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Amianthus

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Doubts About Duke
« on: October 27, 2006, 10:52:33 AM »
(The issue of assumed racism among conservatives and southerners has cropped up again. Thought I'd bring in this article about the Duke rape case, which also spurred charges of assumed racism when it first came up.)

The prosecutor insists his rape case is strong. One big problem: the facts thus far.
By Evan Thomas and Susannah Meadows
Newsweek

June 29, 2006 issue - The order had come, signed by a judge, requiring that the Duke lacrosse team give DNA samples. The prosecutor was trying to identify the three players who had allegedly raped an exotic dancer at the house rented by three of the team's co-captains on the night of March 13-14. All 47 players had gathered in a classroom near the lacrosse field to hear their lawyer, Bob Ekstrand, tell them what they needed to do. Ekstrand was about to tell the players that they could appeal the order as "overbroad," too sweeping in its scope, when the players got up and started heading for their cars to drive downtown to the police station. (The team's one black player was not required to go; the accuser, who is black, claimed her attackers were white.)

Ekstrand was struck to see how little hesitation the players showed. After all, if the DNA of any one of those men matched DNA found on the accuser's body, it could ruin his life: disgrace followed by many years in prison. But there was no talk of hiring individual lawyers or stalling for time; the players seemed to want to get on with it. "I was watching to see if anyone hung back," Ekstrand told NEWSWEEK. No one did.

It is possible, almost three months later, that the players are maintaining a conspiracy of silence. But it seems highly unlikely. Rather, court documents in the case increasingly suggest that Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong had very little evidence upon which to indict three players for rape. Indeed, the available evidence is so thin or contradictory that it seems fair to ask what Nifong could have been thinking when he confidently told reporters that there was "no doubt" in his mind that the woman had been raped at the party held by the lacrosse team.

The media coverage of the case has been enormous. NEWSWEEK put the mug shots of two of the players—Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty, 19—on its cover the week after they were indicted. Some early accounts raised doubts about the guilt of the players, but the story more typically played as a morality tale of pampered jocks gone wild. Lately, as more evidence from police or medical reports have been filed or cited in court documents by defense lawyers, the national and local media have been raising questions about Nifong's conduct of the case and his motivations.

Asked for an interview last week by NEWSWEEK, Nifong declined, but sent an angry e-mail accusing the national media of getting spun by defense lawyers and sticking to his earlier comments to the press. "None of the 'facts' I know at this time, indeed, none of the evidence I have seen from any source, has changed the opinion that I expressed initially," he wrote. He lashed out at "media speculation" (adding, "and it is even worse on the blogs"). He said that he was bound by ethics rules against commenting any more about the case or evidence.

After the alleged rape, Nifong estimated to the Raleigh News & Observer, he gave 50 to 70 interviews to local and national media. "I am convinced that there was a rape, yes sir," Nifong said on "The Abrams Report" on MSNBC on March 28. The next day he told a local TV station, WRAL, "My reading of the report of the emergency-room nurse would indicate that some type of sexual assault did in fact take place." Before the DNA tests failed to match any of the Duke players, Nifong told The Charlotte Observer, "I would not be surprised if condoms were used. Probably an exotic dancer would not be your first choice for unprotected sex."

Nifong called the lacrosse players "hooligans" who were stonewalling. In fact, when police asked the three co-captains who rented the house to come down to the station for questioning two days after the incident, all of them readily agreed. None tried to get a lawyer and all volunteered to take lie-detector tests (the police declined their offer).

The description of the rape in a police affidavit was horrendous. The alleged victim, who has not been publicly identified, was said to have been choked, beaten and kicked, to have been penetrated orally, anally and vaginally over a 30-minute ordeal. But the woman's own statements to police and to medical personnel were contradictory, and the physical evidence does not appear to support her claims or the police affidavit. As required by North Carolina law, Nifong says he has turned over all the evidence in his possession, almost 1,300 pages, to the defense, and this week he is expected to turn over another batch of documents.

The following account is based on documents publicly available in court filings, and the defense, of course, is putting its own spin on the case. It is conceivable that Nifong is holding back some kind of smoking gun, but, given the rules and the publicity about the case, that does not seem likely.

When police called to the scene first found her in a parked car near a Kroger grocery store at about 1:30 a.m., the woman appeared to be passed-out drunk, though a police officer suspected that she was only pretending to be unconscious. She didn't say she had been raped until she was taken to a mental-health and substance-abuse facility, where she was to be involuntarily committed. But then, after being released and taken to the hospital, she recanted to a police officer—saying that she had not been raped but rather "groped" by some of the players. She later changed her story and told nurses and doctors that she had been raped after all, though in one account she had been raped by 20 men, in another by two men, in another by three. Her tests showed some semen in her vagina—but none belonging to any of the Duke players, according to uncontradicted assertions by defense attorneys. It is difficult to imagine that if she had indeed been orally, anally and vaginally raped by the players, there wouldn't be some trace of semen from at least one of them.

According to the medical reports quoted in court filings by defense lawyers, she told doctors that she had been raped, but did not say that she had been hit or choked. She claimed tenderness over her body, but the examining nurse-in-training found her head, neck, nose, throat, mouth, chest, breasts, abdomen and upper and lower extremities to be normal. She denied that her assailants had used condoms. The nurse-in-training found only that she had "diffuse edema of the vaginal walls" (swelling), which can be caused by normal sexual activity. She had had sexual intercourse with at least two men in the past week and told of "performing" for a couple by using a small vibrator.

Another stripper had accompanied the woman to the lacrosse party that night. The alleged victim told the nurse that the other dancer, Kim Roberts, had stolen her money and "assisted the players in their alleged sexual assault," according to a defense lawyer's affidavit. Interviewed by police, Roberts initially said her partner's account of being raped was "a crock" and that the two women had been separated less than five minutes at the lacrosse players' house. Later, Roberts changed her story and said that a rape might possibly have taken place. But that was after Nifong had helped her get favorable bail treatment for violating probation (she had pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in another case). Roberts later contacted rap star Lil' Kim's publicist "for any advice as to how to spin this to my advantage."

In an interview with NEWSWEEK in March, Nifong had hinted that the victim had been slipped a date-rape drug. Also interviewed by NEWSWEEK, Roberts seemed to support that suggestion. She said that the other dancer had been sober when she arrived at the lacrosse players' house, but then drank a mixed drink given her by the players and was soon staggering. In her first detailed statement to police, Roberts said the woman spilled her drink after a few sips but didn't mention, as she had to NEWSWEEK, that the accuser imbibed most of Roberts's. The accuser told different stories to nurses and doctors at the hospital—in one account, that she had not been drinking that night, in another that she had consumed one alcoholic beverage and was taking a muscle relaxant. There was no toxicology report in her medical records handed over to the defense lawyers, though some sections of the medical report were missing.

It appears that Nifong had not actually seen the medical reports when he talked to reporters on March 29 about "my reading of the report of the emergency-room nurse." The medical report was not turned over to the police for another week, on April 5. Rather, Nifong may have relied on what a police investigator had told him. The detective's notes claim that the sexual-assault nurse told him that "there were signs consistent with a sexual assault during her test."

Nifong rebuffed efforts by three defense lawyers to present him with exculpatory evidence before he went to the grand jury to get the players indicted. On the day of the indictment, he refused to see Kirk Osborn, the lawyer for Reade Seligmann. Osborn has since made public evidence that almost surely proves that his client could not have raped the alleged victim. Seligmann made six calls to his girlfriend during the time the alleged assault would have been taking place. Within 15 minutes of the end of the strip show, he was out of the house and in a cab to get takeout food before he returned to his dormitory.

Nifong is described by some lawyers as an adversary who gets dug in—and won't budge. But Nifong's motives may have been political as well. He was six weeks away from an election when the Duke case came up. Durham voters are almost evenly divided between black and white. One of Nifong's opponents was black and the other was white, but the white lawyer was much better known in the community, thanks to winning a high-profile murder case. (That opponent, former assistant D.A. Freda Black, became a bitter enemy of Nifong's after, she claims, Nifong fired her.) Nifong promised black voters that he would not let the Duke case drop. He indicted two of the players two weeks before the election. He won narrowly, taking a larger share of the black vote than the other white candidate.

There may not be a whole lot the defense can do to derail the case before it gets to trial, possibly not until next spring. If a prosecutor has a victim willing to testify, that's normally all a judge requires to allow a case to go before a jury once indictments have been handed up. Still, the defense is challenging Nifong's highly irregular method of getting the victim to identify her alleged assailants. Under normal police procedures in Durham and elsewhere, victims pick their assailants out of a line-up that includes outsiders with no connection to the case. But the accuser chose from photos of the 46 white lacrosse players on the team—a multiple-choice test, as it were, with no wrong answers. She said that she was "100 percent" sure of Finnerty and Seligmann, but would have been sure of the third indicted player, David Evans, if he were wearing a mustache. Evans has never grown a mustache, says his lawyer, Joe Cheshire. In the material turned over by the prosecutor, defense lawyers found a note that the accuser had been unable to pick Evans out of an earlier photo display composed of Evans and several "fillers," or strangers. Whether she was able to identify Seligmann or Finnerty out of other photo displays is unclear.

It is not certain that the accuser will go forward with the case. Ten years ago she claimed she had been raped three years earlier by three men, but her father told reporters that the rape never happened, and she never followed through with the authorities. The father has been supportive of her this time around, but he told yet another version of what happened—that the Duke players used a broom handle. Recently, he has said that his daughter is struggling with her "nerves" and may not be up to testifying in a trial. According to their lawyer, Mark Simeon, the accuser's parents have not heard from their daughter for weeks and are very concerned.

A prominent Duke law professor, James Coleman, last week called on Nifong to remove himself from the case and appoint a special prosecutor. "Either he knew what the facts were and misstated them, or he was making them up," Coleman told reporters. "Whether he acted knowing they were false, or if he was reckless, it doesn't matter in the long run. This is the kind of stuff that causes the public to lose confidence in the justice system."

Coleman recently gave the Duke lacrosse program a measure of redemption when he authored a report showing that Duke lacrosse players were not as loutish as they had been depicted in the press. The report, commissioned by Duke president Richard Brodhead after the alleged rape, found that the Duke players were prodigious and sometimes unruly drinkers, but no different from the many Duke students who abuse alcohol. They had better grades than other athletes and had not been the subjects of any complaints of sexual or racial harassment on campus. Earlier this month Brodhead reinstated the lacrosse program for next year, though with a lot of strict and probably unenforceable rules against underage drinking

Meanwhile, the players and their families are lying low, trying to figure out how they can get their reputations back. Finnerty and Seligmann are underclassmen and may be able to transfer to another college and still play lacrosse if the charges are dropped. Evans has already started to pay a price in the real world. He was supposed to begin a good job after graduation, but the job offer was withdrawn.

Article
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Amianthus

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2006, 01:09:27 PM »
Hmmm, several views, but no comments yet.

Some of the things in this article that struck me were these:

Ekstrand was struck to see how little hesitation the players showed. After all, if the DNA of any one of those men matched DNA found on the accuser's body, it could ruin his life: disgrace followed by many years in prison. But there was no talk of hiring individual lawyers or stalling for time; the players seemed to want to get on with it. "I was watching to see if anyone hung back," Ekstrand told NEWSWEEK. No one did.

Nifong called the lacrosse players "hooligans" who were stonewalling. In fact, when police asked the three co-captains who rented the house to come down to the station for questioning two days after the incident, all of them readily agreed. None tried to get a lawyer and all volunteered to take lie-detector tests (the police declined their offer).

When police called to the scene first found her in a parked car near a Kroger grocery store at about 1:30 a.m., the woman appeared to be passed-out drunk, though a police officer suspected that she was only pretending to be unconscious. She didn't say she had been raped until she was taken to a mental-health and substance-abuse facility, where she was to be involuntarily committed. But then, after being released and taken to the hospital, she recanted to a police officer—saying that she had not been raped but rather "groped" by some of the players. She later changed her story and told nurses and doctors that she had been raped after all, though in one account she had been raped by 20 men, in another by two men, in another by three. Her tests showed some semen in her vagina—but none belonging to any of the Duke players, according to uncontradicted assertions by defense attorneys. It is difficult to imagine that if she had indeed been orally, anally and vaginally raped by the players, there wouldn't be some trace of semen from at least one of them.

According to the medical reports quoted in court filings by defense lawyers, she told doctors that she had been raped, but did not say that she had been hit or choked. She claimed tenderness over her body, but the examining nurse-in-training found her head, neck, nose, throat, mouth, chest, breasts, abdomen and upper and lower extremities to be normal. She denied that her assailants had used condoms. The nurse-in-training found only that she had "diffuse edema of the vaginal walls" (swelling), which can be caused by normal sexual activity. She had had sexual intercourse with at least two men in the past week and told of "performing" for a couple by using a small vibrator.

Another stripper had accompanied the woman to the lacrosse party that night. The alleged victim told the nurse that the other dancer, Kim Roberts, had stolen her money and "assisted the players in their alleged sexual assault," according to a defense lawyer's affidavit. Interviewed by police, Roberts initially said her partner's account of being raped was "a crock" and that the two women had been separated less than five minutes at the lacrosse players' house. Later, Roberts changed her story and said that a rape might possibly have taken place. But that was after Nifong had helped her get favorable bail treatment for violating probation (she had pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges in another case). Roberts later contacted rap star Lil' Kim's publicist "for any advice as to how to spin this to my advantage."
Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight. (Benjamin Franklin)

sirs

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2006, 01:21:25 PM »
I', sure Tee has some excellent rationalizations as to how this is the epitome of Racism in the south by Whites.

Tee?
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_JS

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2006, 03:13:17 PM »
Quote
When police called to the scene first found her in a parked car near a Kroger grocery store at about 1:30 a.m., the woman appeared to be passed-out drunk, though a police officer suspected that she was only pretending to be unconscious. She didn't say she had been raped until she was taken to a mental-health and substance-abuse facility, where she was to be involuntarily committed. But then, after being released and taken to the hospital, she recanted to a police officer—saying that she had not been raped but rather "groped" by some of the players. She later changed her story and told nurses and doctors that she had been raped after all, though in one account she had been raped by 20 men, in another by two men, in another by three. Her tests showed some semen in her vagina—but none belonging to any of the Duke players, according to uncontradicted assertions by defense attorneys. It is difficult to imagine that if she had indeed been orally, anally and vaginally raped by the players, there wouldn't be some trace of semen from at least one of them.

Changing stories is not that strange for a rape victim. I have no idea whether she was raped or not, but just because she changed her story doesn't necessarily make it a lie. Uncontradicted assertions by a defense attorney do not equal fact.

Quote
According to the medical reports quoted in court filings by defense lawyers, she told doctors that she had been raped, but did not say that she had been hit or choked.

I'm no legal expert, but I don't think assault or battery are required for rape.

Quote
She denied that her assailants had used condoms. The nurse-in-training found only that she had "diffuse edema of the vaginal walls" (swelling), which can be caused by normal sexual activity. She had had sexual intercourse with at least two men in the past week and told of "performing" for a couple by using a small vibrator.

A few thoughts.

1. "Can be caused" is not the equivalent of "was caused." Again, this doesn't necessarily make her statement that she was raped, a lie.

2. Clearly she's not what most would consider a morally upstanding individual. I think the author likes pointing this out, as I'm sure the defence attorney will also. Again, that shouldn't matter. She may be a "loose woman" but that doesn't give anyone the right to rape her.

Quote
Ekstrand was struck to see how little hesitation the players showed. After all, if the DNA of any one of those men matched DNA found on the accuser's body, it could ruin his life: disgrace followed by many years in prison. But there was no talk of hiring individual lawyers or stalling for time; the players seemed to want to get on with it. "I was watching to see if anyone hung back," Ekstrand told NEWSWEEK. No one did.

Now that is a good quote (though why is Newsweek all uppercase?). If there was nothing to hide you'd expect this kind of response.

As I said, I have no idea what happened. That's why I'll let the courts decide. Yet, I don't see this article as overwhelming proof that nothing happened.

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Plane

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2006, 05:36:30 PM »
It is possible that she was raped earlier , she certainly had sex that day.


     It is also possible that she is crazy.


     But does DNA prove innocence or doesn't it? Under the same circumstances of evidence becoming available some convictions have been overturned.


     A little bit before my time there were a group of boys in Scottsborough accused of rape , how similar is this?

sirs

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2006, 03:05:48 AM »
This defies any reasoning

Prosecutor Yet to Interview Rape Accuser
Oct 27, 2006
   
By AARON BEARD
Associated Press Writer

DURHAM, N.C.


The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party said during a court hearing Friday that he still hasn't interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case.

"I've had conversations with (the accuser) about how she's doing. I've had conversations with (the accuser) about her seeing her kids," Mike Nifong said. "I haven't talked with her about the facts of that night. ... We're not at that stage yet."

(sirs; WE'RE NOT AT THAT STAGE YET??  SHOULDN'T THAT BE LIKE......THE 1ST STAGE??)

Nifong made the statement in response to a defense request for any statements the woman has made about the case.

"I understand the answer may not be the answer they want but it's the true answer. That's all I can give them," the prosecutor said after the hourlong hearing.

Defense lawyers said outside court that they found Nifong's statement surprising.

"One of the most interesting things to me of course is Mr. Nifong did admit that he in fact has basically never talked to this woman and has absolutely no idea what her story is, and yet he has chosen to continue to go forward with this case," defense lawyer Joseph Cheshire said.

Nifong said none of his assistants have discussed the case with the woman either and only have spoken with her to monitor her well-being. They have left the investigation of the case to police, he said.

Attorneys for indicted player Dave Evans wrote in a letter to Nifong earlier this month that they believed he had talked with the accuser based on a court motion in which Nifong stated the woman told him she had not taken the drug Ecstasy on the night of the March 13 team party for which she was hired to perform as a stripper.

In response to a claim by a lawyer for an unindicted player, Nifong said he called the accuser to ask her whether she had used the drug.

"She said, 'I've never taken Ecstasy,'" Nifong said. "That was the extent of the conversation because that's all I had to know."

Nifong said he met with the accuser and an investigator on April 11, but didn't discuss details of the case because the woman was "too traumatized." Nifong said the woman didn't make eye contact with him and often seemed on the verge of crying. Their discussion centered around how the case would develop, he said.

"She probably did not speak 15 words during the meeting," Nifong said.

Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., was charged in May with rape, kidnapping and sexual offense. A month earlier, a grand jury indicted players Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, N.Y., on the same charges. The accuser, a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, told police she was raped in a bathroom by three men at the off-campus party.

The players' lawyers have strongly proclaimed their innocence.


http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/10/27/D8L15CTO0.html
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Xavier_Onassis

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2006, 11:59:14 AM »
What they never mention is that the rich fratboys paid the strippers $800 to come and dance for them, and all they got was several minutes of what everyone acknowledges was an extremely mediocre performance, after which the girls left WITHOUT OFFERING A REFUND!

The alleged rape victim was apparently zonked out before she showed up.

It was stupid of the fratboys to hire Black strippers. It was even more stupid for the strippers to go there.

It seems to me that everyone connected to this case is also rather stupid. It must be a contagious form of stupidity.

I would sentence all concerned to serious noogies and dope slaps.
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Amianthus

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2006, 12:07:07 PM »
rich fratboys

Interesting how you forget to mention that most of the boys are far from rich. One of the accused is a son of a NYC fireman, a hero on 9/11. Hardly a high income profession.
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Michael Tee

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2006, 12:26:08 PM »
<< . . . the players seemed to want to get on with it. "I was watching to see if anyone hung back," Ekstrand [the team's lawyer] told NEWSWEEK. No one did.>>

That was hilarious.  What did he really expect?  One or two guys clinging to the doorposts and screaming, "No!  I won't go!  They're gonna frame me!!" being dragged off by the rest of the team?

No one can spin it like a lawyer.

Michael Tee

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2006, 12:36:48 PM »
<<(sirs; WE'RE NOT AT THAT STAGE [talking to the accuser] YET??  SHOULDN'T THAT BE LIKE......THE 1ST STAGE??)>>

No, far from it.  The police investigate all alleged crimes, not the prosecutor.  The prosecutor is a lawyer.  He presents the facts of the case that the state (in this case, the police) believes warrant prosecution.  (The prosecutor must also believe that the case warrants prosecution otherwise he or she won't waste the court's time with it.)

A lawyer can't be a witness in his own case.  If the prosecutor conducts the investigation and an issue develops as to whether the witness was threatened or bribed to say certain things, the prosecutor can't very well step into the witness box as an eye-witness and tell the judge his first-hand version of what happened in the interview.

When the investigation is on-going, the prosecutor should stay the hell out of it.  It's not his God-damn business and it's not his God-damn problem - - yet.  When the case is presented by the police to the prosecutor and they decide it will go ahead, then the prosecutor has a witness to interview, and to prepare for trial.  But that is NOT the first step.

Amianthus

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2006, 12:38:09 PM »
That was hilarious.  What did he really expect?

If someone felt guilty, stonewalling and possibly an attempt to get a lawyer.

You did read the article, didn't you? "But there was no talk of hiring individual lawyers or stalling for time; the players seemed to want to get on with it." Not exactly the actions of the guilty, huh?
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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2006, 12:40:44 PM »
When the investigation is on-going, the prosecutor should stay the hell out of it.  It's not his God-damn business and it's not his God-damn problem - - yet.  When the case is presented by the police to the prosecutor and they decide it will go ahead, then the prosecutor has a witness to interview, and to prepare for trial.  But that is NOT the first step.

I believe that he meant the first step once it gets into the prosecutor's hands.

Which, in this case, it already has. Charges have been filed. Or do the police file charges in Canada before talking to the prosecutor?
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Michael Tee

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2006, 12:51:57 PM »
<<You did read the article, didn't you? "But there was no talk of hiring individual lawyers or stalling for time; the players seemed to want to get on with it." Not exactly the actions of the guilty, huh?>>

Sure I read the article, but did you read my post?  I didn't say the whole thing was hilarious, I singled out the part that I thought was.  And it WASN'T the part that you quoted in response.  Focus, my man, focus.

Amianthus

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2006, 12:55:50 PM »
And it WASN'T the part that you quoted in response.  Focus, my man, focus.

It's called context.

Would you like a definition?
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Michael Tee

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Re: Doubts About Duke
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2006, 12:59:37 PM »
<<I believe that he meant the first step once it gets into the prosecutor's hands.

<<Which, in this case, it already has. Charges have been filed. Or do the police file charges in Canada before talking to the prosecutor?>>

I'm not really sure.  I believe they do in the minor cases, I'm not sure how it works in the more serious ones.  But even if they talk to the prosecutor before filing the charges, it doesn't necessarily follow that the prosecutor will personally interview the witnesses if they have good statements from them provided by the police.  I don't know that a prosecutor with copious supplies of interview videos and statements would need to reinvent the wheel and personally re-interview a witness who the police have done a thoroughly professional job of interviewing in the first place.

The point of the prosecuting attorney interviewing the witness would be preparing her for trial and cross-examination, and you wouldn't want to do that at the beginning of the case, you'd want to do it relatively close to the trial, so that the preparation wouldn't fade from her memory.