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by Peter Moskos

February 16, 2010

Sean Bell officers won't face federal charges

Nor should they.

The story from the New York Times.

You can read everything I've written about Sean Bell. This post is probably the best, if you just want one.

Also, on principle, I'm against recharging people at the federal level. Smacks of double jeopardy to me. The Fifth Amendment is pretty explicit: "[No person shall] be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." That's what trying somebody at the federal level is. One crime. One trial. Here's to the Bill of Rights!

Too bad the Supreme Court begs to differ.


Anonymous said...

The reason federal charges are used so often against police is that state prosecutors have a built in conflict of interest. I hear you on the double jeopardy stuff, but in cases involving evil policemen at least it makes a bit more sense than in cases with regular citizen suspects. Really a better answer is to give the feds sole jurisdiction over the alleged crimes of state and local popos. Don't see FOP coming out in favour of that proposal, tho.

DryerBuzz said...

The system can let a person off or give favor - but that person knows to well if their actions were right or wrong. Good and bad cops were the same uniform - as does good and bad people. Somebody has to be able to tell the difference and be fair - or the good suffer with the bad.

Meh said...

I would rather the feds be given sole jurisdiction if it would keep the police from having to go through trials twice. I never hear of this happening to any other crimes.

Jeff N said...

Hate Crimes comes to mind of another type of instance where ther feds do that kind of thing.

I think giving the feds primary responsibility is a good idea.

The only issue might be when trials/investigations become politicized, having Al Sharpton parading around applying pressure to national politicians rather than local, could make it worse.

PCM said...

Whatever limited Clout Al Sharpton may have, I think it would be much less outside of NYC.

OK... now that all agree in sole federal responsibility, who's going to get this sorted out?

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of a case where it is good that the feds stepped in: