We've discussed the legal issues raised in Pottawattamie County extensively. In a recent amicus brief, Mark Herrmann, on behalf of Black Cops Against Police Brutality, looks at the case from a different angle.
In a blog posting about Pottawattamie County, Herrmann highlights the racial issues that we've ignored:
Two white prosecutors participated in fabricating, and then presenting at trial, perjurious testimony that resulted in the conviction of two black youths for the murder of a white former police chief. The black youths each served 25 years in prison. The key witness at trial then recanted his perjured testimony, and the men were released from prison. They sued the prosecutors for having violated their civil rights. The prosecutors contend that they have absolute immunity from liability.
It's a fantastic point, especially when one considers that 42 U.S.C Section 1983 is the codification of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. Section 1983 was enacted because white officials, acting under color of law, terrorized innocent black Americans. Isn't that exactly what happened in Pottawattamie County?
The Black Cops amicus brief
recounts some sad examples from American legal history of where white cops have manufactured false evidence against black defendants. For example, in Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278 (1936), white officers were investigating the murder of a white man. Acting without probable cause, the officers seized a black man named Arthur Ellington from his home, strung him up to a tree, and whipped him. He refused to confess.
Herrmann's post on Pottawattamie County is available here.