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View Diary: AZ woman spends 22 years on death row due to dishonest police detective (82 comments)

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  •  From the Chief Judge's Concurrence (22+ / 0-)

    Emphasis mine

    Saldate’s supervisor asked him to record Milke’s interrogation, yet Saldate didn’t even take a tape recorder with him. When he arrived in Florence, Arizona, where Milke was waiting for him, he didn’t obtain a recorder there either, even though he knew they were readily available. Saldate claims that Milke refused to have the conversation recorded, but admits that he “basically didn’t want to record it anyway.” And why not? Because “a tape recorder is an obstacle for [him] to get to the truth” and so “it’s [his] practice never to use a tape recorder.” Of course, being left with no recording is an obstacle for us to get to the truth, but Saldate tells us not to worry: “[The] conversation was going to be noted by me in a truthful manner, so there was really no need for tape recording.” Right.

    No other officer was present for the interrogation; no one watched through a two-way mirror; no hidden camera or microphone captured what happened inside the interrogation room. Saldate never asked Milke to put her confession in writing or initial a single sentence acknowledging she had confessed. Nor did Milke sign a Miranda waiver. Saldate testified that “[t]here was no document . . . we had available to us” where “we could have a suspect sign that they waive their rights.” And what of the practice of having a suspect sign the officer’s Miranda card? “I never knew that ever happened,” Saldate testified. “Never happened with my case or any other case I was involved in.” This, from an officer with twenty-one years on the Phoenix Police force. Soon after the interrogation, Saldate destroyed the notes he supposedly took while questioning Milke, so we have absolutely nothing contemporaneous with the supposed confession.

    In effect, Saldate turned the interrogation room into a black box, leaving us no objectively verifiable proof as to what happened inside. […]

    No civilized system of justice should have to depend on such flimsy evidence, quite possibly tainted by dishonesty or overzealousness, to decide whether to take someone’s life or liberty. The Phoenix Police Department and Saldate’s supervisors there should be ashamed of having given free rein to a lawless cop to misbehave again and again, undermining the integrity of the system of justice they were sworn to uphold. As should the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which continued to prosecute Saldate’s cases without bothering to disclose his pattern of misconduct.

    Indeed, given Saldate’s long history of trampling the rights of suspects, one wonders how Saldate came to interrogate a suspect in a high-profile murder case by himself, without a tape recorder or a witness. And how could an interrogation be concluded, and a confession extracted, without a signed Miranda waiver? In a quarter century on the Ninth Circuit, I can’t remember another case where the confession and Miranda waiver were proven by nothing but the say-so of a single officer. Is this par for the Phoenix Police Department or was Saldate called in on his day off because his supervisors knew he could be counted on to bend the rules, even lie convincingly, if that’s what it took to nail down a conviction in a high-profile case?

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:34:20 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

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