Albuquerque Police Adverstising for Snitches

The Albuquerque Police Department is seeking to hire snitches and placing employment ads in the paper.

The advertisement, which is running in the current Alibi newspaper, seeks criminals willing to snitch on other criminals.

The ad says, "Wanted: People who hang out with crooks to do part time work for APD. Make some extra cash. Drug use and criminal record OK."

The pay is crummy: [More...]

An informant who helps police arrest a drug dealer could earn $50. Someone who leads police to a murderer could pocket up to $700.

Of course, there's an added benefit:

If confidential informants have a warrant out for their arrest, Hudson said they can strike a plea deal with the DAs office to get them off the hook.

Snitch testimony is purchased testimony. Whether bought with money or promises of leniency for the snitch's own misdeeds, it is a practice that makes our criminal justice system morally bankrupt.

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    Christmas money? (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 07:27:38 PM EST
    Sheesh, I can't even come up with a shop lifter.  Josh can forget about the Playstation 3.

    Brilliant tactic (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Peter G on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 08:13:44 PM EST
    Worked great for the warlords in Afghanistan, who earned bounties for turning in "Taliban" and "terrorists."  Of course it did result in quite a few innocent folks' spending years in Guantanamo, but hey, no idea's perfect.

    Crimestoppers (3.50 / 2) (#3)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 08:16:34 PM EST
     My cousin, Russell Johnson, helped establish the original CrimeStoppers program here, which paid money to anonymous "witnesses" to help catch criminals. This later became the TIPS program, and now seems to have become this new initiative.

    Much worse than purchased testimony is purchased justice. Bill Gates gets an entirely different class of justice than I do, because he can afford it. The entire system is up for sale, at the right price.

    We need to break the relationship between the purchaser of justice (client) and the provider of justice (attorney). If fees were paid into a pool, and you were randomly assigned an attorney, we would no longer have "public pretenders", who share office space and plea negotiations with prosecutors. When Bill Gates and the well connected get the same justice that the wino on Fourth Street does, then we will have justice, not before.

    You are very wrong (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Peter G on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 10:25:38 PM EST
    about a great many public defenders, I'm happy to say.  Quite a few are among the very best criminal defense lawyers, often better than the typical defense lawyer in private practice.  My experience with some of the highest paid lawyers around (criminal defense or otherwise) has been that their fee structures are not closely correlated with their skills or their judgment.  And most of the well-respected but not highest-paid private criminal defense lawyers, like myself, TChris, LNILR and Jeralyn among others, take both fee-paid and court-appointed cases and do exactly the same kind and level of work on both, regardless of how much or little the fee in that case (often adjusted according to client's ability to pay) may be.  

    Then why not publish (none / 0) (#15)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 09:46:48 AM EST
    how effective you are? Why can't we see that you are 0 for 30? Or 30 for 30? I know that the work Jeralyn does is VASTLY more difficult than most lawyers, but can be scored with a difficulty factor, 1 for 3 at 9.0, 3 for 4 at 8.0, etc.

    Please don't come back with the disproven shibboleths that the results for the rich and the results for the poor in the legal system are no different, it just isn't true, and who you hire, and the resources you have to do it make a huge difference. Many of the lawyers that take contract appointments are very good. Most states do NOT have very good public defenders, and the contract system is designed to limit costs, not level the scales.

    My point is that everyone is paid for, and that you get what you pay for. Juries are paid for, judges are paid for, witnesses are paid for, only equality before the law is not paid for by our system.

    Your "do exactly the same kind and level of work on both, regardless of how much or little the fee in that case" almost certainly has to be a misrepresentation. You don't get the PI's, you don't get the access to labs, you don't get the advanced depositions with transcripts that rich clients obtain, for an indigent client.

    The fact that your personal limitations and ability do not change regardless of the fee is undoubtably correct. But for attorneys to represent that indigents and billionaires get the same justice in America is a fraud of the highest order, a fraud against truth and justice itself.


    a few points in response (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Peter G on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:57:26 PM EST
    to the aspects of what you say that are worthy of response, which is not most of it.

    First, no one claims, and I did not claim, that "the results for the rich and the results for the poor in the legal system are no different."  I did however disagree with your assumption/cliche that "you get what you pay for."  My experience tells me that is often untrue in this field.  Some get great representation for free, while others can pay a lot for not much at all.  All I said is that you are grossly oversimplifying and generalizing.

    Second, crim defense lawyers do not publish their "results" for at least two reasons.  One, it is prohibited by the ethics rule against false and misleading statements, including advertising.  Clients facing charges, or convicted and looking for an appeal, would necessarily think that the lawyer's past "percentage" would correlate in some way with this particular client's chances.  Which of course would not be so, given the million individual factors.   Two, there is not and could not be any fair and accurate way to measure success.  In most cases, the evidence is such that conviction is inevitable.  A reduced charge or lesser sentence might indicate great success.  How could you evaluate whether the case that ended in a reduced charge was a "success" of that kind, rather than a gross failure by an incompetent lawyer who failed to see, or to conduct the investigation or research that would discover, that the case could be won? In many of my cases, "success" is the client's appreciation, after all is lost, that someone cared enough to fight for him/her as hard as could be, against an unfair system and impossible odds.  Try to measure that.


    Did you just say (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by eric on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 12:04:25 AM EST
    "public pretender"?  BOOO.  That is offensive.  Very offensive.

    Yes, I did say it (none / 0) (#16)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 09:56:38 AM EST
    and yes, I meant it. I am sorry if you are offended.

    Just because you have a bar card, it does not automatically make you immune from criticism, or someone who can say that the facts cannot be discussed. Note that "Public pretender" was in quotes, identifying it as a vernacular.

    Better outcomes for Federal Public Defenders could be used to make your case, if you were arguing facts instead of pique. Yet you would find that wages again explain the difference in outcomes.

    My point is that free market justice is just as good at running the courts as it was in running the economy. The rich get what they want, and the rest of us get screwed.

    Again, sorry if you were personally offended, but next time, bring some facts. I did.


    Okay, then (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:13:04 PM EST
    Pay public defenders as much as public prosecutors. No need to start a national lawyer lottery.

    My point is different (none / 0) (#20)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:29:49 PM EST
    If we want to have actual parity, then we must offset the gigantic advantages of the State. We must also break the relationship of clients to attorney pay. If paid for their performance, then the best performing attorneys could move to the place where their consciences dictate, not where their wallets dictate. I know many lawyers who do Personal Injury law rather than criminal because it pays better.

    If we truly valued "guilty until proven innocent", we would pay defense attorneys for the indigents more than the judges hearing their cases. Then every judge would know they are facing a better attorney than they are, and would rule according to the law. Every prosecutor would know that they are facing the most difficult challenge of their lives - negotiating from an inferior position.

    I'm just saying that the way it has been does not have to be the way it is in the future.


    I am not "personally" offended (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by eric on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 09:23:08 AM EST
    so to speak because I am not a public defender.  Heck I do civil litigation and my wife is a private criminal defense lawyer.  I am offended because I know of public defenders that do great work under very difficult circumstances.  They are not pretending, they are practicing law.  And it it is insulting to call them names.

    Like these guys read the paper! (none / 0) (#4)
    by TeddySanFran on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 09:00:46 PM EST
    Where did the po-po place the ads, in the legal notices?

    really jeralyn? (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 09:06:51 PM EST
    it is a practice that makes our criminal justice system morally bankrupt.

    and how is this any more morally bankrupt, ethically challenged or situationally dull than the defense practice of purchasing "expert" witness testimony?

    i'm not condoning this mind you, just pointing out the hypocrisy of your position.

    as my old contract law professor used to say, "something of value is something of value, whether it be cash or coconuts."

    The temptation (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Peter G on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 10:18:15 PM EST
    faced by a criminal with an outstanding warrant to trade false information against someone against whom s/he has a grudge, or just a lack of concern, whom the informant may or may not believe to be involved in some sort of criminal activity anyway, for a reduced charge, light sentence, or even a "free pass," is far greater and more pernicious than the temptation faced by forensic experts to pervert their professional standards and misrepresent their true opinions in exchange for a fee.  In fact, in 30 years as a defense attorney (albeit in the somewhat rarefied strata of the field, doing mostly federal appeals) I have seen very little indication of lawyers trying to pay, or experts willing to take, a fee to perjure themselves by presenting an opinion they do not hold.

    it's hardly necessary. (none / 0) (#11)
    by cpinva on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 03:31:48 AM EST
    I have seen very little indication of lawyers trying to pay, or experts willing to take, a fee to perjure themselves by presenting an opinion they do not hold.

    few expert witnesses in hard science (where 2+2=4, forever) are called. no defense atty. with half a brain is going to put someone on the stand, who isn't going to express an opinion adverse to his/her client.

    rather, they will put on expert witnesses in fields where objectivity need not apply. psychiatry and psychology come quickly to mind. these fields have no hard and fast rules, with regards to judgment calls; two psychiatrists, given the same data, could reasonably come to polar opposite conclusions.

    frankly, even dna analysis is not 100%, two experts in the field could honestly hold different opinions, regarding the meaningfulness of the results.


    The real question (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:52:22 PM EST
    Is it fundamentally more injust for an innocent person to go to jail due to a junkie lying to save his own hide, or for a guilty person to go free due to an expert witness "lying" about scientific ambiguities?

    Moreover (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:57:28 PM EST
    As an added ethical "WTF?", I'd wager that a plurality of the actual criminals turned in by the snitches will have committed victimless drug crimes.

    er (none / 0) (#22)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:52:37 PM EST

    Does this mean that law (none / 0) (#17)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:01:07 AM EST
    is a field where "objectivity need not apply"? Where there are no "hard and fast rules, with regards to judgment calls" such as "balancing tests"? Where two judges, "given the same data, could reasonably come to polar opposite conclusions"?

    A bit unusual.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by dcaster on Sat Nov 22, 2008 at 10:01:45 PM EST
    Looks like Albuquerque PD is getting awfully close to creating an actual employment relationship with their snitches.

    FLSA lawsuit, anyone?  OSHA investigations (and worker's comp) if a snitch gets shot?

    There's some civil rights actions ripe for the picking for an enterprising Albuquerque plaintiffs' attorney.

    Will they forgive parking and traffic tickets if (none / 0) (#10)
    by JeriKoll on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 01:37:48 AM EST
    I am willing to video "perps" running red lights, and stop signs and testify in court in exchange for the forgiveness of just a few paltry parking and traffic violations.

    Informants can provide information (none / 0) (#12)
    by Daniel Millstone on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 06:15:48 AM EST
    While the testimony of paid informants and those who've made flea bargains is often less than credible, the information provided by them to police can be valuable. While working a case, cops can sort rumors, trash and fairy tales from info that can be corroborated.

    "can" as opposed to "will" (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 02:05:38 PM EST
    Not really. In almost every conviction that is overturned by DNA evidence, it turns out that the cops not only didn't sort out the rumors and trash but actively preferred rumors and trash and worked to cover up the fact that their case was based wholly upon rumors and trash.

    Figures... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 08:09:21 AM EST
    finally an ad in the paper for a job that doesn't say "drug test", it says "drugs ok"...but ya gotta sell your soul to take this job.  Figures.

    No thanks Alburquerque...I've known since kindergarten that nobody likes a tattle-tale.

    i doubt the targets (none / 0) (#14)
    by cpinva on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 09:40:23 AM EST
    but ya gotta sell your soul to take this job.

    of these ads will lose much sleep over that prospect, assuming beelzibub hasn't already made an overture to them.


    Everybody sells their soul (none / 0) (#18)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 10:02:57 AM EST
    the payments are just higher for some jobs.

    Truer words never spoken.... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 08:19:26 AM EST
    it is all a question of degrees I guess, with professional informants being amongst the lowest of the low.