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On Confessions

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Regarding your June 4 article on the murder of Reetpaul Singh Rana ("'Innocent People Don't Want Attorneys'"): For a criminal justice system based on laws, you have to embrace those laws or get them changed. The Supreme Court has affirmed the rights to remain silent, have effective legal counsel and be innocent until proven guilty by sufficient proof. And we've all heard of people convicted but later found to be innocent, with their lives ruined or even wrongfully executed.

Police have an incredibly difficult job. Most officers accept and honor our system of law, even knowing it occasionally protects the guilty from the law's penalties. If a court of law finds officers in the Rana murder trial violated defendants' constitutional protections, I suspect the officers only acted as they believed their superiors expected them to act. Police performance ratings focus on how many cases they "clear" by getting a conviction, rather than how many people they investigate and prove innocent. Honoring constitutional protections should be just as important as how many cases they clear.

That's true especially in this case, where detective Wayne Hanson is quoted as saying, "there's still evidence and witnesses enough to go forward." One wonders what pressure the officers were under to also use tactics Judge Chen described as "classic examples of what police should NOT do when the subject of an interrogation asks for counsel." We should look behind what the officers did to see what their superiors and prosecutors expect them to do — note that the United States Attorney's Office is appealing the judge's ruling, apparently unqualifiedly approving what happened.

Jeff Knapp, Arcata


So, "innocent people don't want attorneys," huh? If that's so, then anyone with an attorney can be assumed to be guilty, right? Why on earth didn't anyone tell us this sooner? Think of the implications! No more of that pesky evidence and witness testimony stuff; a jury can simply say, "Hey, look... He has an attorney! Guilty as charged!" Slam-dunk conviction. Soon, no one, innocent or not, will want an attorney and they will simply go away and we can all go back to lynching one another in the streets like in the good old days. Brilliant!

Thank you, detective Hanson, for your thoughtful insight into how the system ought to function. Whatever taxpayer money you've spent on the case thus far should be amply compensated by the streamlining of the legal process that is sure to follow.

Ken Burton, Eureka


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