It was Good Week for …
Innocence, after California Western School of Law’s Innocence Project helped exonerate a former football star convicted of kidnapping and rape six years ago. The conviction of Brian Banks was dismissed following a recantation by his accuser.
As a 17 year-old football standout, Banks, now 26, was accused of kidnapping and raping a female student. Despite maintaining there was no rape and that his sexual contact with the woman was consensual, he followed his lawyer’s advice and pleaded no contest rather than risk a sentence of 41 years to life in prison. Banks spent five years in prison.
The catalyst for overturning the conviction was when the accuser, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison, asking to “let bygones be bygones.” Court documents suggest that she later told Banks that she had lied, but then refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $750,000 settlement payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.
Banks, however, worked with a private investigator and recorded Gibson saying “I will go through with helping you but it’s like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don’t want to have to pay it back.”
After being on probation under electronic monitoring and having had to register as a sex offender, Banks is now being offered tryouts with several NFL teams.
It was Bad Week for …
Lying, after news broke that D.J. Bettencourt, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives majority leader, had faked reports about an internship he needed in order to graduate from University of New Hampshire School of Law.
Bettencourt, a Republican, resigned from the New Hampshire legislature after admitting he had falsified information about an internship so that he could graduate this spring. He only showed up for one day of an eleven-week program.
Brandon Giuda, a fellow Republican legislator, offered Bettencourt an internship with his New Hampshire legal practice, but was surprised to see Bettencourt announce his graduation from law school after never seeing Bettencourt come to work. Bettencourt then admitted to faking eleven weeks of reports.
The fallout has been swift. A conservative legal foundation that had planned to hire Bettencourt as its director announced it would no longer do so.