Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Will it ever end?

The travesty of justice in Durham North Carolina continues to move along. Although most of the legal community appears long since to have concluded that the rape charges against three Duke University lacrosse players are unsustainable District Attorney Mike Nifong refuses to drop the indictment. This last week we got wind of the latest nail in already firmly sealed coffin. The defense discovered that Nifong's office deliberately withheld from the defense details of DNA tests done on the alleged victim and her clothes. The defense was originally told that there was no DNA match to any of the defendants. True enough as far as that goes. But what was withheld from them was that DNA from multiple other males WAS found! This is such an egregious violation of the basic rules of discovery that it should be considered prosecutorial misconduct.

However there is hope. The defense has filed motions to suppress the lineup ID that was made by the alleged victim. As I noted in an earlier post, she was only shown photos of members of the team. We now know that the entire process by which the ID took place was a travesty. If the lineup is suppressed she will most likely be barred from making any ID in court. And since at this point the only real evidence the DA has is the word of a highly impeachable witness, if her ID goes that should (in a sane world) put an end to this legal circus. Unfortunately we have already seen that sanity appears to be in short supply in the DA's office in Durham NC.

On a side note Fox News has posted an op-ed piece by Susan Estrich a professor of law at USC. I recommend it for anyone interested.

Previous posts on the Duke case...

A very ugly word

The man in the background

Its Over Already

Et Tu Times?

Latest From Duke University


Wordsmyth said...

This sort of thing tends to happen when prosecutors are politicians. They want to win as many votes as possible. At the very least, this lets them keep their jobs. At best, it heightens their political credibility and they can move on to "bigger" things like the Governor's office or Congress. People aren't willing to give convicted felons the benefit of the doubt. But "convicted felon" doesn't mean that the person actually committed a crime. And any politician who works to make the system more equitable will be labled "soft on crime". Opponents would say "Candidate X puts the interests of convicted felons before those of honest, hardworking people. A vote for X, is nothing more than a 'get out of jail free' card." Or some other nonsense like that. That said, I raise my glass, and tip my hat to all the honest prosecutors out there.

Wordsmyth said...

One more thing ... the other day, someone at my job pointed out this irony: if one invokes his Fifth Amendment rights, everyone assumes he's guilty. Pleading the Fifth seems to be, well ... incriminating yourself!

Wordsmyth said...

Wordsmyth is Anson. Not that y'all care. But, you know ... I'm not saying ... I'm just saying.