Criminal Defense Strategy

This question has to do with jury duty experiences. My wife and I, some years apart, went in for jury duty. We both participated in jury selection for criminal trial, mine was an illegal gun offense, hers was illegal drugs with intent to distribute.

I found it curious that in both cases, during jury selection, the defenses brought up the idea that the police fabricated the evidence. They asked specific questions regarding how truthful we consider the police, etc.

Is this Business As Usual for criminal defense, or a coincidence that 100% of the criminal trials my family has participated in have planned on using the Crooked Cop defense?

Does it ever work? Ok, it worked for OJ. I have to say, as a prospective Juror, I don’t think I would have been swayed by an unsubstantiated claim that the cop planted all the evidence.

Well that’s the only reasonable defense when its possession.

Saying things like “I didn’t know it was there”, “Its my friends”, “thought it was legal” , “I had to do it to save my son”, “I am just the courier”, doesn’t work.

Cops don’t always do a respectable job. A case going to court is like a holiday, a bit of change from dealing with domestic violence, drunks and shoplifters.

It worked for OJ, but as I recall the cop who testified against him said under oath that he hadn’t used the word “nigger” in ten years, and the defense was able to produce solid evidence that he had. Having been proven to be untruthful in that instance damaged his credibility. Absent that event the case may have gone differently.

Did they ask specifically about fabricating evidence? Or was it just a question about the truthfulness of police? I ask because, in my experience, any time a police officer is expected to testify they will include a question along the lines of: “Are you more or less likely to believe the testimony of a police officer just becuase they are a police officer?”

I don’t recall that level of detail, I can say I was shocked at how specific they were regarding the intended defense, and that the defense was about planted evidence, NOT simply a mistake or oversight by the officer.

Not to rehash this, but the testimony of a single defendant wasn’t why this case faltered.

They went after a rich man who could afford great attorneys. Without eyewitnesses, much in the way of physical evidence (e.g. Ronald Goldman’s blood anywhere in OJ’s home or vehicle for example) and no confession, this was a “non-starter” from go.

Interesting viewpoint. Most all of the cops that I know don’t like to go to court. It takes time away from their other investigations, plus makes them sit in an uptight courtroom while some attorney accuses them of doing a less than respectable job.


When I first read this, I actually snorted, and the husband asked what??? I presented your opinion about how cops feel about court. He snorted. Then said “bullshit.” Then he laughed. I polled a few other cops on how they felt about going to court. Universal reaction? About the same as my husband’s.

I have no idea about jury selection. Being married to a cop seems to be a great way to get excused from duty.

I’ve been called to jury duty twice (picked one time, sent home the other), but it appears that it is very standard procedure for defenses to weed out people who have an obvious bias toward police, prosecutors, etc. One way to find out is to ask who has a tendency to believe police are more honest or trustworthy than the general public. Or if a police officer testifies, are you more or less likely to believe him? Of course, the prosecution wants those kind of people on the jury. In the end, the prosecution wants to get rid of jurors who reflexively dislike cops and think they are crooked/dishonest/incompetent, and the defense wants to get rid of jurors who reflexively trust the police and prosecutors.

I’m guessing the defense was trying to figure out which jurors seemed most sympathetic to the defense. For both drug and gun offenses, it would be very important for both sides to figure out which jurors were more sympathetic to various viewpoints, as well as the integrity of the police in question.

Being grilled for hours and hours sucks. If it happens to be on a day off and there is overtime it sucks less. But it still sucks. I’m talking about actual big boy court not municipal or local which is where cops spend most of their court time.

But everybody’s favoritest seems to be: work an overnight shift (5pm to 5am,) drive home, shower, change into fresh uniform, drive back to courthouse, sit for 6 or 8 hours (trying not to snore,) get called to testify, spend thirty minutes trying to answer veiled attacks on character, pray that there’s a bunk open down at the sub station for a thirty minute nap, then hit the road for another shift.

Sometimes, the overtime just isn’t worth it. 1.5 x JackShit - taxes = “I’d really rather have slept.”

Back to the OP, I can say from the dozens of criminal trials I participated in during the “old days,” it was not common to allege the police planted evidence. Sure, you might question their observations, their memory, or–rarely–their honesty. Generally, we tried to use what we could from the officer to help our case (so, you admit you didn’t see him for those 12 minutes…) instead of accusing them of being dishonest. As others have pointed out, you do need to make sure a jury doesn’t convict just because some cop obviously thinks your client is guilty. So, we would ask a lot of questions about a juror’s ability to reach his or her own conclusions based on the evidence the prosecutor presents, and not rely on the cop’s conclusion. The officer, you understand, didn’t have to be sure “beyond a reasonable doubt, like you will have to be.”

And I think I’ve posted this here before, but what surprised me was how often an officer honestly admitted some fact when it would have been very easy and helped get conviction to tell a small lie.

I could do 30 minutes standing on my head. Try doing a couple of 8 hour days on the stand in a row.

I was called for jury duty (multiple times)
One woman, when asked “Do you believe it is possible for a police officer to lie?”, replied, rather indignantly, “Of course not!”.

Nobody wants that kind of mentality on a jury - not even a prosecutor, I’d bet - if there is one Looney Tune* opinion in there, who knows what else might rear its head.

  • Note the early cartoons were often based on music “Happy Harmonies”, “Merrie Melodies” and"Looney Tunes" - in the case of the WB 'toons, they were specifically used to sell sheet music.

He didn’t want to commit perjury.

Tony says it’s lots easier to stay awake when the defense attorney is pissing him off, though!

The lawyers, both prosecution and defense, are allowed only some finite number of peremptory dismissals, AIUI; then they have to start giving cogent reasons for the people they dismiss.

The game they play, therefore, is to ask the kind of questions that they estimate will elicit the kind of answers that will get the other lawyer to dismiss someone they want to dismiss.

This is a routine question during voir dire in PA trials because the law requires jurors to determine the credibility of the witnesses based upon what they see and hear during the trial and not on what the witnesses do for a living.