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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — May 15, 2007

Updated - today's items:

LieStoppers blog:
Was Seligmann a known innocent on March 16, 2006? -- In an editorial today, the News & Observer inadvertently points to one of the most comical assertions made by Durham’s invisible Chief of Police Steve Chalmers in his report on the department’s participation in the Nifong/Mangum Hoax.

The N&O’s editorial states:

Police had conducted several lineups that did follow the department's policy on photo identifications. In those, Mangum didn't identify any suspects.
Surprisingly, in an editorial condemning the Chalmers report as “wasted words” while calling for an independent review, the News & Observer appears to have bought Chalmers’ unsteady claim that the initial photo arrays were conducted according to the department's standards as outlined by General Order 4077. Specifically, Chalmers defends the initial photo arrays by suggesting that the lineups included genuine fillers...

[From Baker/Chalmers Report:]

· The photo arrays were presented to Mangum by an independent administrator i.e. an officer who did not know which person in each of the photo arrays was considered the suspect in the array;

· Five fillers [Reade Seligmann was a filler] were used per suspect photo. Photos of Duke University lacrosse team members identified as persons other than “Brett,” “Breck,” “Adam” or the “Matt” described above were selected; . . .

By definition, a filler in a lineup is a known innocent...
LS forum: Reade Seligmann as innocent filler?

LS forum:
Another Nail in the COFFIN
Editorial, News & Observer:
Wasted words -- A 'report' on the Durham Police Department's work on the Duke lacrosse case is disappointing. A real probe is needed badly -- Durham residents and the wider public have a right to a clear explanation about how that city's police performed in the 13-month Duke lacrosse investigation. Instead, the report released late last week by City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers offered a series of partial explanations and excuses.

In response, Mayor Bill Bell and three members of the City council -- Eugene Brown, Thomas Stith and Mike Woodard -- called for an independent investigation. Bell is looking to state Attorney General Roy Cooper -- who had taken over the case from the Durham prosecutor and later declared three accused lacrosse players innocent -- for that objective investigation. Cooper, however, will recommend some experts who might do the job, rather than his office. That's OK. Independence is the important thing.

Bell told The N&O's Joseph Neff and Matt Dees that the police report failed to answer a basic question: Who was in charge of the lacrosse case investigation -- the police department, or prosecutor Mike Nifong? According to news reports, Nifong took over the case in its earliest stages. Then the prosecutor, who is now fighting to retain his law license, pressed on despite evidence indicating that the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, an exotic dancer, was not raped at the lacrosse team party as she'd alleged. . .

Durham police still need a realistic look at their actions. Without a complete accounting, how can the department learn from this case?
Editorial, Herald-Sun:
Lacrosse report is deeply flawed -- There are many unanswered questions in a recent city report on the lacrosse case, but two of the biggest are:

-- If the Durham Police Department knew in April, 2006 that a photo lineup that identified three suspects was improper, what did it do about it? And,

-- Why wasn't the accuser's credibility more seriously questioned?

The report, created by City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers, was basically dead on arrival. Shortly after its release, Mayor Bill Bell and several City Council members called for an independent assessment by the state attorney general.

A previous attorney general's investigation led to all charges being dismissed against the three lacrosse players, whom Attorney General Roy Cooper termed "innocent." He also accused Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong of pursuing the case with no evidence...

To find more complete answers to these and other questions, a third-party investigation will be necessary.
discussion of N&O/H-S editorials:
LieStoppers forum: Editorial Outrage at DPD Whitewash, Pigs are flying in North Carolina
KC Johnson: N&O, H-S Dismiss Baker/Chalmers Report
TalkLeft: Editorial Outrage at DPD Whitewash
Barry Saunders, News & Observer:
Steps toward the truth -- How do you know a bomb is heading your way? First, you hear a whistling sound overhead.

Second, you see "Starring Adam Sandler" on the marquee.

Third, Durham City Manager Patrick Baker releases his anticipated report on who messed up in the handling of the Duke lacrosse case investigation.

There is nothing ennobling in saying, "Oops, we screwed up," but confessing when you do will engender more respect than blaming someone else.

Whether you're the city manager or the top cop, it is not enough to say, "We were Nifonged" -- yep, the Durham DA has unofficially become a verb -- as both seemed to do in their investigation interpretation.

Should DA Mike Nifong have behaved differently?

Darned right. For instance, I'll bet he wishes he had met with the accuser or thoroughly investigated her before initiating a media offensive. A face-to-face might've helped him determine that the wheel was turning but the hamster was dead. (Hey, don't look at me like that: State Attorney General Roy Cooper said essentially the same thing, only nicer, in choosing not to prosecute her.)

In other parts of the country, the students' guilt or innocence became a religious crusade. Many Durham residents, however, viewed it with something akin to detached bemusement.

That could change if and when the Blue Devil 3 seek legal redress and Durham residents find themselves digging into their pockets to contribute to the Finnerty-Seligmann-Evans retirement fund...
Matt Dees, News & Observer:
State won't probe cops in Durham -- The state attorney general Monday declined a request from Mayor Bill Bell for a review of the Durham Police Department's handling of the Duke lacrosse case, leaving the prospects for a third-party assessment uncertain.

Bell had asked Attorney General Roy Cooper on Friday for an independent review almost immediately after City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers released a report that Bell and others said failed to answer key questions. Cooper told Bell on Monday that the State Bureau of Investigation, which Bell wanted to perform the inquiry, only looks into criminal matters.

"I have not alleged any criminal wrongdoings in this process," Bell said in accepting Cooper's decision.

At Cooper's suggestion, SBI Director Robin Pendergraft is compiling a list of legal experts who could conduct the review. Bell and the rest of the City Council would have to decide whether they would want to hire one or more of them. . .
Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown wants an outside review of the Durham PD's handling of the Duke lacrosse caserelated:
SBI Won't Review Durham PD's Handling of Lacrosse Case -- At least three City Council members, including Eugene Brown, agree that another look at the police department is needed, despite City Manager Patrick Baker saying last week it was not necessary.

"It certainly was not the finest hour for the Durham Police Department," Brown said, suggesting retired police officers from throughout the state review the case.

"I don’t think it should be any so-called community leaders involved with it," he said. "This is a police issue, and they’re the ones that should conduct the investigation...

Ray Gronberg, Herald-Sun:
Cooper rebuffs probe request -- N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper has rebuffed Mayor Bill Bell's request that his office and the State Bureau of Investigation examine how Durham authorities handled the Duke lacrosse case.

Cooper's decision followed an afternoon meeting with members of his senior staff and Bell. His spokeswoman, Noelle Talley, joined Bell later in saying state officials will instead give the city a list of "independent law-enforcement experts" who could conduct an outside review of the Durham Police Department and District Attorney Mike Nifong.

Talley and Bell said the move came because the SBI only has jurisdiction over criminal matters.

"Since no criminal investigation was requested, the SBI was not the appropriate agency to conduct the review," Talley said...

LS forum: Mayor Bell NOT interested in Criminal investigatio, Durham in Crisis -- The list of people in Durham willing to see that justice is done in this case is dwindling by the day...
Letter to Herald Sun:
A Sad Apology --
So the Durham police department expresses "regret" at the witch hunt they fomented against the Duke lacrosse players? That's just wonderful! Let's have them say, "We're sorry" and that'll be enough. Not hardly.

When the lawsuits fall -- and they will -- those who are sued ought to pay out of their own pockets for their defense. They must not be allowed to dip into public coffers. The lesson here must be hard, fast and immediate: Political correctness and reverse racism have their price and their consequence.

The same rubric must also apply to those Duke University professors and administrators who don't know the basic tenets of American justice: Innocent until proven guilty.

George Mitchell
Blairsville, Ga.
May 15, 2007
Andrew Dunn, Herald-Sun:
Duke settles lawsuit on grade -- Duke University has settled a lawsuit brought by a former lacrosse player against the university and a visiting faculty member.

In the suit, former player Kyle Dowd alleged that visiting assistant professor Kim Curtis had discriminated against him in the aftermath of the since-dismissed Duke lacrosse sexual-offense case for being a team member. Dowd, who graduated last year and was never implicated in the case, received an original final grade of "F" from Curtis. Curtis specializes in political theory with a concentration in feminist theory, according to her online university profile.

As part of the settlement, Dowd's final grade was changed to "P," or "Pass." The university had earlier said the final grade had resulted from a calculation error and changed it to a "D."

"This lawsuit has been settled through mediation to the mutual satisfaction of Kyle Dowd and his family and Duke University, and without any admission by any party of legal liability," the statement reads. It also states that the settlement terms are confidential and that Dowd's official transcript now reflects the changed grade. . .
Michael Gaynor:
Duke case: The Dowd settlement is not big or good news -- In "Justice for Duke Lacrossers: The Dowd family strikes back," posted on January 6, 2007, I reviewed the complaint by Kyle Dowd, a member of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team, and his parents against Duke University and Professor Kim F. Curtis and concluded: "Like the Duke case, the Dowd case has the potential to bring about great good, if justice is truly done and the real culprits are held to account."

It did not happen. The case quietly was settled. . .

Duke University's refusal to admit liability as part of the settlement is tolerable, since giving Kyle a "P" for the course is tantamount to an admission of liability, but the significance of the settlement depends upon the amount of the settlement and the Dowds agreed to keep it secret...

If Duke University paid a sum substantially in excess of the cost to Duke University of litigating the case, then that payment is tantamount to an admission of liability and it's fair to ask what action Duke University will take against Professor Curtis...

LS forum: Dowd Case Settlement
TalkLeft: Dowd Lawsuit Settled
comment: The Wikipedia article about the Duke Lacrosse Scandal has been updated to say the following:
The 2006 Duke University lacrosse team scandal began in March 2006 when Crystal Gail Mangum, a black stripper and escort, falsely claimed that she had been raped by three unidentified white members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team. Mangum had been engaged to work a party held at the residence of two of the team captains, and she reported that the incident took place there...
KC Johnson:
Good News from the DSG -- The Duke Student Government has been a voice of sanity over the past academic year, and the administration of DSG president Elliot Wolf departed with several positive overtures.

In early March, Wolf became the sole member of the Campus Culture Initiative willing to speak out publicly against the flawed process that resulted in the February report...

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