Central Park Five – Evasion And Vindictiveness

Here’s how official New York is dealing with the lawsuit brought by the wrongly convicted five, via Huffington Post:

Meanwhile, the New York City government is actively fighting a $250 million civil suit that the Central Park Five and their family members filed in 2003, accusing the city as well as the individual police officers and prosecutors who worked on the case of violating their civil rights.  In September, the city also began waging a legal war with the filmmakers, asking a court to force Burns’ company, Florentine Films, to turn over all notes and outtakes not included in the final documentary for city review, saying it could use the material to defend itself. Earlier this month, city lawyers filed additional documents claiming that Ken Burns and his colleagues are not journalists and therefore aren’t entitled to invoke legal privileges to protect their work product.

Lawyers for Florentine have moved to quash the city’s subpoena on the grounds that they do indeed consider themselves journalists, and that reporters in New York cannot be compelled to share their work product with government officials.

And of course no one is responsible because they were just doing their jobs:

Some of the people involved with the arrests and prosecution of the Central Park Five continue to maintain they did nothing wrong or that the teenagers were, in fact, somehow connected to the crime. A New York Police Department-commissioned review, which was made public in 2003, asserted that the police officers involved did nothing wrong.

The Huffington Post attempted to contact the prosecutors, and police at the center of the Central Park Five convictions. Most did not respond to requests for comment or declined interview requests pointing to the ongoing civil suit. The New York Police Department did not respond to a request for information about the status of the detectives involved in the investigation or interrogations at the center of the case and the vacated convictions. Linda Fairstein, head of the sex crimes unit in the district attorney’s office during the case, left in 2002 to write crime novels that feature a female prosecutor as the heroine. Elizabeth Lederer, the prosecutor who handled the Central Park jogger trials, today leads a unit in the district attorney’s office that investigates labor corruption, and teaches at Columbia University’s Law School. Detective Mike Sheehan, one of the officers involved in securing the teenagers’ confessions, left the police force in 1993 to become a crime reporter for New York television stations. After hitting a police horse and getting fired from his last job, Sheehan began writing and consulting on an NBC crime drama.  None of the three responded to requests for comment.

What on earth is the basis to continue to maintain that “…the teenagers were, in fact, somehow connected to the crime?”  I mean, besides a pathological desire to evade responsibility?

We talked a little about who, and whether, and how, and to what extent any of these people should be held accountable for what happened in that case.  But we can’t even get to that discussion.  In a real sense, the crime against the Central Park Five is ongoing, almost a quarter of a century later.  We don’t know yet the full extent of what it is that the guilty people should be held accountable for.

You would think that maybe the prosecutors could at least stop stonewalling their victims, or at least answer media questions, but they close ranks just like bad cops protecting each other.  But what really irks you is that they’re doing this when they are in the far more powerful position and always have been.  This is like a king who wants for nothing stealing a loaf of bread from a poor peasant and then using his royal position to quash the peasant’s plea to get his bread back not to mention silencing and intimidating anyone who takes up the poor peasant’s plight.  And where is the media coverage?  How dare they ignore this profoundly corrupt abuse of power.

There are no words.  It’s unspeakable.  I don’t know what we’ve become when we spend so much time and attention on the next frivolity while something like this goes unaddressed.  And what saddens me most is that the prosecutors are supposedly lawyers, screened for character and fitness.

Maybe that’s where a lot of problems are.  We have no concept of character and fitness.

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Filed under Media incompetence/bias, wrongful convictions

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