Our Court At Work I decided to do an essay over the criminal courts from a slightly different point of view. Many people see the courts wheels in action on television when they read a verdict, and for many they watched the trial of the century on TV when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty; however, there are many things that happen most people still never hear about or just do not understand when they do. I decided to do the essay from the police officers point of view and follow it through the lengthy court battle to the final out come. I work as a police officer in the down town area and have been assigned this beat for two years. On June 13, 1995 my partner and myself were patrolling the Central Business District when we received a disturbance call at approximately 4: 17 PM from the dispatcher at the corner of Commerce and Industrial St. in Dallas.
We were advised that one person had been stabbed and that two other people were believed to have weapons. We responded to the call and arrived in about two minutes. Once out, we found that several witnesses had held the suspect at the scene by tackling him and holding him to the ground. The complainant was stabbed once in the right side, once in the left chest, and sustained several lacerations to the face, hands, and arms.
My partner interviewed the witnesses while I got medical attention for the complainant and asked him what happened in the attack. The complainant stated to me that he had entered a Dart bus and sat down about three seats from the front. He said the suspect was setting two seats in front of him, when all of a sudden the suspect started yelling and screaming about something and stood up in the ell. Once the suspect was standing he picked up a brown paper bag from the seat and pulled out a 40 oz. bottle of Miller beer and busted the bottle on the metal railing across the back of his seat. He then started to attack the complainant with the broken bottle stabbing him twice and causing several lacerations. The complainant stated he rides this bus every day on his way home from work and has never seen this person before.
He was treated for the lacerations at the scene by Dallas paramedics and was transported to Parkland Hospital for the stab wounds. My partner returned to the patrol car with the suspect whom he had placed under arrest for aggravated assault and had much the same story from the witness. I read the suspect his M aranda warning before asking him any questions regarding the assault. He stated he understood his rights and answered the questions. He told us where the broken bottle was located. The Suspect stated he just did not like the way the complainant looked at him.
We gathered information from the witnesses and were able to recover the suspects weapon from the inside of the Dart bus. The driver of the bus stated the complainant had ridden the bus every day for over a year and she had never seen the suspect on the bus before. The suspect was transported to Lew Starrett County Jail; however once we reached the jail the suspect had to be fingerprinted to see if he had ever been arrested in Dallas before. We had to do this before he could be booked into jail because the suspect had no good identification on him. The I.D. tech. was able to find the suspect in the jails fingerprint file and found the suspect had not only lied about his name but he was also wanted for several felony charges which he had skipped bail on in the past.
Once we had the suspect's name he was booked into jail on a third degree felony charge of aggravated assault and the previous warrants. My partner and I completed the paper work and tagged the evidence and turned every thing in to the Shift Sergeant to be forwarded to the C.I.D. deviation. The suspect had bail set at 25,000 based on his past criminal record and the fact he had already failed to show up at court in the past. The next working day the case was received by the C.I.D. supervisor and assigned to a investigator to follow up on and to file the case with the Dallas County District Attorneys office (D.A. office). The investigator was able to get a signed complaint from the complainant that in affect stated the fact of the case and that the complainant would press criminal charges against the suspect. The investigator was also able to get most of the witnesses to come into the Department to give a formal witness statement of the facts and what they had seen.
The investigator also received a medical report from Parkland hospital which indicated the complainant also had to receive surgery to recover glass fragments from his side and repair a punctured organ. Once the paper was done the file was reviewed by the D.A. Office for its recommendation. The D.A. Office accepted the case and filed the charges against the suspect. About six weeks later the Grand Jury met in regards to the case and my partner and myself were subpoenaed by the Grand Jury. While at the Grand Jury we went over the facts of the case and articulated to the members why the case should be filed and go to trial. The Grand Jury came back with a True Bill in about one week.
This meant they felt the state had enough evidence against the suspect to charge him with the case and for it to go to trial. The suspect was granted a State appointed attorney and the case was set for trial in four months. The case was then continued by the suspects attorney because he filed for a suppression hearing in order to get the broken bottle dismissed from the case. The attorney attempted to get the court to believe the suspect was unsure of his rights when he told the officers of the whereabouts of the bottle.
The court dismissed this motion stating it was filed without any merit and the defiance had no proof the officers did any thing of the sort. The Suspect was again set to go to trial in three months. The defiance then filed for a motion that the suspect was not mentally stable to face the charges and he was not in his right mind when he assaulted the complainant. The Judge asked for a mental evaluation from a Psychiatrist from the state. Six weeks later the report was finished and the state found the suspect was mentally stable to stand the charges.
Once again the case was set for trial and this time the defiance asked for a continuance in order to dispose of the other felony charges the suspect was charged with. Over one year and four moths later the case finally saw a court room after four other continuances filed by the defiance. Each one of the continuances that were filed the Officers involved were already at the court house ready to testify along with fewer and fewer of the witnesses. On the day that the case finally went to trial the State presented its case and while the court was on it's lunch break the defiance came to a plea bargain that gave the suspect 15 years in prison that would run concurrent with his other felony charges. This may seem like a outlandish amount of time for one case to take, however, I have found that this is the norm for cases that go to trial in Dallas. Some times the defiance will not drag its feet as long; but they know, the longer they wait to see the judge the fewer amount of people will remember the case and the fewer number of witness will testify.