Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Praise of the Fifth Amendment

reposted from J.D. Tuccille's Disloyal Opposition blog.

In the following video, Prof. James Duane of the Regent University School of Law (yep, the university founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in 1978) explains why even angels devoid of the slightest moral blemish should never speak to police officers, tax collectors or other law-enforcement agents investigating crimes. Duane assumes no malice on the part of the police -- just human failings and motivations. In a 27-minute lecture, he details the legal pitfalls people can wander into even by telling the absolute truth.

Of course, "innocence" is relative. At the very beginning of the video, Prof. Duane addresses the -- literally -- unknowable extent to which federal laws and regulations have grown, so that even the government itself has no idea how many punishable offenses there are. It's very easy for people with clean consciences to admit to violating laws and regulations they never knew existed.

But hey, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Right?

What about the other side of the debate?

Responding in the same classroom to Prof. Duane, Office George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department says ... the professor is absolutely right.

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