Proud to be in NC

North Carolina’s an amazing place. As corrupt as our government is, as ridiculously huge as our taxes are, and as blatantly rigged as our electoral system is, even among all of this some people in government actually manage to do the right thing. From our state Attorney General Roy Cooper:

The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. Today we are filing notices of dismissal for all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.

The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

Yes! I was hoping the charges would be dropped, and why DA Nifong kept the case going for so long just boggled my mind…but now the state AG has done the right thing. Not only has he dropped the charges, he has stated quite clearly and unequivocally that the students are absolutely innocent, and that no attack occured. He goes on to say:

The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser’s story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we’ll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.

One of the big problems I have with our society is that you’re basically guilty until proven innocent. No matter how lacking the evidence is, some people just have to believe that a person is guilty of at least something, otherwise there would have been no accusation. Maybe they just don’t want to admit to themselves that it can happen to them. It’s very scary to think of yourself being in court accused of a crime you didn’t commit. But it does happen. Hopefully this statement will allow these boys to go on with their lives without this hanging over their heads.

One more thing:

This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor. What has been learned here is that the internal checks on a criminal charge—sworn statements, reasonable grounds, proper suspect photo lineups, accurate and fair discovery—all are critically important.

Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands.

Now that’s a law I can get behind! One of the big problems with government at all levels is the lack of accountability. There need to be consequences when things like this happen. Hopefully Nifong will be disbarred as justice demands, but a law like this would help reign in at least some of the problems.

Not that I don’t expect them to botch it up, but at least they’re trying.

You can read the entire article here.

Minnesota Supreme Court strikes down red light scameras!

Great news for Minnesotans–their Supreme Court has just struck down the red light scameras!

The Minnesota Supreme Court today delivered the highest-level court rebuke to photo enforcement to date with a unanimous decision against the Minneapolis red light camera program. The high court upheld last September’s Court of Appeals decision that found the city’s program had violated state law.

The supreme court found that Minneapolis had disregarded a state law imposing uniformity of traffic laws across the state. The city’s photo ticket program offered the accused fewer due process protections than available to motorists prosecuted for the same offense in the conventional way after having been pulled over by a policeman. The court argued that Minneapolis had, in effect, created a new type of crime: “owner liability for red-light violations where the owner neither required nor knowingly permitted the violation.”

Gee, you mean if you want to charge someone with breaking the law, you have to charge the person who actually broke the law??? Radical!

You can read the entire article here, and the court’s opinion here.

It’s interesting the transparency you see often with these scameras. Here’s an article showing the Mayor of Albuquerque’s attitude regarding the scameras (emphasis mine):

Richardson also signed legislation yesterday, SB 861 (bill text), mandating warning signs in advance of red light camera locations along with either rumble strips in the pavement or a warning beacon that flashes a yellow light in advance of the signal light changing to red. The measure, opposed by the Albuquerque mayor, is designed to provide extra notice to motorists so that they are not trapped by short yellow times at intersections.

Oh, no! We can’t have people actually being aware that the light’s about to turn red! What would happen to our boondoggle then?

It becomes even more transparent when you look at the findings of the National Motorists Association:

The answer to the “rash” of red-light violations is relatively simple. Increase yellow light duration. Almost 80 percent of red light entries occur within the first second of the red light indication. Studies in Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland have shown a reduction of 73 percent to nearly 100 percent in red light entries after an increase in yellow light duration. Several cities have dropped their red-light camera programs after adding only one second to yellow light durations at intersections because infractions were “virtually eliminated.”

Man, only government could scam people this outright and get away with it. Okay, well, maybe Sylvia Browne, but even then it’s a tough call…

Edit: Solitaire over on the JREF Forum posted a link to this study (PDF format):

The results do not support the conventional wisdom expressed in recent literature and popular press that red light cameras reduce accidents…there has been no demonstrable benefit from the RLC program in terms of safety. In many ways, the evidence points toward the installation of RLCs as a detriment to safety…We had expected that upon seeing the signs for red light cameras, drivers may panic and try to stop, thus increasing rear-end collisions. The failure of a reduction in severe or angle accidents comes as somewhat of a surprise.