Peter Schaffer on Sean Bell

Peter Schaffer: Well, I didn’t follow the facts of it intimately, but whenever a police officer is arrested and the victim is a private citizen, you know, we have cause to wonder whether the result is going to be fair only because, you know, most of my practice has been in New York City and almost every case where a police officer is accused of in this case killing a citizen, in almost every case the police officer has prevailed and in every case the police defendants have waived a jury and had their matters heard before a judge.  Now most people that do criminal cases never waive a jury because it’s almost always in your client’s best interest to have the matter decided by 12 members of the community.  But with police officers, they always- the last people they want to decide on their actions are members of the community.  And there certainly is- again, without knowing the facts of the case, I don’t know if the decision was right
I’m not there to question that, but I have seen every case over the last 20 years where a police officer defendant has killed someone and the case has gone to a judge there’s been an acquittal.

Question: Why the difference between judges and juries when trials involve police officers?


Peter Schaffer:  Well, even though a judge is supposed to be a neural decider of the facts, a judge that handles criminal cases time after time has police witnesses before them.  Although they’re supposed to be independent, you know, the court is guarded by law enforcement.  So I think in some cases the court, although you’re supposed to look at any person in front of you with that blindfold like the lady justice, I think police officers may get a leg up when they go in before a judge.

5/14/08

Schaffer dissects some of the key systematic elements of the case

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less
Promotional photo of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones
Surprising Science
  • It's commonly thought that the suppression of female sexuality is perpetuated by either men or women.
  • In a new study, researchers used economics games to observe how both genders treat sexually-available women.
  • The results suggests that both sexes punish female promiscuity, though for different reasons and different levels of intensity.
Keep reading Show less

This 1997 Jeff Bezos interview proves he saw the future coming

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
  • He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less