Backstory on Peter Watt's Arrest
The bare facts, as I know them, of the result
JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION ENTERED
REFERRED TO PROBATION DEPT.
BOND IS CONTINUED; HABITUAL
2ND TO BE REVIEWED W/PROS.
I am, in a very quiet way, pissed off. Antonin Scalia would say I have no right, a jury, duly constituted looked at the law, looked at the evidence and decided he had broken it.
Which is true, insofar as it goes. It, of course (this is Scalia), fails to account for systemic injustices which can exisit independently of the inherent justice of a law (and I don't think assaulting a cop, nor resisting arrest, shouldn't be discouraged).
I said pretty much all I want/need to say on the subject in the first post, but I'll hit the high points of how the system is stacked against anyone in Peter Watt's position.
1: The nature of things is that people tend to believe that people who are arrested are guilty.
2: Cops tend to be respected, and so given greater weight when they testify.
3: Cops are trained to testify.
4: Cops lie.
The last, I realise, is the most controversial. They have, after all, taken an oath to tell the truth. They are, by and large, honorable people. They are interested in the public good.
And... they lie. The evidence for it is overwhelming. Studies have shown it to be implicitly encouraged. Common sense tells us that those cops who shade the truth are more likely to have more of their case end with, "bad guys" getting what they deserve.
There is another thing, which I waited to list.
5: Cops have incentives to lie in cases like this.
Not only is there the question of just what they did (because if the accused didn't deserve to be arrested. If the accused didn't resist, then the actions of the cops are morally suspect, if not outright wrong).
Which is an incentive to lie, because they face personal exposure (lawsuits) and professional harm (sanctions). The 'system' also has incentive to favor them (lawsuits/loss of respect).
Juries also have an incentive to believe the cops. We don't like to believe the custodians of our liberty are capricious. We don't want to believe the only thing between us and a couple of years in prison is the whim of a cop.
My honest take, Peter Watts did committ an offense, one so egregious the Border Patrol couldn't stand to let it go; contempt of cop. He compounded the error by not taking his lumps and going quietly into the night. No, he maintained his innocence. That's a threat to the relationship we've been allowing cops to force onto us (there used to be jurisdictions where one couldn't be convicted of resisting arrest for a false charge; since the arrest was unreasonable. For good reason that no longer exists anywhere, but the flip-side it, it's a lot harder to get justice for wrongful arrests. There are also legal tricks by which cops can make some arrests disappear, I know this because I was arrested on a false complaint. The cops were, in that regard, blameless. But they so botched the actual execution of the arrest that the potential for me to have made a decent sum [after paying the lawyers] that they used a piece of the legal code to, "unarrest me". Never mind that the justifications in that part of the code didn't apply to me, and now there is an implication I was an habitual user of illegal drugs in my record. That's the price I pay for having an arrest, mostly, go away).
The real travesty here isn't the miscarriage of justice I think happened. It's not that cops beat him, and covered it up (which is what I think happened), it's that we, as a society, are allowing them, enabling them, and rewarding them (which only encourages them) to do this.
The upshot is... we have fucked things up. We are allowing cops to be even more arbitrary than their position as the arbiters of offense (not law, but if they choose not to arrest, then it's almost a given that no prosecution will take place) makes possible.
Honestly, if I were a foreigner... I don't know that I would be willing to travel to the States (absent a diplomatic passport). I don't think I can (dearly as I would like to see any number of people) really encourage people (even citizens of the US) to cross the borders. I don't like the idea that they only way to avoid becoming an example of how the cops treat people who don't "behave" is to meekly, abjectly, give them license to do whatever the hell they please.
(Peter's comments on this)