Monday, July 16, 2007

The Duke perp walk

It was a piece of videotape that was replayed hundreds of times on television. Reade Seligmann and Colin Finnerty arriving for their arraignment, handcuffed, and in the back of police cars. Look, the pictures said, the DPD chased down two dangerous men.

It was one more lie in a case founded and perpetuated by lies. A story in the Brown Daily Herald tells us what really happened:

He and fellow sophomore Collin Finnerty, who was also indicted the day before, drove to the back of the Durham County jail, where they had arranged to meet officers. (Team captain David Evans, who held the party where the rape was said to have occurred, would be indicted a month later.) They were handcuffed and then driven 15 yards to the front of the jail, where camera crews were waiting, Seligmann says. He believes Nifong orchestrated the whole thing to maximize media attention.
The DPD and Nifong were acting in character. This little bit of drama is of a piece with the set-up on the DNA collection. It also confirms what Judge Sentelle wrote about the "perp walk" and its threat to justice:
The perp walk would be bad enough if the humiliation of the accused were the only intended or accomplished result. however, the walk, commonly conducted at such time as to achieve maximum media exposure, is displayed not just for family and neighbors of the accused, but for every potential juror who sees the front page of the newspaper or the beginning of the evening news.

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