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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — May 23, 2007

Updated - today's items:

WRAL
Nifong Plans to Testify at State Bar Trial -- Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong plans to testify at his upcoming trial for his handling of the Duke lacrosse case, his attorney said Wednesday.

David Freedman said his client has already provided some testimony to prosecutors with the North Carolina State Bar for his trial, which is scheduled for June 12 before a three-member disciplinary panel....

State Bar prosecutors have also deposed Dr. Brian Meehan, the director of DNA Security, the lab that tested DNA evidence in the case. Meehan testified last year that he and Nifong agreed only to report to defense attorneys positive DNA matches to certain pieces of evidence and that they agreed to omit DNA matches to other men found on the accuser.

Durham City Manager Patrick Baker told WRAL Wednesday afternoon that several police investigators, including Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Inv. Benjamin Himan, who headed the case. Baker said he expects some to testify at the trial but didn't know which ones would.In addition to Nifong and Meehan, the State Bar will call several defense attorneys in the case, as well as Nifong's private investigator, Linwood Wilson, to testify...

discussion:
LS forum: Nifong Plans to Testify at State Bar Trial, This should be a death kiss for him
KC Johnson: Nifong, Wilson, Meehan to Testify
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Judge Orlando HudsonAnne Blythe, News & Observer:
Dismissal bears marks of Duke lacrosse case -- A judge dismissed assault and weapons charges against a teenager Tuesday and in the process admonished the district attorney's chief investigator for intimidating a witness.

The issue before Judge Orlando Hudson was whether Breon Jerrard Beatty, 18, could get a fair trial on charges that stemmed from a shooting in August.

Investigator Linwood WilsonBob Brown, the defense lawyer representing the teen, complained that Linwood Wilson, a tall, hulking man who has been the district attorney's chief investigator since December 2005, threatened a witness charged in the same incident to the point where irreparable damage had been done to Beatty.

The two-hour hearing not only highlighted the specifics of one case, it provided hints that the climate in Durham County courts has chilled for prosecutors in the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse case.

At several points in the hearing, Hudson and Brown each referred in disparaging terms to the lacrosse case and to District Attorney Mike Nifong, whose handling of the case has him facing career-threatening ethics charges before the State Bar.

Some lawyers said they hope Tuesday's ruling was a sign that the legal landscape has changed in Durham.

"The Duke lacrosse case opened a window into the Durham District Attorney's Office and how they operate," said Joseph B. Cheshire V, one of the defense lawyers in that case. "That window allowed not only the public to look in, but it allowed judges to look in. Hopefully that will continue for the transparency of justice" ...
related:
John Stevenson, Herald-Sun: Judge: DA's office ran afoul with tactic -- Regarding the DA's Office's behavior in the Beatty case, Beatty's lawyer, Bob Brown, said: "That is tampering with a witness. That is intimidation of a witness. If it was me as a defense attorney making these threats, I would be arrested. It is wrong. It is illegal."

Chief Assistant District Attorney David Saacks countered that no threats were involved, but Hudson wasn't convinced.

"Intimidation [of a witness] is wrong," said the judge. "I don't want to reward the state when they do things like that."

Saacks said later he would think about a possible appeal...

red flagdiscussion:
LieStoppers blog:
Business as Usual for Durham DA's Office: Wilson Intimidates Another Witness -- Undaunted by the exposure of his underhanded efforts to intimidate witnesses and manipulate evidence in the failed effort to send three innocent men to prison for a crime that never occurred, Chief Investigator Linwood Wilson, the fixer for Durham's rogue District Attorney Mike Nifong, appears intent on continuing his unethical and illegal practices in the aftermath of the Durham Hoax...

While it is a positive sign that Judge Hudson has finally begun to recognize and act against the dangers presented by the rogue District Attorney and the accomplices within his office, it must be noted that Nifong remains as District Attorney as a direct result of Hudson's unprecedented refusal to act in accordance with the statutory directives of NCGS 7A-66.

KC Johnson:
Linwood Wilson: Threatening, Intimidating Behavior -- It appears that Linwood Wilson’s penchant for improper behavior extends beyond the lacrosse case...

LS forum: Wilson Tampers with Witness, Again, Gang Shooter to go free?
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Anne Blythe, News & Observer:
Deal made on prosecutor disclosure -- Prosecutors and defense lawyers have reached a tentative agreement on how to modify the three-year-old law that requires prosecutors to share nearly all information they gather with defendants in criminal cases.
A key change would allow prosecutors to meet privately with witnesses and keep details of those encounters to themselves in certain circumstances.

As the law stands now, prosecutors must provide anyone accused of a crime with notes or recordings from such meetings.

District attorneys have complained that the requirement is unwieldy. A prosecutor who has a quick chat with a witness -- something of no significance to the case -- must make note of that encounter.

The N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers worked with the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys on a proposal that would be acceptable to both sides.

The compromise would allow prosecutors to meet privately with a witness and keep the details of those meetings private as long as no new significant details were divulged.

The proposed amendment must be approved by state legislators to take effect. A Senate Judiciary Committee approved the proposal on Tuesday...
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La Shawn Barber:
Duke Case: Journalists’ Rush to Judgment -- I will be in the audience at “The Duke Lacrosse Case: A Rush To Judgment and Journalism’s Future” at the National Press Club this morning. Participants are Stuart Taylor, columnist and co-author (along with KC Johnson) of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case; Joseph Neff, reporter for The Raleigh News & Observer; and Rem Reider, editor of The American Journalism Review...

Although this post is closed, Notes on “The Rap on Culture” is open for discussion. The 16-page study I linked to is a must-read...

Update (5/23 @ 7:00 a.m.): The National Press Club flyer reads:

“Spurious rape charges against members of the Duke University lacrosse team triggered a year’s worth of emotional news stories, blogs, and 24/7 media specials. Many allegations were flung and many reputations ruined, but in the end all charges were dropped. Now, the original prosecutor himself faces potential charges, and journalists must work through the wreckage to find lessons for the future.”

Joseph Neff ... an investigative reporter for The Raleigh News & Observer, said that national media descended on Durham. The first two weeks were “nuts.” ...

Rem Reider, editor of The American Journalism Review, said that “in the heart of the chase,” it’s tough not to rush to judgment and not get caught up in with the mob...

[Stuart] Taylor said that it was “pretty darned obvious” to any reasonable reporter by mid-April that the Duke case was full of holes. He discussed the DNA and how Nifong himself said the DNA would tell the story, ruling out players while proving others were involved...

Neff said that his editor had a “gut feeling” in the beginning that something wasn’t right about Crystal Mangum’s story and that his paper has a strict policy against using anonymous sources...
discussion:
LS forum: La Shawn Barber, Attends National Press Club
KC Johnson: La Shawn on Taylor/Neff Panel

comment: So Joe Neff now says his editor at the News & Observer "had a 'gut feeling' in the beginning that something wasn't right about Crystal Mangum's story?" This is outrageous. So why did the News & Observer publish the single most hoax perpetrating, pro-Mangum, Nifong enabling piece of garbage in the entire case?
Samiha Khanna & Anne Blythe, N&O: Dancer gives details of ordeal

see:
LieStoppers: Walk down Memory Lane
KC Johnson: The N&O's March 25 Dilemma
Great job of trying to rehabilitate the N&O's culpability in launching this hoax, Joe.

Brodhead and the Duke crisis committee had this Khanna article staring them in the face when they sat down on the morning of Saturday, March 25th, to formulate a response to the accusations. The dominoes would never have fallen as they did if the N&O had printed a full and complete account of Mangum's background and her allegations. Thank you again N&O for helping to put everyone through a year of hell.
--------
WRAL:
Duke Profs Receive Racist E-Mail After Lacrosse Case -- Duke University police are investigating death threats against professors who questioned racial attitudes on campus a year ago, shortly after a black woman accused three white Duke lacrosse players of sexually assaulting her.

The so-called "Group of 88" professors endorsed an advertisement in The Duke Chronicle newspaper that quoted students who talked candidly about racism on campus. Some readers said the faculty members were convicting the lacrosse players before they had been tried...
discussion:
LS forum: G88 Racist/Death Threats Investigated, On WRAL
-------
KC Johnson:
Shifting Standards -- Trustees at other elite institutions ignore the lessons of the lacrosse case at their peril. Ten months ago, the response of the Brodhead/Steel administration might have seemed a skillful navigation between the local community, the media, and faculty extremists on the one hand and upholding the presumption of innocence—if only in a pro forma fashion—on the other. In light of current events, the administration’s disinclination to demand that Duke students be treated according to the same procedures as all other Durham residents doesn’t look so impressive...
-------
Aaron Beard, AP/SF Gate:
Duke Lacrosse Makes Eligibility Request -- Duke hopes the NCAA will give back the year its men's lacrosse players lost during last season's now-debunked rape scandal.

The school is asking the NCAA to grant an extra year of eligibility for team members, who played just eight games in 2006 before the university canceled the rest of the season amid rape allegations against three players.

Still — as his team prepares for this weekend's Final Four — coach John Danowski figures the proposal is "a long shot...
--------
WRAL:
Senate Bill Calls for Grand Jury Reform -- A Mecklenburg County senator is sponsoring a bill that calls for written documentation of all grand jury proceedings, which are currently considered confidential and are unrecorded.

Senate Bill 1131, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dan Clodfelter, also calls for grand jurors to report any possible prosecutorial misconduct to a judge.

The issue of grand jury proceedings in North Carolina was brought forth, in part, Clodfelter said, after after three former Duke University lacrosse players were indicted on charges of raping, sexually assaulting and kidnapping an exotic dancer during a team party in March 2006.

Charges against the three men -- Collin Finnerty, David Evans and Reade Seligmann -- were subsequently dismissed over the next year as the case unfolded and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared them innocent of all charges. Evidence, Cooper said, was inconsistent with the accuser's stories.

Why the grand jury decided to indict the three men, however, will never be known...
discussion:
LS forum: Recording NC Grand Jury Proceedings, NC Senate Bill

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