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Thread: Thoughts on Witness Credibility Statute?

  1. #1
    Regular Member ()pen(arry's Avatar
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    Thoughts on Witness Credibility Statute?

    This might not be the best link for context, but it should give the reader an idea of what I'm talking about, and it's immediately contextual to my thinking. I'm posting this in the Texas forum to limit the topic to existing Texas law. It might be worth discussing in more general forums later.

    I'm considering the establishment of statutory Witness Credibility standards, whereby testimony from law enforcement is statutorily mandated not to be considered more credible than other testimony by juries. That is, there would be explicit instruction mandatorily given to juries within the state of Texas that they must not consider testimony by law enforcement to be any more or less credible than testimony by any other witness. I think this should follow from common sense, but I realize that there are plenty of people who blindly assume that cops and other law enforcement folk are fundamentally more credible, so here are a few simple points:
    • Law enforcement folk take no form of test that can credibly be considered to demonstrate their trustworthiness, veracity, integrity, what have you
    • There is no credible study that suggests that law enforcement evince a higher standard of credibility in general behavior, let alone on the witness stand
    • Law enforcement folk are exactly as human as anyone else
    • Every adult has experienced, in their professional lives, coworkers and/or colleagues who fail to uphold rigorous standards of integrity
    • There is no rational justification for supposing that being in the law enforcement industry fundamentally imbues a person with greater integrity than the common person holds

    What do you think of trying to pursue such a statute in the Texas Legislature? I'm fully aware that it would be a sh__storm. It also should be a given, but clearly isn't. Maybe it's time to make it explicit to the sheep who sit on juries.

  2. #2
    Regular Member ()pen(arry's Avatar
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    I'll quickly answer myself, here:

    On the one hand, my classical liberal (aka "libertarian", with a little-l) principles advocate against any statute that does not solely and explicitly enforce the sole valid function of government: protection from coercion. In my own mind, I should be opposed to the very statute I'm bring for consideration.

    On the other hand, I am not opposed to temporary "bridge" legislation which acts to transition a governed society toward liberty. I favor so-called "net neutrality" legislation, not because I think any such legislation is proper, other things being equal, but because the government does enact de facto monopolies (or, at least, restricted economic participation) in the public utilities which constitute and provide access to the internet. Should such legislation be valid? Absolutely not. Given the circumstances we actually exist in, is it beneficial toward liberty, as long as it exists only so long as valid? I am inclined to think so.

    There are dictates of principle that argue against the legislation I raise for consideration in this thread. I also think there are compelling realities that might temporarily justify it. What do you think?

  3. #3
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    I support it. I also support instructing the courts themselves that they may not assume police are more credible than any other witness.

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