I got calls and emails today from several news organizations wanting to know what I thought of the SJC opinion. I decided to keep it brief by issuing this statement:
The SJC opinion is very disappointing given the many indications that LaGuer is factually innocent. The commonwealth’s legal filings have been an abomination in that they have consistently repeated demonstrably untrue assertions and scientifically debunked forensic claims. It is hard to reconcile the fact that police withheld a key piece of evidence with our constitutional guarantee of a fair trial. This legal decision, following an unfortunate politicization of the case, is not the end of the line for LaGuer because the underlying merits of his claims and the need to air them in a public and transparent way cannot be denied forever.
A goodly portion of the statement made it into the AP copy that I’ve seen (thanks AP!). I’ve also noticed that generally the level of journalism on the case today is whole lot better than it was during the governor’s race. Problems with the DNA test are actually being reported, maybe not quite as thoroughly as I would like, but nonetheless. Here’s hoping the fourth estate will finally kick in with some value added journalism, rather than just waiting for pronouncements from on high. I’ll try to do some writing over the weekend in time for Monday morning blogging. Hint as to where I’ll be going: No matter what you think of Ben’s factual claims, this decision is lousy for civil liberties. It’s a precedent that basically tells police and prosecutors that it’s okay to tell jurors half the story as long as what is shared seems to support the overall story. Conservatives and liberals alike should be wary of going down that road.
In the mean time, thanks to those who read and recommended my highly hyper linked post this morning (from before the opinion) on the connections between the DNA lab scandal and Ben’s case. I spoke with Ben today. He is in good spirits. His comment was, “I got four new typewriter ribbons this morning and it looks like I’m going to need them.” If the true goal of the SJC was finality they should have ordered a new trial to finally air out all the muck that has accumulated. Then the chips would have fallen where they may. As it is, they left a toxic sore to fester. This story is not yet done.