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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Duke Case: Finnerty Trial in D.C.

Collin Finnerty was in Washington, D.C. on Monday. USA Today reported:

Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., went on trial in District of Columbia Superior Court for a misdemeanor assault charge from a Nov. 5 fight that left the two alleged victims with minor injuries.

One of the alleged victims, Jeffrey Bloxsom, testified that Finnerty was an instigator who hurled a variety of vulgar, homophobic comments at Bloxsom as they walked up the Georgetown neighborhood's main drag.

"He was the one who wanted to fight the most," Bloxsom said of Finnerty. "He would say to me, 'Say you're a (blank). Say you're a (blank). ... I acquiesced."

Bloxsom said he was not struck by Finnerty but by one of his associates. The second alleged victim, Scott Herndon, said Finnerty punched him after he restrained Finnerty from punching Bloxsom.
Two other former Chaminade High School (Long Island, NY) students arrested in the assault, Daniel Dagnes and Patrick Bonanno, were allowed to submit guilty pleas in exchange for a six-month restitution program that includes community service.

Judge John H. Bayly Jr. also asked Finnerty's attorney, Steven J. McCool about a report on the Wonkette blog that Finnerty had been seen at a party with other lacrosse players in Washington on Saturday. That would violate Finnerty's court agreement.

"Wonkette doesn't know what it's talking about," McCool told the judge. Finnerty "wasn't in Washington, D.C., on Saturday."

Specifically, Judge Bayly was reacting to what the Wonkette blog said on July 7th:
Saturday evening [7/1], at a party in Glover Park, I saw the infamous Colin Finnerty of Duke Lacrosse. There were other Duke “laxers” there but he was the only convicted one.
The Wonkette blog is currently written by David Lat, the author of Underneath Their Robes, a blog about the federal judiciary, and Alex Pareene, a 20-year-old dropout from New York University.

These judges and prosecutors need to stop reading blogs. They seem to get all worked up over them.

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post points out Judge Bayly needs to get a grip. You can't believe everything you read on blogs.
But Bayly had misquoted the Wonkette item, which claimed on the basis of an unnamed tipster's email that Finnerty had been seen at a party back on July 1, not this past Saturday night, as the judge relayed it to the lawyers.

Bayly was not satisfied with the defense response: "I want to let you know I'm going to look into it," he said.

Why was the judge making a fuss over a blind item in a blog that specializes in uncorroborated, unsourced gossip? It sounded like Bayly didn't even have a clear handle on exactly what a blog was. Would he have brought this up in open court if his clerk had simply heard a rumor repeated while riding in on the Metro this morning?
The trial resumes Tuesday.

sources:
Duke lacrosse player labeled 'instigator' in D.C. assault trial [USA Today, July 10, 2006]
D.C. jury hears Duke lacrosse player's assault case. [realcities.com, July 10, 2006]
Collin Finnerty Trial Judge: Blog Gossip Fan?
[Marc Fisher Blog | WashingtonPost.com, July 10, 2006]

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