Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The stain of injustice

Further update: In an editorial on July 1st, the Star Tribune called for the grant of a new trial for Kuoa Fong Lee.

Update: Susan Gaertner says no evidence of unintended acceleration. But of course, that isn’t true.

o  O  o

I’ve written three posts about Kuoa Fong Lee and the treatment he got at the hands of Susan Gaertner and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain
Not Gaertner’s finest hour, and yesterday,
Comes now the prosecutor
What is the job of a county attorney or any prosecutor? Lock up everyone s/he can? Well, obviously not. Here’s just the briefest description of a prosecutor’s role from Dallas AUSA Shane Read:
[T]he prosecutor’s role is not to get a conviction at all costs, but to seek justice so that no innocent person is wrongfully convicted.

He’s writing for, the State Department’s website about American life and culture for an international audience.
If you’ve read Not Gaertner’s finest hour, you may recall that I cited the example of Robert Morgenthau, a courageous — and legendary — D.A. in New York who moved to have the convictions of six young black men set aside (not merely that they be retried) for the brutal rape and near killing of the Central Park jogger, when new and exculpatory evidence arose.

Unlike Gaertner, who, when confronted with new exculpatory evidence, found experts who offer a buffet of speculative explanations as to why the new evidence was “not inconsistent with” the conviction. This is odious and miserable dissembling, and it is “inconsistent with” the role of a prosecutor.

This is of interest to all of us — not merely Kuoa Fong Lee who is rotting away in a prison cell — because the office of a public prosecutor is a powerful one, and it’s a role easily abused, especially by the politically ambitious.

The prosecutor acts on our behalf, and the stain of an injustice by a prosecutor is a stain on us all.

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