Defense Lawyers Have Done Nothing Towards Racial Harmony In This Case

By Gregory Moore
Updated: April 12, 2006

SAN ANTONIO – It’s probably very distressing for many of us sports fans but the mere fact that when the Duke lacrosse scandal broke, it was going to have racial elements in the storyline. As hard as so many in the sports world tried, there was simply no way to get around the fact that in an area of the country like that of Durham, North Carolina, racial tension is still very much a reality and the slightest event that may pit a Caucasian and an African American at odds will touch off a hotbed of emotions.

So when the defense lawyers for several of the accused players decided to go public and start trouncing the alleged victim in the press, no one should have been surprised that deep rooted feelings from a time long since passed would not have surfaced. They have surfaced and now a community has to deal with the residue that these lawyers have brought to the community.

Is this a touchy subject even in the sports world? Anytime you bring the criminality of a situation into the picture and a person of color is involved that is a part of the sports scene, not only is it touchy in some regards, it is downright lethal if not handled properly. In this country any time a rape allegation comes forth and an athlete is involved, there is always a segment of the population saying, “Geez I hope this person wasn’t ‘blank’”.

Now you can feel in the blank with any ethnicity you want. For Blacks it is, “Damn, not another one”. For Whites it may be, “I hope he wasn’t a prominent player”. For others it could be any number of phrases. Yet no matter how you look at the situation, whenever this charge comes forth, undoubtedly many of us believe that the victim is either white or black and the perpetrator is the opposite of the victim.

For example, let’s look at the Kobe Bryant case that happened a few years ago. A White victim was accusing a black basketball star of rape. Add to this story the fact that the crime had supposedly taken place in a very prominent part of the country and you have a powder keg just waiting to explode. You have something very similar here except the victim is Black and the alleged perpetrators are White and privileged and it has happened in a prominent part of town.

The difference between these two cases comes down to how the lawyers acted or are acting in the case. When Kobe was front and center of the media spotlight, his lawyers didn’t try to discredit the victim or publicly try her in the court of public opinion. The lawyers for the Duke players accused decided that the best offense was to go out and completely devalue the victim’s assertions and thus make it even more difficult for her to possibly bring about a credible case.

If you think it’s low down what these lawyers have done to this young woman, you’re not alone. There are studies out that show that such tactics are the very reason why rape cases are not reported.

We’re talking probably that for every ten rapes that happen, six to seven of them may not even be reported because the victim doesn’t want to be subjected to the type of public trial that these defense lawyers in Durham have already done. Is such conduct reprehensible? It should be so egregious that it would be borderline shameful for those individuals who think slamming a victim in the press is the proper way to fight a case.

It is for this very reason why I firmly believe that the racial teeter-totter that tried to keep Durham in a semi-peaceful state and had community leaders working towards unifying the whole community on both sides of the tracks has not been irreparably harmed by these lawyers’ actions.

For them they think they are out fighting for their clients and the sad truth is that while they may be out fighting for their clients on one front, they have now lost the battle on another. Racial relations have never really been all that great in the South to begin with and anytime there are such cases like this one on the frontline of the media, things get increasingly difficult.

Whether these lawyers meant to discredit the victim in a fashion they chose was irrelevant. The bottom line is that nobody weighed the public relations nightmare that has now been unleashed on an unsuspecting public. No matter what happens now for their clients, they have been marked with a big red that same letter will also mark letter in one community in Durham and those who come behind them.

It may not be fair but that’s the reality when you have a high profile case like this come forth and you have two ethnic groups caught in the formula of public opinion and who is right and who is wrong. And the outcome is always the same…no one wins the battle.

I’LL TAKE THE WNBA DRAFT RULES ANY DAY FOR THE NBA’S Have I told anyone lately that I absolutely loathe the fact that underclassmen are allowed to be in the NBA draft? Well for the umpteenth time I do hate the fact that college programs get robbed of these talented young men because many feel they are ready to make that jump to the elite fraternity.

That is why I have grown to appreciate what the WNBA has been able to do with its draft and it’s something that I’d wish the NBA would do in the future.

For the record the WNBA does not draft underclassmen and that means you are getting only one type of product; a player who has been in a system for four seasons. Now whether you believe in it or not you have to look and see the benefits of such a ploy.

First and foremost I’m sure that pretty much every woman who is drafted by her league has a college degree. Compare that to the number of men who graduate from college and the figure is astronomical. If you don’t believe me, go search out the studies. By and large, women graduate from college at a rate that is significantly much higher than their male counterparts.

So what does this have to do with the NBA? Well can you imagine how good the product would be if they did at least try to implement something that maybe you can only draft upperclassmen or maybe invoke the NFL rule that they have; a graduating class must be three years removed from high school.

The bottom line for me on this is that the talent pool in this league is about to be so watered down that we may be seeing a lot more European ballplayers make it because they at least have sound foundations and that folks is why I like the way the WNBA drafts its players.

SPEAKING OF THE NBA, THE PLAYOFF SYSTEM NEEDS AN OVERHAUL Or maybe it needs a U-Haul. When the league went to its three-division set up, it has royally messed with how the playoff structure has been formed. So here’s a quick fix on a couple of issues. First of all I’d like to see the league just make all fourteen players active during the playoffs.

A 14-man roster gives a coach so much flexibility from round to round. Secondly and most importantly, I’d like to see the league basically go with the top eight teams in each conference and seed them by their records; not by division titles.

What does that do for the fans? Simply put it gives you the best possible match ups without worrying about possibly missing out on a good match up in the later rounds.

Hey if they really want to go the extra mile and clean this mess up, I say let’s go back to the way the first round was with a best of five too. This TNT thing of fifty games in fifty nights is ridiculous. Unlike Sir Charles, some of us need our beauty sleep.

COMPLAINT BOX IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS Got a complaint about the NBA? Drop me a line with your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them in an upcoming editorial. You can definitely rest assure that if I get it via e-mail, you’ll get a reply from me on your question. Send those NBA complaints to