Whistleblowers and Confidential Informants

Informants behind bars get new scrutiny and new laws
October 1, 2019
Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation, “A. R.”
October 15, 2019
By Matthew Maddox / October 2, 2019

Can you hear that piercing, shrill scream? It’s the sound that stops all the action. it’s the heart-stopping whistle that can suddenly take all the energy out of the stadium, or metaphorically, silence a courtroom.

The whistleblower’s role sometimes marks sometimes a shocking change in direction for someone who may have thought that the game was all but won.

The same goes for confidential informants.

Confidential informants may bring information to law enforcement without any previous request or contact, or they may be regularly enlisted by State or federal authorities to “inform” on targets of investigation. The question is about reliability.

They’re tough to deal with – whistleblowers and confidential informants – and the law mightily protects them. The public policy behind this is that individuals should feel free to report unlawful activity without fear of reprisal. And that reprisal, once the identity is revealed, has been known to be as severe as the loss of life.

So, State and federal law protects confidential informants.

Yes, their reliability must be proven. Yes, their assertions must be investigated and examined. Absolutely.

And yes, the accused has a Constitutional right to confront witnesses against them.

But, here’s the law on confidential informants boiled down to a single sentence: if the information that the confidential informant reports was observed by or can be corroborated by others, and those individuals are available to testify, then the defendant can’t force the confidential informant to testify.

It can be very frustrating for the accused. VERY.

Tireless preparation and investigation, the issuance of subpoenas to every possible witness, and fiercely intelligent cross examination of those witnesses by a seasoned attorney are the only potential equalizers.

Access to legal process and to government and keeping law enforcement honest are in our hands. We citizens have the power to call out and test what is wrong in our communities and our nation, whether we spearhead an investigation or we hold fast to our shields and push back against that spearhead.

It’s a test of adversaries. Our democracy depends upon that test and we must be able to persevere while recognizing how essential both sides are to that contest.

Is your law firm up to that challenge? Can it meet the adversary head-on with all of the preparation, energy and force that you need? [nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-3″] can.

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