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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Food for thought

It took more than a year for the Duke University lacrosse kids who were apparently falsely accused of rape to win that battle and have the charges dropped.

Think about this. Three dudes from well off families who were able to spring $1 million apiece for their legal defense(s).

And it still took them over a year to set this right.

If you have any doubt that there is something off kilter about how our legal system works, imagine how much longer this might have dragged out if these guys had been poor and relying on public defenders.

We might have still been talking about this case several years from now.

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  • Bets are they will make a book or a moie about it and make more MONEY!! Sad, but true.

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 10:33 PM  

  • I think you echoed what one of the young men said - he wondered as well how long it might have taken someone not as well-financed.

    Sadly - money runs the world, doesn't it?

    There are soooo many things wrong with today's legal system. But at least we can all rest easy knowing that Howard K. Stern is NOT the father of Anna Nicole's baby! HOORAY!!

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 10:58 PM  

  • unless they had a fabulous public defender. are there any left?

    By Blogger Pamela, at 11:58 PM  

  • We have the best legal system money can buy.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 12:47 AM  

  • and they call ME sarcastic.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 6:37 AM  

  • You're absolutely right. Had this been 3 football players from a state school how would all of this played out?

    Maybe these young men could use this to help start a "national debate" about prosecutorial misconduct in this country. I bet A LOT of people would be VERY surprised at how many people basically get railroaded into prison in this country every day.

    As Tiggerlane said, one of those guys said as much yesterday. I wonder if the media is going to start a "national debate" over this issue?

    I bet not.

    By Blogger Jay, at 10:00 AM  

  • I think the point here was that sometimes money DOESN'T trump all, when it comes to people w/ political agendas.

    But I hear the sentiment. In college, I had a public defender for my first DUI and told no one, not even my parents. A couple of dudes from a richer college strode in w/ their lawyer and let the judge know they were priveleged boys from out of state.

    God bless him, my public defender followed next and let that judge know that I too was a college student. Of course, every judge I appear before I assume is going to be biased against me in one way or another, whether it's because the dude is bald or fat or....

    Peace out.

    By Blogger Matt, at 10:39 AM  


    And it seems as if others in the media have done a good job of turning this issue around. Sure, prosecutorial misconduct is a problem across society and perhaps more so for minorities and the poor. But they were crucified in the media (and on the Duke campus by guilty white liberals) precisely because of who they were. It's just plain wrong.

    By Blogger Matt, at 11:51 AM  

  • Very true; I consider that an accurate observation...

    By Blogger Tere, at 12:37 PM  

  • I work at Duke, and I can say that the support for these players at all times was pretty strong. The local community, however, was not feeling so hot about them.

    Do I think these guys raped this woman? Probably not, but the case was ruined, so how will we ever know? Do I think Mike Nifong deserves to be disbarred? Definitely. Do I think these guys are hooligans? Definitely.

    I liken this to the OJ trial, with the exception of the fact that I don't know whether or not they raped this woman, where I feel pretty sure OJ killed his wife. In both cases, the prosecution sucked and the defendants had money. Lots of problems with all of this. The Durham system is NOTORIOUS for handling criminal cases horribly. That's the real problem, here.

    Also, I do believe there should've been some anonymity on the part of the identity of the alleged perpetrators, just as there was for the alleged victim.

    By Blogger bc, at 1:31 PM  

  • the other thing that makes this so similar to OJ is how people took sides based on race/gender both before and after the case was resolved.

    By Blogger bc, at 1:34 PM  

  • Shhh James. Let's not talk about it anymore. SO over this things. We won't even remember their names by Christmas. (let's hope!)

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 1:49 PM  

  • christina took the words right outta my mouth. :D

    Movin on!

    By Blogger Yas, at 2:41 PM  

  • I don't know if I am upset by this case. While the charges of "prosecutorial misconduct" depend on whether Michael Nifong knew he had insufficient evidence to prove the allegations before he rushed to file charges, I think that the DA's office acted exactly like we've been telling them to act for the last 30 years.

    For the last 30 years, there has been a demanding insistence by women, who comprise a majority of the population in the US, that ANY and ALL allegations of sexual assault, battery, harassment, torture, or abuse against women be taken with grievous seriousness and investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    That is exactly what happened here. The woman was not a virginal Miss Muffet nor were the accused hairy palmed John Coueys. But that doesn't matter--every person deserves equal treatment under the law.

    The charges against these players were the end result of disappointment and pain women suffered with the failure to charge a date-rapist in 1982 or the failure to even arrest a spousal abuser in 1976 and the public outcry against lack of law enforcement and prosecutorial consideration of a possible crime. This is *The Accused* in reverse.

    What we should be extraordinarily concerned with is a culture of victimization that encourages people to use the criminal process as a tool of coercion or blackmail. The US Constitution was, is, and will continue to be a document which protects the accused person against the abuse and tyranny of the sovereign (which, lest we forget, is ME and YOU). it is scripted in favor of a person accused of criminal activity in the same manner the founding fathers were accused of criminal activity by the British Crown.

    So, in this instance, the system worked. The accuser was proven to be baseless; the accused was set free. The free press (1st Amendment) provided the story ad nauseum to us readers and we either did or did not rush to judgment and leave barren the concept of innocent until PROVEN guilty. We are as guilty as the prosecutor for encouraging the overzealousness or bigotry that we want to believe masquerades for justice.

    These kids got lucky because they were rich enough to provide investigative tools to their privately paid attorneys. Private detectives, private laboratories, background investigations of witnesses, prosecutor, judges, and the accusers all take the kind of money only rich people can afford to pay. It's up to us, the sovereign, to provide the same services to the less fortunate accused person. However, when it comes time to put our money where our mouth is (using tax dollars to pay public defenders better and give them bigger budgets and resources to fight on behalf of their indigent clients), we always shut up instead of put up.

    So pardon me if any complaints about how the system works fall on my deaf ears. We have exactly the type of justice we've screamed and paid the freight to get. I just hope those boys know how lucky they are that a Black man was lynched and hanged by an all white jury for whistling at a white girl. They are the beneficiaries of the legal fights for justice which sprang out of those horrible injustices. Their freedom was purchased using the blood of the wrongly accused.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:41 PM  

  • The whole thing was insane.

    By Blogger Winter, at 5:09 PM  

  • *sigh*

    James--I thought you'd have more insight than this post indicates--

    The very reason these guys were charged too quickly and everyone in the world knew about it was BECAUSE these were three 'well off white dudes' accused of rape by a poor black woman. Do you really think ANYONE would have heard of this case had she accused three black guys at someone's over the top house party? No. Do you think the publicity whore prosecutor would have even sniffed at that case? No

    Look I was a public defender for six years--I was frickin good at my job and kicked a lot of prosecutorial ass then we'd all go have cocktails. I have stood in front of twelve people and argued for someone's life( more than once and never had anyone get the DP tyvm) so don't begin to think I don't know what I am talking about.

    And I am NOT some 'bleeding heart' either--it was a job and it was important that I do it well for everyone--not just the underfunded--because fighting to keep the 'system' somewhat on track benefits EVERYONE.

    As long as we have political animals (elected prosecutors)on a bully pulpit we'll have these sort of cases. Do you ever hear very much about the scuzbag who is accused of molesting a child? NO But you'll hear breathless 'news' reports about the white middle class business man acused of it because THAT is what sells papers and ads--ooooo 'how shocking' As long as we live in a society that gives 24/7 coverage to who fathered some golddigger drug addict's baby we are going to have this crap.

    Thank god there is a system that can work--and it's being preserved every day by public defenders --they are the one's fighting in the trenches. Yeah there are some incredibly crappy ones but there are some brilliant ones as well.


    By Blogger Turnbaby, at 6:43 AM  

  • BC said it best, we will never know what happened that night. The fact that the case was ruined and a prosecution was not able to go forward no more means "innocent" than a not guilty verdict. All either means is that the State can not meet it's high burdern of proof. "Not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" does not equal "innocent".

    By Blogger Lex, at 6:45 PM  

  • Very true. Think about the Scottsboro boys.

    By Blogger Fathairybastard, at 5:47 PM  

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