Obstruction of justice, the collectively bargained way

Investigators tried to look into the beating of an inmate by guards at New York’s famously tough Attica prison, still remembered for a lethal 1971 uprising, but ran into trouble: “Under their union contract, corrections officers are obligated to answer questions only from their employers and have the right to refuse to talk to outside police agencies. State Police investigators attempted to interview 15 guards; 11 declined to cooperate.” The subsequent sending of a “Notice of Discipline” to five officers on charges of excessive force “prompted an immediate rebellion among Attica’s corrections officers, who began a by-the-book work slowdown. Such job actions are not uncommon, officials acknowledge, with the only victims being the inmates whose meals, programs and visitors are all delayed.” [Theodore Ross, New York Times, in major article on aftermath of Attica, N.Y. prison beating](& welcome Instapundit readers)


  • A contract between employee and employer cannot override the criminal law. Surely the police can proceed as normal, without regard to the employment contract.

    • You are right about a contract.

      But maybe other authorities and the police prefer to be thwarted. They are probably unionized with similar contract provisions and/or immunities. And doing nothing leads to the same pay and retirement.

      In a Red State Holder would have been investigating within minutes.

      • Are you actually suggesting that Eric Holder – a dedicated public servant – would use his office to further his own ends and punish those he disagrees with or doesn’t like? I am shocked and appalled at the very suggestion. Next I suppose you’ll be telling me that there is gambling at Rick’s Café Américain.

    • But surely anyone is allowed to refuse to talk to the police under their Fifth Amendment rights. Although the contract cannot override the law, the correction officers can opt to exercise their Fifth Amendment rights to the fullest. And under the rules of the contract, they cannot be fired for doing so unlike any place not operating under those contract rules. I think that’s what’s going on.

      • The Fifth Amendment only protects them from self-incrimination. It does not protect them from incriminating others. Some (if not most) of these “public servants” withheld information that was far outside the scope of their Fifth Amendment rights.

      • Sounds right. Other employers have contracts under which refusal to cooperate with police is grounds for dismissal. I hope these guys appreciate the service of their union.