Thursday, December 18, 2008

Support for the Michiganers

As a proud member of the University of Chicago Law School's class of 2011, it's rare that you'll see anything but contempt by me towards our compatriots at the University of Michigan.* But I'll make an exception for the Michigan 2L who was charged by police after reporting her assault in the course of engaging in sex work. She gives her story here. If ever there was a reason to legalize and regulate sex work, it's so stories like this didn't happen.

* This is, of course, a lie. Not only is UM a fine law school, but they were exceedingly nice to me when I applied and had perhaps the finest personal touch of any law school that admitted me -- a sense that I've heard verified from other law school applicants. I'm genuinely appreciative of that fact.

4 comments:

Peter said...

Just for verisimilitude, there is another perspective here (forgive the source):
http://abovethelaw.com/2008/12/michigan_professor_responds_to.php

I have no idea which is more accurate, but it seems fair to give both sides the opportunity to voice their side.

PG said...

Peter,

Given the Ann Arbor Police Department's treatment of the Michigan Law student, I unfortunately cannot put much credence into the accuracy of their report. As one of the ATL commenters noted, the professor's explanation doesn't give a reason why someone who did not feel assaulted and mistreated by him would report the incident to the police.

Peter said...

I guess I'm not sure what treatment by the AAPD you're referring to. Commenting on the illegality of the victim's conduct in relation to the case? Or the failure to prosecute on the assault charge? Choosing what charges to pursue is in the discretion of the local prosecutor, not the police department or victim. As for the comment by the PD about studying more before coming to the cops, it might have been inappropriate, but it doesn't in my mind imply the police abrogated their role as law enforcement officers and didn't prepare proper reports on the crime.

PG said...

Peter,

As for the comment by the PD about studying more before coming to the cops, it might have been inappropriate, but it doesn't in my mind imply the police abrogated their role as law enforcement officers and didn't prepare proper reports on the crime.

Actually, that's exactly what a jury reasonably might think: if a police officer involved in investigating and/or documenting criminal activity displays bias against someone involved, the accuracy of his reporting is going to be suspect. See, e.g., Mark Fuhrman.

Choosing what charges to pursue is in the discretion of the local prosecutor, not the police department or victim.

Certainly, but the prosecutor largely is going to be hamstrung by the police report. If the police failed to accurately document the victim's claims and injuries, for example, due to antagonism toward the victim, then the prosecutor has lost the main evidentiary basis for the assault charge and quite sensibly will refuse to prosecute it even if the victim's testimony otherwise is credible. (That is, if the police officers didn't document any injuries to the victim, they are unlikely to testify to those injuries existing, which turns the prosecution into a he-said she-said that won't overcome the reasonable doubt standard.)