Friday, October 05, 2007

I'll Be Watching This One.

From Yahoo News we learn that three Duke lacrosse players, Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann, falsely accused of raping a stripper are continuing with their lawsuit against the City of Greensboro, the disgraced & disbarred ex-District Attorney Michael Nifong and several of the police detectives who investigated the case. All in all, thirteen defendants are listed in the tort. As the former DA is being sued, the case also involves Guilford County.

The lawyer for the three respondents states that the experience of his clients is:

"one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history."

I think there may be just a wee bit of hyperbole in that statement, but I have to admit; if I was one of those young men, I would be horrendously pissed. If it were one of my kids that were treated like that, I'd have someone named Vito sitting in a dark rented sedan just waiting for Nifong outside his favorite restaurant (ooops, some more hyperbole). Just reading about the cover up raises my blood pressure.

The lawsuit was filed about a month after city officials met with lawyers for the families seeking a $30 million settlement and several legal reforms, two sources close to the case have told The Associated Press. The attorneys gave the city a month to respond or face a civil rights lawsuit.

Now unless they have consolidated the lawsuit, that is just the City side of it against the cops; what they are seeking from the County for Nifong's actions is unknown right now, but I'll bet it's more.

Defendants withheld evidence, intimidated witnesses, made public statements to smear the lacrosse players and used a photo lineup that featured only lacrosse players so that the accuser would name the players as her attackers, the lawsuit said.

Now that last part about the photo line up travesty (if true) is just bad juju. If this is the way it shakes out, I really don't know what these guys were thinking.

I live in a county just a little bigger than Guilford. In photo line ups we used mug shots from tens of thousands of potential suspects based on age, sex, race, height, weight, hair color, etc. for those purposes. There is no problem getting tons of appropriate photos into the line up because over fifteen thousand people a year are arrested here.

The line up is presented in "six packs" to the victim/witness - that is, six suspects per page. The computer generates the photo array and the detectives choose which mugshots will be used. Or, if the suspect is unknown, the victim can look through all the potential suspects. But to limit the entire photo array to just Duke lacrosse players in a violent felony investigation?

Wow. Someone is definitely going to have a rough time on the witness stand answering that one. Just turn over the keys to your house and your bank deposit book to the lawyers. It'll be easier in the long run.

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