That’s it? That’s where the paper of record thinks this should all end up?
How forgiving we are prepared to be when the wrongdoer is a prosecutor:
The petition against Ms. Lederer, in part, reduces her life in public service to a single moment, the jogger case. In fact, she has a lengthy résumé of unchallenged convictions in cold cases, having pursued investigations of forgotten crimes. No one lives without error. And designating a single villain completely misses the point and power of the documentary. The jogger case belongs to a historical moment, not any one prosecutor or detective; it grew in the soils of a rancid, angry, fearful time.
Well, I’m not sure either that going after the prosecutor “completely misses the point and power of the documentary” or that it “reduces her life in public service to a single moment” any more than her victims have had their lives reduced to a single moment, the difference being that her victims didn’t do anything wrong whereas she did.
My God this is a curious viewpoint being expressed here. There’s a lot of blame to go around? No doubt:
Politicians called for blood. Donald Trump campaigned for the return of the death penalty. Much of the news media failed to note the vast inconsistencies in the case. Among the skeptics, people like me had mumbled, rather than shouted, our doubts.
Advocates for the accused were undercut by demonstrators who marched outside the courthouse in 1990, and chanted that the attack had been a hoax or that the jogger’s boyfriend had done it. At least two defense lawyers dozed through parts of the trials. At parole hearings, the boys denied having any contact with the jogger, but acknowledged having been in the park that night with a mob that had hassled or hurt others.
Ms. Lederer wrongly told the jury that hair found in the clothing of one of the boys “matched” hair from the victim, a seeming corroboration of the confused, rambling confessions. Even at the time, that overstated the evidence. More than a decade later, DNA tests would show that the hair did not come from the jogger.
Mistakes were made. But not just by Elizabeth Lederer, who is not discussing the matter in public.
So let me get this straight. Ms. Lederer is to be let off the hook so completely that even at this late date she is to be given a pass on even so much as publicly expressing contrition? Really? And until she was recently called out on it in the wake of the Burns documentary, she was still listing the jogger case as one of her big professional accomplishments?
I don’t agree. She can at least apologize for her role in ruining five lives. For Chrissakes.
Beyond that if there are no consequences for her or the media or the other players in the drama, well, truth be told I don’t care. It wouldn’t bother me to see everyone professionally diminished, for example, but it wouldn’t bother me if they aren’t, either. I’ll agree that perhaps the cycle of retribution should be curtailed. As a matter of prudence.
But the five victims have had a lawsuit pending for ten years. The powers that be have apparently stonewalled it. For the love of God that has to stop. Give them all a lot of money. Not a little; a lot. That’s the only thing that can be done – if we’re not going to have retribution, that is – and it provides a measure of accountability as well as a remedy for the harm inflicted, the only kind of remedy that can actually help balance things out a bit.
And before we leave this topic for now, let’s also note that whereas the defense lawyers are faulted for “dozing” during the trial – although I’m sure it wasn’t during any important parts – and even the media, and even the writer, come in for some criticism here, along with the public at large, judges are conspicuously absent from the critique and so are jurors, which merely confirms that a jury is never blamed for a wrongful conviction but are viciously blamed for a ‘wrongful acquittal’, such as OJ Simpson or Casey Anthony.
There’s a long way to go in the examination of conscience that a lot of people should be doing as a result of this case. And the New York Times article demonstrates that most of what went wrong here is so intractably embedded in the players’ subconscious minds that it isn’t going to go well, if it gets done at all.
I’ll say it one last time, though, for emphasis. Pay these guys. And apologize. Now.
h/t Scott Greenfield