What the heck is a LUD anyway?
Hardly a Law & Order episode goes
by without detectives pulling someone's LUDs, which more often than
not lead to a breakthrough in the investigation. The acronym stands
for “local usage details,” which is a list of a person's
incoming and outgoing phone calls over a specified period of time.
While LUDs are easy to obtain for police, they're not readily available
at a cop's whim. Phone records are treated as private information,
so investigators must prove to a judge that the “search”
is warranted, in which case, the judge will grant a court order
for the phone company to provide a suspect's LUDs.
Say Detective Briscoe approaches a drug dealer
who he just knows has information valuable to his case. The scene
will usually play out like this: Briscoe asks a question, and the
dealer plays dumb, so Briscoe comes up with an excuse to frisk the
dealer. He finds a bag of cocaine and says something to his partner
like, “What do you know? Our friend here was just about to
powder his nose.” The cuffs come out. The dealer gets the
message and spills his guts. It's called the squeeze, and it's illegal.
According to procedure, the detectives are supposed to arrest the
person on the spot and bring him to a DA, who will work out a plea-for-information
deal. Only the DA's office has the authority to put the squeeze
During trial, the ADA will often ask for permission
to “treat the witness as hostile.” What exactly does
this mean? When a witness is called to the stand, his testimony
is expected to support the argument of the side that subpoenaed
him. If the witness becomes evasive or changes his testimony on
the stand, the lawyer is given permission by the judge to treat
the witness as if he were called to the stand by the opposing side—which
legally changes the nature of the questions and language the lawyer
uses to ask them. That is to say, the direct examination becomes
a cross examination, allowing the DA to use leading questions, giving
the lawyer more latitude to suggest how the witness should answer.