Thursday, July 29, 2010

Setting a Good Example

The Chronicle reports that Houston police chief Charles McClelland has ordered officers to ignore subpoenas requiring them to appear in court before 1 P.M. Citizens aren't so lucky:
Citizens who show up for their trials are not allowed to leave the courtroom — except for restroom breaks or to put money in parking meters — resulting in a wait of up to five hours before their cases begin.
This move was ordered to save on overtime expenses for the police department. Apparently the chief thinks it more important to save a few dollars than honor a court order. I doubt that the chief would be so understanding if a citizen claimed that he committed some crime to save money.

More significantly, the chief is saying that his officers are above the law, while ordinary citizens are forced to waste most of their day. It is bad enough that the police spend a large part of their time harassing citizens engaged in voluntary activities such as prostitution, taking drugs, and visiting strip clubs. Now they get to hassle citizens without even being present.


Mr. Moderate said...

We really need one of the municipal court judges to either throw out a bunch of cases, or have the bailiffs go out and arrest the police officers for contempt. This is beyond ridiculous.

Brian Phillips said...

I don't fault the police officers. They are being put in a very difficult position. Either they obey their superior, or they obey the court.

I agree, the court should throw the cases out instead of punishing citizens who have even had a trial.

Mr. Moderate said...

I do blame the officers. The law says they have to be in court at a certain time. If the Chief tells them not to be there, they should ignore him, and obey the law. If the Chief persists in this, he should be arrested for contempt. Police officers are not special. They are employees of the citizens, and must be held to the same standard as the rest of us.

Brian Phillips said...

I agree that the chief is ultimately the one responsible. And I agree that police officers are not above the law.

But the fact is, if the police were not enforcing non-objective laws, like busting people for pot, prostitution, or similar voluntary actions, overtime to appear in court would not be an issue.

Besides, the roads should be privately owned and there would be no traffic cases in municipal courts.