Stuart Taylor 
Member since Feb 24, 2007


OtherArea: Washington, DC

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Re: “"Waltz" Prosecutor DiScenza Defends Press, Grand Jurors, and Feds

John Branston says: "I stand by my story." But he does not specifically deny a single one of my complaints that he misrepresented what I said. Pathetic. Stuart Taylor

Posted by Stuart Taylor on 02/25/2007 at 10:33 AM

Re: “"Waltz" Prosecutor DiScenza Defends Press, Grand Jurors, and Feds

John Branston misrepresented my remarks on several points. This is to correct the record on some of them. First, Branston asserted that I "claim[ed] that prosecutors are political creatures and blind to the other side and that grand jurors are mere rubberstamps for prosecutors." The first part of Branston's sentence is a grotesque misrepresentation. The second part is misleading. As to prosecutors, I said essentially that most are ethical but that we have a significant problem of prosecutorial misconduct in this country. No significant prosecutor or other legal expert I know disagrees, although reasonable people (including the two prosecutors on the panel) do disagree about HOW serious the problem is. As to grand juries, I said essentially that they are rubber stamps in the sense that it is a myth that grand juries provide innocent defendants with much protection against unscrupulous or overzealous prosecutors. No serious expert alive disagrees. I also said that this was not because of any flaws with the people who serve as grand jurors, but because the rules give prosecutors total control of the information that the grand jurors receive. One of the prosecutors on the panel purported to disagree. But his comments boiled down to saying that grand jurors are a USEFUL tool for GOOD prosecutors, because they provide a kind of dress-rehearsal to assess whether a case has jury appeal. I'll buy that. But it in no way contradicted my point that grand jurors are all but useless in protecting innocent defendants against BAD prosecutors. Mr. Branston also quoted me saying that the DNA testing used in the Duke lacrosse case is "is so sensitive it will pick up my DNA from 20 yards away," while adding that I "later clarified that [I] was exaggerating about the DNA . . . ." If Branston's complaint was that I lapsed into rhetorical hyperbole, I plead guilty to that trivial charge. But to the extent that he implied that I initially tried to mislead the audience, the implication is false. Indeed, I believe (although I can't be sure) that I said that I had been exaggerating about one sentence after making the exaggerated statement. Branston deemed the fact that one of the prosecutors on the panel "stuck up for the fairness of the press and prosecutors" so remarkable that he made this the major point of his first sentence. I leave it to readers to judge whether Branston's column does credit to the fairness of the press. Sincerely, Stuart Taylor

Posted by Stuart Taylor on 02/24/2007 at 11:32 PM
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