“The nature and number of the complainant’s falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant,” the document states. “If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so.”
Damn. A vote of no confidence by the prosecution.
Time has more:
In court Tuesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzi-Orbon spoke before Judge Obus and explained their reasoning for the motion to dismiss charges. Illuzi-Orbon said that Strauss-Kahns accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, was untruthful with us in virtually every substantive interview in matters of large and small significance. Illuzi-Orbon explained that while the physical and forensic evidence in the case suggests a hurried sexual encounter, it did not answer questions of force or consent. For a jury to believe an assault took place, jurors would have to rely on Diallos credibility. Indeed, the case rises and falls on her testimony, said Illuzi-Orbon in a direct quote from the dismissal motion.
Judge Obus agreed and dismissed the charges, but the legal proceedings had one more act. On Monday, Diallos lawyers filed a motion to appoint a special prosecutor, arguing that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. had not fulfilled his duties. Judge Obus denied that motion, and just hours before the hearing, Diallos lawyers appealed that ruling. When Judge Obus dismissed the charges, he placed a stay on the ruling for 30 days, meaning that the ruling would not go into affect for that time, allowing the appellate court to rule on Diallos appeal. It turns out the court didnt need much time at all. Less than two hours after the hearing ended, the appellate court denied the appeal, leaving Strauss-Kahn free to go.
Outside the courthouse, lawyers for Strauss-Kahn said they were pleased with the decisions. It is impossible to understand the full measure of relief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is feeling, his lawyer Benjamin Brafman said. You can engage in inappropriate behavior perhaps, but that is much different than a crime.
Beyond a reasonable doubt is a really fascinating standard when applied to rape and other sex related crimes.
Amp has an interesting post on this from a few years ago:
There’s another limitation of the criminal justice system for addressing rape: The law requires – and should require – an offender to be proved guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” before punishing him (or her) for any crime, including rape. This is not something I want to change.
However, a significant number of rapists are friends, boyfriends or spouses of their victims. These rapes often happen without any physical evidence to distinguish rape from consent, leaving the jury (or judge) with the task of deciding guilt or innocence based on the competing words of the accused and the complainant. If a rapist is a convincing liar, then even a very feminist jury may feel that he is not guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and so will not convict.
Also, although the law has to consider rape a bright line – either an act was legally rape, or it wasn’t – in real life rape is better described as a spectrum.
This dynamic leads to a somewhat problematic gap in terms of prosecuting sex crimes. The language chosen was carefully stated – the prosecutors didn’t say Strauss-Kahn was innocent of the charges. They said they didn’t feel her testimony would convince a jury. And there is a huge gap between those two statements, just like there is a huge gap between being “innocent” of charges and a “not guilty” verdict.
Strauss-Kahn better thank his lucky stars. Had Diallo’s background not been questionable, he’d be on his way to trial right now. And considering everything that came out about his reputation, his next “inappropriate” incident could catch him on the wrong side of the “reasonable doubt” standard – even if he’s innocent.
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