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Friday, June 1, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — June 1, 2007

Updated — today's items:

News & Observer:
Durham approves lacrosse investigation -- The City Council has approved Mayor Bill Bell's proposal for a 12-member committee to investigate the Police Department's handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

Former state Supreme Court justice and state legislator Willis Whichard was approved to chair the committee, and four present and former North Carolina police chiefs were appointed to seats on the committee.

Each council member is to appoint one of the other seven members, with the full committee to be named, it is hoped, by June 8.

The committee's authority -- whether it will have subpoena power and whether its witnesses may be required to testify under oath -- and its budget remain to be determined, Bell said after a special meeting Friday morning.

City Manager Patrick Baker had previously secured agreement for chiefs Darrel Stephens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg; Jim Fealy of High Point; and Pat Norris of Winston-Salem; and former Chapel Hill chief Gregg Jarvies to serve on the committee if appointed by the council...

Diane Catotti- City Council member (At-Large)Council Member Diane Catotti said race and gender parity are important, because the lacrosse case involved race and gender issues, but member Mike Woodard said he was "a little uncomfortable" with a quota system...
LS forum: Durham City Council meeting today, What they decided.

KC Johnson: Police Inquiry Approved -- The only Council member to have outright opposed the inquiry, [Diane] Catotti, appears to have adopted a goal of trying to undermine the investigation from within: she said she would choose a figure from a rape crisis center—the type of organization that was publicly posting Wendy Murphy analysis of the case in January...

KC Johnson: Defending the Durham Status Quo -- Catotti seemed to have no problem with allowing the Baker/Chalmers report to stand as the final word on how the police supported indictments of three demonstrably innocent people without probable cause...
Tamara Gibbs, ABC11-TV/WTVD:
Nifong Says He Won't Resign -- Despite recent calls for his resignation, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong tells Eyewitness News Reporter Tamara Gibbs he has no plans to step down...

Nifong tells Eyewitness News Reporter Tamara Gibbs that he won't resign until he has the opportunity to defend himself at the ethics trial.
LieStoppers: Nifong won't resign before Bar Trial
KC Johnson: Nifong: I'm Going Down with the Ship
FreeRepublic: Nifong Says He Won't Resign
TalkLeft: Nifong won't resign
Forum topic(s) of note:
LS: New Durham Motto -- current motto: "Good Things Are Happening In Durham"

Comment: This motto is seen and used around New Orleans, but it could be applied to Durham: "Third World and Proud of It!" KC Johnson might use this variation: "Wonderland and Proud of It!"

Duke Basketball Report: Sue Duke for LAX legal fees? Here's how.

TalkLeft: wall of silence meme: RIP

Washington Post:
Sports writer John Feinstein was online Friday, June 1 --
Arlington, VA:
After Tuesday's column, have you been taken off the Duke fundraising call lists?

John Feinstein: My name has been off the statues at Duke since 1998, when I called Nan Keohane a "gutless, fifth-rate college president" for her hiring of Joe Aoleva. But they still ask me for money...

Allison Park, Pa.: John - During your research and interviews with Q-school golfers, did you ever take the time to ask any of them whether they ever drank underage, hired strippers, patronized strip clubs, urinated in public, or uttered a racial slur?

I ask because - judging by your recent columns and radio remarks - I know how offended you are by such behavior.

John Feinstein: None of them are still underage, and if any of them had been at a party where racial epithets had been tossed, I would have raised the question. If you don't find that behavior offensive, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Ithaca, N.Y.: Duke Lax: Care to comment on the NCAA cave-in to allow them yet another year to play? These are guys that played eight games last year and the NCAA is giving them a do-over.

John Feinstein: I was very surprised by the NCAA ruling, because Duke made the decision to shut down the season. I don't think it was up to the NCAA to correct Duke's mistake. And, what bothers me the most, the Duke administration still hasn't apologized on any level, nor has it offered to pay the legal costs of the three kids who were charged, which it should do.

related: LS - John Feinstein Discussion Friday

Willis P. WhichardMatt Dees, News & Observer:
Ex-justice may head review in lacrosse case -- Willis Whichard, a former state Supreme Court justice and state legislator, would lead a group of police officers, defense lawyers and local residents in a review of the city's investigation of the Duke lacrosse case, if Durham City Council accepts Mayor Bill Bell's proposal today.

Bell said he hopes the group will be formed by June 18 and present a report by August. His proposal, offered Thursday, will be discussed at an 11 a.m. meeting today at City Hall.

The diverse composition of Bell's suggested group differs from the State Bureau of Investigation's proposal last week that police chiefs from other North Carolina cities review the Durham Police Department's handling of the case...
Ray Gronberg, Herald-Sun:
Lacrosse probe may have director -- A retired N.C. Supreme Court justice is willing to head up a wide-ranging investigation into how Durham police and District Attorney Mike Nifong handled the Duke lacrosse case, Mayor Bill Bell said Thursday.

Retired Justice Willis Whichard, a Durham native and Chapel Hill resident who has also served on the state Court of Appeals and in both houses of the General Assembly, would bring "the credibility and stature that I think we need in an investigation of this type," Bell said after relaying his nomination to the City Council.

Bell also gave the council a series of procedural suggestions about the investigating committee's makeup and work methods, starting with a proposal that officials broaden its membership to include criminal defense attorneys and members of the community.
Mayor Bell's Memo to City Council --
From: William V. 'Bill" Bell, Mayor
Subject: Durham City Council Third Party Duke Lacrosse Investigative Committee
Attachment: Resume of Attorney Willis P. Whichard
Date: May 30, 2007

Suggested Committee Charge: The committee is charged with performing an independent review of the conduct of the Durham Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's action (in as much as it possibly can include the DA's actions) in the prosecution of charges of rape and other offenses brought against three Duke Lacrosse players. It is to review documents, interview or take testimony from participants on both sides of the prosecution, and perform such other tasks as it deems necessary or appropriate. In due course, as expeditiously as feasible but without the restrictive constraints of arbitrary deadlines, it shall present to the City Council a report of its findings and conclusions...

Suggested Committee Size ... Suggested categories of members ...


... Comments from Attorney Willis P. Whichard
Re: Third Party independent investigative committee.

In one sense this committee is about the past. Its function is to attempt to ascertain and report the truth about events that are now history....

source: Memo To: Durham City Council [pdf]
wikipedia: Willis P. Wichard

LS forum: Willis Wichard, Chair for Committee for investigation
Questions from Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown -- Overview
One basic question is why did three Durham residents have to go to Raleigh and to the Attorney General's office to get justice? What was in the collective DNA of some within the Durham Police Department (DPD) that denied the accused justice in our City? Who was really in charge of investigating this case, the Durham Police or the DA? Who was driving the train and who was stoking the coal in the fire engine to keep this hoax of an investigation going? What was the role of the Durham Police Department in creating what the Attorney General deemed a "rush to conviction" but apparently not to justice?
Although the relationship between a police department and the district attorney is often symbiotic, roles are generally defined as investigator and prosecutor, respectively. The relationship in this case seemed one-sided, with the District Attorney's office taking both roles. Is the relationship between the District Attorney and the DPD in this case typical of the approach used in most criminal cases in Durham?

Chain of Command ... The Lineup ... Exculpatory Evidence ... Wanted Poster ... Intimidation of a Witness ...

Is the Durham Police Department proud of its role in the Duke Lacrosse case? ...
News & Observer: Councilman Brown’s statement [.pdf, 4 pages]


John in Carolina: Councilman Questions DPD Actions -- Brown's document should draw a quick and cooperative response from Baker, Chalmers and Hodge. But it won’t. Look for denial and obfuscation. Maybe worse.

related: LieStoppers - Big Problems [cartoon]
Sarah Ovaska, News & Observer:
'Nifong effect' worries prosecutors -- Prosecutors converged on the state legislature Thursday and complained that House lawmakers are punishing them for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's behavior by trying to withhold money they sorely need.

"Some of the legislators are trying to punish the entire class for the transgression of one particular student," said Mike Bonfoey, the district attorney for several counties in Western North Carolina.

Thirty of the state's 42 district attorneys attended a news conference at the General Assembly building Thursday morning to say that the House's budget bill wouldn't help what they portray as their underfunded and understaffed offices. The district attorneys, who handle felonies, misdemeanor and traffic cases, say that means it will take longer for victims and defendants to see the justice system work.

Noticeably absent from the news conference was Nifong, who was sent an e-mail notice about it...
Clare Lochary, Lacrosse Magazine:
No Duke Players in MLL Draft -- Thursday deadline comes and goes without Danowski, other Duke seniors -- A few months ago, one Major League Lacrosse general manager summed up the 2007 MLL collegiate draft as such: "Danowski and everyone else."

Now, it's just Everyone Else.

Major League Lacrosse has confirmed that no Duke players - including Matt Danowski, the consensus No. 1 pick - have entered the MLL draft as of this morning's 9 a.m. registration deadline.

This surprising turn of events comes on the heels of the NCAA's announcement Wednesday that 33 players from Duke's 2006 team will be granted an extra year of college eligibility...
No Duke Players in Major League Lacrosse Draft, Danowski, Other Seniors Stay Out

LaxPower: Results of the 2007 MLL Collegiate Draft -- Jesse Schwartzman the Johns Hopkins goalie was selected 39th overall by Denver in the 4th round.
Robert J. Bliwise, Duke Magazine:
One Year Later -- Like other universities that have endured consuming crises and intense media scrutiny, Duke, in grappling with lacrosse, has struggled against the widespread stereotyping and simplifying of a complex case...

Over the past year, the university has been the target of unrelenting scrutiny and scathing criticism—externally, from media ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Fox News, which, the day after the exoneration of the players, broadcast its morning news show from the Bryan Center parking lot; and internally, from faculty members, alumni, and parents. In letters and online postings, critics said that university officials should have spoken up for the innocence of the students more forcefully. They disputed the decisions to ask for the resignation of the former coach, cancel the lacrosse season, and suspend the indicted students. ...

Still, the administration wasn't as sure-footed as it might have been, Coleman says. The first stories in the media said that the players weren't cooperating with the police investigation. "We knew that was false; somebody was intentionally lying about what was going on. And that should have caused us to be concerned. And somebody should have been quoted as saying, 'That's absolutely not true.' " (The university's first statement on the incident said, "Duke University is monitoring the situation and cooperating with officials, as are the students." Coleman believes that the point about student cooperation could have been made more adamantly...

Steel and Brodhead alike say that lessons can be learned from the past year, but that it's time to move beyond a painful episode. As other universities have learned, campuses are sturdy places—places that do demonstrably inspire trust. And they're prone to bounce back quickly from times of adversity.
KC Johnson:
Duke's New Party Line -- With a more balanced group of sources [than in the May 2006 article], the article is unsurprisingly more balanced. And also unsurprisingly, as an official publication of the administration, the article places the administration in the most positive light possible. Examples of Bliwise’s “spin” include...

Critics on Brodhead ... Presumption of Innocence ... Duke Response ... Contextualizing Group of 88 ... Group Signatories ... Steel on the Group ... Unusual claims ... The Unmentionables ... Unusual Reference Points

It is odd that Duke Magazine would publish such a deeply personal attack on a Pulitzer Prize winner (for her work on bringing to light fraudulent child-abuse allegations) without, apparently, giving her a chance to respond.

To return to the start of this post: the 2007 Bliwise article is far more balanced than its 2006 counterpart. And it is to be expected that it would place the administration’s actions in the most positive light possible. But I don’t think the claim that Duke handled the lacrosse case as well as Penn handled the “water buffalo” case is one that reflects well on Duke.

Brodhead: Mikey made me do it. Mikey told us it was a rape, Mikey told us anyone on the team could be the rapist.related:
Robert J. Bliwise, Duke Magazine: A Spring of Sorrows -- (May 2006)

comment: In Richard Brodhead's world the faculty are the victims of this hoax, not any of Duke's students.

"This situation did harm to many, many different parties," Brodhead told the AP in an exclusive interview.

Asking Richard Brodhead to look out for the welfare of Duke students is like asking Paris Hilton Joey Buttafuoco to serve as chaperon on a senior trip.

New Reality Show starring.... Joey Buttafucco and Amy Fisher??
John in Carolina:
INNOCENT: Neff Misspeaks (Post 3) -- Dear John in Carolina,

May I repeat my request that you identify yourself so I know with whom I have the pleasure of corresponding? I'm happy to elaborate on my comments in public. I'm quite at a loss that someone who has posted dozens of times to our newspaper website and writes so frequently about my newspaper does so from behind a curtain of anonymity. I much prefer the transparent approach of Prof. KC Johnson.

Which brings me to another point: I saw that your original post on this issue was Monday evening at 9:27. You first emailed me about it 4.5 hours later, at 1:54 am Tuesday, if timestamps are to be trusted. May I suggest you follow Prof. Johnson's practice (and this newspaper's) of attempting to contact people before you write about them?

Sandra Guerra Thompson, editorial, Houston Chronicle
Fallout from Duke case clouds future rape trials -- New doubts from jury selection to victim credibility -- Duke University once again competed for the national title in men's lacrosse, and life seems to be returning to normal after the dismissal of rape charges against three of the school's student-athletes. But in courtrooms in Houston and throughout the country, the celebrated Duke rape case has wrought significant changes in the way sexual assault cases are pursued and prosecuted.

The false allegations of rape that nearly destroyed the lives of the three young lacrosse players were tailor-made for tabloid journalism. In the wake of blanket news coverage of the case, prosecutors and defense attorneys are now wary of prospective jurors who may have changed their "personal opinions" of anyone involved in a sexual assault case.

Personal opinions, of course, are the roadblocks to impartiality that can undermine any jury and can ruin the chances for a fair trial. The jury selection process has always been a key component in any trial, but the Duke case has raised the stakes even higher in sexual assault cases.

When attorneys in these trials interrogate prospective jurors, they fire a series of questions to help identify people who can render opinions based solely on the evidence presented at trial. In a larger sense, the five questions included here serve as a quick litmus test on the lingering effects of the Duke rape case...
  • Do you believe that women who bring rape charges are likely to lie?
  • Do you believe that women of color are less credible than Caucasian women?
  • Do you believe that black women are disposed to bring false charges against white men?
  • Do you believe that any innocent person can beat false charges?
  • Do you believe that prosecutors are inclined to bend the truth?
Thompson is the UH Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center, where she directs the Criminal Justice Institute.
John Stevenson, Herald-Sun
Ex-CSI chief files job bias lawsuit -- The former chief crime scene investigator for the Durham Police Department claims in a new lawsuit that she was the target of "malicious and oppressive" job discrimination, beginning not long after she raised concerns about severe staffing problems in her unit.

The suit was filed in Durham County Superior Court on Thursday by Ann Saccoccio, who became supervisor of Durham's Forensic Unit in July 2002.

Police had no comment.

"We have not seen this lawsuit and we can't comment on pending litigation," said spokeswoman Kammie Michael

Members of the Forensic Unit take photographs, collect evidence and otherwise document crime scenes at all hours of the day and night.

However, Saccoccio was barred from the unit's building in February 2006 after expressing concern about the purported understaffing, and also after a period of medical leave, the lawsuit says.

The suit quotes Saccoccio as saying "a severe crisis in staffing" has forced individual crime scene investigators to handle as many as three back-to-back homicides -- a situation that can produce mental and emotional stress.

Michael, the police spokeswoman, said the Forensic Unit currently has a supervisor, nine technicians and two vacancies. Six additional positions are being sought in the upcoming budget, she added.

According to the new lawsuit, Saccoccio was told in January that she no longer was eligible for police work and was given a choice of resigning, taking disability retirement or being terminated "due to medical inability to perform the job."

The suit contends Saccoccio was improperly discriminated against because of medical issues and because she lodged a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which evaluated the situation and issued her a right-to-sue letter in March. ...
Coincidental or Circumstantial? -- Awakening from its Hoax-long hibernation, the Snooze Room confirms some of the meticulous choreography assumed to have preceded the April 4, 2006, made-for-video lineup that led directly to the indictment of the Duke Innocents. Undermining the recent deceptive efforts of City Manager Patrick Baker and Chief of Police Steve Chalmers to disguise the real purpose of the contrived lineups, the Herald Sun’s Ray Gronberg reveals that Sgt. Mark Gottlieb described not only the elaborate staging of the Hoax enabling lineup in his case notes, but also the devious intention which motivated the contrived identifications that Baker and Chalmers have taken great pains to reinvent as accidental. ...

Clearly, Gottlieb’s notes and the extravagant made-for-video production contradict the innocuous motives ascribed to Gottlieb by Baker and Chalmers. It defies reason to accept that the admittedly staged April 4 lineup was conducted without confident expectations that Crystal Mangum would finally provide the indictment enabling identifications she had failed to provide in earlier less manipulated attempts. While Gottlieb’s admission, as related by Gronberg, offers confirmation of the expectations of police investigators and Defendant Nifong, his article fails to ask the ominous question underlying this revelation...
Michael Gaynor:
Duke case: Combating lies and hate -- a parent of one of the unindicted players tried to persuade The Washington Post to do the right thing, by writing to The Washington Post's ombuswoman as follows:
"Dear Ms Howell,

"I am writing concerning Mike Wise's article 'Continuing Confilicts' which appeared in the paper on May,26,2007. The article deals with the Duke lacrosse incident. Mr. Wise's article is yet another example of inaccurate, biased and lazy reporting. His libelous attack on the lacrosse players' characters is consistent with the Post's biased reporting on the lacrosse incident and the players.

"Below are some facts and statistics which Mr. Wise conveniently failed to mention in his article. These are based on student misconduct statistics prepared by Duke's Judicial Affairs dept. and presented on their website. These facts more accurately portray the lacrosse players' characters than Mr. Wise's misleading representation.

a parent of one of the unindicted players tried to persuade The Washington Post to do the right thing, by writing to The Washington Post's ombuswoman as follows:

"1) In the six most recent academic years ending in 2006, there were a total of 377 incidents of academic dishonesty ( cheating, plagiarism etc.) by all Duke students. None were lacrosse players.

"2) In the six years ending in 2006 there were a total of 46 incidents of physical abuse, fighting and endangerment. None were lacrosse players.

"3) In the six years ending in 2006 there were 20 incidents of sexual misconduct. None were lacrosse players. ...

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