Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston Police Department Investigates Officers For Court Misconduct – Attorney Sam’s Take

I guess it is a good thing that I am vacationing in New York as I write this; the Boston Police Department just broken my heart!

Imagine my excitement after all the blogs I have written about police misconduct…particularly the off-an-on relationship law enforcement seems to have on the stand when it comes time to testify. I found an article on the Boston Herald announcing, “BPD eyeing possible ‘misconduct’ of 4 officers”

My hopes even grew as I learned that said misconduct involved what they did in court!

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy“, I thought. “Finally, this is going to be addressed. Hurray for law and order and no-nonsense prosecutors”, I thought.

But then I read on.

“Testilying”, as it was called in Brooklyn, was not what everybody was worried about.

You see, it is true that a Boston police detective sergeant is on paid leave and three other officers are on administrative duty while internal affairs and prosecutors investigate the possible misconduct, according to a police statement. However, the “misconduct” has nothing to do with robbing citizens of their liberty through blatantly breaking the law against perjury.

Instead, the transgression has to do with making too much overtime.

Kind of a white collar sort of thing. Kinda sorta.

You know, the kind of thing that would be called “fraud” if you or I did it.

You see, police officers make overtime pay for court appearances that fall on their days off or at times that are not part of their regular shift. The concern, according to Boston Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll, is whether four officers went to court when they were not supposed to go.

“At this point we’re trying to determine the facts and circumstances relative to this investigation,”Ms.. Driscoll explained.

She further explained that the situation has led the department to audit the system it uses to manage police officers’ court appearances. In a message from Boston police Commissioner Edward Davis to the entire department, Davis said the investigation involves “several” officers from Area E-5 Hyde Park/West Roxbury.

A vital and necessarily huge investigation like this cannot be handled by the police department alone. And so, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office is cooperating with the department and monitoring its investigation a spokesperson for the DA announced. She said that “The commissioner has called for an audit of the court reporting system…At this point, it’s a citywide audit. It’s just good management, being extraordinarily thorough.”

As you can imagine, serious allegations like this requires a vigorous defense. It should therefore be no surprise that Gerry Sanfilippo, president of the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, has weighed in, saying that the union remains firmly behind its members as the investigation moves forward.

He further explained “We always support our members to the fullest.”

Oh, thank G-d. I thought that the Commonwealth’s priorities had somehow collided with common sense in my absence!

Over the past quarter century, both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I have had a great deal of experience dealing with law enforcement and police testimony.

My eyes moisten as I remember the early days, in Brooklyn, when I was preparing an officer to testify on a search and seizure matter in a drug case. I asked the officer how the search happened, trying to find a way to make two inconsistent stories somehow consistent.

His answer was, “Which was is better?”

Smile, smile, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

He actually seemed somewhat confused when I told him, “The way it actually happened.”

Police officers are given a great deal of deference by judges and jurors when they testify. It is assumed that they always tell the truth. Of course, it is also assumed that were the officers to stray from the truth after taking that all-important oath, the prosecutors would surely prosecute.

You remember the last time something like that actually happened?

No, I didn’t think so.

Naturally, the powers that be are not concerned with such things. After all, who do they hurt…defendants? Come on, things are much too tight to worry about them.

After all, there is money involved here!

So, don’t look to the Commonwealth for considerations of fairness and an even playing field.

If you want a shot at that, look for an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the situation to argue for it on your behalf.

If you want to talk to me about a case, feel free to call me at 617-493-3000.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

To view the original story, please go to : http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1317663&srvc=rss

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