Friday, January 12, 2007

Fox News Analysts Have a Thirst for Justice . . . For Rich, White Defendants

I don't know if I've had one single post about the Duke rape case. That doesn't mean I haven't been following the case--it's pretty hard to ignore. In fact, I have been paying pretty close attention to the news coverage. I'm a criminal law junkie, and it is one of those stories that is hard to resist. But one thing about this case, or rather, about the news coverage of this case has really fascinated me. I can't recall ever seeing a rape case covered by the media with such vehement support for the defendants, and such skepticism and hostility towards the prosecutor and the accuser. It certainly didn't start out that way. As many criminal cases often do, when the police and the prosecutor control the information, all the initial reports looked really bad. If you believe the ethics police in the North Carolina bar, that was because the DA was violating all sorts of ethical rules about pre-trial statements to the media. At any rate, as more of the actual evidence--physical evidence, witness statements, medical evidence, lineup procedure, etc.--started coming out through court filings, the case began to take a different turn. At this point, it seems that 90% of the legal experts commenting on the case think it is a dog, that it should be dismissed, and many would also add that the DA has screwed it up so royally that he should quit.

But, since virtually the beginning, most of the folks at Fox News--normally big on law and order--have been almost uniformly skeptical of the accuser and the prosecution, and supportive of the defendants. Sean Hannity, in particular, has been an outspoken advocate for the accused and equally outspoken in his outrage at the prosecutor and the accuser. She is a slut, a drunk, a liar. The prosecutor is a disgrace, a violator of civil rights, and needs to be thrown out of office, disbarred, if not prosecuted himself.

Honestly, I think this case is a disgrace. I think it would be a travesty to take the case to trial. The identification procedures used were atrocious, the accuser's account of events has changed as often as she has spoken about it, and the physical evidence is either virtually nonexistent or exculpatory. Heck, one of the accused has about as airtight an alibi as you can have without actually being locked up in jail at the time of the "crime." So, yeah, I think the case should be thrown out. If the DA doesn't have the good sense to dismiss it, the judge needs to have the balls to toss it based on the prosecutorial misconduct, and impermissibly suggestive identification procedures.

As someone who rants and raves when people are wrongly accused, I should be thrilled that someone like Sean Hannity at Fox News is so outspoken in his indignation. But, here's my problem with Sean Hannity. When has he ever given a damn about a poor defendant, wrongfully accused or convicted? When has he called on the federal government to investigate a prosecutor for civil rights violations committed against someone who didn't go to a prestigious university or have a wealthy family? When he rails against the prosecutor for abusing his authority in this case just to get elected, does he ever consider what responsibility he and his Fox co-hort Bill O'Reilly have when they threaten the political futures of elected officials who refuse to pass draconian sex offender laws that, they must admit in light of the Duke case, sometimes end up being imposed on innocent people? I haven't seen any evidence of that. The title of my blog comes from the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I might suggest to Sean Hannity that, over this long holiday weekend, he reflect on that quote. And perhaps he might acknowledge that all across this country, the poor are subjected to injustices perpetrated by police officers and prosecutors not doing their job. And they don't have millions of dollars to fight back like the Duke players do. And that, perhaps, if he spent some time urging the people and politicos in this country to do something to prevent and to rectify those injustices, then the chances that rich, white boys from Duke will fall prey to those same injustices would be significantly less.

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Blogger Xanthippas said...

I might suggest to Hannity that he be declared an "enemy of the state" and sent packing to Iraq, where I hear men in their mid-30's and 40's are desperately needed.

1/12/2007 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets see, no PHYSICAL evidence, "victim" constantly changing story, oh yeah, we really have a solid case here...NOT!!

1/12/2007 7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean has defended those he felt were innocent on other occassions. One was a black father who had moved from the South to NY. He found an intruder in his small son's bedroom and used his gun to hold the suspect. The father was charged with a felony because he had not registered his weapon in NY. Sean Hannity pledged money and support.

Sean was also very upset with the OJ Simpson trial and spoke about it often. All of my examples offer Hannity's support of another race in the first case and in support of abused women and an innocent young man in the second.

We don't even have to bring up Rev Al and the Brawley issue. Sean did say bad things about the police and the actions and injustic of the young black man in NY. I cannot remember his name. So I would say he is fairly even handed.

1/12/2007 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a public defender you are hot. As far as your support of injustice I had rather look at you than hear you.

1/12/2007 8:09 PM  
Blogger Windypundit said...


Anyway, I think the these situations should be approached as opportunities.

I don't know anything about Hannity, but if he's been as law-n-order as you say, and it takes some likely-wrongly-accused white defendants for him to be more skeptical, then he has just taken one small step toward your side.

Now that he's sympathetic to the concept, it's time to try to convince him and people like him that there are other innocent (or at least over-charged) people in the justice system.

One more thing. The paragraph is your friend. Use the paragraph. Embrace the paragraph. The paragraph will not harm you.

1/13/2007 9:49 AM  
Blogger 123txpublicdefender123 said...

Wow, lots of comments. A few points. Thank you for telling me I am hot, albeit qualified with the "For a public defender" language. I am sorry to disappoint you, however, in pointing out that the picture on my blog is not me, but rather the far hotter Kristen Bell, the actress who portrays Veronica Mars (Tuesdays, 9/8pm, CW).

Windy, I agree with you that it would be very nice indeed if someone like Sean Hannity and more people in the general public could take the Duke case and learn some lessons from it. I hope that more people will realize that a lot of people suffer injustices in the criminal justice system and that it takes vigilant defense attorneys "protecting the rights of criminals" (as is so often complained about) in every case if we want to truly protect the innocent and the overcharged.

And, finally, yes, I suppose I should use paragraphs appropriately. I think when I get in rant mode, the fingers just fly on the keyboard, and I am lucky that I manage to take sentence breaks.

1/13/2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger 123txpublicdefender123 said...

I've edited it to add paragraph breaks now. Is that better?

1/13/2007 12:45 PM  
Blogger Barbara Blog's said...

Talk About Injustice....Here is something I wrote - Who And Where Is Dennis Fritz, You say after reading John Grisham's Book "The Innocent man", Grisham's First Wonderful non-fiction book. The Other Innocent Man hardly mentioned in "The Innocent Man" has his own compelling and fascinating story to tell in "Journey Toward Justice". John Grisham endorsed Dennis Fritz's Book on the Front Cover. Dennis Fritz wrote his Book Published by Seven Locks Press, to bring awareness about False Convictions, and The Death Penalty. "Journey Toward Justice" is a testimony to the Triumph of the Human Spirit and is a Stunning and Shocking Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham is all about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's was his co-defendant. Ronnie Williamson was sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. Both Freed by a simple DNA test, The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. John Grisham's "The Innocent Man" tells half the story. Dennis Fritz's Story needs to be heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man from Ada Oklahoma, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975. On May 8, 1987 while raising his young daughter alone, he was put under arrest and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns. Dennis Fritz is now on his "Journey Toward Justice". He never blamed the Lord and soley relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up.

1/17/2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

Dennis Fritz will be appearing on Hannity and Colmes Feb.21, 2007 Wed.
Dennis Fritz is the Author of Journey Toward Justice.
Praise For Journey Toward Justice by John Grisham: "Journey Toward Justice" by: Dennis Fritz - The story of the unwarranted prosecution and wrongful conviction of Dennis Fritz is compelling and fascinating. After serving eleven years for a murder he did not commit, Dennis was exonerated and had the strength and courage to put his life back together.- John Grisham
Please watch this show and read his book Journey Toward Justice Amazing Story

For Information or Questions on Book Tours or Speaking Locations with Dates or Requests For Speaking and Interviews with Dennis Fritz you can email him

Please visit me at

2/17/2007 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're exacly what I expect from a public defender. Is a liberal spewer of inaccuracies. The reason that evil FOX went after the prosecutor and accuser was that Nifong was out doing news conferences daily and smearing the defendants. On top of withholding evidence. The accuser was changing her story on a daily basis. You aren't too bright and if you are what is being pumped out of the institutions of learning for lawyers, I feel terrible for your field. You are a typical liberal shill.

9/11/2007 4:30 AM  
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10/09/2008 9:26 PM  

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