Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Report – Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases

Human Rights Watch Report – Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases

“In the United States today, a growing body of evidence suggests that the federal government is deliberately concealing methods used by intelligence or law enforcement agencies to identify or investigate suspects—including methods that may be illegal. It does so by creating a different story about how agents discovered the information, and as a result, people may be imprisoned without ever knowing enough to challenge the potentially rights-violating origins of the cases against them. Through a practice known as “parallel construction,” an official who wishes to keep an investigative activity hidden from courts and defendants—and ultimately from the public—can simply go through the motions of re-discovering evidence in some other way. For example, if the government learned of a suspected immigration-related offense by a person in Dallas, Texas, through a surveillance program it wished to keep secret, it could ask a Dallas police officer to follow the person’s car until she committed a traffic violation, then pull her over and start questioning her—and later pretend this traffic stop was how the investigation in her case started…This report recommends that the US executive branch prohibit all government departments and agencies from engaging in or contributing to parallel construction efforts, and disclose all policies related to the concealment of sources or evidence. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”) should also publicly and fully disclose all policies and legal interpretations of the intelligence agencies that may affect criminal defendants or others involved in proceedings before US courts or tribunals. Additionally, the US Congress should require the disclosure to criminal defendants of complete information about the origins of the investigations in their cases, with special procedures as necessary to address classified information or information whose disclosure may jeopardize the safety of identifiable human informants…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.