As the specter of the Straus-Kahn case lumbers on under the radar for a few days, recent reports brought to mind a frequent expectation that I deal with in the practice of criminal law: get my case dismissed. The credibility problems for the primary victim do not automatically create a situation where the case MUST be dismissed.
Much of the prosecution process is discretionary. The prosecutor has the discretion, or the opportunity to decide whether the continue with the prosecution in the face of a discredited witness and a collapsing case.
When clients tell me “that witness lied” we must prove that as a fact like any other to a prosecutor or to a jury. The lie oftentimes comes down to my moma said her brother heard the witness say he’d refuse to testify for $2000.00. But when you ask the brother, the most important witness, he doesn’t recall, or reframes the context.
Criminal cases and criminal trials are a perilous matrix of decisions and moves and choices, somewhat like a game. Unfortunately, we do not all start out with an even playing field in the courtroom. This game affects lives. Like the Strauss-Kahn case, some allegations take on a life and story of their own. The gossip grapevine of the street can be just as merciless and the high profile media.
Strauss-Kahn will likely suffer the fate of many other alleged sex crime defendants, a trial based on discredited testimony before 12 regular folks. Guess we’ll see what happens. Perhaps the prosecutor has some evidence that’s not quite public yet.
Doesn’t look like this case is getting dismissed anytime so, or perhaps, at all.