According to police reports, Rene Granados tried to prevent police in Bullhead City from arresting his son.

According to police reports, Granados blocked officers’ path at a local Safeway store and refused to move out of the way.

According to police reports, Granados raised his right arm in a threatening manner and attempted to push past police.

According to a video of the incident, none of that happened.

It didn’t matter. A Bullhead City Municipal Court judge convicted him anyway.

This week, Goldwater Institute National Investigative Reporter Mark Flatten released his newest report, City Court: Judges Believe Police Claims and Ignore Video Proof, uncovering the injustice Granados suffered and examining judges’ disregard for evidence and why it occurs.

Rene Granados and his family were vacationing in Bullhead City, Arizona, when a stop at a local grocery store took an unexpected turn. As he was picking up groceries and saw his 19-year-old son being arrested for shoplifting, Granados approached officers to find out what was wrong, answered their questions about his son, and was tackled from behind by police as he turned to walk away. Police say Granados raised his arm to police; they then grabbed him and forced him to the ground. But the video clearly showed that he did not interfere with police. Nevertheless, Granados was charged with hindering prosecution.

“Despite the video proof that Granados had done nothing wrong, the city still worked—successfully—to win a guilty verdict,” Flatten explains. “With video from the store’s security camera, his lawyer thought it would be simple to get the hindering prosecution charge dismissed. But the city prosecutor later added the second charge, disorderly conduct. It was clear the prosecutor was determined to get a conviction for something.”

Granados’s case is one of several reviewed by the Goldwater Institute in which city courts convicted defendants even when evidence disputes the police version of events. Flatten’s report explains that stories like Granados’s bring police credibility—and court credibility—into question. Police credibility is an issue of growing national concern, driven largely by a series of high-profile police shootings in which the official version of events differs from what was captured on video.

And city court judges also regularly discount, dismiss, or ignore evidence that goes against the written reports and courtroom testimony of police. Flatten’s report examines the root of judges’ actions, including their tight bonds with police and prosecutors, a tendency to believe police over defendants based on faulty assumptions, a fear for their job security, and a desire to protect cities from civil liability.

You can read the full report here.

Liberty in the News

  • Goldwater Institute Senior Policy Advisor Starlee Coleman appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Week to talk about the Right to Try, a law that protects terminally ill patients’ right to try investigational medicines that have not yet received full FDA approval. Coleman explained that the law is a “completely patient-focused, bipartisan effort” with support from myriad organizations across the nation.
  • Conservative activists gathered near Washington, D.C., this week for the Conservative Political Acton Conference, and Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher was on hand to discuss the nationwide effort to restore free speech on public university campuses. Butcher met with activists and journalists from across the country, and spoke about the Goldwater Institute’s model legislation.
  • This week, Missouri joined the list of states considering the Goldwater Institute’s campus free speech protections with legislation introduced by State Representative Mike Moon. Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center writes that free-speech zones, speaker shout-downs, speaker disinvitations, conflicts related to security fees for controversial speakers, and belief-based discrimination against student groups are among the threats to the First Amendment at public universities.

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