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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Duke Case: Nifong's Bluff - A Game of Chance

updated: June 30, 2006

Durham D.A. Mike Nifong has turned over 1814 pages of discovery information regarding the Duke lacrosse case to defense lawyers.

That total comes from 1,278 pages of evidence (including two videotapes and a compact disc) turned over on May 18th and an additional 536 pages of evidence turned over on June 22nd.

That sounds very impressive doesn't it - 1814 pages. Judge Ronald L. Stephens, who is currently the presiding judge on this case and just happens to be Mr. Nifong's old boss, said:

"Frankly, for a case of this nature, with the voluminous amount of information that's been provided, there appears to have been at least a good faith effort" to fulfill the defense requests...
However, it turns out that over 95% of those pages are worthless. They are superfluous bureaucratic filler or as the defense attorneys said, "mainly of extraneous, irrelevant material."

Dan Abrams of MSNBC looked at all of the first 1278 pages and said:
Well now I‘ve seen them all. It‘s all numbered. Every page is numbered of the discovery. I‘ve seen it all now everything that the D.A. handed over to the defense team, and this case is even weaker than I originally thought.
Former Conn. state prosecutor and MSNBC analyst, Susan Filan, saw all of the first 1278 pages and said:
now, I have serious doubts about whether this case can be proved at all.
Yale Galanter another attorney who has seen all of the first 1278 pages of discovery has said the same thing - no case.

It seems that there are actual only about 70-75 pages or so of relevant information in this discovery dump that came out of Mike Nifong's office. Susan Filan said:
I think Dan Abrams said when you boil it down, there‘s about 70, 75 pages that really matter to this case.
The problem is that even these 75 relevant pages do not exactly show how and when the crimes of first degree rape, first degree sex offense, and first degree kidnapping were committed against Crystal Gail Mangum on March 14, 2006.

The 75 relevant pages (some of which the public has seen) probably consist of the following:
Crystal Gail Mangum's statement (portions released on MSNBC)
Kim Roberts/Pittman statement (5 pages)
Medical reports:
- including statement from SANE nurse
Police lineups (15+ pages)
Statements from police & investigators (including)
- statements from Investigator Benjamin Himan:
- with Ms. Mangum & Jarriel Johnson
- summarizing statement of Kim Pittman
- Durham police officer Sgt. J. C. Shelton
- Durham police officer G.D. Sutton

The bottomline is Mike Nifong has no case. He can't show us a case. Mike Nifong built his case around a sob story that was personally told to him by Crystal Gail Mangum sometime in the week or so after the March 14th incident.**

Mike Nifong looked Crystal Gail Mangum in the eye that day and he wanted to believe her and that particular version of her story.**

This "terrible gang-rape" case that had fallen into his lap would let him hit two fat birds with one stone. First, it would let him settle some old hidden feud he had with Duke University, and second, it would be his springboard to winning re-election, in a very tight three-way primary, in a racially mixed district.

Damn the deviling details, full speed ahead with a bold bluff.

In popular stud poker parlance, Mr Nifong, had no hand, weak hole cards (2 & 6 unsuited) and he was hoping to draw an inside straight (3, 4, 5 - or more evidence) or else bluff the defense into folding (taking a plea deal).

Mr. Nifong was a confident player and he thought he'd get his cards or a fold from his opponent, the spoiled Duke "hooligan" jocks.

As we know, that never happened and now Mike Nifong has flipped over his hole cards, this discovery evidence, to the defense (& MSNBC) and his bold bare-faced bluff is exposed.

The legal experts can't believe it. This can't possibly be all of his cards they say. He must have something else "up his sleeve" - right? A professional district attorney can't possibly indict based on a bluff.

Wrong. He did and it proves justice is just another game of chance in Mike Nifong's world.

Mike Nifong now looks like he's going to make everyone wait until next spring when he gets to flip over his losing cards again and show them to a Durham jury. He's hoping his bluff will work on them.

----------------------------------------------------------------

The defense attorneys are trying to show the world that this case is all bluff and bluster.

Kirk Osborn is a good attorney, no doubt. Just be glad you are not paying his legal fees. Like everything in this world you get what you pay for. Hopefully, he's not charging the Seligmann family by the word.

Kirk Osborn, attorney for Reade Seligmann, filed a "MOTION FOR BILL OF PARTICULARS" on June 21, 2006 that outlines the questions the 75 pages or so of "relevant" information fails to answer:
Now Comes the Defendant Reade William Seligmann, through counsel, and respectfully moves.....the Court to issue an Order directing the State to file and serve a Bill of Particulars setting forth factual information pertaining to charges herein upon the grounds that the Defendant cannot adequately prepare or conduct his defense without the information requested herein:

The Defendant has carefully reviewed this entire discovery which consists mainly of extraneous, irrelevant material. None of the discovery shows that any crime occurred. In fact it shows that the accuser Crystal Mangum even stated no rape occurred, and gave approximately one dozen conflicting statements, including one story were she alleged her co-worker robbed her of $2000.00. The discovery provides no account of which story is going to be presented as the "true story" or how any crime even occurred given the number of established facts which contradict every one of Ms. Mangum's stories (except of the true story that she was not raped)

With so many different stories floating through the discovery and elsewhere, and with Mr.Nifong having to bolster his reputation which he damaged with premature public statements. It is essential for Reade Seligmann to have a forecast of exactly which of the many stories Mr. Nifong, on behalf of the State and in his own self-interest, will use in his attempt to falsely prosecute the Defendant..

The defense respectfully request, at a minimum the following items of factual information pertaining to the charges herein upon the grounds that Reade Seligmann cannot adequately prepare or conduct his defense without the herein requested information.

1. Exactly where, when, at what time, and how does the State contend the Defendant committed a first degree rape?

2. Exactly how does the State contend the alleged rape was committed with another person by force and against the will of the accuser, and who was this person or these persons.?

3. Was a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article used during the alleged rape, which the accuser reasonably believed to be a dangerous or deadly weapon employed and/or displayed; and if so, by whom was it displayed or employed?

4. Was a serious personal injury inflicted up the accuser or another person during the alleged rape; and if so who inflicted this injury?

5. Was the alleged first degree rape committed by someone aided and abetted by one or more other persons; and if so, who was this person or these persons who aided and abetted, and exactly how did such person aid and abet?

6. The factual information which is the basis for the state's allegations of a first degree rape.

7. Exactly where, when and how the state contends the defendant committed a first degree sexual offense, and a specific description of the exact sexual offense?

8. Was the alleged first degree sexual offense committed with another person by force and against the will of the complaining witness?

9. Was a dangerous or deadly weapon or an article used during the alleged sexual offense which the accuser reasonably believed to be a dangerous or deadly weapon employed and/or displayed; and if so, by whom was it displayed or employed?

10. Was serious personal injury inflicted upon the accuser or another person during the alleged sexual offense; if so who inflicted this injury?

11. Was the alleged first degree sexual offense committed by someone aided and abetted by one or more other persons; and if so who was were the person(s) who aided and abetted, and exactly how did such person or persons aid or abet?

12. The factual information which is the basis for the state's allegations of a first degree sexual offense.

13. In regard to the first degree kidnapping charge, how does the state contend the accuser witness was unlawfully confined, restrained, or removed from one place to another?

14. Was the alleged confinement, restraint or removal for the purpose of holding the accuser for ransom or as a hostage or using such person as a shield; or facilitating the commission of any felony or facilitating flight of any person following the commission of a felony?

15.Was the alleged kidnapping to do serious bodily harm to or terrorize the person so confined, restrained or removed or any other person?

16. Was the alleged kidnapping to hold the complaining witness in involuntary servitude in violation of G.S. 14-43.2?

17. Was the person kidnapped released in a safe place or was the complaining witness seriously injured or sexually assaulted?

18. The factual information which is the basis for such allegations regarding the first degree kidnapping.

19. A detailed statement of the factual information upon which the State will rely to prove each of the elements of each charge in each indictment.

20 The names, addresses, telephone numbers and current occupations of each witness the prosecution expects to cal to establish each of the elements of each circumstances listed in the answer to paragraphs above, along with a statement of the expected testimony of each witness.

21. A copy of any statement obtained from witnesses regarding any charge or element of any charge in this case.

22. Any information in the prosecution's files or known to the prosecution or which with the exercise of reasonable diligence could become known to the prosecution which establishes or might tend to establish the existence of any element of any of the alleged charges.
sources:
Judge orders reduction in Duke lacrosse player's bond [USA Today, June 24, 2006]
MOTION FOR BILL OF PARTICULARS - June 21, 2006 (.pdf) [KirkOsborn.com]

update:

BILL OF PARTICULARS
- A detailed informal statement of a plaintiff's cause of action, or of the defendants's set-off.
In all actions in which the plaintiff declares generally, without specifying his cause of action, a judge upon application will order him to give the defendant a bill of the particulars, and in the meantime stay proceedings. And when the defendant gives notice or pleads a set-off, he will be required to give a bill of the particulars of his set-off, on failure of which he will be precluded from giving any evidence in support of it at the trial. The object in both cases is to prevent surprise and procure a fair trial. The bill of particulars is an account of the items of the demand and states in what manner they arose.
via Bill of Particulars discussion [courttv.com]

Discussion of Motion - Bill of Particulars ['The Abrams Report' for June 27, MSNBC]

**2nd update/correction:
On October 27, 2006 it was shockingly revealed that Mike Nifong had never directly interviewed Crystal Mangum regarding the details of the case.

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