06/15/06 — Justice: Tough challenge in case at Duke

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Justice: Tough challenge in case at Duke

There have been some often expressed concerns that the scales of justice seem tilted in behalf of the accused.
Certainly defendants must be regarded as innocent until proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The burden of proof is on the prosecution, as it should be. The fact that the accused does not have to answer any questions — while the accuser and investigating officers can be subjected to exhaustive grilling — can make this extremely difficult.
In a perfect world, perhaps, the cause of justice would be best served by everyone having to stand up and tell “the truth and the whole truth.”
As imperfect as our present system is, its weakness can be exacerbated by attorneys for either or both sides grandstanding for the media — before trial — in a manner discrediting either the victims or the accused.
That has been a criticism of both sides in the cases brought against three Duke lacrosse players by a woman hired to entertain them during a party at the home of some team members.
The woman claims she was raped and sodomized in a bathroom during what was described as a drinking party.
The case has attracted nationwide media attention with racial, social and political overtones. It has been an embarrassment to Duke, the city of Durham and to all the parties concerned.
In the latest news, a Duke law professor — who headed an internal investigation of the lacrosse program — has suggested that the district attorney should be replaced by a special prosecutor as a result of his conduct.
This well could be a case in which a special prosecutor — and holding the trial at another location — might give the cause of justice a better chance.

Published in Editorials on June 15, 2006 10:49 AM