America needs more judges like James Fensom. Yesterday, the Panama City (Florida) adjudicator threw out felony drug charges against alleged pot dealer Jeffery Gage after depositions revealed that the police officers who arrested Gage had broken the law in order to make their case.
In his ruling (which you can read in full below), Fensom called the actions of the Bay County Sheriffs Office "outrageous...shocking, [and] disturbing," and declared that they "simply cannot stand."
From the record the cops not only illegally attached a tracking device to the suspect's car without a warrant but then twice trespassed to change the batteries in it, and worse, lied about it under oath while giving depositions to the defense and intentionally withheld the information from the defense.
That's illegal. The premise of a public and fair trial requires that you be able to face your accuser, and that inherently includes having full access when defending yourself to the evidence against you. When law enforcement intentionally destroys data that would tend to incriminate their own behavior and then conceals that fact your rights have been violated.
Why did they withhold the evidence? That's easy -- it clearly demonstrated their illegal conduct and would have led to the exclusion of the evidence and search, without which the case collapses.
It's nice to see a judge that is willing to hold the cops to the letter of The Constitution.
The lesson? Do not cooperate with law enforcement -- they will and do lie whenever it suits them right up until a Judge tosses their case.
There's no reason to cooperate with or assist those who will intentionally violate your right to due process of law.