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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Immorality of political interference with rape cases - Central Park wilding

  1. Were the police more interested in just solving this case, rather than solving the case in a just manner?
  2. Is this a case of police corruption, incompetence, or a lack of ethics?
  3. How can police use of deception in interrogation best be controlled?
  4. What can be done to ensure such injustice is not repeated?

Before answering the following questions, it is important to note that the jury did not convict the attackers based on the confessions, which the jury found to be the “result of subtle forms of coercion.” (Sullivan, 1990, para. 9). Instead the jury relied “upon the physical evidence that he believed incriminated Mr. Richardson far more than his taped admissions.” (Sullivan, 1990, para 15) The jury found enough physical evidence to convict the attackers, and it was known at the time there was an additional attacker that wasn't brought to justice. Reyes' confession identified the unknown attacker, but it did not remove the victim's hair from the attackers' clothes.
I am going to stop moving down this line of thought, because proceeding would mean we move away from discussion questions and towards inquiries into media propaganda and political influence affecting the criminal justice system. It is necessary to bring this fact into the discussion as it has a direct bearing on the questions.
Is this a case of police corruption, incompetence, or a lack of ethics?

None of the above. The rape was not the only crime committed during the “wilding”, which lasted over an hour and in which more criminals then the defendants were involved (over 40 in total). Police brought in over 20 suspects involved in the series of physical assaults, some of which informed on the rape case attackers. From that basis, police found the physical evidence that eventually convicted the attackers. A review of the case instigated by Reyes' confession “concluded yesterday that there was no misconduct in the 1989 investigation of the Central Park jogger case” (McFadden, 2003, para.1) One possible lapse of competence was in treating the 15-year old Salaam as a 16-year old due to the forged identity paper Salaam carried. A second possible lack of competence was the “failure to connect the April 17, 1989 rape to the April 19, 1989 attack on the jogger” (Armstrong, Hammerman, & Martin, 2003, p.43)

What can be done to ensure such injustice is not repeated?

From a utilitarian or a teleological view, there is not an injustice in this case, even if the rape itself did not occur. The rape case attackers “admitted being among several dozen teens on an hour-long assault and robbery spree”(Hirschkorn, 2003, para. 9). From the utilitarian point of view, violent criminals were prevented from harming society for the next few years. From the teleological view, the violent criminals were punished as the end result If anything, the violent criminals got less then they should have, considering the severity of the rape victim's damage and the extant of the violence they committed that night. Santana “admitted that he and his friends planned to go to the park that night to rob and assault people. He stated that about seven or eight friends devised the plan. They were prepared to attack whoever they encountered that night in the park” (Armstrong, Hammerman, & Martin, 2003, p.38)

Let's Assume

I think the point of the discussion was to examine police ethics in obtaining confessions (the abysmal lack of the course writer's research on the subject matter notwithstanding). A brief examination of this question reveals that there are issues in the police use of deception and coercion. Ciske cites Brooks in that “the decision to lie involves a utilitarian calculus–a belief that the truth will cause a greater evil than the deception” (2009, para. 13) Ciske qualifies the situations that police uses deception and considering that “The goal of an interrogation or criminal interview is to obtain factual information about a crime and the confession of the person responsible for it.” (Ciske, 2009, para. 15) There are “three sometimes competing principles underlie the law of confessions: first, the truth-finding rationale, which serves the goal of reliability (convicting an innocent person is worse than letting a guilty one go free); second, the substantive due process or fairness rationale, which promotes the goal of the system's integrity; and third, the related deterrence principle, which proscribes offensive or lawless police conduct.” (Skolnick & Leo, 1992, para. 11). This lies in parallel with the idea of moral agency for defense lawyers, in that a lawyer may use questionable ethics (discrediting a witness, for example) of that results in a innocent verdict for an innocent man.

Armstrong, M., Hammerman, S. & Martin, J. (2003). NYPD review of the Central Park jogger case. Retrieved June 18, 2014 from http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/cpjgr/nypd12703jgrrpt.pdf

Ciske, M. (2009, July 27). The ethics of police deception. Ohio University: The Institute for Applied & Professional Ethics. Retrieved June 18, 2014 from http://www.ohio.edu/ethics/1999-conferences/the-ethics-of-police-deception/

Hirschkorn, P. (2003). Police panel slams decision to absolve men in Central Park jogger case. CNN Law Center. Retrieved June 18, 2014 from http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/01/27/nyjogger.report/index.html

McFadden, R. (2003, January 28) Boys' guilt likely in rape of jogger, police panel says. The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2014 from http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/28/nyregion/boys-guilt-likely-in-rape-of-jogger-police-panel-says.html?pagewanted=all

Skolnick, J. and Leo, R. (1992, January 1) The ethics of deceptive interrogation.Criminal Justice Ethics. Retrieved June 18, 2014 from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+ethics+of+deceptive+interrogation.-a012396024

Sullivan, R. (1990, December 13). Jogger trial jury relied on physical evidence, not tapes. The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2014 from http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/13/nyregion/jogger-trial-jury-relied-on-physical-evidence-not-tapes.html

Personally, I think the charges should be based on the actual crime committed.  But I'm not going to worry too much if people that are clearly guilty of assault and robbery are charged with additional crimes.  The only reason this becomes an issue is that there is a negative consequence of having a guilty party remain free, and likely to commit additional criminal acts.

In this case, that isn't so.  The jury reported that they didn't find the confessions compelling, and relied on the other evidence.  After looking at the NYPD review, It is clear that there was physical evidence that put the attackers at the scene,
"Other evidence admitted at trial consisted of: three hairs, one pubic, found on Kevin
Richardson’s clothing that were “consistent” with the jogger’s hair; one hair “consistent”
with the jogger’s found on Steven Lopez’ clothing; a blood stain on Raymond Santana’s
sneaker; individual blood stains on Yusef Salaam’s jacket and Steven Lopez’s
underwear; and semen stains on the underwear of Antron McCray and Kevin
Richardson and the sweatshirt of Raymond Santana.

We have not been given access to all of the forensic test material.
Nevertheless, it is apparent, from the Ryan Affirmation, that no new DNA evidence contradicts any of the evidence introduced at trial. (Armstrong et al, 2003, p.37)

There were voluntary statements (pre-interrogatory) that showed the attackers knew of the crime before the police did;
"En route to 100th
 Street and Central Park West Clarence Thomas began to cry.
Without being questioned, he stated, ‘I know who did the murder.  I know who did
the murder.  I know where he lives and I’ll tell you his name.’  Richardson said he
also knew who did it and would tell them  too.  Then Thomas said that it was
Antron McCray and that he lived at a particular address on 111th
 Street.  Kevin
Richardson concurred saying, ‘Yeah.  That’s who did it.’ (Exhibit A, pp. 11, 12).
(Armstrong et al, 2003, p.15)

The Reyes confession matched the evidence that investigators knew indicated an additional attacker had assaulted the victim; it does not preclude additional assault.

I don't believe that charges should be added on to satisfy a prosecutor's belief that the initial charged aren't "enough".  Charges should match the offense.

My position is that, depending on the severity of the case, I am not going to care if developments down the line show that a convict was overcharged.

There is a difference in overcharging with an unethical intent then there is in being wrong.  And that difference doesn't generate a lot of outrage in me if the convict needs to remain in jail in the first place

Moving back to the Central Park case,  my opinion is that the attackers were guilty of an attack on the rape victim, in addition to their other crimes.  There was more evidence then the DNA and the confessions that proved their guilt, although the argumentation for exonerating them ignored that.  The fact that Reyes raped her too does not indicate in any way that she was not attacked by the defendants.

The only injustice I see in this particular case is that these criminals were exonerated for ALL the crimes they committed on faulty logic and then awarded 40 million taxpayer dollars for assaulting and robbing people in the park.


'm going to dispute you on a few points regarding the Central Park case; I'll respond separately on the moral issues.

The attackers were not only convicted of rape, but also of the assault and robbery of several other victims, in addition to being convicted of riot.

The attackers, with the exception of one, were 16 and treated appropriately under NY law.  The one attacker that was under 16 carried forged ID indicating he was 16

Dahl's contention that the convictions were SOLELY based on confessions is either incompetent research or is a bald faced lie.  The 1990 NY Times article I cite quotes the jurors explaining that their verdict decision was based on physical evidence, and that they didn't give the confession much credence.  Interesting enough, the 2003 NY Times article I cited claimed the same thing that Dahl did, again, either indicating a simple lack of research, or intentional dishonesty.  How hard is it for the NY Times to look up their own archives? 

Although DNA evidence indicated that there was an additional attacker, there was physical evidence that the attackers were indeed at the scene of the crime. DNA is not always present at rape scenes; "Seminal fluid itself does not contain DNA, but spermatozoa does" (Parks, 2001, p. 509), and remember that the semen collected from the attackers was present on the attacker's clothes, meaning not in or on the victim.

Witness testimony implicated the attackers, none of whom were arrested on the basis of their skin color, but rather from either being at arrested the riot, or implicated by other riot participants.

Reyes confession only identified the attacker that the police had not identified previously; logically, it is not proof that the other attackers are innocent of the attack on the victim as well; as far as the idea that should exonerate them from the rest of the charges, all I can say is that I am glad I don'r live in New York City

Parks, S. (2001) Compelled DNA testing in rape cases:illustrating the necessity of an exception to the self-incrimination clause William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law Volume 7:Issue 2. Rereieved June 20, from http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/wmjowl/vol7/iss2/7

n the point that  “a just proceeding and verdict and should not be obligated to only solve a case and blame the crime on any probable offender without an appropriate and just interrogation.”, the NYPD decided that, based upon physical evidence and witness statements, that they had all but one attacker in custody.  Prosecution of suspects does not require all suspects to be caught at once, but that suspects be tried as evidence presents itself.  The NY justice sytem did act ethically under this consideration.

Under utilitarian considerations, the attackers were involved in more then "minor" crimes; these were violent and preplanned attacks.  The consequences of not dealing with this behavior could have left a high level of certainty that police would find woman left for dead, and a man beaten unconscious every day in the park.

Looking at deontological considerations, the NYPD review panel found that the investigators performed their duties correctly under the standards of the NYPD. 

The NYPD treated the attackers caring, connectedness, or mindfulness” by the required standarsd of the department, with the exception of an underage defendant that was "hoist on his own petard" by carrying false ID.   "Justice Galligan, an experienced and highly regarded jurist, carefully analyzed each claim raised by each defendant and found, with one exception, that there was no constitutional or statutory violation by any of the officers or prosecutors involved" (Armstrong et al, 2003, p.14)

Now having said that, I need to further research the charge that the system failed to disclose the DNA evidence indicating another attacker from the charged attackers; this would be an ethical violation.  In my opinion, this would not exonerate the rape charges in light of the witness testimony, the analysis of the interrogations, and the other physical evidence, but it needed to be made available to the defense regardless.  But considering the inaccurate, if not dishonest, information that has been peddled in regards to the cases as a whole, I need to check into the charge's validity.

I will suggest that the Armstrong review, and the 1999 NY Times interview with the jurors, be considered in addition to any accusatory material.

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