The Truth About Police Reports

The trial did not end the way I wanted. Hopefully, the appeal will go better.

In the case I tried, the arrest was made on 11/27/2005. The officer had no recollection of the facts in this case. He admitted that he had spent the week before trial memorizing his police report. The officer admitted that his testimony was based on that report.

Problem- Police reports are not admissible by the State in a criminal case. The officer was reciting a memorized report. My objections were overruled.

Many jurors are surprised to learn that police reports are not admissible. The reason is that police reports are not objective. Officers write police report to justify an arrest, not to record all the facts. Police reports are written after the officer has decided a suspect is guilty.

This officer admitted that he did not consider any of the dozens of factors that would show my client was innocent. He did not write them in his report. Since he could not remember any details not in the report he forget all evidence of innocence.

Witnesses are required to testify from personal knowledge. Unfortunately, the practice of allowing officers to “refresh recollection” by reading directly from their police report on the stand is common.

Example- In trial the State would ask a specific question. “What clues did the defendant show on the Walk and Turn?”. The officer would be on the stand with his report in hand. He would look down at said report, read it, and parrot the answers to the State.

It is time to require more from law enforcement. If they do not remember something they should admit it. Allowing them to memorize or read inadmissible reports and parrot back the information is an insult to the integrity of our criminal justice system.

Think that freedom only helps criminals? Ask yourself what evidence you would want against you at trial.

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One response to “The Truth About Police Reports”

  1. <img src="http://www.blogger.c says:

    Sorry about the result in your client’s case. It’s near impossible to get anywhere with the “refreshed memory” problem. Just take your best shot and argue it to the jury.When I was a prosecutor, a very aggressive defense attorney boxed me in by getting my police officer to admit he couldn’t remember squat about the case and that his contemporaneous report did not revive his memory.I was left with just a question or two and easily put in the report itself as a “past recollection recorded.”

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