Quantcast

«

»

Apr 01 2014

Durham Police Paying Informants for Convictions

The police in Durham, North Carolina have been paying confidential informants not only for their testimony but giving them an extra bonus payment if the person they testify against is convicted. This is a rather blatant violation of the rules under Supreme Court precedent.

For 10 years, DPD has offered extra money to undercover informants willing to testify in court and cooperate in drug cases. However, those incentives were offered without the knowledge of prosecutors or defendants. This new revelation could prompt the review of more than two-dozen closed cases. Many of the defendants involved in those cases were imprisoned or scheduled for deportation.

The bonuses were discovered through public records requests made by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a Durham-based civil rights nonprofit.

Police payouts to informants are commonly disclosed. But several Durham attorneys say they were unaware of pre-arranged bonuses.

“[T]he D.A.’s office was not aware of any agreement to pay confidential informants at the completion of cases,” said Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols in an email last month to Ian Mance, a lawyer for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We were also not aware of, if there were any, payments to confidential informants for bonuses. If we had that information or known it existed we would have provided it to the defendant in discovery.”

The Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, entitles defendants to all evidence the government plans to enter against them during the discovery, or pre-trial phase, of a case. This includes evidence showing state witnesses have a financial stake in their cooperation.

“Clearly this is a Brady violation,” said Donald H. Beskind, a Duke University law professor and defense attorney.

When it comes to the use of informants, this is just barely the tip of the corrupt iceberg. The police routinely shake down informants, coercing them to sign affidavits and testify against people with the threat of busting them. The most famous case of this was in Atlanta when the police killed an elderly woman named Kathryn Johnston after planting drugs on an informant to coerce him into signing an affidavit saying he’d bought drugs at her house.

10 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    left0ver1under

    It’s the same old story with the US, whether drug testing of the poor, secret prisons, wiretapping without warrants or bounties on people’s heads.

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/02/iraqs-prime-minister-offers-financial-bounty-to-extrajudicial-killers/

    If a bad idea works horribly or doesn’t work at all in one place, you can be sure it will be applied in many other places.

  2. 2
    Kevin Alexander

    It makes sense. The more believable the actor, the higher the pay check.
    Next up–bonuses for jurors who convict. I’m sure that prison corporations would be happy to fund that one.

  3. 3
    dingojack

    So is this kind of thing illegal?
    Dingo

  4. 4
    dingojack

    (In 17/18th century England, such informants were called ‘men of straw’*, incidentally)
    Dingo
    ——–
    * They would wear a sprig of straw in their hatband or sock to indicated that they would commit perjury for a fee.

  5. 5
    Leo T.

    dingojack: That strikes me as a rather implausible folk etymology, to be honest. I can track down usage of the term “man of straw” as far back as the late 16th century: specifically, in the play The Return from Parnassus, where one character uses the term to condemn another as a braggart who fails to live up to his claims.

  6. 6
    D. C. Sessions

    So is this kind of thing illegal?

    Yes. Next question: what is the penalty?

    Answer: the prosecutor gets to keep his job.

  7. 7
    busterggi

    Paid informants to fake testimony? Why not just have Chuck Norris or Steven Segal give testimony – aren’t they good enough actors?

  8. 8
    marcus

    dingo @ 3 “So is this kind of thing illegal?”
    Actually, I don’t believe that it is. Rewards are offered all the time for “information leading to the arrest and conviction” of unknown perps.
    Even in this post it doesn’t seem like the action of paying the CIs itself was illegal, just the fact that it was not disclosed to the defense that it was happening.

    (On a side note: I actually knew Judi Barri. The idea that Darryl Cherney and she were transporting a bomb for environmental terrorism was patently ridiculous.)

  9. 9
    marcus
  10. 10
    illdoittomorrow

    “[T]he D.A.’s office was not aware of any agreement to pay confidential informants at the completion of cases,” said Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols in an email last month to Ian Mance, a lawyer for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We were also not aware of, if there were any, payments to confidential informants for bonuses. If we had that information or known it existed we would have provided it to the defendant in discovery.”

    Translation: Mistakes were made, but not by me.

    Also, if you believe what ADA Echols says here, have I got an investment opportunity for you!

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site