Trial and Errors
Here, in two words, is a good reason why trials are held in courtrooms rather than on the TV talk-show circuit: Alan Dershowitz. In a wave of recent appearances, Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who is representing Mike Tyson in his appeal of his year-old rape conviction, has jumped the gun on a hearing scheduled for Feb. 15 before the Indiana court of appeals. He has also played fast and loose with the truth. On The Maury Povich Show two weeks ago, for instance, he charged that:
•prosecutors in Tyson's trial deceived jurors by portraying Tyson's victim, Desiree Washington, as "an innocent virgin";
•trial judge Patricia Gifford improperly excluded testimony from three eyewitnesses who saw Washington and Tyson "necking" in the fighter's limousine;
•Washington is "a perjurer, a liar" who before the trial had discussed selling book and movie rights to her story and then denied under oath that she had done so.
Much of what Dershowitz said on the program went unchallenged. In fact, during the trial neither Washington nor the prosecutors ever stated she was a virgin at the time of the attack. Moreover, only one witness, not three, claims to have seen Tyson and Washington embracing in the limousine, and that witness had ties to Tyson's circle of friends. It is also worth noting that Tyson's bodyguard, Dale Edwards, who was in the limousine, wasn't called to testify by the defense. As for whether Washington discussed selling her story before the trial, Dershowitz was pressed by Povich on this point and could offer no proof of any such discussion. There was a standard contingency-fee agreement between Washington and her attorney, but Tyson's lawyers told jurors about this on the first day of the trial.
Dershowitz has been at his most objectionable in enlisting jurors in his media crusade. He has delighted in noting that at least two jurors who have heard his arguments have said they would now vote to acquit Tyson. But as Dershowitz knows, any second thoughts jurors have based on information selectively fed to them after a verdict carry no legal weight.
Dershowitz has so insistently misrepresented the facts of the case that last week Marion County prosecutor Jeffrey Modisett, who had before remained silent on the issues involved, felt the need to join him on TV in Indianapolis. "Enough is enough," Modisett said. "Mr. Dershowitz has attacked the judge, members of the jury, certainly our office...[and] has continued to drag the victim of this case, Desiree Washington, through the mud.... We have to set the record straight."
Presumably the court of appeals will give Dershowitz's reckless charges closer scrutiny than they've received from the Maury Poviches of the world.
Since the announcement last month that Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, 32, will take as his bride Harvard-educated Masako Owada (left)—the wedding will be in June—it has been revealed in considerable detail in the Japanese press that the future empress is an erstwhile tomboy who had a childhood passion for baseball. A scouting report:
Owada, Masako, 29—Bats left, throws right. As eighth-grader, organized a soft-ball team at her exclusive Tokyo girls' school over protests of a teacher that game was unfit for "a proper Japanese girl"; as third baseman and cleanup hitter, led team to district championship; patterned batting style—choked up, hands apart—after Yomiuri Giant star Shigeru Takada and sewed his number, 8, into a seat cushion; spent lunch breaks playing catch and reading baseball magazines; frequently sneaked off to watch Yomiuri Giants work out, sometimes under the guise of seeking subjects for art class; switched allegiances to Yokohama Taiyo Whales and their leftfielder Keiichi Nagasaki; as teenager in U.S., while father, Hisashi, a diplomat, was teaching international law at Harvard and performing consular duties in Boston, attended Belmont (Mass.) High and pitched and hit cleanup for mixed-sex consulate softball team; still throws a mean curve, having spurned Naruhito three times before accepting his proposal.
Memo to the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys: Whichever of you wins the Super Bowl, please don't celebrate by giving Marv Levy or Jimmy Johnson one of those messy Gatorade showers. This business of dousing the coach began when the New York Giants took to pouring a large coolerful of the beverage over Bill Parcells's head during their Super Bowl-winning 1986 season, and while the practice had a certain charm at first, it has, like many other novelties (the Wave, Dick Vitale, Not!), grown tiresome. Truthfully now, does anybody still find these ritual drenchings amusing? Three Stooges fans need not answer.
A threat by Mike Conley, Carl Lewis, Gwen Torrence and other stars to boycott the track and field world championships next August in Stuttgart unless prize money is awarded has been greeted with contempt by the IAAF, the sport's governing body. In saying no to prize money, the IAAF fell back—about 100 years—on the argument, as stated last week by general secretary Istvan Gyulai, that "the spirit of competing is what's important."
But spirit alone isn't enough for the IAAF, which, while stiffing the athletes, 1) has sold European TV rights to major meets for $91 million over the next four years; 2) has spent at least $5 million on recent galas in Monte Carlo, Stockholm and Turin, Italy; and 3) held a meeting for IAAF higher-ups last week in Jakarta so lavish that one witness said, "It's like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."
On his death last week from brain cancer at age 50, Reginald Lewis was lauded as one of the U.S.'s most successful black businessmen, a financial wizard who took over giant Beatrice International in a leveraged buyout in 1987 and had a personal worth estimated at $400 million. By contrast, references to 41-year-old Jean Fugett Jr., Lewis's half brother and successor as head of the company now known as TLC Beatrice, focused on Fugett's deeds as a Pro Bowl tight end in the 1970s for the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.
But the brothers were more similar than it appeared. Fugett is an Amherst graduate who, while still in the NFL, worked as a reporter for The Washington Post and as a TV sportscaster, and attended George Washington University Law School. Both as founding partner of a Baltimore law firm and as vice-chairman of Beatrice, he has exhibited considerable financial acumen. For his part Lewis was a star shortstop and quarterback at Baltimore's Dunbar High who turned down a contract with the Washington Senators to take a football scholarship at Virginia State. However, after suffering a shoulder injury, he gave up sports to concentrate on academics and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School.
In a sense Lewis's mishap launched Fugett on his business career, too. "He was a great, great athlete," a Fugett said about his brother. "Seeing what happened to him, I learned at a very young age that this athletic stuff could end in a second."
What began as a happy splash with the '86 Giants has become a Gatorade-soaked bore.
Follow the Leader
The sight of Bill Clinton (below) in running shorts has prompted comedian Jay Lena to urge the creation of a Cabinet post of Thighmaster General, but don't laugh: The new president may be inspiring Running Boom II. Fred Lebow, president of the New York Road Runners Club, says, "Before November we were getting 30 to 40 new members a week. Now it's running between 100 and 150." Lebow attributes the surge to the publicity surrounding Clinton's morning jogs.
They Wrote It
Mike Lopresti, in USA Today: "Maybe you're like me. You've perused this new NFL labor contract and now you have only one question. Who has the English translation?"
To hold down costs in Division I basketball, the NCAA limits schools to three assistant coaches, one of whom can be paid no more than $16,000 a year. Some schools have resorted to this ploy: In 1992 pay coach A $100,000 and coach B $16,000; in '93 flip-flop those salaries. Result: Both coaches average $58,000 a year. In hoops parlance this could be called taking the ball to the loophole.
They Said It
•Steve Greenberg, baseball's deputy commissioner, characterizing a written response by Cincinnati Red owner Marge Schott last week to charges that she had uttered racial slurs: "It's lengthy and nicely bound."
•Michael Jordan (left), on granting an interview to 11-year-old Maria Sansone of NBC's Inside Stuff: "I feel everything she would be looking for is positive. She's not like some of the other reporters, who are trying to get you down."