Lawyers, law students and professors have debated this subject
time after time and inevitably come to the same conclusion- you should never talk to the police. They will cite court precedence, police interrogation tactics and a host of tricks used by the prosecution to show that if you even remotely believe you are person of interest regarding a crime, it is rarely ever a good idea to talk to the police. Well thanks to a tactic allowed by Judge Steven Hippler of Ada County Idaho, we have another good reason not to talk to law enforcement.
Well you may think that if you are innocent, what do you have to hide?
Honesty is the best policy – right? Well that’s what Byron Sanchez of Ada County thought. See, Sanchez was between lawyers when he sent a letter to the Erick Thomson, the Gem County prosecutor, stating that he wanted to meet in the next 4 days and discuss his case, or he was going to “do some things that I can’t undo”. Well a few days later the Ada County Sherriff’s detective Bill Weires came to see him and accused him of threatening a public officer- Eric Thomson. Rather than invoking his fifth amendment rights, Sanchez thinking his was absurd, felt the best way to end this was to clear it up here and now with the officer. After a 26 minute recorded interview with the officer, Sanchez explained in detail what he meant by going to “do some things that I can’t undo”. He showed him a copy of the petition he filed. He showed him a copy of the complaint he made. He showed a copy of the article the journalist (myself) wrote regarding his case. Sanchez showed the detective exactly what he meant with proof that he had already done it. However despite his long winded conversation with the detective, Sanchez was arrested and charged with making threats to a public officer.
The interesting part was that during the trial, Judge Steven Hippler approved a request by the prosecution to allow only an edited version of the recorded interview to be played to the jury. Of the 26 minutes of recorded interview how much do you think the jury got to hear? 20 minutes? 15 minutes? 5 minutes? Try 8 seconds. Judge Steven Hippler permitted prosecution to only allow the jury to only hear a selected 8 second snippet and specifically instructed the Court Clerk to only enter in to evidence the “cherry picked” 8 second sound bite. And Sanchez was found guilty.
So the next time you think honesty is the best policy when dealing with law enforcement – think again. You can explain in great detail to the detective how you didn’t run over your neighbor’s dog. -How you were at work all day when the dog was hit. –How you don’t even own a car and ride a bike. –How you are a 33 degree vegan who won’t injure a chicken nugget let alone assassinate your neighbor’s dog. You can spend 26 minutes explaining this to the detective, but all the jury gets to hear is the 8 second snippet where you state “Well… I guess I don’t like it when his dog pees on my lawn” – only without the “well I guess” part. The bottom line is, it’s never a good idea to talk to law enforcement. Especially in Idaho. And especially before Judge Steven Hippler.
The transcripts of the entire interview can be Downloaded Here. The 8 second cut the jury got to hear is in bold.