Thursday, June 07, 2007

INNOCENT: Law Prof Wants Students Treated Fairly

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Jason Trumpbour, Duke Trinity '88, Grad '91 and Law '91, teaches law at the University of Maryland School of Law and legal and ethical studies at the University of Baltimore. Many of you know him as spokesperson for the Friends of Duke University.

Today, in a Chronicle column, Trumpbour says:

Now that the injustice of the lacrosse case has been corrected, let us not forgot another less outlandish but no less outrageous violation of the rights of Duke students by local law enforcement agencies that has yet to be resolved: the Durham Police Department's announced policy instructing officers to arrest Duke students for minor quality-of-life offenses in Trinity Park that would otherwise be disposed of through a simple citation.

Traditionally, pretrial detention served one purpose and one purpose only-to ensure that defendants, who are considered innocent until proven guilty, appear at trial. That is why those who are arrested and charged with a crime can obtain their freedom by giving sufficient pledges that they will appear and those accused of minor offenses are simply given a citation to appear. Within the last few decades courts have also recognized the right of the state to detain arrestees without bond if they are deemed a potential threat to the community.

The Durham police policy serves neither purpose. Instead, by its own terms, it is meant to be punitive. It was put in place because police felt that the courts were not doing enough to deter Duke students from making noise in Trinity Park.

The result is a punishment without a criminal conviction and a violation of the 14th Amendment, which forbids deprivation of liberty without due process of law. Indeed, the fact that many of the students arrested end up being acquitted outright at trial further highlights the injustice. . . .

To insist on due process is not to condone unlawful and inconsiderate behavior by students off campus or prevent the proper enforcement of the law by police. Rather, it is to insist that police themselves observe the rule of law as they purport to uphold it and to ensure that justice is actually a goal rather than a pretext.
Trumpbour goes on to discuss why what DPD is currently doing doesn’t serve anyone’s interests and very likely is making things worse. He makes a powerful case for the use of modern policing methods that are fair to all.

Trumpbour says what’s needed in Trinity Park and the rest of Durham:
is modern community policing, which stresses police involvement in the neighborhoods they patrol and an emphasis on deterring crime by fostering respect for the law and cooperation with the police. Crime-free neighborhoods should be something all residents of Durham enjoy, not just those in Trinity Park.

The DPD has many good, well trained police officers who want to make a difference in the community. There should be more of them and they should be the ones who are turned loose on Durham's neighborhoods.

The DPD is currently undergoing reaccreditation. Also, a commission has been established to look at its conduct during the lacrosse case.

Now is the perfect opportunity for Duke to speak up in favor of reform, for the good of its students and for the good of the people of Durham.
The problems Trumpbour is talking about were highlighted in a Raleigh News & Observer story last September. Here’s part of it:
[Sgt. Mark] Gottlieb got the lacrosse case weeks after serving 10 months as a patrol shift supervisor in police District 2, which includes about a quarter of the city. The district has neighborhoods as disparate as the crime-ridden Oxford Manor public housing complex and Trinity Park -- the blocks of historic homes across from a low stone wall rimming Duke's East Campus.

From May 2005 to February 2006, the period during which Gottlieb was a patrol supervisor in the district, court and police records examined by The News & Observer show that Gottlieb arrested 28 people. Twenty were Duke students, including a quarterback of the football team and the sister of a men's lacrosse player. At least 15 of the Duke students were taken to jail.

In comparison, the three other squad supervisors working in District 2 during the same 10 months -- Sgts. Dale Gunter, John Shelton and Paul Daye -- tallied a combined 64 arrests. Two were Duke students. Both were taken to jail.

Gottlieb often treated Duke students and nonstudents differently. For example, Gottlieb in 2004 wrote a young man a citation for illegally carrying a concealed .45-caliber handgun and possessing less than a half-ounce of marijuana, but records indicate he wasn't taken to jail. He was not a Duke student.
Be sure to read Trumpbour’s entire column here.

I’ll be posting again on the issues Trumpbour raises.


Anonymous said...

Do any of the student's incarcertaed for these minor offenses have recourse to collect civil judgements from the DPD due to violation of civil rights or some such?

straightarrow said...

Ok, that all I needed to know. Goodbye. I will not trouble you nor read you again.