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Friday, July 01, 2011

Jumping to conclusions on Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a note about the legal system 


The legal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is collapsing, according to the New York Times, and so perhaps is the moral case. There has been and will be plenty of hashing and gnashing of this, but I have two quick items.

First, I was to some degree a DSK conclusion-jumper, and am sorry about that. A good reminder that even in today's transparent world the facts sometimes take some time to emerge.

Second, this note from an Instapundit reader is worth passing along:

UPDATE: A reader emails: “If DSK is innocent, and what happened was either consented to or just ‘bad sex’ (as Ann Althouse would say), then I think it’s an instructive example of the power imbalance between men and women in the legal setting. Also, a powerful example of what a class-neutral legal system we have.”

There is much to argue about in both points, but they are true enough to provoke a good discussion. I'll leave the "gender/power imbalance" for y'all to hash out in the comments while I go about my day. With regard to the purported class-neutrality of the legal system, there are at least two trends that run in opposite directions. On the one hand, the prosecutorial populism of the last twenty years or so (witness the extended campaigns against Wall Streeters, starting with Rudy Giuliani's perp walks and the legal war against Michael Milken), has resulted in a great many very high profile prosecutions of the super-rich. American prosecutors, being future and sometimes actual politicians, love busting rich folks, even if they have a weak case. On the other hand, an ordinary American confronting the legal system has a much greater chance of success if he or she has the financial resources to mount a vigorous defense. These two conditions manifestly co-exist and muddle any general conclusion about the aggregate "class-neutrality" or lack thereof in the American criminal justice system.

Release the hounds.

17 Comments:

By Blogger Goldwater's Ghost, at Fri Jul 01, 10:50:00 AM:

Jumping to conclusions - Ben Stein was villified by several of his peers for warning against that very reaction.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Jul 01, 11:14:00 AM:

None of us will know what really happened. A trial is usually good at shedding light on these things, but isn’t perfect.

The timeline of what happened doesn’t fit with a conspiratorial “hit” or even a “shakedown”, as DSK wasn’t supposed to be in the room when the incident happened – he had stayed past checkout.

All the circumstantial evidence is consistent with non-consensual sex. Does anyone here want to argue that?

Faced with a “quality” defense, the accuser wouldn’t be a strong witness. So it’s a dog of a case for prosecutor Cy Vance Jr even before he gets to his other “considerations”.

Were I her lawyer, I’d have told her to drop the case, that she’d been abused enough. But I’d have told her to wait first until after enough francs had been rained down on her relatives back in Ghana.  

By Anonymous Wasilla MILF, at Fri Jul 01, 11:29:00 AM:

Dun! Dun!!

Can't wait for the Law & Order version!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jul 01, 02:14:00 PM:

As a cynic, I can only argue that the sudden collapse of the case against DSK (based on the NYT report) proves the value of well targeted bribes.  

By Blogger mdgiles, at Fri Jul 01, 03:19:00 PM:

Of course, coming from the Times; this report could just be another case of the elites closing ranks to protect one of their own. Why - at this late date - any one would give any credence to a NY Times story is beyond me. After all, this is the newspaper of Walter Duranty and Jayson Blair.  

By Anonymous jc, at Fri Jul 01, 04:15:00 PM:

She may be a bad witness but the evidence that came to light, together with allegations of past DSK incidents, strongly suggests that she was a victim. Without jumping to conclusions I hope the case goes forward or at least a civil case.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Fri Jul 01, 06:17:00 PM:

I think a best view of the case will be in a year or two. If the young lady in question is driving a BMW and living in a townhouse, while refusing to answer questions, a great number of not-able-to-be-brought-to-court questions will become clear.

It would be interesting to read the full details of her claim, but my inner cynic does not believe she will ever be permitted to write a book on her experience, either by threats, or bribes.  

By Blogger Roy Lofquist, at Fri Jul 01, 07:10:00 PM:

As this is unfolding it is starting to look more and more like an extortion scam. Invite sex just as he is getting ready to leave, get his semen in her, after he leaves tear the clothes, holler rape and collect the hush money.

She lied about a gang rape in her application for asylum. The boyfriend has a history of being a grifter. A recorded jail house conversation between them that corroborated her story. Couple of other supposedly well informed leaks about past criminal activity including minor narcotics dealing.

Lets see how yhis particular worm turns.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Jul 01, 11:13:00 PM:

"it is starting to look more and more like an extortion scam."

Your evidence for that is exactly what?

You sir, are no gentleman! Pistols at dawn?  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat Jul 02, 01:51:00 AM:

"Your evidence for that is exactly what?"

All the evidence 99.99% of us have for either version comes from the MSM so who the hell knows what really happened? It's worth remembering the old adage "Everything you read in the newspaper is true except for those things you have personal knowledge of".  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Jul 02, 11:38:00 AM:

"All the evidence 99.99% of us have for either version comes from the MSM"

That's a cop-out. The following facts aren't in controversy, else MSM would have let us known differently over the last few weeks:

DSK shouldn't have been in his hotel room when the incident happened. He was past check-out time. He missed a scheduled flight that morning and had to reschedule that morning, This seemingly small detail undercuts "Sarkozy set him up" and "The Maid was out to extort him". If so, they would have done it the day before.

The Maid was in DSK's room in the normal course of her work duties. She thought the room was vacant. Ask her bosses.

DSK had some sort of sex with the Maid. The KEY issue was whether the sex was consensual. She had some signs of bruising. Her bruising is consistent with her claim that he first tried for anal sex. and that she was roughed up.

So here are the choices:

1) It was non-consensual, as she claims;

2) A woman in the course of doing a basic manual job, on a tight overseen schedule -- one she'd been doing at the same place for over three years without incident -- was so overwhelmed by DSK's magnificence that she blew the Old Fat Frog for the thrill of it; or

3) Always a goat, DSK offered her a Benjamin for a quick one. A deal gone bad. But neither said that's what happened. If true, DSK's defense would have leaked it weeks ago.

I say #1 -- I highly suspect that DSK raped her, probably. But without more I still have reasonable doubt. DSK gave some indications of guilt in the way he was trying to get out of Dodge, etc. -- and he's a notorious scumbag -- but that's not enough. Without more I wouldn't convict him. But we'll never get to a trial to find out.

Does anyone here think it was actually #2? Well what then.

Predictably, DSK's defense lawyers have already destroyed the Maid's credibility. Cy Vance Jr just wants this case to go away.

What drove the recent breaking story was a leak of the prosecution report on the Maid. This is what the report says (and I read the actual report!): She illegally lied to get into the USA legally. She fiddled on her taxes. She has a known associate who sells weed. Also, after the incident she continued to work for awhile before sounding the alarm -- and "lied" about doing so. I actually think that detail is corroboration -- she was dazed.

That's it! But that's enough for high-priced lawyers to ream her, and Cy knows it. There's some other allusions in the official report, but if they had any substance they'd have to be disclosed in detail -- that's the legal requirement! So Cy set her up for innuendo, and others are playing along.

So today I see on the cover of the New York Post how "sources close to the defense" are leaking that it's #3 -- she "does" guests for Benjamins. They're out to make her look like another Crystal Mangum. It's despicable.

The Maid may get deported over this. But don't expect Al Sharpton or Hillary to be protesting on her behalf, She's the wrong kind of Black and the wrong kind of woman.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Sat Jul 02, 01:14:00 PM:

Re Ignoramus:

In light of what you have said (and I have no argument with your line of thinking), I will repeat the question I posed at Belmont Club.

Does this experience scare DSK into reforming his behavior and walking the straight and narrow, or does it further embolden him, reinforcing his belief he can prey on women and get away with it?

It is going to be interesting to see if his name pops up in 'he said, she said" situations in the future.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Jul 02, 02:38:00 PM:

Cy Vance Jr fucked this up.

For those who don’t know, the Manhattan DA’s office is the model for the original Law & Order TV show. Robert Morgenthau ran this office since the 1970s, until Cy recently succeeded him as the hand-picked choice of the Establishment.

Cy still has to win another election or two before he’ll become politically unchallengeable in this office. So he thought he needed a few populist courtroom victories. He’s very conscious of how he looks in the NYC tabloids.

Cy recently lost a high profile rape case he brought against two NYPD cops. They had helped a very drunk girl back to her apartment. It’s not clear what actually happened. The cops were acquitted of all the main charges, for which there was little evidence other than the drunk girl’s hazy recollection.

With DSK, Cy thought he had his Great White Defendant. He fucked up the case when he insisted on weeks in Rikers and then an over-the-top house arrest. It gave the Post and News a headline a day. DSK was never a flight risk.

But with a discredited main witness, Cy now wants out. So he’s thrown the Maid to DSK’s wolves.

DSK’s wolves will eviscerate the Maid to restore his reputation.

The only good thing in this is that Cy won’t rise above his current political station. He can expect a strong challenge in the next election.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jul 03, 06:18:00 PM:

Every now and again the whacked out conspiracy theorists are correct. This is one of those times. DSK was framed because he began publicly wavering on U.S. dollar hegemony as the global reserve currency.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24866

Screw with The Powers that Be and this is what you get. I think DSK thought his socialist credentials and ties to Obama and the U.S. Treasury Department and the Fed would protect him. Boy was he wrong.  

By Blogger Sarah Palin's Uterus, at Mon Jul 04, 09:07:00 AM:

I'm always skeptical when I see someone making sweeping generalizations about an institution (especially the legal system) from a single case.

The only conclusions I think one can draw from this are:

1. Isn't it nice that the police, given sufficient evidence, take rape allegations from a maid seriously enough to risk arresting a prominent foreign dignitary?

2. And isn't it great that the dignitary wasn't convicted on no evidence? IOW, there was an investigation and when that investigation turned up credibility issues (which say little about what really happened in that room, but ought to give anyone pause), they were taken seriously as well?

I see a lot of folks trying to twist this story into "men can't win in our legal system", but the facts don't support that. He was accused (and given the evidence the police had at the time, that accusations *should* have been taken seriously). The law shouldn't protect anyone from being accused of any crime on the basis of gender.

And then the accusations were thoroughly investigated. Seems to me as though the system worked as designed.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Mon Jul 04, 10:39:00 AM:

Respectfully, the last comment misses a lot about what makes The Maid v DSK special.

Rape is a tricky area of criminal law. In practice there's a lot of variance depending on the class status of the victim and that of the alleged rapist. Race used to factor too, but less so now.

Normally you look into the head of the perpetrator to infer intent. Intent can make a big difference in legal outcome. Take a killing for example. Based on the perp’s intent the legal outcome can range from “justified self defense” to getting the perp executed.

In practice, rape trials now turn on what the victim was thinking. And sometimes what the victim was thinking afterwards. Especially so, if she has the right status.

Also rape sentences can be harsh. Under most state laws you can get more time for rape than for blinding someone intentionally. Just sayin’ Is a borderline date rape equivalent to a savage Midnight Rambling? Just askin’

When the alleged rapist can mount a high class defense, his lawyers will attack the victim’s sexual history and/or character. You can’t do that directly in court so much anymore, so you do it in the press.

Predictably DSK’s lawyers are out to destroy the Maid, not just discredit her. DSK needs to be vindicated so he can run for President of France.

Don’t believe everything you read in the press about the Maid. The DA’s report only had what I spoke of above – it goes to her credibility and doesn’t refute the physical evidence. Sordid stories are being floated about the Maid based on “sources close to the defense”. Troublingly, these stories are now being based on non-denials by “sources close to the prosecution”.

Most of these sordid stories go to my #3 above – the Maid turns tricks. This may be true, but I’m quite skeptical. I’ve never heard of hotel maids turning tricks routinely. Personally, I’ve never been propositioned by a maid – but maybe that’s just a reflection on me. For places like the Sofitel Hotel, I thought that’s why there’s so many high-end hookers hanging in the hotel bar. Maybe we should ask Eliot Spitzer for his enlightened opinion?

The NYPD is pissed at Cy Vance for lots of reasons. This may have affected the DSK case. A good NYPD detective would have been all over the hooker angle from the start. You could have run that angle down in a day or two. If you eliminate #3, then #2 is unlikely … with the physical evidence you’re left with #1. Then all you need is a victim who’s a good witness.

DSK shouldn’t have gotten treated the way he did after his arrest. But Cy wanted headlines. If the Maid was turning tricks, it should have been known within days. This should have played differently.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Tue Jul 05, 04:49:00 PM:

For those still following this, the WSJ just now reports that the Maid is suing the New York Post for libel for saying that she was a hooker. Quote the WSJ: Prosecutors and police have said they investigated whether the woman engaged in prostitution while employed at the Sofitel and found no evidence of it.

The Post was relying on "sources close to the defense" and "non-denials" from the DA's office.

So the WSJ is pissing on a sister Murdoch-owned paper. Got to love it.

As I write, most well-informed Americans believe that the Maid is a crack head whore and thief. We're so easily played, aren't we?  

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