Regular Inky e-mailer R.Z. alerts us to this terrific bit of commentary by Thomas Sowell on the Duke rape case farce. Sowell writes:
“If there is a smoking gun in the Duke University rape case, it is not about the stripper who made the charges or the lacrosse players who have been accused. The smoking gun is the decision of District Attorney Michael Nifong to postpone a trial until the spring of 2007.
“That makes no sense from either a legal or a social standpoint, whether the players are guilty or innocent. But it tells us something about District Attorney Nifong.
“Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the players are guilty. What is the point of letting a bunch of rapists remain at large for another year? What about the dangers that they would pose to women on or off the Duke University campus?…
“Justice delayed is justice denied, whether the players are guilty or innocent.”
The trajectory of this case seems to be following what I call the Duke Law of Inverse Prosecution Proportion–that is, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the growing number of Duke lacrosse players charged with rape and the declining amount of evidence that a rape actually occurred. For example, this week a third Duke player was indicted, team co-captain David Evans–just as it was revealed that the only DNA recovered from the alleged victim belonged to a man described as her “boyfriend,” and the DNA that could possibly but not conclusively linked to Evans came from on top of a discarded fake fingernail of hers, not under it, casting some doubt on her statement that she lost the nail trying to claw her assailants.
“Sowell reports that the prosecutors have chosen an April 2007 trial date and opines that the most likely reason for their wanting to keep these alleged rapists loose for an entire year is their desire to let this story die gracefully…..
“As a former antitrust prosecutor who trained with real cops-and-robbers guys, I can attest that the prosecutor’s case rarely gets better after a year when the key issue is “Did Bubba or Wayne fire the gun?” In this case, it’s even worse. A quarter of the likely witnesses–[Duke] seniors–are graduated and everyone else is gone from Durham [N.C.] for the summer. The prosecutor needs more time when conviction depends on analyzing a terrabyte or two of financial records. I suspect that the Duke lacrosse team doesn’t even have a megabyte.”
Yes, Sowell suggests that Nifong’s real motive for the delay is his hope that the case will somehow go away. That’s what I’d sure be hoping if I were Nifong. Today one of the charged players, Reade Seligmann goes to court for a hearing–and I can’t wait to see what the judge thinks of the pile of evidence that he wasn’t even at the party when the rape allegedly occurred.
“The only justice so far in the Duke travesty: America’s greatest living writer, Tom Wolfe, is getting his deserved due. Many commentators have noted the parallels between the lacrosse brouhaha and Wolfe’s (originally much-denounced) 2004 novel “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” It is set at fictional Dupont University, Wolfe’s version of Duke U., and the lacrosse players represented the ultimate in arrogant preppy machismo.
“Yet almost nobody in the press has admitted that the Duke farce-in which Mike Nifong, a politically-pressed white district attorney in a heavily minority district, has arrested two white lacrosse players for purportedly raping a black stripper, despite ample evidence suggesting the strong possibility of a hoax-is even more brilliantly foreshadowed in the central theme of Wolfe’s famous 1987 bestseller “The Bonfire of the Vanities.”
Sailer serves up many a delicious parallel between the real-life Nifong and Wolfe’s politically ambitious fictional D.A. Abe Weiss:
“Weiss had an election coming up, and the Bronx was 70 percent black and Latin, and he was going to make sure the name Abe Weiss was pumped out to them on every channel that existed. He might not do much else, but he was going to do that…..
“Every assistant D.A. in the Bronx … shared Captain Ahab’s mania for the Great White Defendant. For a start, it was not pleasant to go through life telling yourself, ‘What I do for a living is, I pack blacks and Latins off to jail.'”