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Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

In the news

• Greens may choose McKinney

One could easily get the impression deposed Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is friendless based on her reputation in Bloggersville. However, some members of the Green Party disagree. They are proposing the former U.S. representative as a candidate for chief executive.

An Internet site -- www.votemckinney.org -- has been created by a committee of Greens "who have a deep and enduring respect for Ralph Nader but do not take it for granted that he will be our candidate for the president next time around."

It touts 10 reasons why McKinney would be a good candidate, including:

• She has a reputation for being one of the most progressive members of Congress.

• She is black, female and Southern.

• She has a following of political allies and a team of experienced organizers.

• She has experience working within the federal government, unlike many other Greens.

Party polls rank McKinney second as a choice and Ralph Nader, who is becoming a perennial, first. Some Greens have expressed concern about the party becoming too widely identified with Nader. Another reason given for supporting McKinney is making inroads with minority voters.

• S.F. cop 'scandal' debunked

Jeffrery Toobin, who should probably be one of my role models, has weighed in on the San Francisco police department scandal that really wasn't a scandal. The lawyer and writer for The New Yorker believes the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot -- or perhaps a blunt at a coke party since we are talking about S.F. Warren Hinckle of the San Francisco Examiner has in turn reviewed Toobin's review of the mess.

He does not buy the theory aggressively advanced by the Chronicle in "a stream of stories suggesting that a coverup was in progress" in the High Arctic of the SFPD command staff over a November late-night street beef on Union Street involving three off-duty cops and two civilians, all fresh from bars.

Toobin found no evidence of the coverup conspiracy advanced by the Chronicle and Hallinan in the grand jury transcript. His interpretation was that the DA was not in control and the grand jury was out of control. He was appalled by the casualness of the process through which: "For the first time in American history, the entire command structure of a major police department had been indicted in a single stroke."

Knock of the competing hometown paper notwithstanding, Hinckle is right. So are Toobin and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. A fistfight among patrolmen and civilians should never have resulted in an indictment of police brass. That was my opinion from the beginning and it has not changed.

The New Yorker's article is in this week's print edition.

• Basketball player charged in teammate's disappearance

The name of the sports star charged with a crime on most people's lips is Kobe Bryant. However, I find the apparent murder of Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy more intriguing. First, it is hard for me to picture Baylor, a school I associate with early to bed and a ban on dancing, with homicide. Second, the story so far suggests a suspect with profound mental problems.

CHESTERTOWN, Md., July 21 -- Former Baylor University basketball player Carlton Dotson was charged today in the murder of his teammate and former roommate Patrick Dennehy after confessing to FBI agents here, law enforcement sources said.

Dotson, 21, was named in a murder warrant out of Waco, Tex., and appeared tonight before a Kent County court commissioner before heading off to jail for the night, Chestertown police said.

The situation reminds me of the unsympathetic treatment a disturbed defendant is likely to get in in Texas, most memorably demonstrated by the Andrea Yates case.

Dotson was arrested after turning up in a town in Maryland for no apparent reason.

Police took Dotson for evaluation to the Chester River Hospital Center, from where he contacted FBI agents today. Agents took Dotson from the hospital to an undisclosed location where he discussed the slaying, law enforcement sources said.

It is unclear why the suspect asked to speak to FBI agents. According to the local sheriff, Dotson said he had been hearing voices.

Dennehy has been missing since June 12.

If anyone still has any doubts that the American criminal justice system is usually not equipped to handle mentally impaired defendants, this case, like Yates,' is likely to serve as a wake-up call.

2:35 PM