How the Mississippi State Trooper Scandal Could Affect Criminal Cases

Mississippi highway patrolSuppose you are studying for a big test and you receive an email from the teacher supplying you with a copy of the test you will be taking the next day. It would make things a lot easier huh? Well, apparently that’s what happened for some Mississippi State Troopers who were studying to take their promotion tests. As a result of the incident, 16 troopers and supervisors have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

So, this got me to thinking. As a criminal defense attorney who routinely defends cases brought by Mississippi State Troopers, shouldn’t I have access to which troopers were suspended? If a trooper would cheat or lie to take a promotion test then I think it greatly affects his credibility as a witness. In most DUI cases, the only testimony used by the State is that of the police officer. The officer will testify that the driver’s car was “swerving” thus justifying the stop. The officer will then testify that the driver smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech, impaired coordination, and appeared to be drunk. If the driver refuses to take the test (which I recommend), then the only evidence of impaired driving is police officer’s word. If it is then revealed that this same officer, sworn to uphold the law, stooped so low as to cheat on a promotion test I think it would result in a “not guilty” verdict in most DUI cases.

I would think that I’m not the only lawyer in Mississippi who has thought of this. I’m sure that we will see dozens of DUI tickets being dismissed because of what is being called “Troopergate”. (Seriously, why can’t the media be more creative? We still use “gate” at the end of almost every scandal. Why don’t we use “water”? Trooperwater? Watertrooper? Oh, well I guess that doesn’t make sense.)

Police officers sworn to uphold the law should be held accountable for their actions just like you and I. If it is shown that these officers cheated and lied on their promotion tests, then they should be dealt with harshly. Citizens accused of crimes by these troopers should be informed of this so their lawyers can determine if it affects their criminal charges. I personally think that anyone who would cheat or lie on a promotion test would cheat or lie to get someone convicted. We don’t need police officers like that.

Charles R. “Chuck” Mullins has never been associated with a “gate” in his 17 years of practicing law. Learn more about Chuck at the Coxwell & Associates website.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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