New England School of Law
George Jones's ordeal was the product of, and in turn sheds light upon, police practices of investigating crimes and writing reports. Written police reports of criminal incidents and arrests give details such as the time, place, and nature of criminal conduct; the names and addresses of victims and witnesses; physical characteristics of the perpetrator(s) or arrestee(s); weapons used; property taken, recovered, or seized from the arrestee; and injuries to persons and property. Through their reports, the police "have fundamental control over the construction of [the] 'facts' for a case, and all other actors (the prosecutor, the judge, the defense lawyer) must work from the framework of facts as constructed by the police." This control depends upon the faith of "other actors" that police reports are basically objective and reliable. False reports, and reports that omit crucial exculpatory information, undermine this trust. By "exculpatory" information I mean: any fact, circumstance, or item of evidence actually emerging in the course of investigation before or after arrest, other than mere protestations of innocence, which tends to suggest a criminal suspect's innocence, or to raise doubt concerning his guilt or as to the reliability or inculpatory nature of other facts or circumstances.
Stanley Z. Fisher,
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Lying and the Omission of Exculpatory Evidence in Police Reports,
New England Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.bu.edu/faculty_scholarship/906