Rape charges were dropped in the Duke case today. Setting the stage for a trial on charges that carry just as much time. It's a perfect prosecutorial trick--one I've seen prosecutors use all the time. Use penalty inflation to your advantage. The classic example in New York (which the Court of Appeals has mercifully finally put a stop to) was to charge every defendant with two kinds of Murder--Intentional and Depraved. That way when the jury acquitted of intentional murder and convicted of Depraved, jurors thought they were compromising, when in fact, the verdict was a distinction without a difference and almost everyone convicted that way got slammed just as hard at sentencing as someone convicted of the intentional murder.
So here, the DA has just fiddled with the charges but not the life-destroying penalties.
Duke DA Mike Nifong
All that said, reading between the lines, I think the case goes away in the next few months. The ostensible reason is that the CW is going to have some doubts about her identification. That will allow the DA to cover his ass just enough to possibly avoid the disciplinary charges I think might be (and probably should be) filed against him.
Do let's bear in mind though: the conduct of the DA here is disgusting, but it is by not means unusual. Sad as it seems, this is how the game is played. Thank heavens we have Duke to hold up a mirror to the system, but woe be to those who make the mistake of believing this unusual.