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Duking It Out

Andrew Cohen wrote a less than convincing op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday saying a "collective sort of reverse insanity has descended upon the media" in the Duke lacrosse case. Cohen rails against the way reporters have been lapping up the defense's arguments and says that the judge "long ago should have stepped into this case and shut up the defense teams with a gag order."

My beef with Cohen's piece is that he makes only two passing references to Mike Nifong's deplorable behavior at the start of this case when Nifong waded into the media frenzy and did more than seventy interviews, including at least a few where he touted the certainty that a rape had occurred. Just how fair would it have been to gag the defense team after such a prejudicial media onslaught induced by the District Attorney?

Just because Nifong subsequently decided (after his election was secured, of course) to unilaterally disarm and stop talking about the case with the press doesn't mean the defense should have to surrender its right to discuss the case as well.

My other issue with Cohen's article is that it makes no reference to Nifong's mind-boggling decision to postpone the trial until the spring of next year. One logical way to clear up all the posturing and uncertainty surrounding the case is to get it into the courtroom as soon as possible. Surely if there has ever been a case that merited expediting, it's this one.

Instead, however, we have nine more months of speculation awaiting us, and the accused have nine more months of living in hellish limbo. Cohen writes:

The point is that we don't know. We haven't seen all of the evidence, haven't examined all of the testimony; haven't had the privilege of seeing the case unfold at trial the way it is supposed to.

How true. But also written like a man who isn't waiting to stand trial for a crime he may not have committed.