how much the lacrosse players suffered is just one factor in determining an appropriate amount to seek. Coleman said he thinks Durham police failed to adequately explore evidence that could have exonerated the players, a charge the city denies. He said other falsely accused people have suffered more, but they often were the victims of negligence rather than an intentional effort to bring charges without evidence.
The question of intent—whether police willfully railroaded the lacrosse players—will be a key factor if the civil case goes to trial, Coleman and Largess said. If police and city officials are found to have maliciously pursued the case knowing the evidence wasn’t there, they should pay until it hurts, Coleman said. “There’s an element of punitive action involved in lawsuits like this,” he said.
On September 13, Coleman added that deterrence can be a critical action of such suits: “When the city acts in ways that are so totally outrageous and could have been prevented, I think the damages ought to be sufficient to deter that kind of behavior in the future and also to send a message to other cities and prosecutors across the state. I have no idea the damage they suffered. There’s no way for us to say $30 million is low or high.”
Here's Coleman, in yesterday's Chronicle, expressing a different opinion, and a far different tone: "There's going to be something of a backlash against the audacity of the litigation against the city and against the University. I think most people believe that the students were harmed by what happened to them but not to the extent that the lawsuits suggest." He didn't explain what caused his shift in opinion from Sept. 12 until Nov. 14.
Meanwhile, anti-lacrosse extremists continue to offer their . . . unique . . . brand of reasoning. Group of 88'er Paula McClain: "Every incumbent who ran has been re-elected. Therefore, there appears to have been little or no political fallout from the situation. In fact, the citizens of Durham have given their leaders a vote of confidence."
I wonder if this is the type of reasoning McClain applies in her political science classes. One of the incumbents re-elected was Councilman Eugene Brown, a vehement critic of the DPD's mishandling of the case. Another re-elected figure was Mayor Bell, who had strongly called for an outside committee to investigate the DPD. Is McClain suggesting that the citizens of Durham gave a "vote of confidence" to Brown's critique of the DPD? That, of course, wouldn't fit into her preconceived ideological agenda, but she seems to have conceded it was so.
And Kerry Haynie was more loquacious for the Chronicle than for this blog, when asked why he signed the clarifying statement (“Get a freaking life! Quote me!”). Said he to the Chronicle, ""It will be an issue that will get some news coverage, but the actual effect on the politics of Durham will be very little. I think it's an issue that will come and go."
Again, I wonder if this is the type of reasoning Haynie applies in his political science classes. It is true, of course, that all issues "come and go." But one hardly needs a Ph.D. in political science to make such an observation.