MP3 One Segment 
This broadcast supplements FTR-227. Analyzing the legal and political implications of a growing police scandal involving the Los Angeles Police Department’s CRASH anti-gang units, the program highlights the manner in which practices engaged in by LAPD personnel have fundamentally compromised the legal system in California. These practices have involved the alleged systematic framing of minority citizens for murder, drug dealing and other crimes.
The allegations have begun to bear substance, and to result in the overturning of a great number of cases.
Officer Rafael Perez of the Ramparts Division CRASH unit (the division’s anti-gang unit) began to reveal the pattern of abuse, followed by a growing investigation and the arrests of more LAPD officers for alleged crimes similar to those reported by Perez. Perez discussed the manner in which officers interfaced with each other over the cover-up of police shootings and the “rites of passage,” through which new recruits to the CRASH units had to pass in order to be accepted by their peers.
This de-facto induction process perpetuated and institutionalized the various crimes the members of the units allegedly engaged in. The program explores the manner in which police lying, in combination with other factors, has led innocent people to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit, in order to avoid conviction on more serious charges. They have pleaded guilty to these crimes on the advice of their defense attorneys, who haven’t believed it possible to prove their clients’ innocence. This despite the fact that their attorneys knew their were innocent.
A series of anti-crime initiatives in California have produced this state of affairs. Most importantly, witnesses are no longer required to testify at preliminary hearings, enabling police officers to stand in for them. Preliminary hearings are critical to defense attorneys, because they permit lawyers to gauge the chances of proving their clients’ innocence.
Without the opportunity to directly question witnesses, defense attorneys are severely limited. Other factors have contributed to the erosion of the foundations of jurisprudence in California. Most judges are former prosecutors, inclining them to favor the testimony of police over the testimony of defense witnesses or of defendants themselves. In addition, judges who question police testimony are professionally ostracized and experience serious negative career impediments as a result. Prosecutors who question the judgement of police are similarly stigmatized, and their careers also suffer as a result.
When officers lie under oath, the entire judicial system is severely compromised. On particularly Orwellian aspect of California jurisprudence enables defendants who have pleaded innocent on one charge to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Defense attorneys in Los Angeles courts do this under the rubric of a “People vs. West” plea. The program details the circumstances of this type of plea.
Much of the broadcast focuses on cases in which apparent lying by LAPD CRASH unit members has led to the wrongful conviction of innocent suspects. (Recorded on 5/14/2000.)