Patterico's Pontifications

11/6/2004

Article on Kobe Bryant Rape Case in L.A. Times

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 5:44 pm

Via SoCalLawyer comes an article in the L.A. Times titled The Case Against Kobe Bryant Unraveled in a Mock Trial.

I had not followed this case closely while it was pending, but I was surprised by the behavior of several of the participants as documented in the article. For example:

  • Lawyers for Bryant and the alleged victim negotiated a pact in which Bryant agreed to apologize in return for the woman’s agreement not to testify. It is shocking to me that this is considered acceptable in Colorado. In California, dissuading a witness from testifying in court is a crime.
  • Prosecutors decided to put the victim through a grueling mock cross-examination designed to show her how nasty the defense attorneys would be to her in trial. Not a good idea, in my opinion.

    I think that it would have been appropriate to warn her that vigorous cross-examination was coming. I also think that giving her examples of the kinds of questions she would be expected to answer would be a good idea.

    But was a hostile bout of mock questioning really necessary? It seems to me that every time an alleged rape victim is forced to recount her story, it is a painful experience — even if she knows that the people doing the questioning are sympathetic. I think a mock cross-examination in a case like this threatens to break the bonds of trust between the prosecutor and the victim, and I find it surprising that the prosecutors didn’t understand that the woman might well be dissuaded from testifying by being forced to undergo such hostile questioning before trial.

  • During that mock cross-examination, the woman said something inconsistent with her previous stories — yet one of the prosecutors argued against disclosing that fact to the defense. This is inconsistent with a prosecutor’s duty to disclose such adverse information.

Read the whole thing. It’s an interesting document of how this case was mishandled by many of the participants.

Revise Special Order 40

Filed under: Crime,Immigration,Terrorism — Patterico @ 3:42 pm

Michael Williams has an excellent post arguing that the LAPD should revoke Special Order 40, a longstanding policy that prevents patrol officers from taking any action against people they suspect (or know) are in the country illegally.

I understand the point of Special Order 40. Law enforcement does not want otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants who become victims of crime to fear calling the police because of concerns about being reported to immigration enforcement officials. And in the past, some corrupt LAPD officers have abused innocent immigrants with threats of deportation. In my job, I deal often with victims of crime whom I suspect (or know) are illegal. The last thing I want is for them to think that I am going to call immigration authorities on them.

But, in light of recent evidence that Al Qaeda is recruiting local gangs composed largely of illegals, it is insanity to tell local law enforcement officers that they cannot take action against people they know to be violent gang members, because of concerns that officers might abuse that power at the margins.

I think it’s time to revise Special Order 40, in a way that warns officers that any abuses will be met with swift punishment — but that also unties their hands to deal more effectively with the violent criminals among us who happen to be in the country illegally.

Mainstream Media Hid Full Extent of Kerry’s Indecisiveness

Filed under: 2004 Election,Media Bias — Patterico @ 12:18 pm

During the campaign, Hugh Hewitt argued that John Kerry was running a terrible campaign, which should cause Americans concern about the type of president he would be.

I was initially skeptical of this argument. After all, most people agree that Karl Rove, not George Bush, was the mastermind behind the Bush campaign. If Karl Rove can run a better campaign than Kerry, does that necessarily mean that Bush would be a better president than Kerry?

But it turns out that Hugh’s observation was dead right, as a recent appearance by Newsweek‘s Evan Thomas on the Today Show confirms. (Transcript available on NEXIS.) Thomas revealed a Kerry campaign in chaos — headed by a John Kerry so paralyzed with indecision that campaign staffers took his cell phone away from him so he would stop calling people for advice:

Mr. THOMAS: The Kerry campaign was even worse run than you think. Kerry was a bad manager. He could never make up his mind. He would dither and he’d second-guess every decision. They had to take away his cell phone twice, because every time they made a decision he’d get on his cell phone and start calling a hundred of his closest friends.

Now, we heard a little something about Kerry’s penchant for calling friends for advice when he was picking his vice-presidential nominee. But even Thomas agrees that the full extent of the chaos in the Kerry campaign was not revealed to the American people during the campaign:

LAUER: What would be the biggest surprise? You had great access. The average American, what would they be most surprised about that goes on inside campaigns at this level of politics?

Mr. THOMAS: I think the kind of level of chaos and that they don’t–it’s not that–well, the Bush campaign was pretty organized, but I think the disorganization of the Kerry campaign is going to be shocking.

If a presidential candidate is running a shockingly disorganized campaign, paralyzed by the candidate’s indecision, the American people have a right to know.

So why weren’t we told the full truth until now — when it’s too late??

Yes, it’s a rhetorical question — because Evan Thomas himself has already told us the answer: the media wanted Kerry to win.

UPDATE: Commenter Steve M. says that the Newsweek people were given inside access to the Kerry campaign in return for a promise not to reveal details until after the campaign. Turns out Steve is correct: the introduction to the Newsweek feature (which I had read only excerpts of) says:

The reporters were granted unusual access to the staffs and families of both candidates on the understanding that the information they learned would not be made public until this Election Issue�after the votes were cast on Nov. 2.

Thanks to Steve for clarifying this.

I find this access-for-silence arrangement disturbing. It reminds me of Eason Jordan’s decision to withhold disturbing facts about Saddam so that CNN could remain in Baghdad. For example, how was Newsweek to report accurately on the central issue of Kerry’s indecisiveness, while withholding the clear evidence of that character trait learned by the reporters who observed Kerry close up?

So, while the existence of the agreement does make the issue of non-disclosure more complex and subtle, I am still disturbed by the end result: voters learned the true facts too late.

I think it’s time that reporters renounced access-for-silence agreements like this. If candidates can’t handle the truth being reported in time for voters to use it, then they shouldn’t grant close access, period. Arrangements like this are unsavory, and justifably lead the public to wonder whether they are being told the whole truth.

UPDATE 5-16-05: Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the link. I have reopened comments.


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