Drug Conspiracy

Reliance on Snitches a Great Danger to Justice

This post on the Snitching Blog underscores the inherent danger in relying on snitches to provide testimony to make a case

Cleared of murder charges after serving 18 years, Fernando Bermudez was freed on Friday. See NYT story here and my previous post. Four witnesses recanted their testimony, stating that they had been pressured by the government into identifying Mr. Bermudez as the shooter. The main witness, Efraim Lopez, testified falsely under a cooperation agreement guaranteeing that he would not be charged with any crimes, even though he was centrally involved in the shooting. Judge Cataldo concluded that the government either knew or should have known Lopez was lying. Judge Cataldo’s opinion is available here. Although the government concedes that its main witness Lopez perjured himself at trial, it has announced that it intends to appeal.

This is the same problem that has plagued the criminal just system for decades – especially with the huge increase in the prosecution of drug conspiracies.  The are almost universally built on snitch testimony.