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Monday, May 7, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — May 7, 2007

Updated - today's items:

Cash Michaels, ezboard/Wilmington Journal:
Duke Case: Durham Police Under Cloud -- The Duke case may be over, but the tough questions about how Durham police investigators mishandled it are in full swing. Some of those questions being asked now about DPD police conduct were raised by The Carolinian last August when it became clear that Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who essentially directed the police investigation, didn’t have the evidence he initially claimed would prove Crystal Gail Mangum was raped and assaulted at a Duke lacrosse team party in March 2006.

There was evidence, however, of Durham police officials lying to the public; misrepresenting facts in court documents submitted for search warrants; and breaking their own rules and procedures in an effort to allegedly manufacture a case. The department is expected to officially deny those claims next week...

As first reported last August, an analysis by The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal newspapers show that what the police were telling the public, either through direct statements or public documents, at times did not match what they actually knew, or didn’t know, behind the scenes...

LieStoppers forum: Cash Michaels' new article
TalkLeft: WilmJourn 5-3-07 story on DPD Screwup
Forum topic(s) of note:
LS forum: Random Thoughts of a President Emeritus, Administration and BOT -- I am a president emeritus of a major university. I have followed with interest the events at Duke since the "incident". Frankly, I am not surprised at what transpired with the Duke administration and BOT. I suspect that the same thing might happen at almost any US university today. In this era of multiculturalism, diversity, and political correctness, boards and administrations have allowed themselves to be cowed into submission...

LS forum: LAX Defense Attorney on Judge Smith's Role, Prediction ID Would Have Been Suppressed -- Judge [Oz] Smith took no specific role behind the scenes in disposing of this case; that is really not his style. The most important thing he did, which was critical to this case, is that he conveyed from the beginning that he was going to be fair and impartial and give us the evidence to which we were entitled. Nifong had no place to hide with him and Nifong knew it. Smith's rectitude may have been what led Nifong to make the disastrous decision to put Meehan on the witness stand when we were not prepared; he may have been concerned that Judge Smith would have let us depose Meehan at a time when we were fully prepared...
KC Johnson:
Feinstein: "They're Probably Guilty of Everything but Rape" -- To review: in a radio interview, John Feinstein made a stunning allegation--that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and Dave Evans were “guilty of everything but rape. The only evidence he had for this allegation was that he had not heard an apology (even though the players repeatedly apologized). Nor, it appears, did he ever read the Coleman Committee report. Why let facts gets in the way of the argument?
KNBR.com: Feinstein audio [mp3]

TalkLeft: Feinstein: "They're Probably Guilty of Everything but Rape"
Radley Balko, Reason Magazine:
Nifong Nation -- Botched prosecutions go far beyond the borders of Durham -- To their great credit, the Duke lacrosse players who were exonerated of rape charges by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper earlier this month understood that for all the hell they've gone through the past year, what happened to them isn't uncommon.

"There seem to be some flaws in the legal system that should be addressed," Colin Finnerty said, "the fact that in North Carolina there are no recordings of the grand jury, and to establish checks and balances on district attorneys." ...

Here's hoping that the most vocal critics of Mike Nifong and the Durham justice system that relentlessly pursued the Duke lacrosse players - many of whom don't generally speak out on criminal justice issues - will see the case as more than just an example of media bias or reverse discrimination.

It's merely one very high-profile example of the flaws and inadequacies in our criminal justice system. And it demonstrates why we need strong protections for the accused and transparency, accountability, and oversight of the system that accuses them.
LS forum: Nifonged Nation
Duke Earns Top Seed in 2007 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament -- Led by number one seed Duke, the Atlantic Coast Conference will be well represented in the 2007 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament, as announced on Sunday evening. Virginia received the No. 2 seed, while Maryland and North Carolina are seventh and eighth-seeded, respectively.

The Blue Devils, winners of nine in a row and owners of a 14-2 overall record, will make their 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament as the squad hosts Providence College on Saturday, May 12 at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C. Duke currently owns an all-time tournament record of 9-10. Saturday's tilt will mark the first between the Blue Devils and Friars. Face-off for the Duke Blue Devils is set for noon as the game will be televised live on ESPNU. The winner will battle the winner of North Carolina and Navy in quarterfinals action in Annapolis, Md., on Sunday, May 20...
WRAL: Duke a Favorite in NCAA Lacrosse Championship

Matt DaSilva, LaxMagazine/CSTV:
Destiny's Child -- Is Duke lacrosse a team of destiny? Apparently so, according to the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse committee.

A year after their season was cancelled and their head coach forced to resign in the wake of since-dismissed rape allegations, the Blue Devils are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, as released Sunday night by the committee. Duke defeated Air Force, 19-6, earlier in the day to cap a 14-2 season that included an ACC championship...
Sheila Suess Kennedy, IndyStar.com:
Distorted forms of justice -- The recent dismissals of all charges brought against the Duke lacrosse players -- accompanied by condemnations of the prosecutor who originally brought the charges -- reminded me of something said in 1940 by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who later presided over the Nuremberg trials.

Jackson said, "The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous . . . The citizen's safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law, and not factional purposes."

Whatever other lessons we may learn from the sorry spectacle at Duke -- lessons about race, privilege and resentment, or the ease of playing to an ever-more-sensation-seeking media -- surely the importance of prosecutorial integrity is the most important. Prosecutors are officers of the court; they are lawyers for "the people." If they do not place their duty to the truth above personal or partisan considerations, they can do enormous damage both to the lives of individuals and to public trust in our institutions....
John Armor, Esq., Canyon-News.com:
Paula McClain, Professional Black Person -- An Open Letter to Dr. McClain at Duke:

I'm writing to you because you are part of the Gang of 88, the Professors at Duke University who took out a full-page ad in the Duke newspaper to condemn the three students who were charged with various sexual crimes. You asserted they were guilty, and condemned them in many ways, before any open evidence had been presented, or any trial held.

Now, as you well know, all charges have been dismissed. The North Carolina Attorney General has dismissed all charges and has stated that there is no credible evidence that any crime was committed. Furthermore, States Attorney Nifong who brought the charges, is now under investigation.

One of the Gang of 88 has recognized that the ad he signed was improper, and has apologized. You have not apologized. You have dug the hole deeper by your own errors. Hence, this letter is addressed only to you, though the other 86 faculty who have not apologized are cordially invited to read this over your shoulder...
KC Johnson:
Brad Bannon: The Unknown Solider -- DIW reader Dave Dixon recently interviewed defense hero Brad Bannon. My thanks to Dave for allowing me to run the resulting article on DIW, and to Brad for agreeing to the interview...

Bannon: So you can see that North Carolina as a whole has acted progressively and consistently over the last several years on many fronts to improve the fairness of the criminal justice system and has, in fact, been a nationwide leader in some of those efforts. You can also see that defense lawyers in the Duke lacrosse case have been actively involved in those reforms...
Craig Henry, Lead & Gold blog: Duke Lacrosse - Brad Bannon -- Many of the defenders of the lax players write as though the events in Durham prove that North Carolina is especially backward on criminal justice reform. The truth is quite different as Bannon makes clear.
Joe Neff, News & Observer:
Durham police under microscope -- Chief Steve Chalmers will detail his department's actions in the Duke lacrosse case, actions that many say were improper -- When Durham Police Chief Steve Chalmers breaks his year-long silence on the Duke lacrosse case this week, he'll have a lot of talking to do.

The allegations of misconduct against District Attorney Mike Nifong have taken center stage, but an examination of police and prosecutorial records raises questions about whether the police ceded control of the investigation, violated their own policies, created false records and failed to pursue basic investigative leads.

Chalmers, who has declined all interview requests on the case from The News & Observer since March 2006, will issue a report on his department's handling of the case later this week, Durham city manager Patrick Baker said.

"We want the truth in this report," City Council member Eugene Brown said. "We've had more than enough deception already." ...

LS forum: New Neff Article on Durham Police Action, Inaction, Revelations re: Nifong-Gottlieb

FreeRepublic: Durham police under microscope [possible police misconduct in Duke rape case]

TalkLeft: Neff's latest - Dispels any doubts as to who was running the 'investigation'

KC Johnson: Neff Sets Stage for Chalmers report
Daily Pundit: Police Report Due
Captain Ed, Captain's Quarters blog:
Nifong And Durham: Worse Than You Think -- Mike Nifong faces disbarment and almost certainly a flurry of lawsuits over his negligent and malicious handling of the Duke lacrosse players accused of rape by a mentally unstable woman. He may not be the only one on the hot seat, however, as the Durham police department apparently also failed to follow its own procedures and imcompetently investigated the charges. Police chief Steve Chalmers will finally issue a report on how his department investigated the woman's allegations, and it appears he has much to defend...

a serious charge of misconduct by the police sergeant, Mark Gottlieb. He falsified records in order to press forward a case against these three young men. So far, the public has believed that the unethical and potentially illegal behavior was confined to Nifong's office -- but this indicates that the police investigators were heavily involved in deception as well.

Unfortunately for Durham residents, it's not the only instance of malfeasance...

What an abject embarrassment the Durham justice system is. The state should take jurisdiction over the DA's office and the local police and start firing people until the message gets through to the rest.
Phillip Wood, LieStoppers:
NC DAs Push For Legalized Nifonging -- In December, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys issued a public statement calling for Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong to recuse himself as prosecutor of the Durham Hoax. On the surface, the call from the NCCDA, whose membership includes all the elected district attorneys in the state, seemed motivated by the conflict of interest caused by the North Carolina State Bar’s filing of formal charges against the rogue prosecutor. Effectively, the NCCDA’s public statement made Defendant Nifong a visible pariah among his peers. At the time, we speculated that the NCCDA was motivated by self-preservation rather than an interest in justice...
Five Proposals to Revise North Carolina's Open File Discovery -- SENATE BILL 1009* ... HOUSE BILL 768 ... SENATE BILL 1129 ... HOUSE BILL 786 ... SENATE BILL 1130 ...
Wilmington Star:
N.C. prosecutors ask to cheat -- Hoping not to get Nifonged, North Carolina's district attorneys are asking to get rid of rules that protect the innocent.

Protecting the innocent, after all, can undermine prosecutions and spoil political careers. The N.C. Conference of District Attorneys finds this intolerable.

It's asking the General Assembly to weaken a 2004 law that, in effect, required prosecutors to play fair - to turn over everything they know to the defense. The law was passed after several high-profile convictions were overturned because cases fell apart and several district attorneys were found to be lying lawbreakers.

Following that tawdry tradition, Durham DA Mike Nifgong withheld DNA evidence that weakened his case against the Duke lacrosse players. He wasn't trying to find truth; he was trying to win convictions - and his campaign to remain DA.

His embarrassed colleagues say they shouldn't have to put up with inconvenient requirements just because Nifong - one DA - messed up. But Nifong is hardly the only one...
Marshall Dayan (Hillsborough, NC), letter to News & Observer:
Leave law alone -- Excuse me? I can hardly believe my eyes. According to the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, the lesson from the Duke lacrosse case is that the 2004 statute imposing a duty on prosecutors to disclose evidence to the defense is overly broad and too burdensome on the state.

According to your May 4 news story, they say they are trying to "tweak a new law that sometimes handcuffs them." After the fiascos in the cases of several men exonerated of crimes for which they were wrongly charged and/or convicted -- Alan Gell, Jonathan Hoffman, Charles Munsey, Darryl Hunt, Ronald Cotton and the Duke lacrosse team members -- some of the DAs should be handcuffed all right, but not in the way that they meant to use that phrase.

Civil litigants have had wide open discovery for years, but prosecutors whine and cry that the sky is falling every time they are forced to disclose that there is evidence that may point away from their suspect.

The time has come for the General Assembly to say "enough." Not only fairness but, more importantly, recent experience requires that the open file discovery law remain intact.

KC Johnson: Sunday Roundup -- Lara Setrakian of ABC's Law & Justice Unit had a piece last week taking people behind the scenes of Mike Nifong's defense--surely an unenviable place at this point. Nifong's backers didn't seem optimistic: Bob Nauseef, whose Durham caseload primarily focuses on traffic court and who was a Nifong backer, told Setrakian, "Given the climate, the way the AG came out, I can't envision a scenario where he doesn't end up losing his license or having it suspended." Continuing a line of defense first offered in Nifong's December 28 letter to the Bar, Nauseef complained that "there's that feeling that he'll be made an example of." And Nauseef blames "politics" for Roy Cooper's response to the case--quite an allegation, coming from a Nifong supporter...
Craig Henry, Lead & Gold blog:
Defending the almost indefensible -- True crime buffs and true crime writers can be pretty defensive about their genre. Periodically, they set out to justify their interest in murder and mayhem...

It is hard to see any high-minded purpose behind the dreck that sits on the shelves at Wal-mart or in the true crime section at Waldenbooks. Writers with little talent or industry (and even less intellect) grind out shallow retellings of murder. Serial killers find a ready market; domestic murder has its devoted fans...

In January, when the frame-up was plainly obvious, he [True Crime guy] provided this gem of wisdom on the Duke lacrosse case:
That all said, I am also for justice and a fair trial. And here’s the thing: looking at all the evidence that’s been made available and judging this thing as an outsider, I’d say some of it points to guilt.
Actually, we have a pretty good laboratory to see how TC [True Crime] fans put their “learning” to work. Court TV runs an active board that covers the full range of crime stories. Anyone who followed the Duke case there knows just how irrational and ill-informed the majority of long-time posters were. (CTV, for some reason, has deleted most of their threads on the case.)...

Publishers print what the market supports. What readers want is freak porn in paperback.
Karen M. Hatter, FinalCall.com:
The Duke Rape Case: Defense versus the Prosecution -- The news story arrived in stealth mode, a barely-noticed blip on the news radar, overshadowed by fallout originating from offensive, malicious words, uttered in a mean spirit, that were broadcast around the world. It was reported, five days short of a year since the Durham, North Carolina prosecutorial investigation began, that all charges were formally dropped against three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a female college student and mother, who had been hired as an exotic dancer for a private party, charges which were first filed against two of the accused on April 18, 2006.

The student/mother/accuser/victim, much maligned from the beginning and throughout the process of the investigation, who, at the time of the incident, was possibly intoxicated, most definitely disoriented, surely frightened and on many crucial points, her statements were considered inconsistent, contradictory and untruthful, is not believed and discounted as a less than credible victim.

Her inability to say with any assurance who did what, how many did it, unable to provide an exact time frame for when but, she does say where, cinches the reality that any case to be built against anyone accused must rely heavily on physical evidence...
LS forum: More Lies and Misrepresentations, Karen M. Hatter

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