Will Cyrus Vance Turn His Head & Walk Away From DSK?

You get abruptly educated, and extremely jaded, as an attorney traversing the halls of justice in the criminal defense bar, especially on sex cases, but the much ballyhooed, and with special glee on the left, case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) has, from the get go, never set right with me. Turns out that may have been well justified, as the New York Times relates in a startling report tonight:

The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.

Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.

Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said.

Well hello there Clarice, that would seem to be a bit of a problem now wouldn’t it? Say what you will, this is a dead nuts killer set of events for the prosecution, and it was apparently still the least brutal limited hangout they could manage. Ouch. I would read this to say the state has completely lost any and all confidence in their complaining witness – the “victim” – because this type of release simply does not get made without that, whether it is a stated part of the release or not.

Rest assured, if this is being run by the NYT, it was almost certainly a sanctioned release. The key here is this seems to be actually evidentiary realizations the cops and prosecutors came to realize on their own, either independent of, or with little prompting from, DSK’s defense team. Hard to tell yet, but one thing is sure, the state does not seem to take issue with the gaping infirmities. That tells you about all you need to know.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will return to State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday morning, when Justice Michael J. Obus is expected to consider easing the extraordinary bail conditions that he imposed on Mr. Strauss-Kahn in the days after he was charged.

Indeed, Mr. Strauss-Kahn could be released on his own recognizance, and freed from house arrest, reflecting the likelihood that the serious charges against him will not be sustained. The district attorney’s office may try to require Mr. Strauss-Kahn to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, but his lawyers are likely to contest such a move.

Uh huh. The state’s knee jerk reaction is try to jam DSK into some happy horsemanure misdemeanor to save face (like the DOJ did with Thomas Drake) and to insulate themselves from liability. It is just what they do in these circumstances, and if that isn’t working, they will try to extract a hold harmless agreement in return for dismissal; even though those are patently unconscionable and unenforceable. Again, it is just what they do. Quite frankly, I don’t think the state would have any exposure at all for unreasonableness if they had not have gone so aggressively Michael Nifong with the perp walk and press statements about how certain they were of their case and how clean their victim was. That was ill advised and unnecessary, even if they had the facts down cold and were right, which clearly was very much not the case.

So, if the evidence set and victim is as infirm as even the state is clearly now admitting, the proper thing is not to try to hold out for some face saving junk charge, but to man up, dismiss the charges and walk away. Interestingly enough, and the timing could not be more fascinating or titillating, it is also announced tonight that Cyrus Vance and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is losing their top sex crimes chief. Yes, Lisa Friel is turning her head and walking away:

Lisa Friel, the chief of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit for nearly a decade, is leaving that post, according to a memorandum circulated in the office on Wednesday.

The announcement comes at a pivotal moment, as the office handles one of its biggest sex-crimes prosecutions ever: the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

After nearly three decades in the district attorney’s office, “Lisa Friel has informed us of her decision to explore other professional opportunities outside the office,” said an e-mail to prosecutors in the office from Karen Friedman Agnifilo, the chief of the trial division.

There is no way to know how, or to what extent, the two seismic events are related; but the timing and linkage between a massive fail in the sex crimes unit being admitted, and the long time head of that department suddenly deciding to move on, at the same exact moment, simply cannot be ignored.

So, if the chattering classes previously thought it fantastical to ponder how DSK came to be in the position he was (above and beyond the obvious fact his history played straight into the presumptions made against him), it sure is time to go there now.

Here are a few random thoughts and points to ruminate on: Funny how this all comes out the day after Christine Lagarde gets the IMF job that previously belonged to DSK. The same DSK who was the chief defender of Greece and other struggling counties in the battle for their soul with the EU and IMF; all as Greece is getting stripped and gutted to please the banks, elite and rich. So there is that. Then there is also the fact DSK was the presumptive next leader in France.

Or maybe the victim simply was looking for a mark, but for more traditional goals such as financial reward rather than international finance and/or political intrigue. This is also quite possible. Heck, maybe this is all a wild ruse and things were as originally depicted; but I would not bet one red cent on that chance. No, there is a story here, and it will be fascinating to see it unfold, to whatever extent we do.

I do not necessarily have an opinion on what lies beneath this mess – there were simply a boatload of potential enemies and scenarios that could be credible against DSK, but I had a queasy feeling about the gig from the get go. Sex cases are fraught with all kinds of emotionally charged tangents and aspects, and violence against women is no joke and not to be trifled with. By the same token, if you are deep enough and long enough in the criminal bar (to a related extent the DR/divorce bar as well), you also gain a very healthy respect for the way they are wielded as disingenuous false bludgeons far too often.

It is a fine line fraught with danger to analyze. We still do not know how the DSK case will play out, but there was something queasy about it from the start; sometimes you just smell it. I may still be shown to be a dunce in that regard, but the reports tonight do not surprise me in the least.

41 replies
  1. sailmaker says:

    God am I tired of Chase-Morgan-Goldmann-lehman getting yet another fucking bailout. DSK is lucky that he is alive and not ‘suicided’ for his viewpoints.

  2. JohnJ says:

    Even to a layman like myself, this never smelled very good. Every source I read had a different vector of his importance at that exact moment this all occurred.

    And thanks for the music to read by. Another album I owned.

  3. nomolos says:

    Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.

    A Case of Identity, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1892

  4. GulfCoastPirate says:

    If the DA’s office began having doubts about the alleged victim within a couple of days yet still asked the judge for such harsh bail conditions what must the judge think? Can he dismiss the charges outright?

    It may well have been a setup but how does a DSK, even with his background, allow himself to be put in that position?

  5. DWBartoo says:

    Bmaz, thank you, your insights and speculations are most appreciated.

    If DSK was “set up”, then by no means should the state of New York be allowed or able to save face, as you put it, at his expense, considering the role the state has played in this spectacle and the substantial loses experienced by DSK, and likely, many others, as a result of this case, nor even by seeking to shift the greater onus onto DSK’s accuser.

    Frankly, I am a bit bothered that the state seems willing to continue the tabloid aspect of this affair.

    Indeed, doing anything less than “manning up”, as you suggest, clearly demonstrates the incompetence and hubris exhibited by the state from the very beginning of this increasingly sordid and sensationalistic legal travesty.

    The “gotcha!” mentality of too many prosecutors in far too many cases, throughout this nation, must be addressed by the legal community as a whole and the larger society itself, especially in the cases of those lacking the means and connections of a DSK.

    In the initial media circus, it was easy for many to believe the worst of DSK and to readily “side” with the alledged victim, especially when encountering the absolute certainty expressed by “authority”.

    The “timing” of Lisa Friel’s leave-taking cannot help but raise questions, regardless of whether there is any actual connection to the massively bungled absurdity of errors which describes the DSK “event” … questions that should not, if genuine respect for the law is a desirable thing, go unanswered, evaded, or ignored.

    At this point, the case is no longer simply about individuals, but about institutional behavior itself.


    • harpie says:

      “Frankly, I am a bit bothered that the state seems willing to continue the tabloid aspect of this affair.-DW”

      …and WE are forced to continue to pay for it…argggh

  6. psbjr says:

    Just to further fan the flames of unsubstantiated conspiracy-theorizing, I’ve been poking around the interwebs, and it appears that the maid’s attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, a prominent trial attorney (at least according to his shamelessly self-aggrandizing bio) has some intimate connections to the treasury dept:

    In addition to this trial and employment law experience, Mr. Thompson has participated in some of the country’s most prominent, high-profile investigations. For example, he was a member of the Treasury Department’s Waco Administrative Review, which conducted the investigation ordered by then President Bill Clinton of the raid on the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas by federal agents, in which four federal agents were killed and 20 others shot and seriously wounded. As a member of the Waco Administrative Review, Mr. Thompson was one of the attorneys who drafted the official report on the Waco incident, known as the “Waco Report,” which was submitted to President Clinton. Many have praised the Waco Report as a model for government investigations. The Washington Post called it “[a] thorough and candid account of a… law enforcement disaster.” The New York Times also weighed in, describing the Waco Report as “brutally detailed.” See Press and Other Notables. Mr. Thompson also assisted in preparing the Secretary of the Treasury for his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee concerning alleged improper contacts between Treasury officials and White House counsel over the Whitewater Investigation.

    [snip snip]

    Mr. Thompson also served as Special Assistant to former Treasury Department Undersecretary for Enforcement Ronald K. Noble, who is now the Secretary General of Interpol, the international police organization based in Lyon, France. He also worked as an attorney in the General Counsel’s Office of the Treasury Department under Robert McNamara, Jr., who went on to become the General Counsel of the CIA. As a Treasury attorney, Mr. Thompson provided legal and policy advice on national security and other issues relating to the Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, Customs Service, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and several other law enforcement agencies.

  7. DWBartoo says:

    As a society, we are dangerously close to losing any genuine meaning to the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty”.

    Whether, in this case, we are speaking of DSK or the alleged victim.

    Further, no less an entity than the President of the United States himself, Barack Obama, and, as well, the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have exerted “influence” upon public perception to disparage and deliberately condemn Bradley Manning as “guilty” long before there has been ANY trial and presentation of actual evidence.

    Those whom our nation tortured, or had tortured by others, even unto death, were also condemned out of hand, without evidence or reasoned conviction and those still alive as well as the many other incarcerated “enemy combatants” have little protection beyond kangaroo military tribunals standing between themselves and whatever fate may be already programmed for them.

    This trial by media, this emotional appeal to close-mindedness is, or should be, both a major national embarrassment and substantial cause for serious alarm, not simply within the legal community, but among all the citizens of this nation.

    That this does not appear to be so, suggests that the issue is rather like an iceberg, of which we only may perceive the visible portion, knowing full well, as we must, that much more destruction potential lies hidden beneath the surface.

    Considering the state of the rule of law, within this nation, this “attitude” of the presumption of guilt BEFORE trial should NOT be surprising … in fact, in a truly civil society, it should be devastating, that it is not suggests that true devastation, nothing less than overwheming consequence is really something that, in the politically and economically popular phrase of the moment, we should all be “looking forward” to experiencing … even the most powerful and wealthy among us.


    • fatster says:

      Thank you for sharing your keen and considered insights on this mess. That maid, regardless of innocence or guilt, seems caught up in a very high-level, high-stakes game being played by very powerful adversaries. Whether she was used badly by DSK is no longer the point, but a factor to be manipulated as TPTB see fit. Chances are good that she will be discarded one way or another as the powerful struggle against each other to see who can win this one.

      I, like you, had much rather see justice.

  8. JTMinIA says:

    I wonder what the various players involved will do to Assange their feelings of guilt towards women of using a false accusation of a sex-crime for political gain?

  9. barne says:

    Some impresario could offer the maid a large pay-day, if the maid agrees to long sessions under polygraph, live on TeeVee. It might be an empty Geraldo vault, but maybe not. And the ratings worldwide would be HUGE. I assume the maid speaks semi-ok english, but might retreat fast into pidgin.

  10. rugger9 says:

    Unfortunately, as noted by DW @5, it is now normal for prosecutors of all parties to go tabloid, because “winning” cases means continued or higher political employment opportunities. The San Jose Mercury News ran a long series called “Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice” that was not only required reading for civic minded folks, but also played an important role in getting the politically ambitious DA out of office. Truly sleazy, and by no means unique. Sex crimes were a favorite method as well, there were at least three high profile cases in the news where this same sequence happened, form “we’ve got’ em cold” to bupkis. Just like the McMartin case in LA a couple of decades ago.

    If you’re a defendant, fight every step of the way.

  11. john in sacramento says:

    Yea, this is one of those curious and curiouser stories

    Regime Change at the IMF: The Frame-Up of Dominique Strauss-Kahn?


    In recent years, a major shift has occurred in Europe’s political landscape. Pro-American governments have been elected in both France and Germany. Social Democracy has been weakened.

    Franco-American relations have been redefined, with Washington playing a significant role in grooming a new generation of European politicians.

    The presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy has, in many regards, become a de facto US “client regime”, broadly supportive of US corporate interests in the EU and closely aligned with US foreign policy.

    There are two overlapping and interrelated issues in the DSK frame-up hypothesis.

    The first pertains to regime change at the IMF, the second to Strauss-Kahn as a candidate in France’s forthcoming presidential elections.

    Both these processes are tied into the clash between competing US and European economic interests including control over the euro-currency system.

    Strauss-Khan as a favorite of the Socialist Party, would have won the presidential elections leading to the demise of “Our Man in Paris” Nicolas Sarkozy. As documented by Thierry Meyssan, the CIA played a central undercover role in destabilizing the Gaullist party and supporting the election of Nicolas Sarkozy (See Operation Sarkozy: How the CIA placed one of its agents at the presidency of the French Republic, Reseau Voltaire, September 4, 2008)

    A Strauss-Kahn presidency and a “Socialist” government would have been a serious setback for Washington, contributing to a major shift in Franco-American relations.

    It would have contributed to weakening Washington’s role on the European political chessboard, leading to a shift in the balance of power between America and “Old Europe” (namely the Franco-German alliance).

    It would have had repercussions on the internal structure of the Atlantic Alliance and the hegemonic role of the US within NATO.

    The Eurozone monetary system as well as Wall Street’s resolve to exert a decisive influence on the European monetary architecture are also at stake.



    • DWBartoo says:

      The “leadership” of the United States seem hell-bent upon creating a number of “factors” which, when they coalesce, will bring a “perfect storm” of consequence upon the nation as a whole.

      As the people of other nations realize, and they do, what is being done to them, in terms of calculated manipulation and utterly wanton destruction, by the United States, in the name of its citizens, there will develop an international consensus that the gravest threat to both the planet and the species, to every man, woman, and child, everywhere, and to peaceful coexistence, is the behavior and exceptional conceit of the USA.

      To the degree that the citizens of the United States either do not know or do not care to understand what is being done in their name, to precisely that degree the citizens of this nation WILL be held to account.

      Too many citizens of this nation cannot imagine that war, which we “export” most profitably and mercilessly, will ever happen here.

      As the “leadership” of this nation claim the “right” to attack and kill others anywhere and at any time, and engage in manipulating the internal affairs of other nations as a moral prerogative reserved soley for the US, a most terrible die is being cast – normalizing such behavior and making it “available”, of necessity, to every other nation and people in the world, it is mindless foolishness and hubris of the most exalted form to “believe” that none of these things will ever happen here.

      To the degree that the “leadership” of the US is determined to destroy the middle class, the rule of law, and what ever principles this nation may still pretend to lay claim to – it may not matter how others view us or even that they may, in fact very likely will, someday, decide to do unto us as we have done unto them.

      The citizens of this country have been seduced by easy comfort, ballyhooed greed, and a contemptible mythology of superiority.

      And not one of these things shall avail the American people of anything when the rest of the world’s people have had enough.

      For an nation which has no interest in history, “believing” that its function and purpose is to “make” history, the perfect storm of annihilation and consequence will come as a shock well-beyond imagination.

      I realize that these thoughts represent what is considered to be “pessimism” a word not much encountered in our unique American “can do!!” lexicon of self-aggrandisement and therefore may be easily discounted.

      And yet …


      • fatster says:

        And now there’s this:

        Attorney: DA has evidence Strauss-Kahn bruised maid’s vagina

        ‘“The next thing that shows that their claim of consentual sex is a lie is the fact that when Dominique Strauss-Kahn threw the victim to the floor, he tore a ligament in her shoulder. That is a medical fact,” he continued.”


        • bmaz says:

          Uh, no; this is pure unadulterated crap. It was a ridiculous rambling stunt by the lawyer and for Raw Story to report it this way is asinine and unprofessional. First off, this is just a desperate lawyer yammering, not evidence. Secondly, the most the DA could possibly be in possession of would be evidence of bruising that might possibly be connected, or might well not, to any contact with DSK. This is just shitty reporting.

          • emptywheel says:

            Interesting though.

            He at one point almost named her, then corrected himself.

            But the punchline of the presser was that she’s going to come forward.

            We’ll see if that actually happens.

            • bmaz says:

              Man, I just do not understand putting your client out to make multiple statements; jeebus they already have her all over the field with inconsistent statements. If you are ever going to put her in front of a jury, then this is some A-One shitty lawyering. I suspect it is just rubbish lawyering that knows the merits case is shit, even in a civil forum and is trying to ply some “just shut the fuck up” money out of DSK.

              • DWBartoo says:

                Obviously, bmaz, you’ve not yet read Kenneth P. Thompson’s rather amazing legal bio, as linked by psbjr @ 8.

                If it is “rubbish”, which I’m prepared to accept as being the “case”, then clearly, it is rubbish of the very highest, mo$t-$mugly, $elf-$ati$fied order.

                One only wonders that President Obama has somehow failed to stumble across the, apparently, many useful talents of Lawyer Thompson.


        • DWBartoo says:

          fatster, I agree with bmaz.

          In making this “pitch”, attorney Thompson is seeking to influence public perception, in hopes of creating or building sympathy for his client, demonstrating precisely the same disrespect for proper legal process as the prosecution did earlier.

          It seems an act of calculated desperation, and is, as bmaz terms it, a “stunt”. It is a tabloid act.

          To suggest that he will place his client before the public, whether it is her idea or not, does not seem prudent in the least, legally, nor wise in any compassionate psychological sense. And certainly, given where things now stand, this is not timely lawyerly behavior which one would expect from an attorney more than a little certain of success, it is closer to politically expedient behavior. Its chief beneficiary being Thompson, himself.


          • fatster says:

            I’m not arguing with anybody about the defense lawyer’s behavior. He is making certain assertions, per the news article which I linked to because the case is being discussed here. We’ll have to wait and see if he can back them up. My concerns about this case lie elsewhere.

            • DWBartoo says:

              I understand, fatster, but suspect that lawyer Thompson may not share those concerns to quite the degree that you, bmaz, the rest of the community, here, and I most assuredly do.

              As bmaz said in the body of his post, ” … violence against women is no joke and not to be trifled with.”

              The disparity in power between an internationally aclaimed funtionary and a maid certainly must raise legitimate questions of access to competent legal cousel and the opportunity of actually being heard, not helped in the slightest by theatrical behavior from either side of our adversarial legal system which has the added unfairness of the role which money and “standing” too often may play …

              I am most interested in learning if these are your concerns as well, fatster, or whether you have other concerns, which I should most seriously wish to hear?


              • fatster says:

                You very succinctly stated concerns I share about that maid and her right, as a human being, to best counsel. I also wish (so terrible to have to crawl forward on a wish, isn’t it?) that the truth of this mess will emerge. Involvement of very powerful interests–TPTB–in this case is what fascinates me.

                • DWBartoo says:

                  Whether the truth of this “mess” shall ever, fully, be known is a very good question, fatster, and john’s comment @ 17, as well as bmaz’s understandably cautious speculations, begin, I suspect, to delineate the complexity of the hidden, as yet, under-currents and “battlelines” this case has, quite likely, got entangled within, around, and about it.

                  My further suspeculation is that most involved, directly and indirectly, as well as only tangentially, would very dearly like and hope to see this whole “unfortunate circumstance” quickly disappear from public consciousness and scrutiny.

                  In the United States of Amnesia, as Gore Vidal terms it, most aptly, that should prove relatively easy and painless for some, if not most, of the powerfully “interested” parties.


    • lysias says:

      Sarkozy is likely to lose anyway, and now to a more leftist Socialist candidate, unless DSK can resurrect his political career now.

  12. mattcarmody says:

    Vance’s father was a fixer, Vance is a fixer, it’s as simple as that. Ray Kelly, a Marine Corps general, is Police Commissioner. David Cohen, a former DDO at CIA, is Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence at NYPD.

    Let’s remove the rose-colored glasses. New York City is under the rule of a shadow government with Bloomberg as the frontman and the military deeply involved in day-to-day operations.

  13. lysias says:

    Something else to bear in mind about the timing. Apparently Netanyahu got assurances from Papandreou at latest yesterday that Greece would not allow the flotilla to sail to Gaza, to judge by the statement Netanyahu made yesterday. So, even though Greece didn’t actually stop the flotilla until today, by yesterday it was a done deal.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree that it would be dangerously naive to dismiss politics as an element in this prosecution. The way this case was immediately touted as a “slam dunk” was always a concern.

    Now that the witness/victim is said to have major holes in her story, one has to wonder. Was the story made up because it was credible, given his past behavior, which would have been well known to intelligence officials? Were the holes there at the beginning and ignored in an excess of xenophobic zeal? Were the holes discovered, like a pristine bullet on an emergency room stretcher, as payout for cooperation?

    The MOTU must be a tad relieved, now that a harder line regulator has been replaced at the IMF with a more reliable, bankster-oriented French official – with past US financial industry ties, making her a made woman, to borrow a phrase from organized crime. The stakes here are hundreds of billions of dollars, at a minium. They include not just the stream of payments to be exacted from Greece, but the banksters business model, their modus operandi, to borrow a phrase from the criminal law.

    This case smells like a kilo of Roquefort, left all day on a park bench in the August sun, then jammed into your gym locker for a month.

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