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American Justice on Trial: Gratuitous Police Violence, False Testimony by Police, and a Rush to Bad Judgment

Three days after the release of Kenneth Woods, news broke in New York City that authorities there had agreed to pay two brothers $300,000 for their false drug arrest in 2008.

One of the narcotics officers who arrested brothers Jose and Maximo Colon resigned and pled guilty. The other officer responsible for the false arrest of the Colons, who lost the grocery store they owned during their legal ordeal, is awaiting trial. That officer also resigned from the NYPD yet is working for a suburban NYC police force that hired him despite his indictment for falsely arresting the Colon brothers.

Weeks before Woods’ release the ACLU filed a lawsuit against police in Camden, NJ just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, charging that city’s police with widespread false arrests of innocent people on drug charges.

Late last December authorities in Chicago grudgingly dismissed hundreds of DUI cases upon discovery of false arrests by two decorated policemen.

Surprisingly, some judges encourage and facilitate the malicious practice of false arrests.

Danita Mitchell, a single parent, fled North Carolina this past summer after judges in Charlotte falsely jailed her multiple times during the past two years on questionable charges arising from a child support payment dispute with her ex-husband.

In June, Mitchell says a Superior Court judge in Charlotte jailed her for fourteen days after holding her in contempt when she challenged the truthfulness of a Sheriff’s Office employee during cross-examination.

At that trial, Mitchell had represented herself because that judge declined to provide the indigent woman with a court-appointed attorney. That Sheriff’s employee initiated charges against Mitchell claiming, according to an official report, that Mitchell starred at her “like she wanted to kill me” weeks after that employee was disciplined for failing to properly process legal paperwork paid for by Mitchell.

“I have a legal right to confront my accuser but I get sent to jail. This is wrong,” Mitchell said in an interview with TCBH.

“In March, a judge sent me to jail for 48-hours for not swearing on the Bible. Judges put me in jail for seventy days last fall because I objected to unlawful abuses,” said Mitchell, who has filed formal complaints against three Charlotte judges, including the jurist during that June trial.

All six persons released from Pennsylvania’s death row after being found innocent on appeal, often after years awaiting execution were victimized by authorities who knowingly ignored and/or even hid compelling evidence of their innocence.

One of those exonerated, Neil Ferber, successfully sued Philadelphia police for the false arrest that placed him on death row for 1,375-days, where he developed ulcers and endured a nervous breakdown. Police arrested Ferber in 1981 on a charge of murdering an organized crime figure.

A judge’s written opinion in Ferber’s civil lawsuit, which was settled for $1.9-million, stated how “a variety of Philadelphia police officers” had engaged in a litany of illegal conduct “all for the singular purpose of obtaining Ferber’s arrest and subsequent conviction…”

False arrests constitute an expensive, corrosive rot in the criminal justice system that elected officials ignore largely because many of them fear being labeled “soft on crime” – an ironic stance since false arrests end up being soft-on-criminals by allowing the real culprits to remain at-large.


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