At trial for obstruction of justice and resisting arrest in Fairfax, this was the classic case of the client’s word versus the police officer’s word.
In any trial, it is important to test the truthfulness and credible of any testimony – including police officers. Although the police testimony is supposed to be given the same weight as any other witness, jurors and judges almost always believe the word of police over a defendant, simply because they are police.
The client said that the police came to his house to speak with him. The client asked what they wanted. The officers wouldn’t tell them, said that they wanted him to come outside to talk. When the client rightly refused, they grabbed him and arrested him on an open warrant.
The police officer testified that he asked the client to come outside and speak. When the client rightly declined, the officer told him that he was under arrest. The officer then testified that the client turned and ran back into the house.
The issue in the case – did the client run when the officer said he was under arrest? OR, did the officer grab the client and then tell him he was under arrest.
At trial, Fairfax criminal defense attorney drilled down into the facts, and into the officer’s version of events. He uncovered the following:
- The officer never told the client, at his own home, why he was there.
- The client asked the officer multiple times why he was there and never got an answer.
- The officer had a great memory of the event, but suddenly could not remember the part recorded by client’s wife.
- The officer kept saying that client would not cooperate with his request to talk, despite the fact that client was in his own home and completely within his right to refuse to talk to the officer.
After trial, the judge agreed with Jonathan Oates’ arguments that the officer was not credible, and even stated that he did not find the officer’s statements credible. He did not understand why the officer refused to tell someone in their home why the police were there.