing: these are the very same people who decide every day, which of us will be locked up in jail, and how long they will be kept there until someone decides to let us out. And, the fact of the matter is, almost none of them cares about how long we stay locked up or when we are goijng to be let out. Let that sink in for a minute. It is the God’s honest truth.
They do not care, and they have absolutely no incentive at all to make a special effort to expedite our freedom. None. In fact, in most cases, expediting our freedom either proves or implies that somewhere in the process they made a wrong decision, or they misstated facts supporting detention, or somebody, somewhere in the system just plain screwed up. OR, as occurs every day in America, someone acting out of sheer mendacity abused the power entrusted to him, to make sure the defendant learned what happens to people who do not show proper respect.
That is what Frank James MacArthur’s case is about. No matter what misdemeanors he may or may not be guilty of committing, he does not deserve to be deprived of his freedom until he is convicted and sentenced.