Radley Balko recounts an egregious instance of misconduct by Tennessee law enforcement:

It seems that in 2008, Monroe County Sheriff’s Detectives Doug Brannon and Pat Henry actually posed as a federal defense attorney in an attempt to get incriminating information out of suspect John Edward Dawson, who was in jail on a host of charges, including theft and drug distribution. Not only that, but in doing so, they also talked Dawson into refusing to cooperate with his public defender and to plead guilty to the charges against him. They communicated with Dawson via a jailhouse informant.

Dawson’s public defender was so taken aback by his assurances to her that he had a “federal lawyer” who had worked out all of his charges, that she actually asked for a psychiatric evaluation. When all this came to light, Dawson’s (real) attorney asked for a continuance in his case so she could assess the damage. Remarkably, Tennessee Tenth Judicial Judge Amy Reedy refused the request, ruling that Dawson made “a real dumb decision” and that he had “picked his poison.”

The Tennesee Court of Criminal Appeals overturned that decision and dismissed all the indictments. There reall should be some kind of additional penalty for police officers and prosecutors who misbehave in this fashion.

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