Lance Armstrong as litigant

by Walter Olson on January 19, 2013

The disgraced cyclist, like quite a few celebrities (and non-celebrities), had filed defamation actions against persons over statements he had good reason to know were true. That’s not just a violation of his adversaries’ rights, but an inherently sanctionable use of the courts [Michael McCann/Sports Illustrated via Turkewitz; Emily Bazelon/Slate ("Armstrong 'sued so many people that by his own admission he can’t remember their names'")]

{ 4 comments }

1 William Nuesslein 01.20.13 at 2:48 am

I have no interest in bicycling or Lance Armstrong, and I have not followed the story over the years.

I do wonder how it is that doping did so much for the man and yet was not detected, despite all kinds of tests. There are two other problems.. People are remembering incidents decades old in a milieu where everybody knows that he cheated. Polls taken after Watergate had nobody voting for Richard Nixon in 1972, although he won by a sizable margin. The same effect applies to those being at memorable sporting events.

A second problem comes from prosecutors offering punishments unless one ‘fesses up. This was particularly terrible in the community madness case in Boston. I believe it is in Armstrong’s interest to go along with the claims, making his confession incredible.

One sees the wisdom of statues of limitation. Except for valid DNA, old evidence tends to be poor evidence. The evidence of the holocaust was not old when first gathered.

2 Ron Miller 01.21.13 at 1:49 pm

Juries are smart. Because humans are smart. They can consider how old the evidence is and factor it in accordingly.

Give me a child molester that did it 40 years ago. I say if the evidence is there we charge the guy.

The Holocaust? Great example. All of the evidence is old now. But we still know it happened. I believe in many things that happened more than 3 or 5 years ago.

On Lance… here’s one more of a million opinions. I think he was honest in his interview. No, he was mostly sorry he got caught. And yes he admitted to being a bit of a jerk. But it was honest and real. People berated this guy to come clean and he did but we didn’t like the way he came clean. (Sure, he abused the justice system something awful. But he is being honest about it now.)

Funny thing is, we have all spend more time talking about Lance then we have ever spend actually watching a bike race.

3 William Nuesslein 01.22.13 at 10:06 am

Experience runs against you with respect to 40 year old evidence against child molesters. Charges like that were in vogue a while ago as repressed memory theory. It was a black mark on American jurisprudence. See “The Repressed Memory Myth” at
http://www.pjcinvestigations.com/investigative-articles/repressed-memory

My point about the holocaust is that the evidence of its happening was not suppressed at all. I remember my dad talking about the piles of bodies he saw with his own eyes. Eisenhower ordered all American soldiers to tour at least one death camp so that nobody could deny events later.

I don’t believe juries are smart. They seem more to do what they think is expected of them.

4 Ron Miller 01.22.13 at 3:05 pm

Juries are people. You think people are dumb. I think they are smart. We are not going to bridge that difference.

The evidence that there is such a thing as repressed memory is weak. But that is not really on point to the larger issue here. We believe many things as fact even though they happened more than 1,3,5 years ago. The evidence was “gathered” by the victims immediately – as it was happening. It takes a while to string it together. I mean, absolutely, the age to the evidence is a factor to consider. But it is just one factor that pales in comparison to 5 people standing up and saying, “He did this to me 40 years ago.”

Comments on this entry are closed.