Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Durham's West Coast Friend


Do you believe a friend is someone who tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear?

I do. That’s why when Jim in San Diego commented in response to the post, Durham Suit Costs (Post 1) , I thought: “Jim’s a friend of Durham.”

His comment follows this note.

Tomorrow I'll say more about it and the other excellent comments on the post thread.


Jim in San Diego said...

It is difficult for ordinary people to understand litigation. It is immensely costly. Judgments sometimes are for big numbers.

Durham, as are other communities, is ultimately responsible for the behavior of its public officials. Whether this is right or wrong, or fair or not, that is the way it is.

In Los Angeles a cottage industry has arisen around suing the L.A. police department for various abuses. As a result, many very unattractive felons and, some would say, their equally unattractive lawyers, have won very large sums of money. Paying such settlements is now a significant budget item in the L.A. annual budget.

Now, is this good, or bad? As a result of the financial pain, there have been positive steps taken by the L.A.P.D. to reduce police abuses. Education and discipline have at least somewhat reduced the beatings and other mistreatment of L.A. citizens.

A cynic might say it has primarily made the P.D. more careful to make sure no one was videotaping the abuse. Nevertheless, the primary beneficiaries of improved police behavior have been minorities.

Fast forward to Durham, N.C. The single most amazing result of the Duke fiasco from here is the absence of any obvious corrective action by those involved (guilty?) in the fiasco. This includes police, City Council, the DA's office, and the local press.

The Federal Civil Rights Act which, ironically, the Duke victims appear to be preparing to use in Durham, was specifically drafted to deal with communities like Durham. That is, communities which consciously and intentionally violate individual civil rights with no apparent expectation that anyone will do anything about it.

The Civil Rights laws have teeth. Some of the teeth include paying for the plaintiff's legal fees, and possible injunctions to force change in Durham, whether residents like it or not.

This is something that residents have brought on themselves.


kbp said...

Thanks John!

I like Jim in SD's comments there!

Add to that how the vast majority that enabled this case missed a great opportunity to better their own community.

This case was ripe for the whiners to jump out and whine at the authorities for any past abuse that has taken place. Instead they are still whining the wrong tune, possibly adding fuel for the fire their city will face in a trial.

Shame they have lost a perfect chance to be heard fighting to gain justice for all.

Anonymous said...

Great comments — to the point and right on the money.