David Reinhard: Immune to Reality

David Reinhard — not surprisingly — leaps to the defense of prosecutors in a column about the Pearl District drug dealers my letter to the editor yesterday addressed.

He feints, at first, expressing surprise that the three young men got immunity in exchange for testimony against the guy who stole half a pound of marijuana from them at gunpoint, but then assures the reader this sort of thing happens all the time, and that prosecutors assured him “they got no deal” because of their background or social class. This was my response:

In his column about the Pearl District drug dealers, David Reinhard writes that prosecutors told him they forced immunity on the teens in order to get them to testify against the man who robbed them of half a pound of marijuana. The robber’s car was seen fleeing the crime. The teenager’s cell phones were found in his possession. Was the testimony of all three drug dealers needed to convict him? Or should immunity have been given to one of the teens, who could have provided testimony on both the robbery and the dealing charges against the others? This wasn’t a possession case where someone had a couple of joints for personal use.

Mr. Reinhard facetiously asks if the police should have been set upon the customers of the dealers or if he was just being “old-fashioned.” The real question — as I pointed out in my letter of last week — was “What about the suppliers?”

Maybe it’s just not mentioned in the article, but was part of the immunity deal providing information about who’d been providing the thousands of dollars of marijuana the kids had been selling? Or was that door just left closed.

With immunity, are the guys just assumed to stop dealing? A criminal conviction would usually be followed by probation.

Did the police search the condo and the houses of the other kids to see if there were more drugs? You’d think that if they’d search Damon Stoudamire’s house they would.

As for the assertion that race and class needed to be pointed out to the prosecutors in order for them to play a role in the case, Mr. Reinhard has to be stoned to make that assertion. The robbery happened in the Pearl District. The condo owner — and father of one of the teens — served on a board appointed by the governor. Prosecutors aren’t idiots. They know who’s who in the city, and they can make judgments about which battles to fight and which ones to lay down without having to be threatened or wheedled. For Mr. Reinhard to pretend otherwise is simply disingenuous and gullible.

Really. A columnist from the state’s largest newspaper asked the prosecutors if they’d been prejudicial in their handling of the case and they said “No! We’d never, ever, do that sort of thing.” I’m sure if they had, they would have confessed under Reinhard’s withering gaze.