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Police Behaving Badly and What to Do About It


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#1141 LFC

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 03:22 PM

View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 02:54 PM, said:

All "tests" of these kinds are subject to expert witness admissibility rules in court and have from time to time been allowed and disallowed as science and research has developed.

I don't think what you're saying is at odds with what I'm saying. There are admissibility rules but if they allow poorly founded techniques to be used (as the clearly have for quite some time) then they are part of the problem. Too many non-scientific, non-reproducible results have been allowed in the courts. They have, at times, been disallowed after science debunked them but then that's too late for the poor schmucks convicted and sentenced. That's my exact accusation; new technologies have been rushed in as admissible evidence without proper vetting of their accuracy. Here's a good overview. Note this line which is at the federal level:

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In 2015, the FBI admitted that it gave flawed testimony about hair analysis for over two decades.

Two decades. How many cases did that impact? There's a link in that piece to another article about how General Beauregard Sessions locked independent science out of the process and made the process of determining what is and isn't considered to be federally admissible all the more opaque. Classic Republicanism. Tough on crime means just getting somebody (especially those who are melanin-rich) convicted. That's not a slam on the courts in general, just the GOP.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday he is ending an Obama-era partnership with independent scientists that aimed to improve the reliability of forensic science, as longstanding concerns remain about the quality of such evidence in court cases.

The Justice Department will not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a panel of judges, defense attorneys, researchers and law enforcement officials that had been advising the attorney general on the use of scientific evidence in the criminal justice process. The department will instead appoint an in-house adviser and create an internal committee to study improvements to forensic analysis, Sessions said.

Their tasks will include a broad look at the personnel and equipment needs of overburdened crime labs.

“As we decide how to move forward, we bear in mind that the department is just one piece of the larger criminal justice system,” said Sessions in a statement, adding that most forensic science is done by state and local laboratories and used by local prosecutors.

The Obama administration formed the commission in 2013 to address wide-ranging concerns about problematic forensic techniques.

Quote

The disbanding of the commission was yet another way in which Sessions is shifting away from his Obama-era predecessors, who pushed for changes in forensic science and tried to establish federal standards.



View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 02:54 PM, said:

Lie detector tests are not generally allowed.

I know that's true today. Do you know if it's always been generally true? I don't really know their history.


View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 02:54 PM, said:

Case law on a variety of tests is extensive.

Case law is not science. It's not remotely close to science In fact case law is utterly meaningless to my argument unless it has been shown to be effective at consistently blocking the use of poor forensic evidence. It clearly has not. And that gets us back to my original point.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#1142 LFC

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:05 PM

This doesn't sound good. Busting into somebody's home unannounced, in the middle of the night, waking them up, expecting compliance to shouted orders within seconds, and then shooting them for trying to defend themselves is just sick. Anybody with half a brain can understand that this was bound to happen. The bold of an unreasonable expectation and justification is mine. Now the question is what does the body camera footage show, if there even is any?

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Federal marshals shot an Alabama woman inside her home while looking for a drug suspect who was already in jail.

A drug task force unit raided a home around 5:30 a.m. Thursday in Mobile County seeking a man who no longer lived there — and who had been arrested on drug charges about 15 hours earlier, reported AL.com.

The man’s nephew was outside emptying the trash with a friend before work, and his fiancée Ann Rylee was sleeping inside on a recliner when sheriff’s deputies and marshals arrived in body armor.

The 19-year-old woman grabbed a shotgun kept in the living room for protection, and federal marshals opened fire within seconds.

“The entry team was giving her orders, ‘Drop the gun, put the gun down, drop the gun,’ several times over a period of a few seconds,” said Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran. “She pointed the gun at one of them and two or three agents fired upon her.”

Christopher McLeod disputed their account, saying the drug task force did not identify themselves as law enforcement, never ordered his fiancée to drop the shotgun and instead yelled “gun” several times before opening fire.

“They had us face down in the dirt outside the whole time this was going on,” McLeod said.

Rylee has undergone surgery for her wounds and is expected to recover.

McLeod’s uncle, Nicholas McLeod, had been arrested a day earlier on charges including possession of drug paraphernalia and evidence tampering.

The sheriff believes investigators neglected to run a final check before sending out the task force to make an arrest, or the computer system might have failed to show the warrant was no longer active.

“We do know that there is a miscommunication in this situation,” Cochran said. “We don’t know the exact cause. We have narrowed it down to one of two things.”


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The shooting remains under investigation, but Cochran blamed the woman who was shot.

“If she would not have pointed a gun at the agents they would have determined all that on the scene, and would have bid her a good day and thank you very much,” he said.

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#1143 golden_valley

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:11 PM

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“If she would not have pointed a gun at the agents they would have determined all that on the scene, and would have bid her a good day and thank you very much,” he said

It's always the victims' fault for getting themselves shot by cops. Haven't we learned that yet?

#1144 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:34 PM

View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 02:06 PM, said:

Use of forensic data to put people in jail: admissibility standards are pretty rigorous in federal and most (not all) state courts.

Two words: drug dogs.
Another two: field testing.
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#1145 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:42 PM

As far as the courts' use of discredited forensic techniques, bear in mind that the Supreme Court recently greenlighted the execution of a man for murder of his daughters by fire (torching his home) based entirely on "evidence" that had been scientifically discredited long before the event.
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
— Nate Silver
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#1146 JackD

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 05:46 PM

Re science and the courts, the admissibility or non admissibility of "scientific evidence" over the years has been determined by the willingness of "experts" to advocate for and against particular techniques. The courts have been faced with trying to determine what's legitimate and what's not. When "qualified" experts differ on an issue, the courts have had to leave it up to juries or judges in bench trials to choose what to accept. The only possible alternative to this admittedly unsatisfactory situation would be to establish some sort of super scientific authority to say yea or nay. No such authority exists nor is one likely to be appointed. Getting courts to look at particular cases after the science has "changed" can be difficult but is sometimes possible.

Whether rules of evidence have been effective in avoiding poor forensic science is a matter of opinion and one's judgment needs to consider the state of knowledge at the time of the case in question. Accusations of "junk science" are hurled by both sides with regularity leaving courts with the problem of trying to decide whose opinion testimony to accept. It's not just criminal defendants challenging hair testimony or bite testimony. It's also tobacco companies challenging medical opinions about cancer and various industrial companies denying the toxic effects of chemicals and the like.

What you are complaining about is the undeniable fact that judges and juries make mistakes and that parties are often unequal in their capacity to hire persuasive expert witnesses. No question about it. They are human institutions.

I am not aware of anytime that lie detector evidence has been admissible over an objection.

I agree that case law is not science. It is evidence of the struggles of the legal system to deal with conflicts about what is or is not scientifically correct.

It is also true that experts of various kinds have been known to, and occasionally have been caught, lying.

#1147 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 09:50 PM

Daubert is far from perfect, but on the other hand it would be a vast improvement in far too many courts.
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
— Nate Silver
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#1148 LFC

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 10:29 PM

View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 05:46 PM, said:

Re science and the courts, the admissibility or non admissibility of "scientific evidence" over the years has been determined by the willingness of "experts" to advocate for and against particular techniques. The courts have been faced with trying to determine what's legitimate and what's not.

It's not that f***ing hard. To put it in pseudocode...

IF (solid body of peer reviewed evidence) THEN
admissibility = TRUE
ELSE
admissibility = FALSE


The situations we're talking about literally have zero or near zero peer reviewed scientific evidence backing them. At that point "expert" opinion is 100% meaningless. How they feel doesn't mean shit. Show me the data. Once science is applied they have fallen apart.

And thanks DC for bringing up drug sniffing dogs, another piece of evidence still considered acceptable despite abundant evidence that they aren not reliable. If the courts can't handle a situation for which abundant evidence exists then they have a massive functionality flaw, don't they?
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#1149 baw1064

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 10:44 PM

If the dog can be cross-examined, then I'm fine with its judgement being admissible. Otherwise, not so much.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#1150 JackD

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 10:56 PM

And you guys get to say what the solid body of peer reviewed evidence is- - is that it? And you are available to advise each court as to what it should do with each question? You flatter yourselves. What do you do with the problem of the majority expert opinions of the solid body of peer reviewed evidence being wrong? It has happened with highly qualified "peers" being in the minority and ending up right.
You greatly oversimplify the issues.
Other than that, though, you're certainly entitled to your opinions.

#1151 baw1064

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 12:41 AM

View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 10:56 PM, said:

And you guys get to say what the solid body of peer reviewed evidence is- - is that it? And you are available to advise each court as to what it should do with each question? You flatter yourselves. What do you do with the problem of the majority expert opinions of the solid body of peer reviewed evidence being wrong? It has happened with highly qualified "peers" being in the minority and ending up right.
You greatly oversimplify the issues.
Other than that, though, you're certainly entitled to your opinions.

I'd just make it a crime to hold any opinion that can be proved wrong in the present or the future, and use it to deprive someone of liberty or property.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” --Dr. Seuss

#1152 JackD

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 08:29 AM

Well, there is that pesky 1st Amendment.

#1153 LFC

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 12:53 PM

View PostJackD, on 20 December 2019 - 10:56 PM, said:

And you guys get to say what the solid body of peer reviewed evidence is- - is that it? And you are available to advise each court as to what it should do with each question? You flatter yourselves. What do you do with the problem of the majority expert opinions of the solid body of peer reviewed evidence being wrong? It has happened with highly qualified "peers" being in the minority and ending up right.

You're now completely misrepresenting the case and throwing strawmen up all over the place so let's put this back on track. And in case you don't recognize these strawmen:
  • Advise each court? I simply stated bad forensics with little to no scientific backing was being allowed by them. My statement still stands.
  • A "solid body of peer reviewed evidence being wrong?" Nothing to do with what I've been saying. Nothing. I have made it crystal clear that I've been talking about forensics without a solid body of peer reviewed evidence.
  • Highly qualified "peers" being in the minority and ending up right? Again not what I've been discussing. It would, however, be an interesting topic to review with specific examples if you have any. Are these forensic techniques that actually had scientifically rigorous evidence? Or was the minority proven right in these cases because they finally actually applied science to them? As I said a total side conversation but it would be interesting to see the history of those cases.

So let's review.

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LFC: "Once again we are already deploying technology before it's fully tested and ready. I wonder if this is going to follow law enforcement's too frequent use of forensic data and analysis that has no scientific basis for accuracy to put people in jail."

Quote

JackD: "Use of forensic data to put people in jail: admissibility standards are pretty rigorous in federal and most (not all) state courts."


OK, so per you we have rigorous standards that safeguard those accused of crimes. Here is what I said. Multiple examples were then provided with citations followed including our illustrious DOJ actively avoiding the advice of independent scientists.

Quote

LFC: "I don't think what you're saying is at odds with what I'm saying. There are admissibility rules but if they allow poorly founded techniques to be used (as the clearly have for quite some time) then they are part of the problem. Too many non-scientific, non-reproducible results have been allowed in the courts. They have, at times, been disallowed after science debunked them but then that's too late for the poor schmucks convicted and sentenced."

Then you replied:

Quote

JackD: "Re science and the courts, the admissibility or non admissibility of "scientific evidence" over the years has been determined by the willingness of "experts" to advocate for and against particular techniques. The courts have been faced with trying to determine what's legitimate and what's not. When "qualified" experts differ on an issue, the courts have had to leave it up to juries or judges in bench trials to choose what to accept."

Quote

JackD: "Whether rules of evidence have been effective in avoiding poor forensic science is a matter of opinion and one's judgment needs to consider the state of knowledge at the time of the case in question. Accusations of "junk science" are hurled by both sides with regularity leaving courts with the problem of trying to decide whose opinion testimony to accept."

Wait, what? What happened to "admissibility standards are pretty rigorous?" Now it's let "experts" (your air quotes) duke it out and leave it to juries or judges to figure it out? You bash me over providing experts to every court but why would that be required if there were actually rigorous standards. You are very strongly making my case.



As to "junk science" when a forensic technique is brought into court what I've brought up is NOT about large bodies of conflicting science, somebody coming in with new thinking, new discoveries, etc. but rather forensics accepted by our judicial system as acceptable evidence when there is little science of any kind to back it up. Unless you're defending that it's acceptable for almost any person to make virtually any claim of forensic knowledge in any court and we just have to hope the court system that you admit is generally not prepared to objectively assess it will get it right.

And now we're back to my original point. We now have ample evidence that poorly supported forensic evidence is being used and that it has been frequently admissible in court. You've now clearly made the case that the court system is ill prepared to handle this issue. That's fine but as a defense of an overwhelmed court system but again that has little to do with my original accusation and addresses none of my evidence.



Quote

JackD: "What you are complaining about is the undeniable fact that judges and juries make mistakes and that parties are often unequal in their capacity to hire persuasive expert witnesses."

100% wrong and I would appreciate it if you would stick to my argument that forensic evidence having poor scientific evidence backing it up is used by law enforcement and allowed into courts. Per my original post it's still happening since law enforcement is deploying face matching technology that is clearly not ready. The next question is if it will be admissible as evidence by courts. If so my point will be made yet again.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#1154 JackD

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 01:20 PM

Well, speaking of misunderstandings, when I said the system is pretty rigorous I meant in vetting the qualifications of the proposed expert witnesses, as well as requiring them to lay out the factual bases for their opinions. Does wrong stuff get through? Of course it does. Vetted experts arguing opposing conclusions can do that and do.

You seem to be arguing that there is some gold standard of scientific truth that is readily available and that if proposed testimony doesn't agree with it, that testimony can't be allowed. The courts don't seem to agree with that. If you don't like that, I guess we'll have to just leave it at that.

I certainly was making no argument for the behavior of the Attorney General. Strawmen indeed!





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