Louis Scarcella, Brooklyn homicide detective (retired), was not a guy you would want to meet, especially if you were a person of color who was innocent of a crime that needed to be cleared. (Cops dislike inventory just like Walmart dislikes unsold crap).

If you have not been following the saga, Scarcella had amassed a remarkable,( indeed incredible…) series of successes bringing quick arrests and smooth convictions in hundreds of homicides.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches

His stock in trade was the coerced (or even fraudulent) confession, the perjured testimony of jailhouse snitches, and the convenient disposal of exculpatory evidence.

His behavior was so flagrant, that after a few over-the-top frame ups were discovered, and deemed so out of even the relaxed bounds of professional malfeasance that obtain in all prosecutorial offices in every city, county and state jurisdiction in the country, even the notorious Brooklyn DA Hynes (blessedly, as of the last election, retired) was obliged to set a task force to work examining all of Scarcella’s cases.

What should we learn from these stories?

1. Scarcella is not an outlier, he was just a little too flamboyant; his methods are replicated with the same quota of unjust imprisonments and lives destroyed.  It’s kinda like the border patrol stats–for every kilo of heroin they intercept, they figure that a double-digit multiple really got through.

2, Judges stink.  When they stink too badly to continue on the bench, they become arbitrators.;

3, Although paying large dollars does not guarantee competent counsel, getting an appointed lawyer of ancient years will likely result in incompetent representation.  Hold out for a public defender (increasingly being replaced by court appointments because, budgets.)

Photo from Matt Lemon licensed under Creative Commons