Friday, April 13, 2007

I don't know what chance the Duke lacrosse players have of being able to sue Nifong but they ought to be able to get reimbursed by the state of North Carolina for the costs they incurred defending themselves against the false accusations...

More than any other proposed reform of our judicial system, we need a 'loser pays' rule, where the side that loses is responsible for paying the legal expenses for the winning side.

Right now, there is very little to deter rogue prosecutors such as Nifong from making someone's life miserable. They suffer next no consequences for their actions. It is ridiculous that a prosecutor can accuse someone of a crime, fail to prove their allegations and yet not incur any responsibility for reimbursing the accused for their costs of defending themselves. The innocent defendent can never truly get back the reputations they had pre-accusation, but they ought not to have to also suffer a financial penalty for having proven wrong the accusations.

It's not enough that someone who is falsely accused of a crime can be found not guilty. Sure, these three guys were found innocent, which is a whole lot better than the alternative... but their families are still out the millions of dollars they paid for legal help in proving false the charges levied against them.

If you're going to charge someone with a crime, you better be damned well able to prove your case to a jury. If you fail to do so, then you need to open up your checkbook and reimburse the guy you falsely charged.

And this goes for the civil side as well. Tort law already provides that a person who suffers from the improper actions of another individual can collect for damages. We ought to treat as a tort instances where someone makes allegations but is unable to prove their case. People who are falsely accused of a tort ought to be able to collect their legal fees from the person who caused them harm.

It is the right thing to do. And, unfortunately, it will never happen.