OPINION: The Rest Of The Story

Cops, Courts, Too Quick To Charge

14th Amendment, Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Every day, From Sea to Shining Sea, including Putnam County, innocent people are arrested, charged, and, often jailed, on bogus charges.

The police are called, given a story, and, too often, take the one side of the story, to court, get a warrant, and arrest an innocent party.

Magistrates and judges take the law enforcement officer’s word, and are misled into signing the warrant.

It is too easy to get one side of the story, sign a warrant, and set a trial – later.

The defendant is then arrested, humiliated, has to come up with hundreds or thousands in bond money, sometimes hire an attorney (other times the court appoints a defense attorney) and, usually, months later, a trial is set, where, often the defendant is acquitted, or cops a plea because going to trial is too expensive and time consuming.

Along the way, jobs are lost, homes are lost, families are destroyed, and lives are ruined.

Charging someone with a crime without a proper investigation is unethical and despicable. It is rude and an abuse of power.

Also along the way, the 14th Amendment, of the United States Constitution, which requires “equal protection” under the law, is too often ignored.

That “equal protection” means that the defendant must be allowed to tell his or her side of the story before the arrest takes place and that the magistrate, or judge, must hear the other side of the story before the warrant is signed.

That doesn’t happen.

Adding insult to injury, the courts and law enforcement do not pay punitive damages for their misconduct and malicious prosecution.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials brag about being “tough on crime.” They use their statistics to justify their jobs, where they are paid while defendants do not get paid. Law enforcement and the courts are an industry.

Ironically, courts and law enforcement often complain about being overworked. In some cases, they are to blame.

Members of the West Virginia legislature have been asked to take corrective action about allowing one-sided investigations. So far, they have shown little interest in fixing this crucial abuse of power.

Yes, there are good cops and good judges. They are to be commended. They are heroes doing thankless jobs. We need more of them.

Across the country, these cases need to be examined. If it is found that “one side of the story” was told to a judge or magistrate before the arrest warrant was signed, those cases need to be tossed and any convictions examined and, possibly overturned. Compensatory and punitive damages should be paid.

Equal protection under the law is the law. Nothing else is good enough!