Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 25, 2007
LAW: Grandstanding

Instapundit quotes Radley Balko arguing that the manifest injustice in the Nifong/Duke scandal should lead to a reassessment of the criminal justice system more broadly because

Nifong is by no means the only overly aggressive prosecutor in this country. And Durham is by no means the only jurisdiction where the wrong people have been wrongly accused. As Seligmann suggested, the only real difference may have been that the Duke players had the resources to fight back. Many others don't.

Balko's other examples support his thesis that the Nifong case certainly wasn't a complete outlier in terms of law enforcement misconduct, but I think Balko sells short a hugely significant aspect of the Duke case that isn't present in a lot of ordinary criminal cases: the fact that an elected prosecutor used a high-profile, highly publicized case to win an election by playing to race and class resentment, with the complicity of the media and powerful forces in the community (in this case, local and national African-American "leaders" and the Duke faculty). While that's hardly the first time that's been done, it does suggest that there was rather a stronger-than-usual motive for the DA and the cops (one of whom appears to have had a long-running vendetta against Duke students) to bend, break and mutilate the rules to frame innocent men.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:22 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

The Duke case was brought with no evidence. None. I don't know that it stands alone. But fairly rare is probable. No evidence. That accuser was a joke. No witnesses. No physical evidence. The accusation and player identification was laughably poor. I think Balko missed the boat, perhaps deliberately in the interest of a greater good. Can anyone cite a criminal case brought on similar merits? Crystal was unable to ID them initially. Then 2 players provided strong alibis. I've never seen anything like it outside of the movies. Not a shread of evidence. an aside, some profs and admin types need to be fired at Duke asap. the way these kids were thrown under the bus to advance an agenda was outrageous. Sharptonesque. If that's what Duke is about it's time to close shop and have a BBQ in Durham.

Posted by: abe at April 26, 2007 9:45 AM

A few years back the San Jose Mercury News did an amazing thing: they audited hundreds of randomly selected criminal cases an investigated DAs' conduct in a 5-part series. Two results: 1) a shockingly high percentage of clear prosecutorial abuse (I'll guess around 20%) and 2) nobody gave a rat's ass.

On this blog, which is one of the few I read, I expect a lot of #2. Warning: When Rush Limbaugh got arrested he got real inventive and creative about liberty and the right's of the accused (like every cop who gets arrested). People with integrity feel that way before they (or someone close to them) gets in trouble.

Posted by: AttorneySteve at April 26, 2007 12:29 PM

After watching the Darryl Hunt story on HBO last night, it makes me wonder why no blogger has dared to compare the two cases. I suspect it would cause people to reexamine a few things about the justice system and themselves.

Posted by: Javaman at April 27, 2007 11:15 AM

The biggest danger is the type of abuse in the Libby persecution (the prosecutor decided something criminal had happened and somebody somehow was going to be made to pay). Clearly, a lot of people are so angry at those in the administration and so anxious to impose as much hurt as possible that they are willing to go to any ridiculous effort to impose pain. If they had to turn the justice system into a joke to accomplish their purpose, fine.

Prosecutors or cops who use their power to carry out their own idea of justice (instead of the system's idea) -- that's the problem.

Posted by: stan at April 27, 2007 11:22 AM
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