After my column last week, in which I noted that there had been a spate of food attacks on conservative speakers on college campuses within weeks of charges being dismissed against the "Deliverance" boys who threw pies at me at the University of Arizona, the prosecutor said it was my fault. (This column gets results!) David Berkman, chief criminal deputy in the office of Democrat Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, told the Arizona Daily Star that charges had to be dismissed because I didn't show up for the trial.
Of course, it's hard to know what anyone said in this country based on newspaper accounts. The actual statements people make are filtered through reporters, who, as we know, are generally unexecutable in this country under Atkins v. Virginia (holding the death penalty for mentally retarded persons unconstitutional).
Is the prosecutor a phony or the reporter a moron? In other words, is this a "Jeffrey Toobin situation" or a "Dan Rather situation"? We report, you decide.
In an article titled "Writer Coulter, arresting officer missed 1st trial," reporter Kim Smith writes in the April 16 Arizona Daily Star:
- "Pima County prosecutors plan to take another shot at two men accused of throwing pies at political writer Ann Coulter, even though she didn't show up at their first trial last month."
- "Smith and Wolff were scheduled to go to trial March 18, but neither Coulter nor the arresting officer showed up, Berkman said."
- "Coulter was sent repeated notices of the court date" (all of which were apparently sent telepathically) "and she will be notified of the new court date as well, Berkman said. He said it should also be noted that Coulter never contacted prosecutors to find out the resolution of the case."
In fact, my verbatim reply in an e-mail dated Feb. 15, 2005, to the only notice I ever received about my appearing at the trial was the following, preserved through the miracle of computers:
I remain very committed to pressing charges. What is the date of the trial? I do not live in AZ and it may be difficult for me to get there for the trial. Does the prosecutor believe he will have to call me as a witness? I believe there is videotape of the entire event and it is evident thereon that I apprehended the attack and ran away.
I was never asked to attend any trial. Are crime victims in Pima County typically required to pester prosecutors with endless "When's the trial?" phone calls? This trial received even less publicity than my recent speaking engagement at the school. I didn't even get one of those "haven't heard from you lately" postcards the publisher sends after you let a magazine subscription lapse.
The need for a prosecutor to call me as a witness still seems completely absurd in light of the in-living-color videotape of the entire assault, vividly showing each element of the crime. But if called by the prosecutor, I would attend the trial with relish. I can't wait to see if the defendants will try the novel "guy who throws like a girl" defense.
Maybe I'll even give another speech while I'm there.
The only other notice I ever received about the trial was a postcard informing me that the case had been dismissed a few weeks ago. Contrary to the above news account, I called the number on the postcard after getting the notice, got an answering machine, and left a message. Since then, I've been on a whirlwind speaking tour, giving a lot more college speeches and creating many more frustrated liberals deprived of the ability to mount a logical counter-argument.
In Berkman's defense, his office is shorthanded, having been bleeding prosecutors in the last several months. That includes the departure of at least four female prosecutors, two of whom expressly said they were leaving because of the way Berkman treats women. So on the bright side, maybe Berkman allowed charges to be dismissed against my assailants not because I'm a conservative but because I'm a female.
But there still remains the devilish issue of the accuracy of the reporter's account. Daily Star reporter Smith also wrote: "Coulter couldn't be reached for comment late Friday" (as a result of our not trying to reach Coulter for comment late Friday). Tip to aspiring reporters: If you want a comment ... try asking!
I'll even type out my comment for you, Kim: "In a prepared statement, Coulter darkly hinted that prosecutors who fail to bring the pie assailants to justice will be held accountable for their actions ? a charge that was tantamount to Coulter calling for a pie-throwing attack on the county attorney." Reporting like that could earn you a coveted position covering Tom DeLay for the New York Times!