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Thursday, December 05, 2002

The Central Park Jogger

Glenn Reynolds has links and extensive comments of his own. I am too busy to do much more than ridicule the Times for its golf coverage, but I did zip an e-mail off to Glenn, in which I bashed out a few points of my own:

The Central Park Jogger:

1. Your comment that

"UPDATE: Many readers emailed to say that the Central Park joggers are criminals even if they aren't guilty of the rape in question. Well, maybe. Ann Coulter is certainly making this point."

seems a bit dismissive, considering that Ann C is not considered a beacon of moderate thought. The Times story says this:

"The lawyers have indicated that they hope to sue for wrongful conviction, but that effort will be complicated by the admissions that were made. The boys said that the group had gone to the park to mug people. Mr. Santana told parole officials that he had taken part in one of the assaults."

The Times also says:

"While the charges arising from that part of the evening (the other assaults) will fall for legal reasons, no one has seriously argued that the gang attacks did not take place, though the exact role of the five defendants has been in dispute."

On Monday, the Times explained that (as you probably know), linking the rape with the other assaults was prejudicial at trial, so it is not legally appropriate to allow the assault convicitons to stand. A new trial on those charges makes no sense, since the time has been (over) served.

So, it is not just right wing screamers (sorry, fans of Ann) who think these five were guilty of serious crimes. However, you are right that they clearly served too much time.

Now as to the "Reynolds lottery" of one million per year for wrongful convictions - I don't expect you spent a lot of time considering possible problems with that.

1. Police are already inclined to cover for themselves - this will make the Mayor, and anyone involved in the town budgeting process, eager to help.

2. Police and prosecutors will bring many fewer cases - yes, wrongful convictoins will drop, but problematic "correct" convictions will not occur - how passive do we want our police and prosecutors to be?

3. A whole entrepeneurial class will be created. I will commit crimes on slim physical evidence, and give a weak statement prior to seeking an attorney. Later, my partner will appear with the decisive DNA proof (or other evidence) exonerating me and implicating himself. For $1 million per year, even split two or three ways, it beats working. A great opportunity for the truly professional criminal.

I will hope to post this, but may be overcome with the holiday spirit. Enjoy the season.

OK, I did post it, after a fashion.

Major props to Jim Dwyer at the Times for what I hope will be a Pulitzer Prize nominated series on this case. Send him a congratulatory e-mail at this address:


The guy co-wrote great pieces on Sunday and Monday, as well as today and throughout the case. On this story the paper of record was exactly that, and Raines and crew deserve credit.

TalkLeft has also been on top of this, and probably has taken time out of her hectic schedule to say something sensible. I know she did last Sunday or Monday. What is my problem?

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