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Friday, December 22, 2006

Duke Hoax: Day #248

"MIKE NIFONG, the D.A. prosecuting the Duke rape case, is every lawyer's worst nightmare - a caricature wrapped in a stereotype of the proverbial shyster." - Christine M. Flowers
Today's items:

Benjamin Niolet, News & Observer:
DA's footing in lacrosse case unclear — If Mike Nifong doesn't want to take himself off the rape case against three Duke University lacrosse players, he can be forced to go. State law allows for a district attorney to be removed from office under certain conditions. Opinions differ, however, on whether a prosecutor can be ordered off a case for a conflict of interest. After a court hearing last week, a growing chorus of critics is calling for Nifong to step down from the case or be removed...The allegations themselves are radioactive enough that Nifong should at least consider whether to recuse himself, said Irving Joyner, a professor of law at N.C. Central University...

"Because of the flak that's involved and the credibility of the prosecution, I think that's probably something he ought to consider in the interest of justice and ensuring that there is an unbiased prosecution or if there is to be a prosecution," Joyner said. "I think he ought to consider whether it makes sense at this point to do that in light of all the surrounding circumstances, which look bad."

related: TalkLeft - Mike Nifong's Direct Criminal Contempt
Christine M. FlowersChristine M. Flowers (attorney), Philly.com:
Scottsboro Boys 2006 — MIKE NIFONG, the D.A. prosecuting the Duke rape case, is every lawyer's worst nightmare - a caricature wrapped in a stereotype of the proverbial shyster. He makes the bad jokes possible. (Why do scientists prefer lawyers to rats for experiments? Because they become too attached to the rats.) He conjures up images of ambulances and ill-fitting suits. He confirms every doctor's conviction of belonging to the superior profession. The only bar that Nifong belongs in is the kind that comes with stools. Whenever a member of the profession abandons ethics to advance an agenda, all of us who took an oath to uphold the Constitution are diminished...

THERE'S NO denying that race and class are the combustibles here. But it's Nifong who struck the match.

The real problem isn't the color or net worth of the protagonists. It's the fact that an officer of the court duty-bound to see that justice is done made political hay out of personal tragedies and trampled on the civil rights of three young men.

Let's hope he gets his own dose of justice. The poetic kind.

KC Johnson: The Cascade Continues — more stinging rebukes of Mike Nifong
Jane Stancill, News & Observer:
Duke mobilizes to shield its image — Dogged by months of damaging news stories about the lacrosse scandal, Duke University has launched a costly campaign of alumni dinners, national surveys and aggressive recruitment. The effort -- which includes a 12-city tour by President Richard Brodhead and an entourage of faculty and students -- is part of a larger push to blunt publicity generated by gang-rape allegations involving lacrosse players. The charges resulted in an embarrassing examination of the school's social and academic culture...

Michael Biesecker, News & Observer:
Durham withheld bad lead-test results — The city of Durham submitted test results in October indicating its drinking water met federal standards. But the city withheld samples in which lead was detected in dangerous amounts...
Comment: Hiding official test results is SOP in Durham.
Joan M. Collins letter to Herald Sun The Organ:
Lacrosse case erodes trust in justice system — Recently, U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina wrote to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting the Department of Justice review Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions to determine whether they constitute prosecutorial misconduct and whether the rights of Duke lacrosse players Collin Finnerty, Dave Evans and Reade Seligmann have been violated. Jones was the first congressman or senator to have the courage to do this and I commend him....What is going on in Durham is not just a North Carolina issue. It is a national issue and a national disgrace. It affects all Americans who treasure our liberties and have faith in our justice system. If we lose that, we can lose everything. What will become of our country?...
related: John in Carolina — H-S Publishes Collins’ Letter
William L. Anderson - teaches economics at Frostburg State UniversityWilliam L. Anderson:
An Open Letter to the Innocence Project — I will get right to the point: The basis for your being able to exonerate wrongfully-convicted people has been DNA testing, and many people have been able to leave prisons as free men because DNA tests have demonstrated that they did not commit the crimes for which they were convicted. Yet, in Durham, North Carolina, we have the kind of DNA evidence that you would love to have, the kind of evidence that is the stuff of jubilant press releases from your organization.

Unfortunately, according to Nifong, the DNA means nothing because it does not permit him to create the scenario that he is insisting MUST be the case. Furthermore, the NAACP, which has backed your efforts, also is demanding that all exculpatory DNA results be ignored so a jury can wrongfully convict Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans...
related: The Innocence Project
The Wisdom of Irving Joyner
Irving Joyner“I’ve been practicing law long enough to know that what ends up in a report isn’t necessarily everything that’s there…Just because [evidence] has been released, doesn’t mean that’s it,” - NCCU Professor of Law Irving Joyner, October 2006
Our Collective Voice - Grace — Dear Liestoppers, I’ve spent some time recently thinking about grace and character and the lacrosse case...
To Mike Nifong:

Mike, you screwed up. I know it, you know it, and a ton of other people know it. It is important that you come clean and take your licks. If you do so in a most public and humble fashion you may receive grace. If you do not, you will continue to receive wrath...
Our Collective Voice - BOARSBrothers and Others Against Railroading: BOARs....a self-absorbed Nifong calculatedly used a struggling black female who became his victim too, to divide and conquer his racially polarized community. Should such selfish misconduct make him a hero to all black people? Frequently lying and exaggerating accusers come in all races and classes though the ones that get the most attention target folks with at least a little money to contribute to members of the justice system...

KC Johnson:
Questions and Answers — Board of Trustees chairman Bob Steel, three defense motions, DNA conspiracy, Law School Leaker, non-lacrosse players at party, NC grand jury secrecy, toss Meehan's testing, Nifong conflict of interest, state bar involvement, not interviewing the AV, Meehan testimony, wanted poster, more discovery last Friday, Bannon cross examination, Victoria Peterson, blogging, the case, professionalism of the N&O reporters, and ace up sleeve?
Jeff A. Taylor, ReasonOnline:
The Government FixJust how bad has Mike Nifong screwed up? Somewhere between the Nancy Grace send-up on Saturday Night Live and Susan Estrich's plea for outside intervention in the case, it became clear that Durham district attorney Mike Nifong has made fans of limited government confront an ugly truth. Despite the sensible urge not to federalize every issue, sometimes only another layer of government can fix bad government.

The Duke lacrosse rape case hurtled past mere prosecutorial incompetence or vanity and toward darker, perhaps sinister, motives last week with testimony from the head of the private DNA lab Nifong hired to test the rape kit samples taken from the accuser...

Houston BakerHouston BakerMichael Gaynor:
Professor Baker Still Unrepentant — William Hissey is a college student in Florida. Former Duke Professor Houston Baker is now a Vanderbilt professor. The two view the Duke case about as differently as possible. Mr. Hissey recently wrote an e-mail letter to Professor Baker asking him some pertinent questions on his current stance on the Duke case. Mr. Hissey hoped that Professor Baker and the "Group of 88" professors at Duke have some remorse for their initial comments and actions regarding the Duke case.

Mr. Hissey’s letter: ... Has your opinion on the matter changed in any way?

Professor Baker: ...I really have no apologies to make for what I wrote...

Why are you so interested in the defense of such young men? Why would you suggest they were ‘abandoned’? What does that even mean? I can not speak for a faculty of 88, but I do know that the privilege and secrecy and uncivil(and yes crimiinal) activities of Lacrosse at Duke were not acceptable to many of those who believe universities are made great by their intellectual projects...
related: The Duke Univ. (duke.edu) website still keeps a webpage up with a profile of Prof. Baker and his Vanderbilt University email address.

Vanderbilt University: Houston A. Baker - Distinguished University Professor

LieStoppers forum: Baker Still Unrepentant

Ruth Sheehan, News & Observer columnistRuth Sheehan, News & Observer - Ruth's blog:
Demands for an end-of-'06 apology (12/21) — This suggestion from a reader:

Ruth, in my heart I believe that only people that give a complete, “I was totally wrong” statement about the Duke Lacrosse case will escape the evil that permeates it. If you haven’t already done so, read Scott Peck’s People of the Lie. It will chill you to the bone as you think about the Mike Nifong. You and many others were caught up in his evil. It happens. May I suggest the following for your blog. By the way, I helped Tom Crowley with his.
"I’ve had a chance as we approach Christmas and other religious holidays to carefully consider the Lacrosse Case and my involvement in it. I was totally wrong. I rushed to judgment and was out of line. I’d like to apologize first to the Lacrosse team members and their families. I’d also like to apologize to my readers..."

related: LieStoppers forum: Ruth Sheehan speaks

Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer:
Duke Case Surprise

Calculated Risk

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