Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Judge Lisa Rau: Back With A Vengeance

I have had the extreme displeasure of sitting in her courtroom, and if you are a police officer or prosecutor, she is not a big fan of yours.

One thing was certain in the case of the Commonwealth v. Hector Tapia: Somebody lied, big time.

Common Pleas Court Judge Lisa M. Rau did not take long to decide whose word she doubted: That of the Philadelphia police. In doing so, she brought to a boil a long-simmering resentment that police and prosecutors hold toward her.

In the recent trial, police testified they caught Tapia outside a Kensington house in 2006 with more than two pounds of cocaine tucked in his waistband, a .45 semiautomatic handgun, and $1,300 in cash.

Tapia, 29, disputed nearly every point of the officers' accounts. He said he was just a barber on a house call, carrying a licensed gun and no cocaine. Yes, he had a lot of cash - $350 more than the police reported seizing from him - but it was just from his business, he said.

Rau, in a non-jury trial on Feb. 27, delivered her verdict without explanation: Not guilty, all counts.

The police and prosecutors are livid that the judge would reject eyewitness police testimony and, instead, accept Tapia's story that he had gone to the house to give a $50 haircut. (H/T - The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Rau has a history of not trusting or believing police officers' testimony. In some cases, that's not a problem: there are good and bad officers on this job. However, when that bias becomes consistent and interferes with major cases, it becomes a real problem.

And Rau is quickly becoming the root of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment