December 19, 2002

Justice Begins!

I was a bit worried for quite some time that Judge Tejada would allow the unfair, racially-motivated convictions of the Central Park 5 to stand. But once Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau agreed with their lawyers' motion to vacate the convictions, the handwriting was on the wall:

Throughout the reinvigorated investigation (and honestly, during the original firestorm the case ignited), Newsday provided the best, most even coverage of the case:

Judge Tosses Central Park Jogger Convictions

Twelve years after they were found guilty of the 1989 attack on the Central Park jogger, a Manhattan judge today threw out all the convictions against the five young men jailed for the notorious crime and the assaults on others in the park that night.

"Motion is granted,” state Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada matter of factly told defense lawyers, family members and their supporters and a horde of media in his 100 Centre Street courtroom this morning, referring to a defense motion to vacate the convictions. “Everyone have a very merry Christmas and happy new year.”

Whoops and cheers erupted.

[ ... ]

Sharrone Salaam, whose son Yusef served years behind bars for the crime, pulled open her jacket to reveal a red-and-white “Yusef is Innocent” t-shirt that she had kept in her closet since her son’s trial.

“This should have happened over 13 years ago because all the evidence was here then,” Salaam said. “People put on a blind eye.”

Newsday also has excerpts from the ruling, along with audio from Sharonne Salaam (and others) and key dates throughout the case.

Jim Dwyer at the New York Times continues to provide good coverage of the case as well:

Thirteen years after a woman jogging in Central Park was savagely beaten, raped and left for dead by what was believed to have been a pack of rioting Harlem teenagers, a Manhattan judge threw out all of the convictions today of the five young men whose prosecution was based on their own detailed but ultimately unreliable confessions.

In one final, extraordinary ruling that took less than 10 minutes to deliver, Justice Charles J. Tejada of the State Supreme Court concurred with motions made by defense attorneys and the Manhattan District attorney to vacate the convictions.

Justice Tejada told the court: "After careful consideration of all the papers and all the arguments made in the papers presented by all parties, and for the reasons in my written statement, the motions are granted as to all the convictions."

Technically, by vacating the convictions, Justice Tejada's ruling made possible a new trial. But Assistant District Attorney Peter Casolaro, speaking for the prosecutors, immediately responded: "All the indictments will be dismissed," thereby foregoing the possibility of another trial.

Justice Tejada then replied, "The motion is granted. Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year."

The Times also has complete coverage of the case including a graphic entitled Five Lives Interrupted.

The Daily News adds its own (biased, racially-tinged) two-cents:

Finally cleared Thursday in one of the city’s most heinous crimes, the five defendants in the Central Park jogger case could return to court with civil suits tied to the years they lost behind bars since the 1989 “wilding” attack.

A Manhattan courtroom reverberated with cheers and applause as a judge dropped the convictions and dismissed the indictments against the five. The Manhattan district attorney said there would be no retrial.

I damn sure wouldn't call clearing the convictions after 5 — 13 years behind bars and a public lynch-mob mentality for crimes I didn't commit a "Christmas gift" like the Snooze did.

I'm not even considering adding anything from the New York Joke Post or any conservafuckers (just yet?). Time will tell.

Update: NBC's New York affiliate, Newschannel 4, weighs in on the case and reports on the failed attempt by assholes of the Detectives' Endowment Association (the Police Detectives' union) to block the exoneration fo the Central Park 5:

Tejada's decision came after lawyers from the Detectives' Endowment Association, the police detectives' union, unsuccessfully tried to block his ruling.

Posted by ronn at December 19, 2002 05:09 PM

"Truth crushed to earth, shall rise again" - Winston Churchill Posted by: Ray on December 19, 2002 06:35 PM
Isn't that a Biblical quote? I love hearing an old speech by MLK that includes it. Posted by: ronn on December 20, 2002 07:01 AM
Hey Ronn, It may be, several speakers have used it over the years in one form or another. I first heard it on a recording of a W. Churchill speech. I may look into it further to find out its exact origin. Posted by: Ray on December 20, 2002 10:51 PM
Ray, The line is actually from "The Battlefield," a poem by William Cullen Bryant. It was inspired by 2 Timothy. We're both right as Churchill used the quote before MLK's speech at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (where he mentioned the biblical roots of the quote). Posted by: ronn on December 21, 2002 08:18 AM
Thanks Ronn. And, by the way, Happy Holidays! Posted by: Ray on December 22, 2002 01:46 PM