December 05, 2002

Decision Day, Part I

The Manhattan district attorney has decided to call today for the dismissal of the convictions of five men in the 1989 Central Park jogger case, including all charges that they participated in a gang rape and a rampage of muggings, according to two law enforcement officials who have read the legal papers.

The crime was a particularly grim moment in modern New York history, and the apparent collapse of the legal case is likely to reopen bitter debates about what actually happened and how the investigation was handled.

The move by the district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, will have no immediate impact on the convictions of the five men — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise. Only the judge presiding over the case, Charles J. Tejada, can vacate the guilty verdicts, a decision that is considered likely but not imminent.

Judge Tejada has declared that he will await Morgenthau's report (and recommendations), but he wants a reply by the CP5 lawyers in a month's time and his final decision will come February of next year. While it does look like a just move on Morgenthau's part, the wrongfully convicted men and their supporters should wait until this journey to justice is complete.

Joyce Purnick opines:

Inevitably, then, ambiguity will continue to cloud this polarizing and racially charged case. Mr. Morgenthau's office will submit what is being described as an extensive affidavit to the court today, but not so extensive that it will satisfy those seeking a finding of guilt or innocence on the rape charges, or a guide to what to think of the confessions.

The case's round edges will invariably add to the mistrust of the criminal justice system, to the impression that members of racial minorities — especially young Black men — cannot get a fair shake. Civil lawsuits and generous settlements from the city loom as inevitable.

And that's it? After 13 years, five convictions and five prison sentences, after the pain and suffering of the jogger and other victims of violence in the park that night, it ends with more questions than answers?

A decent article, but Purnick is still an idiot!

Posted by ronn at December 5, 2002 06:56 AM

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