Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Troubling Case

A disturbing, and compellingly written, ESPN article that I strongly recommend.

The lacrosse case shone a light on the guilty-until-proven-innocent nature of rape law: the idea that someone can be, theoretically, convicted solely on the basis of an accuser’s testimony and ID—even in the face of evidence of actual innocence—is chilling. Our criminal justice system supposedly is built on the idea that better nine guilty go free than one innocent person be convicted; with sexual assault law, the reverse seems to hold true.

The reason, of course, arises from the (probably correct) belief that sexual assault is underreported. But then feminists and “tough-on-crime” legislators made a fatal leap: that if the law is changed to make a conviction more likely, more real victims will be likely to report the “crime.” That might be true—but it also leads to situations like the one in the ESPN article, where the evidence for conviction appears very, very flimsy.

One other point: this was an allegation of a rape by a black athlete of a woman of uncertain ethnicity*. The case attracted little national media attention—part of a pattern I profiled here, in which the media attention to the lacrosse case was wildly disparate to media attention of allegations of sexual assault by minority athletes. In the Santa Barbara case, media political correctness appears to have helped perpetuate an injustice—if a California version of Joe Neff had been on the case from the start, perhaps a different outcome would have occurred.

Hat tip: E.D., J.Z.



Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson: Thank you for this post and the information about Eric Frimpong's ordeal in California. It is so unfortunate that Mr. Frimpong did not have the resources available to Reade, Colin and David so as to be able to develope a high quality defense before and during his trial.

Also, it is unfortunate that Mr. Frimpong was not the beneficiary of the massive reaction of all those who were insulted and outraged by the arrogance of the G88 faculty cell, the amateur theatrics and unethical meanderings of DA Mike Nifong and the grossly unfair and inappropriate decisions made by by Bobby Steele and Dickie Brodhead.

Most unfortunate, however, is the fact that Mr. Frimpong did not have such hard working friends of justice like you and Stuart.

Hopefully, the ESPN Magazine article and your mention will generate the kinds of support and interest that can help Mr. Frimpong.

Thanks , again, for everything.

Gary Packwood said...

In 2007 the good people over at the Friends of Duke University [FODU] Blog uncovered an essential truth about the changing profile of rape and sexual assault in the United States.

We all learned from FODU that over the last twenty years public and private high school teachers, the clergy and parents have made some very real and measurable progress in decreasing the incidents of violence against women in certain segments of our population of young people.

Specifically, rape and sexual assault today is largely a terrible crime against poor girls under the age of eighteen in their poor communities by young men who are also poor and residents of the same poor community. That is not always true but that is the profile.

But feminists and “tough-on-crime” legislators don't want to hear the facts and they have no desire to 'soil' their hands working to improve the quality of life in poor communities.

The extreme feminists on the campus of Duke are probably the worst offenders and are the 'true believers' willing to do anything to keep from working on improving attitudes towards women and girls in poor communities. And that includes encouraging college age women to report incidents of sexual assault with 'unwanted touching' as part of 'their' definition of sexual assault.

The extreme feminists will do anything to keep out of those poor communities and they will do anything to keep those federal grand dollars flowing by advocating for the reauthorization of The Violence Against Women Act next year (2010).

I'm betting that eventually AAmerican Blacks will figure out that extreme feminists and 'tough-on-crime' legislators are not their friends and are certainly not anyone they want to collaborate with.

Until that time IMO, we need to give a well deserved pat-on-the-back to high school teachers, the clergy and parents who have made such a huge contribution towards reducing violence against women.

Debrah said...

Ironic indeed that the same mass media hysteria that helped propel and sustain the Lacrosse Hoax in the Triangle......

.......would serve an equally detrimental role with their relative silence regarding this unfortunate case.

Let's hope that justice will prevail for this man in spite of the massive networks of irony that exist inside the bizarre world of political correctness.

I also would like to see false accusers begin receiving real punishment for the damage they cause.

Bob said...

There has always been an inherent problem with proving rape when it comes under the banner of "acquaintance" rape. Invariably, it is the dreaded he said/she said situation.

Here in Scotland, there have been growing calls by anti-rape groups, backed by powerful feminist lobbying, to "increase" the rape conviction rate. Statistics show that most alleged rapes in Scotland are carried out by persons known to the accuser. I have always been disturbed that there appears to be only one way to increase the rape conviction rates in these types of case.

The approach implies that where there are conflicting stories and no physical evidence to prove who is telling the truth, we "increase" the conviction rate by choosing to believe the accuser.

There can be no other interpretation of this intent to "increase" the low rape conviction rate.

Dissenting voices to this approach have been reassured that for an acquaintance rape case, there will always be additional corroborating evidence to support any convictions made. Typically, this has referred to the magic bullet - DNA or other similar incontrovertible physical evidence.

The Frimpong case, chilingly, would appear to be the first high profile case where despite the absence of physical evidence, someone has been convicted on the basis of a simple "she said" accusation.

William L. Anderson said...

I agree with GP. One result of militant feminism has been the railroading of innocent people into prison for false rape charges. I have no doubt this woman is lying, and the prosecutor knows he is lying.

In the time I have spent commenting on the Duke case, I have been out front in my mistrust of prosecutors and police in general. This is an anecdote, but once again it shows me that prosecutors care about one thing and one thing only: getting a conviction.

Prosecutors have a saying: "Anyone can convict a guilty man; it takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man." What can we say about a "profession" that assigns "greatness" to gaining a wrongful conviction?

That is why I believe that we MUST remove all immunity from prosecutors and make them just as culpable to lawsuits and the law as everyone else. If a prosecutor tells me he or she cannot do the job with lawsuits hanging over them, then I will remind them that all other professionals do their jobs under such threats.

When a prosecutor gets it wrong, the results are horrific. And don't forget that through much of the Duke case, American prosecutors all lined up to support Mike Nifong, and only after his lies were thoroughly exposed did they start to voice doubt about his case. In other words, the rats saw a sinking ship and jumped off.

Jim in San Diego said...

This case is troubling, but on a much lower scale than the Duke hoax.

For example, there actually is substantial evidence of guilt: an eyewitness account (arguably unreliable); also DNA from the accuser on the defendants genitals; opportunity (one hour missing from his alibi); and even sand in the cuffs of his slacks.

Having said that, the judge's comment at the late hearing is troubling: "I have never seen a rape case with so much incriminating, credible, and powerful evidence"

Hmmm... This judge must not have seen very many rape cases; or, they habitually bring rape cases to trial in Santa Barbara with underwhelming evidence....

We also need to reserve a grain of salt for the prospect the writer of the article has a point of view, and has excessively emphasized one side of a two-sided story.

Nevertheless, we have to hope that justice is done, sometime, whatever that might be in this case.

Jim Peterson

Bumper said...

JUdge Hill's bio at

states the following:

"Senior Deputy District Attorney, 1985-2003 Brian has prosecuted all major felonies including murder rape, robbery, theft and burglary."

So to extend on the statement of Judge Hill. ""I have never seen a rape case with so much incriminating, credible, and powerful evidence"

So Judge Hill either never actually tried a rape case or he is lying about the evidence presented in this case.

Once a prosecutor always a prosecutor. Maybe we are on the heels of a major medical/legal disease, Nifong Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

"It is so unfortunate that Mr. Frimpong did not have the resources available to Reade, Colin and David so as to be able to develope a high quality defense before and during his trial."

Actually, while I have no personal knowledge of the case myself, according to comments made on another website, a number of wealthy Santa Barbarans (white, btw) contributed to his defense; and his attorney was top notch (a former member of the Michael Jackson defense team).

(All of the above is derived from comments at another blog; reliability not guaranteed).

Apparently his attorney either put on a poor defense, or felt that no major defense effort was needed for a case built on flimsy evidence (a mistake, clearly).

Nonetheless, the jury appears to have convicted, not on a witness ID (which was very weak), nor on the evidence (which appears also have been very weak), but on a lot of assumptions presented to them by the prosecutor.

Anonymous said...

I found a comment to a Santa Barbara newspaper's article about the case very profound, but I would have included the word "jury":

"How much of 'the drunk girls' statement would the same judge and prosecutor believe as credible, if she was the defendent in a DUI case?"


The Judge in the Frimpong case reminds me of Durham Judge Ronald Stephens and a number of judges I've appeared before through the years. The helping hand provided to the prosecution and the animosity shown to defendants is almost comical at times. Because of that, I can't imagine the Frimpong case surviving appeal. The judge's decision to provide the jurors with the alleged victim's testimony but not Frimpong's interview with the police officer, alone, is reversible in my opinion. The hiding of potentially exculpatory evidence puts the defendant over the top.


I would like to put attorneys like Robert Sanger -- who apparently represented Michael Jackson at one time -- into a Twilight Zone where they are on trial, and their lawyer, after the prosecution has had 32 people testify, calls only one witness for the defense.


I have some major questions about the DNA evidence even after reading five lengthy accounts of the trial.

1. When did Frimpong claim that the alleged victim fondled his genitals? Was it during his first interview with the police the next day? Or, did that defense come up after the DNA came back showing none of his DNA on or in her, but her DNA on his genitals? That information about timing seems crucial to me.

2. Nobody mentioned condoms. Even if the evidence adduced was that the alleged victim didn't remember whether a condom was used, that is significant information not to include in an article about a rape trial in which the presence or absence of DNA is crucial.

3. With no DNA from the defendant in or on her, and no forensic evidence showing the recent use of a condom, how can a rape be proved beyond a reasonable doubt?

4. Was the jury instructed on lesser included offenses, such as offenses that don't involve the transmission of DNA? MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off topic, but anyone who wants to understand some of the deep underpinnings of the DL fiasco should take the time to do a little reading on agitprop, or as it was called on the other side, political action. In particular, read about the post-WWII, cold-war struggles over election results in Italy, Greece, France, etc.

Understanding history informs understanding the present, and there are inescapable parallels to today's domestic politics. In particular, the notion that public opinion can be strongly shaped by relatively few strident voices, and that highly impure motives are often behind orchestrated campaigns to do just that, and recognition of the tactics employed in such a campaign cast things in an entirely different light.

This other case seems to be a much simpler injustice with a much more overt explanation for the outcome -- it is still very disturbing, but to me, the most stiking difference is in how the press has responded, along with the community.

One Spook said...

Gregory @ 9:04 PM writes:

"The helping hand provided to the prosecution and the animosity shown to defendants is almost comical at times. Because of that, I can't imagine the Frimpong case surviving appeal. The judge's decision to provide the jurors with the alleged victim's testimony but not Frimpong's interview with the police officer, alone, is reversible in my opinion. The hiding of potentially exculpatory evidence puts the defendant over the top."

Bingo! Excellent post!

This trial and appeal of course gives us a look at how easily this young man could and perhaps can now "prove his innocence" --- the fate that Duke administrators sought for the Duke three.

His trial was not "easy" and neither will be his appeal, although I agree with Gregory that his defense left a lot to be desired.

I have this question though, and perhaps a "real" SANE examiner can answer it.

I recall that good old Mangum's orifices were full of DNA, a veritable address book of it. How can it be that this man penetrated this woman and left no DNA, none?

Having her DNA on him is certainly plausible if she did indeed fondle him, but how can it be that his DNA was not found inside her if he in fact did rape her?

Can someone explain that?

Sounds like this case was tried "The Old-Fashioned Way."

One Spook

Anonymous said...

To Bumper & Jim in SD:

When a trial judge says something as extraordinary as, "I have never seen a rape case with so much incriminating, credible, and powerful evidence," when the evidence is barely incriminating, almost incredible and pretty weak, then you know that he is worried about the appeal and is "making his record." In other words, the judge is trying to sell the verdict to the appellate judges. It also makes for a nice, TV-ready sound byte. So, the judge gets to catch two fish with one hook.


As most of you probably are, I'm leery of news media accounts of criminal cases. The ESPN reporter claims that the story about the alleged victim reaching into Frimpong's pants was "based on [either] police reports, interview transcripts, court proceedings and comments from trial observers."

If Frimpong told that story to Officer Kies the day after the alleged incident, and the judge kept the jurors from having a second look at the interview or statement in the jury room during deliberations, I don't know how it could be anything but reversible error. As closely as that story dove-tails with the DNA evidence, it had to be the foundation of the defense.

I just don't know if the reporter got that story from an actual police statement or a "trial observer" who was quoting Sanger's hypothetical "what if" closing argument. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

I hate to nitpick, but I have to ask Prof. Johnson about his use of the term "feminists."

At this particular point in time, I understand that the word has come to be used in the derogatory among some crowds. This is the case despite the term referring, generally, to those who are part of a movement for equal social standing between the sexes. This equality might be pursued in a variety of ways, but the core value seems to be, quite simply, that aforementioned equality. In a philosophically liberal society like America, one expects that most of its inhabitants (I imagine many of the commenters here, in fact) will be feminists.

My question to Prof. Johnson is: What was the intention by specifying feminists as one of two parties cited as making a "fatal" error in judgement? Are you referring particularly to a branch of activists, or are you suggesting that the error was more general? That is, do you think that it was an oversight by the many Americans who share similar concerns with particular activist groups, but do not necessarily participate in such levels of activism?

Debrah said...

As fate would have it, there's an array of troubling cases inside the justice system and out.

For some of the people who have made every waking hour of their day about the Lacrosse Hoax, a few have discovered an eerie allegiance with the some of the same people who enabled it---directly or indirectly.

Were the original motivations of these people pure?

Or were they simply incapable of putting their egos and their sense of "heroics for a 'cause' " on the back burner long enough to see that this is a very bad move.

One might ask......if one were a cynic......."Were their efforts truly ever 'for the boys'?"

The fact that this hideous behavior continues is a grotesque embarrassment which they will not soon live down.

Ex-prosecutor said...

As a prosecutor, I hated all one-on-one cases, where there was no corroborative evidence that a crime had occurred, just the testimony of the complainant that it had. In this same category were single witness identification cases, in which this was the sole proof against the defendant.

Rape cases were in a somewhat different posture that others, because sexual relations are lawful unless resulting from force, coercion or deception.

So rape cases require that the prosecution prove not only that sexual contact occurred but, additionally, that it was not consentual. This is especially true in "date rape" cases, where there often is need for corroborative proof showing that the victim did not consent to the act.

Unrecognized by victim's advocates is the fact of "buyer's remorse," which is a term often used to describe a complainant who has changed his or her mind as to an action taken earlier. This could refer to a person who regretted earlier consenting to a sexual act or to an inmate who wants to withdraw a plea of guilty.

By their nature, rape cases can result in strong community pressure for harsh treatment of those alleged to be responsible. Unless the prosecutor or police are willing to take a fair view of the matter, prosecutions can occur of cases which never should have passed an initial screening. Short-sightedly, Nifong won the election but a a later terrible cost for himself and others.

William L. Anderson said...

Many judges today are former prosecutors who see their jobs as continuing their old profession. Furthermore, because of political pressures, judges feel they are compelled always to believe a woman who claims rape, no matter what.

Complicating all of this is that many states, including California and North Carolina, permit a conviction on rape charges solely on the testimony and claims of the accuser. No corroborating evidence is needed.

What that usually means in reality is that exculpatory evidence is ignored, since it falls into the "corroborating evidence" category. That is why I believe a Durham jury would have convicted Reade, David, and Collin, as the pressure placed on the jurors would have been tremendous. Durhamites and many on the Duke faculty were not interested in the truth, just a conviction at all costs.

kcjohnson9 said...

To the 8.01:

Good question. I should have clarified and said the previous generation's feminist legal theorists (people like Catherine MacKinnon) and feminist organizations (groups like NOW). Most of these changes in law were made between the late 1970s and the early 1990s.

Anonymous said...

The jury requested Frimpong's interview with Kies, because some jurors stated that they wanted "the opportunity to hear Mr. Frimpong's side of the story." Defendants have a right not to testify, and jurors should not draw negative inferences from a defendant’s decision not to do so. But there’s no denying the simple fact that they do.

Do you remember the song “Do You Love Me?” from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”? The one where Tevye persistently presses his wife, Golde, for an answer to the question, “Do you love me?” She talks around the issue for several minutes, but ultimately says, “I suppose I do.” The duet ends with the old couple singing:

It doesn't change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know

No matter how much we try to down play the importance of a defendant taking to the stand to deny the charge – to tell his side of the story – it does matter – “it’s nice to know”. Generally speaking, lawyers don’t put their client on the stand because it opens the door for the prosecution to introduce unflattering testimony to impeach the defendant’s credibility. But the decision has a down side. It creates a vacuum, and the world abhors a vacuum. We ask ourselves, “What’s he trying to hide?” So why didn’t Eric take the stand?

Anonymous said...

KC -

Two thoughts - The first is that this is another case of prosecutorial misconduct. You might to keep reporting on it to see if you can get any traction on it to have the judge's ruling reversed (although the probability is slim). Second - Where was the NAACP? They were so vocal in Durham but I saw no mention of them in what I read of the article.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

To One Spook:

I enjoyed your clever reference to "The Old Fashioned Way," and it dovetails quite nicely with Professor Anderson's comment about what would have happened in the Duke Hoax if Nifong had not be caught red-handed in Judge Smith's courtroom. I believe that if the case had been in Judge Stephen's court at the time of the dramatic Meehan testimony, Stephens would have come to the aid of his buddy, and the case would've staggered on to some type of "Old Fashioned" finish.


By my comments here, it might appear that I'm completely anti-prosecutor and anti-judge. That is not the truth. For every semi-Nifong I've run into, there have been 50 good and fair prosecutors, and for every quasi-Stephens, I've appeared before, there have been 20 good and fair judges. Of course, a few of the good ones didn't know their head from their .... MOO! Gregory

One Spook said...

Gregory writes @ 11:49 AM:

"To One Spook:

I enjoyed your clever reference to "The Old Fashioned Way," "

Thank you, and I didn't intend it to be as tongue-in-cheek as it might have appeared.

Lost in the astonishing revelations from the Innocence Project in revealing the number of falsely imprisoned men, is the fact that many have been convicted precisely because of DNA evidence.

And yet, I do not believe that many defense attorneys understand this evidence or the technology (remember that Bannon admitted that he had to seriously study DNA science in order to impeach Meehan), or they do not use experts properly, and that I believe was a problem in Frimpong's defense. It is no secret that the law often lags behind technology; that is an old problem that is both difficult yet understandable.

Aside: One of the Microsoft cases actually went to trial here heard by a Judge whom I believe does not even know how to operate a computer, and it was, not surprisingly, decided for the plaintiffs.

I think a good legal mind could write a heck of a Law Review piece on "Trying Rape Cases the "Old Fashioned Way." I'd even surrender my rights to that title!

One Spook

Anonymous said...

The prime ambition of a good many defense attorneys is to get an acquittal for an obviously guilty man. If you want a name, an example is the late Melvin Belli, who defended Jack Ruby for that very reason. Belli wanted to defend a man who had committed a murder on TV before 50 million people and have him walk out of the courtroom a free man. If he did this, Belli thought he would surpass Clarence Darrow as the greatest trial lawyer of the 20th Century.

Belli could have gotten Ruby the Texas equivalent of voluntary manslaughter and a 5 year sentence. By trying for a complete acquital, Belli got Ruby a death sentence, though it was overturned and Ruby died before the retrial.

Over 20 years later, Belli considered defending Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker, for the same reason. It is a good thing the Duke players weren't defended by someone like Melvin Belli (or F. Lee Bailey) who would have wanted to go to trial so they could score a spectacular victory, notwithstanding the risk this would have posed to their clients.

Jim in San Diego said...

I am puzzled why so very many criminal defense attorneys refuse to put their clients on the stand, if their clients are innocent.

Yes, it is possible that the client might present "unflattering testimony".

However, juries are adults. They know that people are not perfect.

Jurors try hard to do the right thing. If your client is innocent, you deprive them of information they really need to do the right thing.

This is especially true for a "one-on-one" case, like rape.

Even though I have been an attorney for decades, and know better, if I am ever on a criminal jury and am asked if I would be prejudiced by the defendant's failure to testify, my honest answer will be "yes".

I am guessing most people are in some way prejudiced, although they might not honestly admit it.

I recall listening with great interest to one of the Kennedy's testify in his defense some years ago while at trial accused of rape. He was found not guilty.

There are of course other, unflattering reasons for not having a criminal defendant testify. One of these is he or she is guilty.

I have a signed record on this blog for my views on due process and criminal justice. However, I reserve judgment on the Frimpong case.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:22,

The only way a police statement or an interview of a defendant could ever be seen by the jury in the jury room during deliberations would be if it had been first introduced into evidence during the trial.

At that point, it is fair game. The judge in the case mentioned time constraints, and not the fact that it had not been introduced into evidence, as the reason for not providing it to the jurors.

Because the judge didn't mention the fact that the interview or statement hadn't been introduced into evidece as the reason for not allowing the jury to see it (because that would be, by far, the best reason he could ever give), I ASSUME it was part of the evidence in the case.


As for the reason why Frimpong wasn't called to testify, I don't know. It could be that he was guilty, that the defense believed they had won the case and his testimony could only hurt them, that he made a poor impression when discussing the case, that he has difficulties with the language, that there is some particular circumstance that is difficult for him to explain (whether incriminatory or not), or that his lawyer was lazy and didn't want to prep him.

I do agree with your take on defendants not testifying. It does create a vacuum. I zealously refused a client's testimony in any hearing, but always prepared them to testify at trial. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

Whether he was guilty or innocent, it seems apparent that he was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that he was jobbed by the judge and maybe his lawyer.

Debrah said...

I have to give the illustrious "MOO Gregory" the Diva-End-Of-Week nod for excellence.

Your offering--two comments combined---at Chris' blog were nothing short of stupendous.

It was like watching American Movie Classics when they have Al Pacino week.

You were Pacino in the old film "And Justice For All" doing that summation that brought the house down---literally.

jamil hussein said...

Remember, women never lie about rape (and they never do it for money). The girl is white so she probably gets convicted.,0,3444729.story

NEWPORT BEACH -- A Newport Beach woman has been charged with trying to extort $15,000.00 from a man she met through an online dating service after telling police he raped her.

Debrah said...

Unfortunately, troubling cases surely needing attention will always be eclipsed by this type of grandstanding which not only destroys good will but clouds the issue.

NAACP's N.C. conference seeks voting rights amendment

By Matthew E. Milliken : The Herald-Sun
Jul 11, 2009

DURHAM -- You can't accuse the Rev. William Barber II of thinking small -- or of being content to rest on his laurels.

The president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP is in New York today to celebrate the national organization's centennial at its 100th annual convention, but there is work to be done as well. Amending-the-Constitution-type work, in fact.

Barber and the rest of the state's delegation are seeking to ensure that every American who is eligible to vote can do so. Their goal is to have every U.S. citizen automatically and permanently entered on the voter-registration rolls upon turning 18. If the NAACP national board accepts a resolution as written by the North Carolinians, the 500,000-member-strong organization will work toward passing a voting rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"We know in the NAACP we are not in a post-racial society," Barber said this week. "We have seen many accomplishments, and many of them have been because of the sweat, the tears, the legal tenacity, the public advocacy and the political pressure put on the NAACP in the last hundred years. So we're an organization that ... is greatly excited about the accomplishments that have been made, but we are also sober ... in our assessment that racism is in no way dead."

Ask Barber about recent or ongoing issues that the North Carolina conference is dealing with and he'll launch into a long list. It includes the case of former murder suspect James Johnson, the recent unionization of Smithfield workers and the racist, threatening graffiti that four N.C. State students directed at then-President-elect Obama last fall. The NAACP intervened in or spoke out on all of those cases.

The organization would also like to see the N.C. legislature give public employees the right to collective bargaining and pass the Racial Justice Act. That pending bill, sponsored by N.C. Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, would make it harder to execute defendants for whom race may have been a factor in their prosecution or conviction.

"We want them to get credit," Durham NAACP branch president Fred Foster Jr. said. "This was long before the guys in Greensboro sat down at the lunch counter in Woolworth's."

Foster said his chapter, one of about 120 in the state, is thriving. Membership, which was 473 earlier this year, has been growing as part of a successful "100 for 100" drive marking the national centennial.

"As far as relevancy is concerned, we're more relevant now than we've ever been," Foster said. "And we know we've got to stay vigilant."

Durham's chapter was founded in 1917 and predates the state conference, which is now the largest in the South, according to Barber. North Carolina has roughly 20,000 NAACP members.

And those members will keep on pushing for social change, Barber predicts. The conference president is especially excited about the coalition known as Historic Thousands on Jones Street, or HKonJ. The group regularly lobbies the legislature to improve schools, boost wages, promote universal health care and environmental issues, provide affordable housing, protect immigrants and withdraw American troops from Iraq, among other goals.

"After Barack Obama was inaugurated, we still woke up the most incarcerated, the most murdered, the most without health insurance, the most with poor, resegregated schools in our community ... and the most ... affected negatively by this subprime lending crisis which has taken $212 billion out of our community," Barber said of African-Americans.

In other words, plenty of work remains to be done.

Anonymous said...

"better nine guilty go free than one innocent person be convicted." Does anyone know why this is the right ratio? Why not 10-to-1 or 7-to-1 or 8.578-to-1? Is this a policy guideline or mere rhetoric? Shouldn't this ratio differ based on the nature of the crime and the certainty of the relevant evidence?

RighteousThug said...

Debrah - I have to give the illustrious "MOO Gregory" the Diva-End-Of-Week nod for excellence.

High praise, indeed.

Anonymous said...

7/11/09 9:50 AM said:

"better nine guilty go free than one innocent person be convicted." Does anyone know why this is the right ratio? Why not 10-to-1 or 7-to-1 or 8.578-to-1? Is this a policy guideline or mere rhetoric? Shouldn't this ratio differ based on the nature of the crime and the certainty of the relevant evidence?

Oh my. Missing the point are we? Again?

Or are we being droll?

Is everybody taking their drolliphen?


Debrah said...

I would like to leave this link to a page of The Diva World where I have left a copy of an email that has been mentioned on other related blogs.

Everyone interested can read it.

This will correct some fabrications currently being used.

TO "R.T."-- :>)

Anonymous said...

from the Roanoke times Wed Jan 25, 2006

"Recanted testimony by a young girl who accused Aleck J. Carpitcher of molesting her is insufficient to reverse his conviction, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The decision means Carpitcher will likely spend the rest of his life in prison based solely on the questionable word of his accuser -- who was deemed "no longer credible" by the Roanoke County judge who heard her recantation last year.

Despite those questions, the simple fact that the girl recanted is not enough on which to grant Carpitcher a new trial, a three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled."

So what happens is the word of an eleven year old is enough to send this man to prison for the rest of his life but is not deemed credible to release him. I asked a judge friend of mine why this is so and he said it was because the process had been fair in which the man was convicted in the first place. In the view of the law the fact that the only credible witness recanted makes that eyewitness not credible and therefore the new testimony is tainted. What a catch 22. She has been repentant of her former actions consistently for 8 years but it is to no avail.

Think this can not happen elsewhere? How about NC.
From The Winston-Salem Journal

Confusion and Consequences: Yadkin man accused by his daughter of sex abuse up for parole; her recantation failed to persuade officials to reconsider his case
Posted: 04/25/2009 9:00 PM
More Yadkin >>
Next >>

Sherry Youngquist | Journal Reporter

"Julie Murphy lived in about 20 foster homes, group homes, hospitals and detention centers after her father was convicted of sexually abusing her.

She says she knew the story she told as a 10-year-old was a lie and that she had been telling that to people ever since. But it took until she was 23, when she was enrolled in community college and taking paralegal courses, that she chose to do something about it. She approached her instructor one day and told him that she had, in childhood, confused her father with her mother's boyfriend in regard to the allegation that put her father in prison.

"I was kind of ashamed of the situation," she said.

"I asked him a hypothetical question about the case. He said about the only option at that point would be to do a recantation."

So in December 2002, she wrote a letter to the district attorney in Yadkin County recanting the accusation she had made 13 years earlier against Larry Murphy.

The letter, she hoped, might set things straight once and for all.

But there would be no new police investigation in a case that had no physical evidence and was based solely on the word of then 10-year-old Julie Murphy.

There would be no prominent media coverage, as there had been when Murphy was arrested, tried and convicted in 1989.

And there would be no new trial; her father failed to persuade a judge that his daughter's statement meant that he had been wrongly convicted...."

Debrah said...

This is a troubling case.

a Nice NJ Guy said...

Blackstone's formulation :
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"
— although William Blackstone did not first express the principle.

William Blackstone, 1723-1780 was an English judge, jurist and professor who produced the historical and analytic treatise on the common law called Commentaries on the Laws of England.

U.S. courts frequently quote Blackstone as the definitive pre-Revolutionary War source of common law; in particular, the United States Supreme Court quotes from Blackstone's work whenever they wish to engage in historical discussion that goes back to the era of the nation's founding, to illuminate the legal and intellectual culture that helped to shape the intent of the Framers of the Constitution.

Chris Halkides said...

I have two questions about the case. First, why didn't the defense attorney call some character witnesses when it seems as if so many were available? Second, did any witness come forward to say that they saw Randall at the party or at the park?


Anonymous said...

Prof. Johnson - Thank you for the clarification. It is much appreciated.

~Anon @ 8:01 AM

Anonymous said...

As Jim Peterson and MOO! Gregory have pointed out, this case is far different from the Lacrosse Hoax. On the other hand, Prof. Anderson will never be allowed on a jury if the prosecution finds his comments here. (Like, "I have no doubt this woman is lying, and the prosecutor knows [s]he is lying." Did you see it in her eyes?)

This was not a case, like the Lacrosse Hoax, where the police took an alleged crime and went looking for a possible suspect. In this case the victim pinpointed the alleged rapist at the very beginning.

As Jim and Gregory have also noted, there was substantial evidence of guilt -- the identification, the means, motive, and opportunity, the lack of an alibi, the victim's DNA on the suspect's most private parts, the claim made by the second alleged victim. Here I will leave aside the matter of the defendants' failure to testify except to note that it does influence jurors.

I will mention only one thing that hasn't been mentioned by any commentators before: What I have called, in another forum, "the bullshit detector test". According to the defendant, we are to believe that (1) he met up with this girl, (2) they went out drinking together, (3) they went down to a secluded beach area together where she smoked a cigarette, (4) she tried to kiss him, (5) and she shoved her hand down the front of his pants. All of that makes sense, so far. Probably every college guy has had that experience. But then there's (6) he refused her offer of sex because she smelled like smoke. And suddenly the "bullshit detector" is going off like an air raid siren: A college-age guy is going to turn down a shot of leg simply because the girl smelled like smoke? C'mon. I'd like to see a show of hands from every guy and gal who ever experienced such a thing.

Note, I am not saying he's guilty, or even that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a guilty verdict. But there's 10,000-times more justification to believe that he raped that girl than to believe that any Lacrosse player raped Precious.

Therefore, these two cases are inapposite.


One Spook said...

I hope this isn't off topic. We've discussed the Ricci case here and Bill Anderson and others have commented on Federal Judicial procedure.

Here, Stuart Taylor, Jr. co-author of UPI with KC Johnson, reveals what appear to be intentional machinations using an interesting quirk of federal legal procedure that almost caused the Ricci case to "disappear."

Although, fairly esoteric reading, this is interesting new information that I've not seen published elsewhere.

Ironically for Judge Sototmayor, the "rescue" of the case was shepherded by a "wise Latino man," as it were.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

"(1) Note, I am not saying he's guilty, or even that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a guilty verdict. But there's 10,000-times more justification to believe that he raped that girl than to believe that any Lacrosse player raped Precious.

(2) Therefore, these two cases are inapposite.


I agree with RRH with regard to number 1, but not number 2. The cases in my mind aren't inapposite, but they are different by degree.

Chris Halkides said...


I have known college-age men who refused sexual overtures because their religious beliefs did not permit premarital sex. That may be an issue in this case. It occurred to me that he could have brought charges against her for fondling him. Could he still do so?


Debrah said...

This report in the Daily Nexus came just a few days after the allegations.

Debrah said...

And in this article a year later we have a slightly different spin.

By 2008 in the link above we have this:

Eric Frimpong grew up in a village in the West African country of Ghana. He lived with his mother, who supported her four children with $60 a month, in a mud hut with no plumbing. He carried water jugs down dirt streets, barefoot, dribbling his soccer ball.

By 2009 in the link of this post we have this account:

Back in Ghana, in western Africa, he and his three younger siblings were raised by their mother, Mary, in the poor farming community of Abesin, but her job as a typist with the government forestry department allowed the family to have plumbing and electricity, unlike many of their neighbors.


Wonder which is true?

A small point, but more proof that the media are always at work putting whatever patina they want on any given story for effect.

Anonymous said...

I don't even see how this came to trial. She's as unreliable a witness as is possible. Alcohol impaired, check. History of alcohol abuse, check.

And I'll bet she's made this sort of allegation before. To not be able to research her previous exploits seems very wrong to me.

Anonymous said...

To 8:17...

It is not safe to assume that all guys will do whatever it takes to "get some". It takes a lot of people to make the world go round. Not all of us dig drunk smokers, and especially not in public. Not to mention he was a local celebrity with a girlfriend. I'm not saying its impossible, but all of the evidence corroborates his story and she's not too sure of her own. I'd hate for someone to go to jail based on something as flimsy as drunken memories.

Declan Singh said...

An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

I'd love to hear what Amanda Marcotte has to say about this.

Anonymous said...

''Is it better for ten guilty man to go free than one innocent men get convicted?''

Why 10? The presumption of innocence varies across states. Oklahoma courts have said that it is better that 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished. In contrast, Oregon and Florida have a lower presumption of innocence, their courts have ruled that it is better that one innocent man be convicted than 1.01 criminals go free.

For the gory details, see

mb said...

Either Blackstone, in the 18th century, had a better understanding of probability and statistics than do 21st century feminists, or the feminists are advocating jailing innocent men to score political points.

One of the unshakable realities of statistical theory states that when one decreases the likelihood of a Type I error, i.e., obtaining a false negative result (in this case, not guilty when in fact the person is guilty) you automatically increase the likelihood of making a Type II error, i.e., obtaining a false positive (guilty verdict when in fact the person is innocent). This is akin to the laws of physics - it simply cannot be violated, at least in this universe.

Therefore, simply put, modern feminists either are astoundingly ignorant of basic statistical reality, or (IMO more likely) they simply don't care about how many innocent men are jailed, as long as more convictions are obtained. That should be cause for very, very serious concerns among reasonable people who value truth and justice vis-a-vis the motivations and efforts of modern feminists.

Which brings me to another point: People seem to accept the feminist definition of themselves stating that they stand for "equal standing between the sexes," however, that definition doesn't pass the sniff test when comparing their actions to their rhetoric. Although examples abound, one need look no further than their efforts to sway the courts in favor of women complainants in rape cases to see through their (IMO) empty words. Feminists seem to be the only partisan group from whom we accept a self-definition - why is that? White supremacists claim to be "ethnic pride" organizations. The KKK has claimed to be a "civil rights" group. Why do we reject their self-definitions but at the same time blindly accept the feminist's self-defintion in the face of substantial evidence contrary to it? This deference to feminists to self-define has always bothered me.

gwallan said...

Gary Packwood said...

Specifically, rape and sexual assault today is largely a terrible crime against poor girls under the age of eighteen in their poor communities by young men who are also poor and residents of the same poor community. That is not always true but that is the profile.

Actually where underage victims are concerned there are about as many male victims as female. Furthermore those male victims are as likely to be abused by a female as a male. The most likely victim outside the domestic setting is a boy, not a girl.

Regardless of feminist inspired advocacy - which is all anybody ever hears - child sexual abuse is most definitely NOT gendered in the manner implied.

@KC et al regarding feminism and sexual assault...

Their influence continues to distort the issues. The framing of sexual abuse and rape as something done uniquely by males to females distorts treatment regimes for victims of both genders. The justice and enforcement systems are slanted severely in one direction thus disenfranchising many victims. Male victims and victims of female abusers are utterly marginalised by their actions.

Nothing has changed in this regard. While feminism continues to control the discourse on the issue nothing will.

Duke 1965 said...

mb at 2:25,

Excellent points....... I had hoped that the widespread use of advanced DNA testing would effectively correct the current distortion in our rape laws, at least to some extent. However, as the Frimpong case illustrates (and as Nifong advocated in the DL case), the presence or absence of DNA on the victim may not be determinative of the outcome of a rape prosecution. While I think it would be a mistake to use DNA test results as an all-or-nothing litmus test in rape cases, hopefully, a greater utilization and understanding of the capabilities and limitations of DNA testing will help level the playing field.

Anonymous said...

I searched in Google for extemporaneous coverage of this case in local media. I have to agree that the evidence is less than conclusive, but there is certainly some evidence that this man did commit the rape.

Supporting the woman's story is that she was demonstrably with the accused in the time period shortly before she ran up to a passerby and proclaimed herself a rape victim. Her DNA was found on the accuser. During the time period when the alleged rape occured, he was not with anyone who can vouch for his whereabouts.

None of that means he raped her, but it makes him an odd choice for one of these 'miscarriage of justice' stories. I'm sure there are lots of guys in jail on nothing more than an eye-witness accusation.

The story spends a lot of time suggesting that she was so drunk she doesn't know what happened. In the coverage at the time of the trial, I got the impression that she cried rape right after the event occured. The ESPN story made it seem like she was blacked out and wasn't aware of the rape til much later. According to the newspaper coverage, she basically immediately ran out of the beach to stop some passerby and starting calling friends saying she had been raped. In testimony she was vague on many of the details such as his name and how long the rape lasted, but not that she was raped or who did it. That could be suspicious or not, hard to say, but ESPN really hits hard on the idea that she was too shitfaced to know what was going on or who raped her. She might be lying to protect a boyfriend, but I didn't see any extemporaneous suggestion that she blacked out the rape.

None of his DNA was found on her, which argues against rape. Apparently no foreign DNA was found on her at all, which is odd, maybe argues that the collection was faulty. Just some semen in her underwear. His version of events could account for her DNA on his genitals. I'd want to know if that was part of his original comments to police, that she grabbed his genitals. That could be a pivotal piece of info, and I don't see it anywhere.

Basically it comes down to his word against hers, with the DNA and alibi evidence very slightly moving the needle to her story.

Not enough for a conviction IMHO, but not enough to persuade me that his story is true either.

It all argues for better prosecutorial discretion. It also argues for revealing the accuser's name, especially after the case is tried and finished. It is ridiculous that the accuser gets to be anonymous forever. That is just nuts.

Chris Halkides said...

The complainant's DNA could have arrived on Mr. Frimpong's genitals by secondary, as opposed to primary, transfer. There was a study a few years ago that showed if a man and a woman held hands and the man urinated shortly thereafter, her DNA would show up some of the time if his genitals were sampled for DNA. That makes two reasonable routes of DNA transfer that don't involve rape. The prosecution's case is flimsy IMO.

Chris Halkides said...

One website I visited implied that the amount of the complainant's DNA that was found was in the low template (sometimes also called the low copy number) region, meaning that it consisted of only a few cells' worth of DNA. This is problematic, owing to increased chances of contamination or secondary transfer. Some DNA scientists, such as Allan Jamieson and Bruce Budowle, have questioned the wisdom of using such low levels of DNA in forensic work.