May 6, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Response to “A Warning in the Wake of Greenwood”

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To the Editor:

It is not my usual and customary practice to respond to letters such as the one that appeared in The Cornell Sun on: April 26, 2018, but as one of Jack Greenwood’s attorneys, I feel it is imperative to respond to the many misstatements in that letter. That letter is a result of a complete mischaracterization of the facts of this case.

First and foremost, Jack Greenwood is completely innocent of the charges that were originally filed in this case. There was a rush to judgment back in September when the local papers sensationalized the assault of a Cornell student because of his race. This could not be further from the truth. Here are the true facts:

On September 15, 2017, students from two fraternities engaged in a verbal altercation on the sidewalk of 810 Seneca Street where members of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity live during which time both sides made inappropriate remarks which amounted to “trash talking.” Unfortunately, some of the remarks that were made prompted Solomon Shewit to run to the neighboring house at 306 Eddy Street where Greenwood and others lived.

Then, Shewit entered the premises where he sustained a bloody nose. The evidence clearly demonstrates that Shewit ran onto the neighboring property and entered the home where his blood and DNA were located. This paper initially reported that “once he [Shewit] got to the walkway leading to Greenwood’s house, Greenwood and several other men punched him.”

The actual facts are as follows:

  • Shewit ran, alone, from his home to that of Greenwood’s;
  • Shewit entered the premises uninvited where the physical altercation occurred;
  • the District Attorney stated that “alcohol was a significant factor in this altercation”; and
  • both DNA and blood spatter evidence demonstrate that Shewit was inside the house.

Further, police body cam footage revealed that when asked if Greenwood was the person that struck him, Shewit said, “No,” and when prompted again by the police he said he did not recognize Greenwood as one of the perpetrators.

Equally important is the fact that Shewit’s shirt was covered in blood after his physical altercation. Jack’s white shirt worn that evening was tested at a reputable lab for any blood stains and the results were negative for blood. There is no question that Jack Greenwood was not the person who caused Shewit’s bloody nose. Further, there is no question that Shewit ran over to 306 Eddy Street and received a bloody nose by someone inside that residence — NOT Jack Greenwood.

The District Attorney himself made very clear in his statements to the Court that the charges were dismissed due to the “problems” with this case. He told the press, “The fact that the victim, who is a person of color, pursued the defendant onto the defendant’s property, with the intention of confronting Greenwood about his offensive language, creates a level of doubt whether the victim was selected based upon his race.”

Rather than the District Attorney having no further interest in prosecuting the case as was stated in the letter to the Editor, the fact is that he took his time and considered and examined all the evidence presented to him which resulted in the dismissal of all charges against Jack Greenwood.

He was wrongly accused and he and his family have suffered greatly from the negative press. This is the danger of a rush to judgment in a case such as this that carries serious repercussions to someone’s reputation and future who was entirely innocent.

Jack Greenwood is as much an advocate for social justice as any Cornell student including those who signed this editorial piece.

We cannot surrender due process and the rule of law and substitute our own subjective beliefs as the only appropriate outcome. No greater danger to justice occurs when we fail to respect the legal process however much we may disagree with its conclusions. The District Attorney fulfilled his obligation to the community, reviewed all the evidence including what we submitted to him, and a proper disposition, which was a dismissal of all the charges against Jack Greenwood, was reached.

John Alden Stevens, Esq.
Williamson, Clune & Stevens
P.O. Box 126
Ithaca, NY 14851-0126