IL: That police “dropsy” testimony is common doesn’t mean that all of it is fabricated

That police “dropsy” testimony is common doesn’t mean that all of it is fabricated. People v. Moore, 2014 IL App (1st) 110793-B, 2014 Ill. App. LEXIS 262 (April 25, 2014):

[*P12] Defendant further contends police officers frequently fabricate stories (referred to as “dropsy” testimony) of criminal suspects conveniently dropping evidence in plain view of a police officer in order to circumvent the search and seizure restrictions of the fourth amendment. See People v. Ash, 346 Ill. App. 3d 809, 816 (2004) (“A ‘dropsy case’ is one in which a police officer, to avoid the exclusion of evidence on fourth-amendment grounds, falsely testifies that the defendant dropped the [evidence] in plain view ***.”). According to defendant, false “dropsy” testimony is commonplace and has become a pervasive problem that threatens the legitimacy of the justice system. Defendant supports this claim with various newspaper and law review articles that either directly or indirectly comment on the phenomenon. These reports allegedly establish the widespread nature of false “dropsy” testimony, thereby undermining the officers’ version of events. In short, defendant argues because police frequently invent such stories, Saladino and Millan cannot reasonably be believed.

[*P13] Even assuming, however, that this anecdotal evidence actually establishes a trend or problem, it does little to discredit the officers’ testimony in this case. It does not follow that because other police officers have falsified similar testimony in the past that reasonable doubt has been conclusively established here. At best, such evidence suggests one would be wise to consider the frequency of police perjury as a factor when judging credibility. Such evidence does not, however, compel the trier of fact to disbelieve any officer’s testimony that describes witnessing a defendant dropping or abandoning contraband. See, e.g., People v. Gustowski, 102 Ill. App. 3d 750, 753-54 (1981) (discrepancies in the officers’ testimony pertaining to the defendant’s dropping of contraband were insufficient to render the trier of fact’s credibility determination unreasonable).

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