On the day that prosecutors asked a judge to drop the sexual assault charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Pace Law School criminal law professors provided commentary to several national news outlets. Prof. Bennett Gershman was quoted in the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, while Prof. Audrey Rogers spoke to the Financial Times.
Prof. Gershman told the Wall Street Journal that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s decision to drop the charges is “predictable and understandable.” Prof. Gershman commented: “A prosecutor can’t go ahead with a case where he doesn’t believe the complaining witness. He can’t ethically proceed with that case.”
Prof. Gershman said the decision also suggests Mr. Vance made a “practical” consideration. “Politically, he’s cutting his losses,” he said. “If he goes ahead in this case and it’s a loss, he’s going to be lambasted. ”
Prof. Gershman, a national expert on prosecutorial ethics, told USA Today that prosecutors’ duty is to seek justice, not simply win cases.
“From early on, the credibility of the complaining witness was eroding to the point that even if she was telling the truth about the alleged attack, no jury would believe her,” he said. “You’re not doing justice if you try a case where you don’t believe a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Prof. Rogers spoke to the Financial Times on the implications of Vance’s decision for a civil suit filed separately by the alleged victim in the case. A dismissal of the criminal case “doesn’t necessarily affect the [civil] case” because such cases have a lower burden of proof, Rogers said. “She only has to prove her claims to a ‘preponderance of evidence,’ not [that he is guilty] beyond a reasonable doubt.”