Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Law And Justice Are Not The Same

An article in today's Spokesman provides an example of how difficult it is to balance the rights granted to us by the U.S. Constitution with enforcing the law.

In the home invasion robbery, police tracked the suspects to a home using a police dog and following footprints in the snow. Authorities were looking for two people, but there were five in the home. Rather than take the suspects outside in the cold and snow to question them, detectives took them to the police station, Peterson said. “We fed them. We brought them sodas,” he said.

“If you have two suspects, it might be okay to bring them both in and make them sweat it out,” said Jeffry Finer, a Center for Justice attorney and former professor of criminal procedure. “If you have a stadium with one guilty person, you can’t take the whole stadium in.”

When the questioning at the police department was over, only two people, Hansen and Dane J. Bowers, were booked into Spokane County Jail for first-degree robbery and two counts of kidnapping. Robinson said Hansen was a former employee of his.

Detectives figured the robbery case was solid, Peterson said. Bowers pleaded guilty to the charges in court. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Bowers and Hansen have since been married.

Hansen’s case was dismissed without prejudice in September, which means police continue to investigate the original charges.

“What they should have done was determine probable cause to arrest them or come back when and if they had that,” said Al Rossi, Hansen’s attorney and a county public defender.

So what appears to be a good faith effort by the police resulted in an illegal detention. I can sympathize with the victim. Where's the justice? It's not fair to the victim that one of the perpetrators is set free. It's also not fair to the perpetrator to have her rights violated. The protections provided by the Bill of Rights apply to everyone, even the guilty. It's a tough call.


Al Rossi said...

Well written. I should point out, as Ms. Hansen's attorney, that the dismissal was WITH prejudice. 'Without prejudice" means the State can refile. "With prejudice" means they cannot. It was determined that without the confesion there was insufficient evidence against Ms. Hansen. When a case is dismissed for insufficiency of evidence, it is by law a dismissal with prejudice. The case may be refild again ONLY if the Court of Appeals throws out the suppression, which is doubtful.

Hank Greer said...

Thank you for the correction.