Archive: December 2006

Where Does the Duke Case Go From Here?

There are two ways to digest today's big news about the dismissal of rape charges against the Duke lacrosse students. You can say that a very weak case against the three defendants has just gotten measurably weaker, which makes it almost non-existent. Or you can say that by getting rid of the rape charge, the prosecutor, and presumbly his complaining witness, now can move forwad on more solid legal and factual ground. While I think there is some truth to Option B, I'm going with Option A. Why? Because whatever shred of credibility the alleged victim had-- whatever residual confidence people may have had in her story until now-- is now lost. If the woman is now unsure she was raped why should anyone believe her beyond a reasonable dobut going forward that she was sexually assaulted-- touched in a way short of rape? I think this likely loss of...

By Andrew Cohen | December 22, 2006; 2:00 PM ET | Comments (44)

Cheney, Witness for the Defense

I'll believe that Vice President Dick Cheney is going to testify in person at the Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial early next year when I see the VP's grim countenance actually inside the courtroom after what surely would be a massive security sweep. Until that tense and dramatic image appears before me, I am going to continue to live under the assumption that our legal system, and our political system, is sadly not going to allow that historic moment to occur. Remember, just because the defense wants to call Cheney as a witness to help defend his old friend Lewis Libby against perjury and obstruction of justice charges doesn't mean that the Vice President is going to do so. And just because the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, said last week that he didn't think the White House would object to any such request doesn't mean that even now...

By Andrew Cohen | December 19, 2006; 4:00 PM ET | Comments (7)

The Great Writ, the Great What?

Even as the ink dries on the controversial Military Commissions Act, passed only a few months ago after rancorous debate, the judges have begun to apply it in cases brought by terror suspects. Yesterday, in the nation's capital, U.S District Judge James Robertson declared that the Act did not take away the right of the detainees to seek habeas corpus relief from federal judges but that it did largely take away the ability of judges to hear such claims. Go ahead. Read that sentence again. It's supposed to mean what it actually says. In the end, even a game Judge Robertson, had to concede that Congress' latest effort to strip the men of important due process rights had succeeded-- pending Supreme Court review. Judge Robertson first ruled that the Miltary Commissions Act effectively limited the statutory jurisdiction of the courts to hear claims by the detainees. Then he ruled that...

By Andrew Cohen | December 14, 2006; 9:15 AM ET | Comments (3)

We Should Change Our Currency

Remember early in the movie "Ray"? Remember how Jamie Foxx, as blind singing legend Ray Charles, angrily caught the guy who was paying him short? I think of that scene every time I think of the current dispute over what our currency ought to look and feel like. Last month, remember, a federal judge ruled that the Treasury Department's failure to make bills more distinguishable to blind people violates federal law. And earlier this week, to no one's surprise, the feds appealed that decision. U.S. District Judge James Robertson wrote in his controversial ruling about ways in which blind people currently manage to distinguish between greenbacks. "Visually impaired Americans have developed a variety of methods for keeping track of the value of their paper money after their bills have been properly identified for them," he wrote. "Ms. Brunson folds her currency into different shapes: she keeps $1 bills straight; she...

By Andrew Cohen | December 13, 2006; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (5)

Coming Soon: A Winter of Discontent

Lost last week amid all the talk of Iraq was the talk in Washington by Senate Democrats that they intend to try to challenge or even roll back some of the Bush Administration's most contentious policies in the legal war on terrorism. For example, The New York Times last Thursday reported that incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), and outgoing Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa), "proposed legislation that would seek to restore the rights of all terrorism suspects to challenge their detentions in court." Remember, this was one of the most controversial components of the Military Commissions Act signed into law a few months ago, before the mid-term election. The Times also reports that Senate Democrats plan to a aggressively question Administration officials about the various intelligence-gathering operations, at the National Security Agency and otherwise, that have been implemented since the terror attacks. Some of these programs,...

By Andrew Cohen | December 12, 2006; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (3)

Divorce, Same-Sex Style

I am divorced and so I believe strongly that I have given up any right I may have had in the past to make any judgments about the desire of people, any people, to try to make a marriage work. Having failed at it, who am I to say that any couple can't give it a shot? That's probably why I have never understood why so many divorced people seem to be against same-sex marriage even though they already have proven, through their divorces, that the "sanctity" of marriage isn't all it is cracked up to be. More power to anyone, or any couple, that can manage marriage better than the 50 percent or so of us who cannot. Which brings me at last to the newest trend in the same-sex couples game-- same-sex divorce. It should come as no surprise to anyone that same-sex couples are just as prone...

By Andrew Cohen | December 7, 2006; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (11)


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