8/95 O.J., Fuhrman And HR 666
Gun Owners of America
The disgusting statements by former L.A. police detective Mark Fuhrman should be mandatory reading for members of Congress. The revelations contained in Fuhrman’s taped statements indicate that some officers routinely beat innocent people, plant evidence and lie to get convictions. Such actions underscore why Congress must reconsider H.R. 666.
Earlier this year the House of Representatives passed H.R. 666. The bill now awaits Senate approval. H.R. 666 would gut the exclusionary rule which has given teeth to the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches and seizures for most of this century. While this bill would at first affect only federal agents, no one doubts that state and local laws would soon follow.
The rationale for gutting the exclusionary rule is that crooks avoid conviction when evidence is excluded from trial because it was obtained with faulty warrants or without probable cause. However, efforts to blame our crime problems on the exclusionary rule are absurd. According to the American Bar Association, scarcely one percent of those facing trial escape conviction because of the exclusionary rule,
Proponents of H.R. 666 say that evidence should not be excluded, no matter how flagrantly the suspect’s constitutional rights have been violated, as long as the officer obtained such evidence in good faith. These proponents tell us that the good faith of the officer is an objective standard.
It should be obvious to all that the good faith of an individual is not an objective standard. How does one prove the state of mind of another person? H.R. 666 would place the burden of that proof on the defendant — an impossibility. If an officer knowingly broke the law in gathering evidence, all he has to say is that he did it in good faith.
Would the police ever lie? While we would like to think not, America’s founding fathers assumed that government should never be blindly trusted. That is why they gave us a Fourth Amendment along with all the rest of the Bill of Rights.
Recent revelations from both federal and local police actions should renew our confidence in the judgment of the founders rather than those members of Congress who recklessly assume that all that is needed to fight crime is to give the police a free hand without any accountability.
In addition to the Fuhrman revelations, Philadelphia has recently been rocked by allegations that some police in that city conspired to convict Mumia Abu Jamal of murder. But racism is not the only motive for this kind of behavior.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents entrapped Randy Weaver into a minor firearms violation in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. U.S. Marshals lied about the circumstances of how they killed Weaver’s 14-year old son, and FBI agent Ron Horiuchi lied about circumstances surrounding his killing of Weaver’s wife, Vicki. Subsequently, FBI officials have lied to cover up their criminal actions during the siege on Weaver’s home.
Other BATF agents lied to get a search warrant in Waco against the Branch Davidians and lied to cover up their misdeeds in the initial raid. The Davidians and the Weavers were targeted for their religious and political views, not because of any racism of the agents.
We need more accountability for law enforcement officials, not less. This is the only way to protect the honorable majority of officers from the Mark Fuhrman’s of the world. Congress needs to strengthen the exclusionary rule, not gut it.