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D.C. Superior Court Judge John Bayly Jr., a conservative courthouse figure known for his bow ties and his deeply held Catholic beliefs, isn’t the most likely reader of Wonkette, a profanity-laced blog that describes itself as “Politics for People with Dirty Minds.” Nevertheless, Bayly cited the blog last week during the assault trial of Duke University lacrosse player Collin Finnerty after a Wonkette reader claimed to have seen the 19-year-old defendant at a Glover Park party July 1. Bayly was probing whether Finnerty violated release conditions setting a 9 p.m. curfew and banning Finnerty from visiting places where alcohol is served. But Bayly relied upon an anonymous tipster to Wonkette’s “Wonk’d” celebrity-sighting feature who misspelled Finnerty’s name and mistakenly claimed Finnerty already had been convicted. Finnerty’s attorney, Steve McCool, says he didn’t know what Wonkette was when Bayly mentioned it in court. “It was unusual, but we were confident that Collin was in compliance with the conditions of release, so we weren’t concerned at all,” he says. “I immediately responded to the report that it was untrue.” Bayly’s sleuthing prompted an open letter on Wonkette noting its “Wonk’d” section involves “very, very little editing and absolutely no fact-checking.” Bayly convicted Finnerty of the misdemeanor charge and sentenced him to six months’ probation. Finnerty still faces rape and kidnapping charges in the case involving allegations by a stripper hired for an off-campus Duke party. Wonkette also asked if “Finnerty’s attorney’s name really [is] Steve McCool? Because that sounds totally made up, and we really think you should look into that.” For the record, Steve McCool really is Steve McCool of Mallon & McCool. “My buddies were calling me and giving me a hard time about it,” he says.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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