When the North Carolina Attorney General announced several months back that all charges would be dropped against the Duke lacrosse players, I heard one radio report that quoted one of the players saying that he knew that he only managed to find justice because his family had the money and that he recognized that there are many people who are done wrong by the criminal justice system because they cannot afford an attorney. I was very impressed by this but didn’t hear it again in any of the media coverage.
In a column on June 22, Connie Shultz of the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted that the three players- Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann- attended a fundraiser for the Innocence Project on April 24:
They didn’t want to talk to reporters, (Eric) Ferrero (of the Innocence Project) said. “We had about 20 exonerees at the dinner, and they [the former Duke students] kept saying the focus should be on those men. They kept mentioning how they would have gone to prison if they hadn’t had the money to fight. We were all impressed that they could acknowledge that.”
These guys get it. Too often, people don’t get it until it affects them personally, but that’s why we’re out there doing the work we do. And we’re grateful for people like Senator Stewart Greenleaf, who created the advisory committee on wrongful convictions; Pete Shellem of The Patriot News, who has freed four innocent people through his investigative journalism; and death row exoneree Ray Krone of York County, who is out there constantly talking with the public and the powers-that-be about how innocent people are convicted of crimes.
Andy in Harrisburg