Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:42 pm

The West Memphis Three are free. So, party time, right?

Filed under: Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 8:42 pm
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Uh, wrong, says former federal prosecutor bmaz:

Yes, it is good, and truly heartwarming, to see “The Three” in sunshine. That said, justice and the rule of law are a little more dead for the effort if they are truly innocent. And the facts, including the key absence, indeed exclusion, of DNA evidence, now known – almost unequivocally – militate to a conclusion of innocence. While people should be happy, no thrilled, they are out of custody, I cannot believe there is not concurrent shrieking at the highest levels as to how exactly that has transpired.

Let’s be honest, no prosecutor in his right mind walks these three men out the front door of the courthouse if he truly believes they are guilty and there is even the slightest chance in hell he can make the charges stand up in a retrial. And no prosecutor lets them do it through Alford pleas. I do not care what kind of happy pablum they spew to the television cameras and press, it is really just that simple.

So, what we have here is nothing but a reaffirmation, ratification and craven ass covering of the original miscarriage of justice that railroaded the West Memphis Three. There will be no words of commendation here for the prosecutors, nor for Judge David Laser for giving the court’s imprimatur of propriety to this; in fact, they should all be questioned as to their ethics and morals.

This is nothing short of Mike Nifong making the Duke lacrosse players take misdemeanor pleas and register as sex offenders in order to save his precious reputation and job, and stop civil damage suits. Nifong did not get away with such depravity in Durham, and the prosecutors in Jonesboro, Arkansas, should not either.

Convicting innocent defendants on the basis of flimsy cases ought to be impossible. Even in the imperfect world in which we live, such behavior could carry serious, even career-ending, consequences — if we chose to make justice a priority.

Back in the mid-1980s in Iredell County, an inexperienced assistant district attorney lost a death-by-motor-vehicle case because he didn’t ask the questions of his witnesses that would have elicited the answer he needed to get a conviction: He didn’t get a witness to identify the defendant as the person who had driven the car in question. It wasn’t that the witness couldn’t have testified to that effect; the prosecutor simply forgot to ask the question. And then he rested his case.

And the defense attorney, having noticed the omission, promptly asked the judge for a directed verdict for acquittal, which was the legally correct thing for him to do, and the judge granted the acquittal, which was the legally correct thing for him to do.

That prosecutor lost his job.

The people who put three innocent young men behind bars (and one of them on Death Row) for 18 years have suffered no consequences for their actions beyond a brief bit of media criticism mostly swamped by the good feelings that properly accompany the liberation of the innocent. But this was a far grosser miscarriage of justice.

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