April 8, 2012

Denounce Supreme Court Decision to Protect Liars


On April 2, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Rehberg v. Paulk that police investigators are immune from civil damage suits for giving false testimony to a grand jury. Grand juries are secret courts, run solely by prosecutors, with no judge, and those being investigated have no right to a lawyer or to having evidence favorable to them being presented. Now the Supreme Court rules that law enforcement agents who lie in these official proceedings cannot be held accountable in civil court for lying.  

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression denounces this ruling and notes the official corruption it unleashes.  Law enforcement should not be given a free pass to distort, lie, or obfuscate. The Supreme Court ruling sends the wrong message to the FBI and law enforcement, allowing them to frame people with impunity.  

Justice Alito said that if witnesses could be sued over their grand jury testimony they “might be reluctant to come forward to testify.”  The justices claim that witnesses who lie can be prosecuted for perjury and that that threat is significant enough.  In reality, prosecutors are rarely willing to bring perjury charges against their own police investigators.   

This is significant because there are ridiculously long sentences on the books designed to force people into plea agreements. 94% of federal cases end in plea agreements. Indictments based on fabrications can turn into prison time for innocent people. Encouraging lies in the American justice system does not promote justice.  Impunity for the FBI and law enforcement erodes civil liberties and corrupts justice.  

This is one of many rulings, including Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, from the Roberts Court against the interests of justice, free speech, and democracy.  It is important to remember that we need to continue to build a movement for social justice in the U.S. Instead more steps are being taken so the courts only promote the interests of the wealthy one percent. We need to continue to work for peace with justice both in the U.S. and around the globe.