The Tools of the TradePosted by on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
A few years ago, when I got called for jury duty, one of the lawyers present reminded us that it would be better to let a guilty person go than to have an innocent person wind up in jail for something they didn’t do. Of course, I believe this…and so should you. However, the implication with that statement is that we need to stop assuming that people are guilty. Most people nearly always assume guilt when people are accused of something. If the breathalyzer says so, they must be guilty. If the radar gun says so, they must be guilty. If the lie detector test says so, they must be guilty. If the police officer says they were doing X, Y, Z, they must be guilty. If we really believe that it would be better for a guilty person to go free than an innocent person to go to jail, we need to train ourselves to question each and every “tool” that law enforcement uses to “prove” our guilt.
One tool that has annoyed me for a while now is the pens that ensure that people are not using counterfeit money. When I give money to a cashier at a store, I inevitably get the swipe of the pen on each and every bill ($20 and over), yet I never have the same assurance from them that they’re not giving me counterfeit as change. The entire fiat money system is a bankrupt, counterfeit system, anyway. Why can the federal reserve print money, but I can’t? Anyway, I won’t, so the only way I would ever end up with counterfeit is if it was given to me from my bank or a store as change. Presumably, they’ve checked all of the bills they give you, but that is not guaranteed. Anyway, when they check me and not themselves, it just seems like I’m an automatic suspect just for having money, which brings me to the story of the day.
A man in Tennessee was arrested and jailed for using a genuine $50 bill after it didn’t “check” with the magic marker. A gas station clerk notified police when it was suspected of being counterfeit, and they agreed and arrested him.
After Lorenzo Gaspar was jailed, Horner showed the bill to Sgt. Bill Logue, the Shelbyville Police Department’s evidence technician, who told him old legitimate bills wouldn’t “check” with a marker and suggested he have it inspected at a bank.
Horner took the bill to two banks, where it was determined as “real but very old” at one and proven real by a black light and magnifying glass at another.
A judicial commissioner had Gaspar released from jail and Horner apologized for the arrest, the report said. Gasper was told by Horner to take the bill to a bank and have it exchanged for a newer one.
So, it was all a big misunderstanding and the guy was released. But, it does speak to the over-reliance upon the tools of the trade. If the officer didn’t get a second opinion right away, this guy could have been in jail for quite a while awaiting sentencing and all of that nonsense. So, remember, the next time you hear about a person failing a police test of some sort, question it. It could be you the next time.
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