Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Half-Baked Holiday Fare, Part 2: Police-Paid Expert Claims Training Is Reliable Evidence In Jordan Miles Case (Except When It Isn't)

Local newspapers are putting big headlines on stories spurred by an "expert report" filed by InsolvenCity's lawyers in their continuing attempt to defend the seemingly indefensible police officers who beat an honors student senseless over an illusory plastic soda bottle. Why?

The report exonerates the people who engaged a hired-gun, police-favoring "expert" to write it. This is news?

The report concludes that Jordan Miles (left) "must" have known that the three nonuniformed men who chased and beat him for no apparent reason (in this case, no reason apparent before or after the brutal beating) were police officers. Why? Because the officers were trained to identify themselves, and performing as trained is a reflex, making the training adequate evidence of conduct consistent with that training.

The power of training led the expert to describe (and rely on) a remarkably specific narrative: "It is my opinion that in order for Jordan Miles not to have known that the males who attempted to stop him and whom he eventually struggled with were police officers . . . He would have to have not heard any of the constant repetition of 'Police. Stop. Police.'" Training is, in this expert's opinion, so strong it supports reliance on inferred and detailed dialogue in contested circumstances.

If this training-based inference helps InsolvenCity concerning the issue of shouted warnings, it surely creates a problem for the officers concerning their failure to produce as evidence the plastic soda bottle that ostensibly triggered the savage attack, right? Police officers are trained to preserve important evidence, so the absence of the bottle, in circumstances in which that evidence would be not only important but indeed crucial in a case involving a severe beating, suggests the bottle never existed, right? Especially in a circumstance in which the officer allege that they found the bottle but nevertheless "discarded" it (which would likely eviscerate at least a chapter in the training manual), right?

After considering these points, the expert concluded that the officers' inability to produce the bottle as evidence in these circumstances means . . . nothing.

The expert deems this disregard of training a "mistake" attributable to "human nature," but claims the officers are nonetheless to be excused, and the existence of the bottle to be presumed despite the "training equals conduct" theory, because the officers were acting in the wake of "what they believed to be a life or death struggle."

In other words, the city's expert proposes, the point that excuses the officers' disregard of training is the very point that made the evidence so crucial and therefore, by training, required to have been preserved.

We won't know whether the expert for Jordan Miles is any better for a couple of days. But neither side's lawyers seem particularly sharp in this case. One of Miles' lawyers called the report "kind of racist-based," which doesn't even sound like something a law-talking guy (right) would say (hit soundboard #39):
Lionel Hutz, Esq.: I move for a bad court thingy.
Judge Snyder: You mean a mistrial?
Hutz: Right!! That's why you're the judge and I'm the law-talking guy.
Judge: You mean the lawyer?
Hutz: Right.

For Jordan Miles' (and justice's) sake, we hope the judge and jury devote more attention to the facts and witnesses than to the experts and law-talking guys.

Infytune: Message In A Bottle, The Police

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