Clashing Op-eds: Recommended (Perhaps Even Required) DSK Reading

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Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn arrives for a hearing at the New York State Supreme Courthouse in New York July 1, 2011. (Photo: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

Well-deserved props to both the New York Times and Washington Post (What? I can do more than criticize!) , whose op-ed writers today contributed interesting observations and arguments about where the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case should go from here—and how the next steps taken in it will reflect upon the American justice system. No matter your take on the DSK saga or how the U.S. legal establishment operates, the Times story by Jim Dwyer, and Post piece by Ruth Marcus are very worthwhile, thoughtful commentaries that contain often contrasting positions presented in studied and sober tones.

As such, they provide points to reflect upon awaiting the decision by the prosecution on what to do with a case built around a witness whose credibility they now fear may be too shaky to present to a jury. According to another Times article today, a Wednesday meeting between New York prosecutors and lawyers for Strauss-Kahn will aim at discussing various possibilities for resolving the case—plea bargain, reduced charges, dismissal, etc.—but probably won’t result in a final decision being taken. Given the reported doubts the prosecution has about taking the attempted rape accusation to trial, however, it is likely they’ll make some definitive move prior to Strauss-Kahn’s next court appearance July 18.

Without wanting to big-foot the main ideas presented in the Times and Post think pieces (spoiler warning: I’m about to big-foot of the main ideas presented in the Times and Post think pieces), Dwyer essentially argues the case should be taken to court, and accusations and evidence in it presented to a jury despite credibility questions the prosecution has uncovered in other, mostly unrelated aspects of the victim’s life. The case has always been about whether rape was attempted or not, Dwyer say. He argues that since there seems to be legitimate reason to suspect it was, both sides should take their best shots arguing their case, and see what a jury thinks really happened. It’s doubtful either prosecutors or DSK will be too hot about slugging it out in public in court—and taking the legal lumps in store for the loser—merely for principle’s sake, but Dwyer insists if its actual justice we’re after, that needs to happen.

Marcus is of another mind. She believes the fervor of the prosecution to cast DSK as guilty–despite the trouble points involving the victim that began arising as far back as early June–has already done enough ruin to the defendant’s life, reputation,  and political career, and consequentially tarnish the reputation of the U.S. justice system as a sane and fair one to many observers around the world. Still, Marcus doesn’t throw America’s adversarial legal system out with the Strauss-Kahn bath water–and clearly doesn’t have enormous admiration for the defendant or his claims of innocence. But she does say it was the prosecution’s zealousness to nail DSK that caused the case to swell to such enormous proportion before collapsing like a ruined soufflé, and create the resulting catastrophe of scandal and denunciation. Because of that, she says, New York officials should admit their errors, cut their losses, and drop the entire thing as quickly as possible.

Though I won’t say whose thesis I agree with most (you don’t care anyway, and quite rightly so), they both provide some sage and calm analysis within a storm of controversy and excitation. And they both do a far better, fuller job at advancing their positions than the above has, so get clicking on those links.