Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Thank You, Rich White Kids!

Prosecutors Drop Charges in Duke Case - North Carolina authorities today dropped all remaining charges against three former Duke University lacrosse players who had been accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at a team party, ending a racially tinged criminal case that had gripped the nation and tarnished the reputations of the athletes and their local prosecutor."

Well, good. I'm glad to hear this. It's clear to me that this was, in the words of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, "the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations." But I had to laugh at this:

Later, the three exonerated players and their lawyers told a separate news conference that the charges never should have been filed, and they called for reforms in the legal system to preserve the presumption of innocence.

Am I the only one who finds it bitterly ironic that it takes a false accusation against wealthy white kids to make the idea of "presumption of innocence" palatable again? Those of us in the law biz know this well: tell the average person that your indigent criminal client who's Black, or Hispanic, or what's still called "White Trash" enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the best you can usually hope for is a patronizing sneer. More likely you'll be blasted for "only caring about the rights of criminals." People get falsely accused, often of serious crimes, every fucking day, and up till now, nobody's been all heated up about it.

But I suppose I should be more grateful. So thanks, rich white kids. Thanks for making the presumption of innocence fashionable. Not that I have any faith that it'll last.

Oh, and the next time you feel the urge to put down criminal defense lawyers, keep this in mind: without defense counsel, Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans would be pulling a train in Central Prison at this very moment.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Look forward to visiting Edgars Week. You're still in the ball game. I'm a former civil/crim litigator who was retained to move large sums of money from one pot to another. Got tired of it when I realized that I was married to a world class writer, and it was a lot more fulfilling to help kids (not unlike the Scarlet Knights) hold their own on a level playing field.
All best,
Ross from Maine

Stacey Cochran said...

Well said, Dusty.

Sean Chercover said...

Damn, Dusty, that was a good one. Well said.

Anonymous said...