Alan M. Dershowitz: ‘The Rules of the United States Justice Game’

11 Aug

Alan Morton Dershowitz  is an American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator. He has spent most of his career at Harvard Law School where in 1967, at the age of 28, he became the youngest full professor of law in its history. He has held the Felix Frankfurter professorship there since 1993.

Title: “The Best Defense”:  Abstract | (…)…In the process of litigating these cases, writing this book and teaching my classes, I have discerned a series of “rules” that seem—in practice—to govern the justice game in America today. Most of the participants in the criminal justice system understand them. Although these rules never appear in print, they seem to control the realities of the process. Like all roles, they are necessarily stated in oversimplified terms. But they tell an important part of how the system operates in practice. Here are some of the key rules of the justice game:

Rule I: Almost all criminal defendants are, in fact, guilty.

Rule II: All criminal defense lawyers prosecutors and judges understand and believe Rule I.

Rule III: It is easier to convict guilty defendants by violating the Constitution than by complying with it, and in some cases it is impossible to convict guilty defendants without violating the Constitution.
Rule IV:  Almost all police lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict guilty defendants.  Rule V:  All prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys are aware of Rule IV.

Rule VI: Many prosecutors implicitly encourage police to lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict guilty defendants.

Rule VII: All judges are aware of Rule VI.

Rule VIII: Most trial judges pretend to believe police officers who they know are lying.

Rule IX: All appellate judges are aware of Rule VIII, yet many pretend to believe the trial judges who pretend to believe the lying police officers.

Rule X: Most judges disbelieve defendants about whether their constitutional rights have been violated, even if they are telling the truth.

Rule XI: Most judges and prosecutors would not knowingly convict a defendant who they believe to be innocent of the crime charged (or a closely related crime).

Rule XII: Rule XI does not apply to members of organized crime, drug dealers, career criminals, or potential informers.

Rule XIII: Nobody really wants justice.”

© Alan Morton Dershowitz
Title: “The Best Defense” – Publish Date: 05/01/1983 – ISBN: 9780394713809.