The negotiated settlement in the Central Park jogger case

I described what I sensed was going on with the negotiations in this case, and I was right: 5 Exonerated in Central Park Jogger Case Agree to Settle Suit for $40 Million – NYTimes.com.

And the Times’s editorial, too, A Settlement in the Central Park Jogger Case – NYTimes.com. weighs in:

The five subsequently filed a damage suit accusing the police of misconduct during their interrogations. They said they were subjected to coercive and deceptive techniques that included force, trickery, sleep deprivation and isolation from their families. The complaint further claimed that the youths were told that they could go home if they provided statements placing themselves at the scene and incriminating others.

The administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg vigorously contested the suit, arguing that the police had acted in good faith and should not be held liable. Last year, Mr. Bloomberg’s legal department asserted, to widespread astonishment, that the case was not about whether the teenagers had been wrongly convicted (and collectively deprived of 40 years of freedom) but whether prosecutors and police had deliberately engaged in misconduct. Indeed, toward the end of Mr. Bloomberg’s last term, his administration engaged in an exercise of sophistry to avoid settling the case before leaving office.

Mr. de Blasio pledged to settle as quickly as possible to correct what he described as a profound injustice. The proposed settlement averages about $1 million a year for each year the five men spent in prison. This brings a measure of closure. It does not bring back their youthful lives.

The emphasis here is that when a case such as this is utterly righteous, a municipality should not fight it, but should settle as quickly as possible.

Wouldn’t it be decent of all defendants, not only municipalities, to evaluate quickly their liability and not put plaintiffs through further stress or agony in defending a case in court that should be settled?

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