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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paterson, Witness Intimidation and Police Misconduct

The currently unfolding scandal involving the use (by either New York Governor David Paterson and/or his top advisors) of State Police to contact a plaintiff/complainant/ex-girlfriend in a Family Court matter (which she dropped) reeks of a Soviet-style abuse of the police power.

It is important to distinguish between innocuous uses of persuasive powers which we are entitled to use, and the employment of men with badges and guns to deliver the same message. Men and women confronted with the latter are not easily inclined to assert -- or remember -- their constitutional rights. They are inclined to be intimidated. And many in law enforcement know that.

There are some commentators who are calling for criminal prosecution. Indeed, witness intimidation is a state and even a federal crime. Just ask former federal prosecutor Paul Bergrin, who is in jail awaiting trial for witness intimidation and other charges and is facing the specter of life in prison.

The signs are growing that there has been serious police misconduct. Whether it is a crime is debatable. The bar for determining fitness to hold public office is a lower standard than "beyond a reasonable doubt.". As more facts emerge, it is becoming clearer that Governor Paterson has either approached or surpassed the bar. A call for his resignation is no longer an overreaction.

If Governor Paterson encouraged or was complicit
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