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Of course, Theodore Roosevelt was never
a lawyer.  Yes, he did enter Columbia Law
School, but he dropped out after the first
year.  Had he become a lawyer, he might
have had to adjust his thinking.  Once
you see people in court rooms being
given special consideration simply
because of who they are, you should
evaluate your own power of discretion.  
As a police officer, you'll exercise
discretion many times, but the
beneficiaries of your discretion should
never receive your mercy because of
"who" they are.
Leave opinions to the lawyers.  As a
police officer, your duty to enforce laws
should be based on literal interpretation
of laws.
"People whose profession it is to
disguise matters
." - Thomas More
“A jury consists of twelve persons
chosen to decide who has the better
lawyer.”
- Robert Frost
"Those whose interests and abilities lie
in perverting, confounding and eluding
the law."
 - Jonathan Swift
“No man is above the law and no man
is below it; nor do we ask any man's
permission when we ask him to obey
it.”
 - Theodore Roosevelt
“Opinion is the medium between
knowledge and ignorance.”
 - Plato
"The first thing that's going to strike
you is how something that seems so
obvious can be discussed into
something unrecognizable."
~ Barry M. Baker
When you become a police officer, your
main focus should be on "being right" as
often as possible.  As long as you get
yourself up to speed on reasonable
suspicion, probable cause, search and
seizure, and you keep reference material
on laws and ordinances close at hand,
you'll be in pretty good shape.

As you begin taking cases into the court
room, you're going to suffer some
enormous frustration.  Some of it will be
of your own making and some won't.  
Just accept the frustration as a learning
experience.  As your knowledge and
experience grows, you'll remove the
frustration of your own making, and
you'll learn how to anticipate and avoid
the frustration created by the lawyers.  
The latter source of frustration is a
permanent condition, and your only
defense will always be your knowledge
and preparation.  
The first thing that's going to strike you
is how something that seems so obvious
can be discussed into something
unrecognizable. When you see this
happen, look to yourself, because it's
probably your fault.  Police officers are
notorious for believing that simply stating
the obvious in their probable cause
statements is all that's needed.  Probable
cause is a standard that requires only
sufficient evidence to arrest and charge a
person, it need not be sufficient to
convict a person.  While the lesser
standard may be all that's available
sometimes, most of the time you'll be
able to go well beyond that standard.  

You've got to think like a lawyer.  If you
read a probable cause statement that is
thorough and complete with facts,
observations, and references to other
evidence that leaves little to no room for
manipulation, you'll be inclined to seek a
deal.  If you look at a probable cause
statement that simply meets the
standard, you'll look forward to getting
that police officer under cross
examination and tie him or her up in
knots.  Once you're embarrassed, or
even humiliated, you'll know exactly what
I'm talking about.
Once you become familiar with juries,
you'll wonder what all the fuss is over
legalizing gambling.  You'll be in for a
treat the first time you watch a really
good lawyer perform in front of a jury.  
Closing arguments can change the
momentum of a trial that seems, up to
that point, to be going in your favor.  
Some defense lawyers can be so
persuasive and convincing you'll begin to
doubt yourself.  That self doubt won't
last long, but just imagine if the oratory
has that temporary effect on you, think
about where it's taking the jury.  The
prosecutor has the opportunity to rebut
the defense lawyer's closing argument.  If
the prosecutor is as good as his or her
opponent, the first performance can be
mitigated.  If not...flip a coin.
Look...if everything were simply matters
of fact, and a reasonable interpretation of
fact, the term "rule of law" might actually
apply pretty evenly to everybody and
everything.  You'll soon learn that the
rule of law is more about winning than
about justice.  You'll also learn that some
members of the Bar have the same
problems with integrity, ethics, credibility,
and criminality as people in any other
profession.
Rule of Law
...or Lawyers
Copyright © 2017  Barry M. Baker  
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