Fighting Governmental Witness Tampering - (Or, You Can Have Our Defense Witnesses When You Pry Them

People who work in the criminal justice system know that the notion of a trial unfolding as part of a neutral fact-finding process is a fiction. The reason is that the government has a tremendous amount of power not only to present, but also to influence and alter, the evidentiary picture that ultimately emerges. A potential alibi witness might be told, for example, that the investigation is still open, the prosecution may ultimately bring charges against additional suspects, and continuing to maintain that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime sounds like the kind of thing an accomplice would say. Improper governmental pressure on witnesses violates the U.S. constitution. Defense attorneys Kevin Sali and John Robb point out that a well-established body of case law prohibits the types of influencing tactics often used by government agents in criminal cases.