Thursday, March 17, 2005

Stifling Citizen Complaints: Nevada SB 150, Part I

It's my privilege to publish the following piece by Las Vegas based Juli Alexander, in which she rightfully rails against a proposed bill currently in the Nevada State Senate, one that would make it a misdemeanor to file a complaint considered false against any public official. Coming from the perspective of an active and experienced justice system critic, Ms. Alexander, a mainstay in anorganization known as Redress, Inc., poses insightful arguments against this atrocious notion. An abbreviated version ran in the LasVegas Review-Journal on March 16, 2005, but her work warrants exposure in its entirety. Residents of states beyond Nevada should be equally concerned, because, if this unconstitutional crap passes for law in the Silver State, it just might also in yours.

Senate Bill 150 is just wrong. It's wrong for citizens, it's wrong for Nevada. Those who wish to be in positions of power over the rest of us must suffer scrutiny for all their behavior; after all, the taxpayers are on the hook for their salaries and all ancillary costs. When they make mistakes, whether intentionally or just through incompetence, it costs all of us big money; money to pay prosecutors, defense attorneys, bailiffs and other court personnel, and of course judges, money to pay judgments on lawsuits.

Legislators may think that passing such a law would save the State some of the millions of dollars paid out every year for police misconduct cases. But what it would actually do would be to empower police to engage in greater misconduct with less fear of liability. In essence, we could eventually be reduced to living in a "police state".

Tampering with our right to free speech is also wrong. States which pass laws that can't pass a Constitutional legal challenge wastes taxpayer dollars. We have passed too many of those laws in the past. Any attempt to criminalize free speech, in itself, is an attempted crime by the authorities we pay to enforce the law. Part of public service is being open to public censure.

Police misconduct is a serious issue, and false allegations against citizens is an equally serious issue. We as citizens don't have protection when we are falsely charged with misconduct, whether criminal or civil in nature. Therefore, the police are not entitled to special protections.

Example: David Ruffa was arrested and charged with homicide by officer Gerald Collins of Henderson. Collins called Ruffa's friends and family telling them that Ruffa was a murderer and that Collins had Ruffa on videotape killing his wife. At the preliminary hearing, Collins was forced to admit it was a lie, that he was just using "police tactics". And what do you know... the DNA evidence has excluded Ruffa as the murderer.

Continue to Part II


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