Updated - today's items:
Nifong Issues Apology to Ex-Lacrosse Players -- Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong on Thursday apologized to three Duke University lacrosse players that he had indicted on charges of attacking an exotic dancer...
OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEYdiscussion:
State Of North Carolina
Michael B. Nifong District Attorney Fourteenth Prosecutorial District
201 East Main Street, Sixth Floor
Durham, North Carolina 27701
MEDIA RELEASE -- April 12, 2007
As you know, on yesterday, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office had made the decision to dismiss the remaining charges in what has come to be known as the Duke Lacrosse Case. While I certainly take issue with some of Mr. Cooper's comments, I want to make it clear that I have every confidence in the investigation into the case that was conducted by his office. I have known Jim Coman and Mary Winstead for more than two decades. Both their legal abilities and their commitments to justice are beyond reproach. Obviously, they have had access not only to all the evidence that I had, but also to additional evidence that I have not seen which they developed during their twelve weeks of independent investigation. I have every confidence that the decision to dismiss all charges was the correct decision based on that evidence.
At the same time, it is important to remember that the Attorney General had the opportunity to review this investigation and to make this decision because I requested that he do so. [Copies of my letter making that request and the Attorney General's response thereto are attached.] It is also important to remember that I turned over to him every document, every photograph, every piece of evidence of any kind that had been turned up in the Durham Police Department's investigation of these cases and in my office's review of that investigation. If I did not want to subject either that investigation or my own performance to such scrutiny – if, in other words, I had anything to hide – I could have simply dismissed the cases myself. The fact that I instead chose to seek that review should, in and of itself, call into question the characterizations of this prosecution as "rogue" and "unchecked."
Finally, it is, and has always been, the goal of our criminal justice system to see that the guilty are punished and that the innocent are set free. We all want that system to work perfectly. At the same time, we all know that no system based on human judgment can ever work perfectly. Those of us who work within that system can only make the best judgments we can based on the facts available to us with the understanding that those judgments may have to be modified as more facts become known. That is the process I used in these cases, and that is the process the Attorney General used in these cases. To the extent that I made judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the three students that were wrongly accused. I also understand that, whenever someone has been wrongly accused., the harm caused by the accusations might not be immediately undone merely by dismissing them. It is my sincere desire that the actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining injury that has resulted from these cases.
LieStoppers blog: Nifong: A Rogue and A Coward -- Defendant Nifong appears to attempt to claim credit for the eventual exoneration of the innocent men he wrongfully prosecuted by revising history to suggest that he decided to seek an independent review in the interests of justice rather than self-preservation...
KC Johnson: Nifong's False Apology
Aaron Beard, AP/MSNBC: D.A. apologizes to ex-Duke lacrosse players
LS forum: FOX NEWS, Nifong formally apologizes
FreeRepublic: Nifong Issues Apology to Ex-Lacrosse Players
TalkLeft: Nifong formally apologizes to players!
DUKE KIDS BEAT 'ROGUE' DA -- SEX RAP TOSSED AT LAST -- North Carolina's chief law enforcer yesterday tossed the entire sensational and racially charged case against three Duke University lacrosse players, saying there was no evidence a sex attack ever occurred - and blasting the "rogue prosecutor."
Attorney General Roy Cooper said he had also decided not to bring criminal charges against the accuser - a troubled 28-year-old stripper named Crystal Gail Mangum - because he felt it was "not in the best interests of justice." ...
Asked if Mangum might face charges for lying, Cooper said, "We have considered that. Our investigators who talked with her over a period of time think that she may actually believe the many different stories that she has been telling and, in reviewing the whole history . . . we believe it is in the best interests of justice not to bring charges." ...
Poll: Should D.A. Mike Nifong be disbarred for the Duke case? [see comments]- poll results by Washington, D.C. commuter line. Overall, 85% currently say disbar Nifong, with 494 total votes.
Don't Feel Too Sorry for the Dukies -- The accuser in this case has been shown to be either a vicious liar or a troubled fantasist.
The three young men who she accused are truly innocent of the charges brought against them according to the North Carolina Attorney General and the investigation led by his office.
But perhaps the outpouring of sympathy for Reade Seligman, Collin Finnerty and David Evans is just a bit misplaced. They got special treatment in the justice system--both negative and positive. The conduct of the lacrosse team of which they were members was not admirable on the night of the incident, to say the least. And there are so many other victims of prosecutorial misconduct in this country who never get the high-priced legal representation and the high-profile, high-minded vindication that it strikes me as just a bit unseemly to heap praise and sympathy on these particular men...
Lead & Gold blog:
Duke lacrosse: Odious -- Stuart Taylor:Nobody but cranks and haters will ever be able to hurl those lies at them again.Count ABC's Terry Moran as one of the cranks and haters.
Terry Moran's blog post is the most odious thing i've seen today. Sanctimonious, hypocritical and flat wrong. While he whines that the press does not care about black victims in prison, he does not get to the reason: reporters depend on good relations with the cops and DA. The press does not ignore railroading; it is frequently complicit in it...
Cleared Duke Players Could Sue -- The disgraced district attorney in the Duke lacrosse rape case apologized to the three athletes in a carefully worded statement Thursday as their lawyers weighed whether to sue him -- and some legal experts say they have a case...
An Unbelievable Day -- North Carolina's attorney general did more than drop the charges against the Duke lacrosse players. In a move seldom seen in the annals of American law, he gave the accused their reputations back. -- It was an extraordinary event in American legal history.
Duke lacrosse teammates Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann and Colin Finnerty knew that North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper was going to drop the sensational sexual assault case against them. But how would Cooper explain it? Would he just say that the charges were not provable beyond a reasonable doubt—which some saw as the safest way out for the attorney general politically—and leave their reputations in limbo? Or would he say the word they were waiting for?
Six paragraphs into his statement, Cooper ended their agony: “We believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.” Innocent. Watching on TV, the defendants and their parents, teammates and friends burst into cheers...
KC Johnson: Taylor's Analysis [see comments]
Chair of the Duke Board of Trustees Covers for Brodhead -- Apparently, the Duke administration, and Richard Brodhead in particular, seems to be feeling the heat from alumni after all charges were dropped in the Duke lacrosse case. In what seems to be an obvious attempt to shift blame from Brodhead regarding his treatment of the case, the players, and the team, Robert Steel, the Chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees, has sent out the following email to the Duke community...
Throughout the past year President Richard Brodhead consulted regularly with the trustees and has had our continuing support. He made considered and thoughtful decisions in a volatile and uncertain situation...discussion:
KC Johnson: Steel E-Mail [see comments]
Innocent but scarred -- The three former Duke lacrosse players whose lives were torn apart when they were accused -- and as much as convicted by the loose talk of a local prosecutor -- most likely have never heard of Raymond Donovan. He was a secretary of labor under President Ronald Reagan who was found not guilty of larceny and fraud in a highly public trial 20 years ago.
Following his acquittal, Donvan famously asked, "Where do I go to get my reputation back?" ...
KC Johnson: Star-Ledger Speaks Out
The Smartest Thing Yet Said About the Duke Case -- let me focus instead upon the one comment I heard Wednesday that gratified and encouraged me.
It came from David Evans, one of the young men vindicated Wednesday. He acknowledged at a press conference after he was exonerated that he prevailed in large part because he was able to afford the best attorneys in North Carolina-- and also that many, many others there charged with similiar crimes are not so fortunate...
Duff Wilson's New Version -- The worst journalist covering the case was the New York Times’ Duff Wilson. While reporters from the Herald-Sun were more biased, few people outside the Triangle have ever heard of the H-S. The Times, on the other hand, is trusted by many as “all the news that’s fit to print.”
NY Times: Listen To: The Back Story by Duff Wilson
Duke: The Final Curtain Begins to Close -- These charges were false, and transparently so. There is no way they ever should have seen the light of day, and there is no way that people should have believed them. Yet, they did. So, why did this train wreck happen?...
The politics of rape dominate the law in this country, and that is not a good thing. Yes, rape is a terrible crime, but a rape must first be committed before one can say there was a crime. The modern politics of rape do not require a rape, only an accusation, and once that accusation is made, it almost is impossible to dislodge...
Churchill and the Duke Innocent -- Churchill’s words, a reminder of precious rights that guided so many of you this past year as you worked towards yesterday’s “Innocent:”
“that suspicion in not evidence; that accused should be heard in their own defense; and that it is for the accuser to prove his charge, not for the defendant to prove his innocence.”
Duke's sorry faculty -- The most remarkable feature of this legal debacle isn’t even the cheerleading for the prosecution that could be found in such major media as The New York Times. As biased and credulous as many reports were, a few were first-rate. For example, the late Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes deftly demolished the prosecution’s case in a report last fall.
No, the most astonishing fact, hands down, was and remains the squalid behavior of the community of scholars at Duke itself. For months nearly the entire faculty fell into one of two camps: those who demanded the verdict first and the trial later, and those whose silence enabled their vigilante colleagues to set the tone...
John in Carolina:
Duke’s faculty gets an “F” -- I often talk with Duke A&S and Trinity faculty. Most of them are quite upset about what’s happened the past year since Chrystal Mangum made her false witness which so many of them embraced...the criticism they’ve received from alums, parents, some pundits, and even, many report, from academics at other colleges and universities. Most faculty believe the criticisms are unfair. In the words of one: “They outrage us even as we try to stay calm.”
Media Takes Hit in Duke Lacrosse Case, Too -- A year stolen from the lives of the accused. An accuser humiliated and discredited as the world watched. A prosecutor's career in tatters, an elite university's reputation tarnished.
As word spread Wednesday that all remaining charges had been dropped against three Duke lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer, there was at least one point beyond dispute: This case was poison for everyone touched by it.
"There are no winners here," said Larry Pozner, a defense attorney for 33 years and the former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "The landscape is littered with ruined reputations...
Duke Players To Talk To "60 Minutes" -- 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl talks to the three former Duke University lacrosse players originally accused of raping a stripper at a party in their first interviews since learning that all charges against them have been dropped
The exclusive interview with Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans will be broadcast this Sunday, April 15, at 7 p.m. ET/PT...
Duke lacrosse no longer the accused -- Cooper said that the accuser will not face prosecution in the case, saying she "may actually believe" the many different stories she told. "We believe it is in the best interest of justice not to bring charges."
The accuser could not be reached for comment last night. But Mark Simeon, a local attorney who spoke on behalf of her parents, said "They were disappointed for their daughter. She did want to go forward with" the case.
Newsday has not named the accuser because she claims to be the victim of sexual assault.
LS forum: Newsday still has not named the accuser
Duke players victims of lying stripper -- They were accused of a brutal sex crime that re-opened centuries-old racial divisions in the American South -- a group of privileged white college boys who allegedly gang-raped a black stripper at a late-night house party.
But 13 months after their arrests on charges of sexual assault and kidnapping, three Duke University lacrosse players on Wednesday were declared victims of a rogue prosecutor and a troubled accuser...
'INNOCENT' Players express relief, lawyers laud 'great day for justice' Admins praise dismissal, stand by response to case Students respond to dismissal, tumultuous year President Brodhead sits down with The Chronicle
A Complete And Undeniable Victory -- Before Roy Cooper strode to the podium in the RBC Center Wednesday, one TV pundit confidently predicted that one word no one was going to hear was “innocent.” It didn’t take long for Cooper to dispel that notion. By the time he was finished, not only had he declared Reide Seligmann, Colin Finnerty, and Dave Evans innocent and dismissed all charges, he effectively put an end to Mike Nifong’s career. Having the Attorney General dismiss the case is one thing. Having him call you a rogue prosecutor and propose a law to control people like you is quite another. Wednesday could not have been a worse day for Mike Nifong...
Duke Charges Dropped, Now Reputations Need Rebuilding -- Lacrosse Players Look To Move Beyond Rape Allegations as Their Nightmare Ends -- The dropping of charges might mean fewer legal worries for Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty — three Duke lacrosse players accused of rape 13 months ago — but the trio must now work to rebuild their reputations....
North Carolina Attorney General: Duke Lacrosse Players Victims of 'Tragic Rush to Accuse' -- A year after they were indicted for a rape that investigators now say never happened, three Duke University lacrosse players are once again proclaiming their innocence.
But this time around, they have many more people — and evidence — on their side.
"It's been 395 days since this nightmare began and finally the day has come for closure," former player Dave Evans told reporters after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that all charges against him, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, were dropped. "We are just as innocent today as we were back then ... we have never wavered in our story....
Duke lacrosse players cleared of all charges
Crystal Gail Mangum Identity Revealed
Charges Dropped - Tempers flare as Shep and attorneys discuss controversial Duke
Bill O'Reilly - Charges Dropped
Contradictions tore case apart -- The accuser's words, leaked slowly over the past year, helped seal the fate of the case dismissed Wednesday by the office of state Attorney General...
LieStoppers blog: Samiha Khanna Returns to the Hoax -- Apparently, now that charges have been dropped and Crystal Mangum has been proven to be a liar, McClatchy has no remaining legal or moral qualms, as Ms. Khanna now reveals the previously hidden words...
Samiha Khanna concludes her article by shamelessly attempting to create public doubt in the AG office's exhaustive investigation and its conclusions, while providing cover for those who continue to see an advantage in pretending that the uncomfortable truth is still unknown. Demonstrating either her abject ignorance or an irresponsible willingness to distort facts, Khanna also takes aim at those who have spoken out against the Hoax...
Duke lacrosse players 'innocent' -- Three former Duke lacrosse players are innocent of the charges they've battled for a year, the state attorney general said Wednesday, but Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong is guilty of "a rush to accuse."
As Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed sexual assault and kidnapping charges against Dave Evans, 24, Reade Seligmann, 21, and Collin Finnerty, 20, on Wednesday, he sharply criticized Nifong's handling of a case that put the accused men, Durham and Duke University under a harsh spotlight.
"We believe that these cases were the tragic result of a rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations," Cooper said. "Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges."
Cooper's declaration that the three were innocent -- a word prosecutors rarely use -- brought a long-awaited freedom for men who lived the past year under the threat of decades in prison...More News & Observer coverage:
Photo Gallery: April 11, 2007: Duke lacrosse case
Photo Gallery: April 11, 2007: Looking back at the lacrosse case
Matthew Eisley and Jim Nesbitt:
Players recount bitter fight for truth -- Freed by an attorney general's declaration of their innocence, the three former players targeted in the Duke lacrosse case invoked images of anger, injustice and harrowing uncertainty...
Brooke Cain, News Researcher:
Key events in the Duke lacrosse case -- MARCH 14, 2006: Police find an apparently intoxicated woman in a car at the Kroger supermarket on Hillsborough Road in Durham about 1:30...
Excerpts from Cooper statement -- On Jan. 13 of this year, I accepted the request of the Durham district attorney to take over three Durham cases.
Audio: Case Analysis by staff writer Joseph Neff
Why, Nifong, why? -- From a prosecutor's viewpoint, the case must have seemed like a career-maker, the journalistic equivalent of discovering Elvis working in a Fuquay-Varina Burger King...
Lost in the post-dismissal jubilation was the fact that these dudes, like the Duke lacrosse players in general, weren’t the proverbial choirboys. You couldn’t tell that from the after-party news conference, where defense attorney Joe Cheshire practically canonized them for their athleticism, scholarship and community service.
Community service? Is that what they call parties where strippers are verbally abused and threatened with broomsticks?
John Ham, Right Angles blog/JohnLocke.org:
NPR and Barry Saunders -- Well, at least two people think that, despite their innocence, the Duke lacrosse players should be punished for having a party.
At the defense press conference yesterday, someone with an NPR name badge (didn’t catch his name) asked if the three players regret going to the party on that fateful night...It’s also Barry Saunders today in The News & Observer...
But this is probably just a cost-cutting measure for The N&O. Most papers today had to go out on the streets to find ill-informed yahoos to make absurd comments tinged by their racial prejudice. The N&O has one right there in the office.
- Video of Defense press conference [1hr 13 min.]
- Video of AG Cooper's press conference [16 min.]
- Video of Coach Pressler's Press Conference [26 min.]
- Collin Finnerty's Parents React to Dismissal [8 min.]
- Duke Lacrosse Program Turns Attention to Future [2 min.]
Images: Duke Lacrosse Case Dismissed
Media hypocrisy muddles realities of race issues -- A few thoughts on Don Imus, Duke lacrosse, big media and big race - which we rarely talk about honestly. Yet we’re obsessed with it, no? ....
But suspicions still linger against the Duke team, as victims rights attorney Wendy Murphy, who has long supported the accuser, proved yesterday. She said the woman either lied and should be prosecuted, or was paid off, presumably by the rich Duke families.
And let’s not forget: Nobody has denied the racial slurs players hurled at the accuser. So the Duke men are forever suspected racists at best and, at worst, possible rapists who beat the rap.
Steele Praises Brodhead, Reaffirms Decision to Submit to Railroading of Students -- In a letter to the Duke Community written on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chairman Robert Steele praises President Richard Brodhead while asserting that the decision to defer to Defendant Mike Nifong's twisted version of a justice system was "essential." ...
Letter from Robert K Steel (Duke Board Chair), To Alums
LS forum: From the Board, oh my.
Lacrosse case lessons for this community -- But what has happened in Durham during the past 13 months reflects on all of us, on what people know of this area, know about the state of North Carolina. During the case's long, tortuous path that led to Wednesday's decision to drop all the charges against three former Duke lacrosse team members, officials at UNC probably went to bed every night saying something like, "there but for the grace. ..."
The team party that led to the charges that led to the case was not, alas, unique -- not at Duke, not at UNC, not at any large university. Yes, there is significant drinking and improper activities on almost all campuses. No, they don't always lead to national controversies and overwhelming media coverage, but that doesn't mean they don't happen.
LS discussion: Sneaky Editorial: It didn't happen here!
Calls mount for DA's immediate resignation -- Coleman faulted the Police Department's use of a lacrosse-players-only photo lineup and how it worked with Nifong.
"The Durham Police Department has procedures for taking eyewitness identifications that I think are valid and reliable and protect innocent people from being wrongly identified," Coleman said. "And they ignored them. They're an independent agency; they have an independent obligation to conduct their investigations in a way that's fair."
He continued: "For whatever reason, they totally abdicated their responsibility in this case and set out to try to develop a case that supported ill-advised and baseless statements made by the prosecutor. They ought to step up to that, they ought to acknowledge that and they ought to make a promise to the city that that's not going to happen again."
City Manager Patrick Baker and other officials said they'd review the Police Department's role in the case once Cooper's office releases a written report next week on the findings of its investigation.
Baker said that in the course of their "debriefing," officials would have to figure out what police and the prosecution did, together or separately, to contribute to the initial course of the investigation.
"At the end, I think justice was served," Baker said. "But with the tone of the attorney general's statement, it's incumbent on us to review and debrief on what happened and how we got there. There was a complete, 180-degree swing from 'these three young men are rapists' to 'these three young men did nothing whatsoever.' That's not something that can be dismissed as just how the criminal justice system works. We need to take a long look at that and certainly review our role in the entire process."
Baker confirmed that Police Chief Steve Chalmers had met Wednesday with special prosecutors James Coman and Mary Winstead to begin the debriefing process...
The Herald-Sun: "Love Yourself, Durham -- Jim Cooney, in yesterday's press conference:
And I want to call out first the newspaper in Durham, North Carolina, "The Durham Herald-Sun," who, to this day...(LAUGHTER) ... has not written a single editorial critical of the way in which Mike Nifong proceeded. If "The Durham-Herald Sun" had bothered to stand up and demand proper processes, the presumption of innocence, and doing things the way our Constitution provides, do you think Mike Nifong would have rolled forward?...confirming the wisdom of Cooney's remarks, the Herald-Sun, this morning, published two editorials...The editorials continue the H-S pattern throughout the case: relentlessly spin facts in Nifong's favor, and then when the facts are overpoweringly negative, simply ignore them.
Editorials, Herald-Sun:Durham gets love from Forbes list -- A cute t-shirt seen around town says, "Durham, love yourself," over a heart shape...Jon Ham, Right Angles blog/JohnLock.org:
Too scary to imagine -- The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change portrays such dire, planet-wide consequences from global warming that the protests of the deniers and delayers sound increasingly feeble.
The Duke lacrosse press conference -- Durham came off as a Third World cesspool of corruption today. First, the state’s attorney general blasted the district attorney in the strongest terms. Then Evans attorney Joe Cheshire and Cooney both cited the lack of professionalism among Durham’s police and DA’s office, and also the behavior of so-called “community activists,” white and black, who fanned the flames of racial hatred for political ends. Durham should hang its head in shame tonight.
Yesterday's Highlights -- Some highlights from yesterday’s affair:
The press conference showed what anyone who has gotten to know the three targets of Mike Nifong’s misconduct or the defense team long ago recognized: the lawyers are extraordinarily talented, and the each of the players is impressive, but in different ways with different personalities.
Speaking to people after the remarks, most in attendance seemed impressed that Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann all used their addresses not only to give people a sense of their experiences over the past year and to thank those who have helped them through everything, but to recommend changes in the North Carolina judicial system to ensure that what happened to them can never occur to another innocent person...
comment: Yesterday, Collin Finnerty mentioned KC Johnson during the press conference when he was thanking people.*
Verdict's still out on media's handling of case -- After a year of salacious stories and unfettered speculation, the legal case against the Duke University lacrosse players is over -- but the news media may not be off the hook.
Ever since it emerged in March last year that a stripper had accused three Duke students of raping her at a party, some reporters and columnists have come under attack for making points that seemed to be at odds with the few facts that were known....
Prolonged prosecutorial disgrace finally stopped -- The Duke case is still a Democrat scandal, Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong is still in office, false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum still has not been charged with filing a false report and the problems with North Carolina's criminal justice system that permitted, facilitated and prolonged the case still have not been remedied, but, HURRAY!...
About North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and his Senior Deputy Attorney General (Mr. Coman), do not be deceived.
They just watched as the prosecution that was a persecution continued and then dawdled after Mr. Nifong decided he had to be relieved...
Beggars' Mounts -- I have some wishes:
- That J. Kirk Osborn's family and friends are able to see in this exoneration of his client yet one more example of the important and just work he did in his life, and that through his dedication to justice, his influence will continue long past this day.
- That Ed Bradley's family and friends are able to see in this revelation of a hoax just one more example of the important work he did in his life, and that through his dedication to truth, his influence will continue long past this day...
LS forum: Coupla stunners from Prof Gufstason...
LS: Nifong "devastated" and "deeply wounded" -- Megyn Kelly, FoxNews reports Nifong is "devastated" and "deeply wounded" by Cooper's statements...
LS: Blog and Media Roundup, Thursday 04/12/07
LS: What does Crystal do now?
comment: Thank you, again John. Yesterday was a very emotional day for all of us who have followed this tragic injustice. We are looking forward to the day Mike Nifong is just a bad memory.
On Cooper, Nifong, and Actual Innocence -- The rap on Roy Cooper (the North Carolina Attorney General) among my friends who know a good bit about him is that he is overcautious — a smart guy who is too often hesitant and a bit of a plodder. People I know who followed the investigation closely were confident that Cooper's investigators had concluded that the charges against the lacrosse players were without merit and that the lacrosse players were in fact innocent, but the betting money seemed to be that Cooper would issue a bland statement saying that there wasn't enough evidence to support a trial and leave it at that...
I find it remarkable, then, that he went so much further, saying that the accused players were in fact innocent, that there was no credible evidence against them, that the accuser's many different statements could not be rectified and that she contradicted herself, etc. This was not a garden-variety statement about insufficient evidence but instead was about as complete a vindication as the defendants could have imagined. Indeed, I think that Cooper said just about everything that the defendants could have wanted. Cooper must have really been convinced...