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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Duke Case — Durham's Corruption

Who's responsible for the corrupt legal culture in Durham?--------

The Durham News:
Settle or go to court? Durham residents weigh in -- Last week we asked readers how they think Durham officials should respond to the reported threat by the three exonerated Duke lacrosse players to sue the city and the police department for their actions during the lacrosse case.

Here's a sampling of what they had to say.
"I WISH THE INVESTIGATION into the Durham Police Department regarding the lacrosse investigation to continue.

"Meantime I think the Durham City Council should negotiate with lawyers for the lacrosse players -- but I do want the investigation of the police department to continue."

-- Durham resident Clara Vanderbilt, by voicemail [...]

"ONE OF THE SADDEST DAYS for me as a lifelong resident of Durham was the day Nifong won the primary. I still to this day cannot fathom how my fellow voters could have been so ignorant. ...

"I'm sorry but this town will have to pay for its stupidity. Besides we should all be thanking the LAX players for demanding reform. Does anyone here believe that the Durham criminal justice isn't seriously corrupt? Who suffers most for that corruption usually? ...

"Settle or not, Durham needs to be thoroughly investigated by the FEDS."

-- posted on forum at share.triangle.com by devil74, Durham resident
Letters to News & Observer:
Insulting suit

Regarding the Sept. 20 story "Durham's debate: Pay or fight":
I am struggling to get perspective. I read about the poor boys from Duke who "no longer live in Durham, the city where they saw their lives turned upside down. ... Evans works on Wall Street. ... Finnerty is going to college and playing Lacrosse ... and Seligmann is at Brown University."

And now, they are seeking $30 million in compensation!

Let's visit the "The Innocence Project," a national group. Let's review four cases (from the more than 200):

* Johnny Brisco: served 23 years. Exonerated 2006. Sexual offense. No compensation yet.

* Jimmy Ray Bromgard: served 14.5 years. Sexual offense. Exonerated 2002. No compensation yet.

* Keith Brown: served four years. Sexual offense.Exonerated 1997. Compensation. No amount given.

* John Dixon: served 10 years. Sexual offense. Exonerated 1991. No compensation yet.

What transpired in Durham was reprehensible. These young men were subject to false accusations. They went home. They now have resumed their lives. It should not have happened.

But to think that they should receive $30 million is insulting to the countless men and women falsely accused of crimes who have spent years incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, who have received no monetary compensation and most likely are not playing lacrosse, attending college or working on Wall Street.

Deborah Day
Chapel Hill
Hardly heroes

Regarding your Sept. 20 story "Durham's debate: Pay or fight," I could not actually believe that the words "heroes triumphing over injustice" were used in any way to describe Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

How could anybody think that these three juveniles deserve anything for the way they were treated? If it were not for the initial actions of the lacrosse team, there would have never been any scandal.

Playing sports for a college is a privilege that should be taken seriously. Any college athlete is a representative for that school, and his actions relate directly back to the school itself. Hiring strippers for a party? Is that really what a representative of the college should be doing in the first place?

It is time for them to take responsibility for their actions. I am not saying what the accuser did was right. It was not! But when you stoop to sleazy things as the players did, you should be ready for anything to happen.

Did the Durham police do something wrong by investigating an accusation of rape?

Michael Smith
Hitting the taxpayers

Regarding the Sept. 20 story "Durham's debate: Pay or fight":

While I agree that the three Duke lacrosse players had their reputations damaged, I don't agree with the amount they are seeking. I also don't think they should be suing just the City of Durham. They should be suing Mike Nifong and the woman who falsely accused them of rape.

Where do they think the $30 million is going to come from? We all know the answer. It is coming from the taxpayers' pockets. Why should the citizens of Durham pay for something they were not responsible for?

I have retired parents who live in Durham. They can't afford a tax increase at the expense of making sure these young men never have to work a job. With $10 million, a person could afford to live quite comfortably without ever working a day.

I am asking these three young men to please think about what they are doing. They are not just hurting the police department. They are hurting the citizens of Durham now.

Cindy Wrenn
Yorktown, Va.
$30 million quite fair

Regarding your Sept. 20 story "Durham's debate: Pay or fight":
Initially I thought that the attorneys for the three Duke lacrosse players were demanding an exorbitant amount of money in their lawsuit against Durham. But then again, that's only $10 million per player.

I see that Dan Rather is suing CBS for $70 million. We recently had a judge in Washington sue a dry cleaner for $54 million over a missing pair of pants. Suddenly $10 million per player doesn't seem like a lot.

These three young men almost had their lives ruined by false allegations. They were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But instead they were railroaded by a rogue DA. I think Durham would be getting off pretty cheap at $10 million each.

Former District Attorney Mike Nifong got only 24 hours in jail. Why doesn't Crystal Gail Mangum get any jail time for filing false rape charges?

If the people of Durham aren't happy about having to pony up $30 million, maybe they should sue Mangum. I'm sure the Duke University Group of 88 professors will be there to support her.

Wanda McCuiston
Big-time injustice

Regarding the Sept. 20 story "Durham's debate: Pay or fight":
Don't get me wrong. I feel sorry for the Duke lacrosse players who were indicted for a crime they did not commit. Clearly, their lives will be forever changed. However, as compensation for that injustice, doesn't $30 million seem somewhat excessive? After all, they will likely be able to have successful careers and have not lost an inordinate amount of their lives behind bars.

Contrast that to the recent story of Dwayne Allen Dail, who was wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for a charge (child rape) that he, like the Duke lacrosse players, did not commit. Christine Mumma, head of the N.C. Center for Actual Innocence and the attorney largely responsible for securing Dail's freedom, is asking for the state-allowed $20,000 a year for each year that Dail spent behind bars, or $360,000.

Eighteen years: Think about it. Other notable examples of extended sentences for people wrongfully jailed are Alan Gell and Darryl Hunt.

My hope is that any decision as to the $30 million takes into consideration what has been paid to those who actually spent much of their lives in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Buddy Howard
Letter to Herald-Sun:
Lacrosse players should show city compassion

While I agree that the three Duke lacrosse players had their reputations damaged, I do not agree with the amount they are asking for. I also think they are going after the wrong people. They should be suing Mike Nifong and the woman who falsely accused them of rape.

Where do they think the $30 million is going to come from? We all know the answer. The taxpayers of Durham will have to reach into their pockets. They will have to receive a tax increase in order for these young men to be set for life. With $10 million, we do not really think these young men plan on working a job, do we? I know I would not work a day ever if I received $10 million.

I have retired parents who live in Durham. They cannot afford to support these young men for the rest of their lives. Why should they? I am asking these smart young men to please stop and think about what they are doing. They are not just hurting the Durham Police Department. They are now trying to punish the citizens of Durham for what happened. They had nothing to do with what happened. Have some compassion, please.

Cindy Wrenn
Yorktown, Va.
KC Johnson:
From the Quotes File -- DIW readers had quite a few additional suggestions for quotes that could have made the Top 32 Countdown of most outrageous lacrosse case statements. [...]
Stuart Taylor (guest blogging) / The Volokh Conspiracy:
A Corrupt Legal Culture --This morning, KC (who co-authored this post) and I looked at two principal enablers of Mike Nifong’s efforts - - SANE nurse Tara Levicy and Durham Police Dept. sergeant Mark Gottlieb. Levicy is no longer working for Duke Hospital; Gottlieb remains on the job at the DPD.

More broadly, this case provided a depressing glimpse inside the Durham criminal justice and legal system; while Nifong has been discredited, most of his allies remain on the job [...]
John in Carolina;
N&O Now Lashes Out at JinC -- Yesterday I posted N&O Lashes Out at Newsweek . My post concerned the N&O's ego-driven snit-fight with Newsweek over the two publicaions Duke lacrosse coverage. N&O managing editor John Drescher all but said yesterday that Newsweek had plagerized N&O reporting [...]

You’ll see a post I left on the thread of Drescher’s post in which I try to tell Drescher what I think decent people want to see happen. That so upset the N&O that Melanie Sill, the N&O’s executive editor for news steped in and said false things about me. You can read the responses which follow Melanie's in character falsehoods, including one I’ve just left further down the thread of Drescher’s post. [...]
Frances Presma / Duke News / Duke.edu:
Court of Public Opinion -- A conference at Duke Law School Sept. 28 and 29 will explore the legal and ethical issues common to high-profile legal cases. -- The Duke and Durham communities know from recent experience how hot-button issues such as race, gender and athletics can prompt intense media and public scrutiny of legal cases. But David F. Levi, the former federal judge who became dean of Duke Law School in July, says the lacrosse case was not unique in this regard.

“High-profile cases tax the legal system at the very moment when the public’s confidence and understanding might be enhanced,” Levi says.

A conference at Duke Law School Sept. 28 and 29 will explore the legal and ethical issues common to such high-profile cases. The discussions are free and open to the public. [...]
Michael Gaynor
Duke case: Courageous book, contemptible Brodhead -- Yale had thrown Mr. Van de Velde under the bus as though he had been a Duke male lacrosse player being accused by an ex-convict stripper with a history of mental problems in a county with a white district attorney about to lose his job unless he threw white meat to the kind of people who agreed with Chan Hall, then a 22 year old North Carolina Central University, that the Duke students should be prosecuted "whether it happened or not" as "justice for things that happened in the past."

But for one wacko leftist out to sabotage the book's overall Amazon.com rating and sales of Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and KC Johnson, all the reviews posted on Amazon.com are five star.

These reviews won't make Duke University President Richard Brodhead's day, but the reviewers deserve to have their say. [...]
Bill Levinson / IsraPundit:
Academic Irresponsibility, Immaturity, and Lack of Character -- Many college administrators and faculty members are middle-aged adolescents who, no matter how qualified they are in their professions as academicians, are very poor behavioral role models for young men and women. [...]

Somewhat less reprehensible, but still unacceptable, are practices like giving students lower grades for simply disagreeing with the professor’s politics, or being disliked by the professor. It is alleged that certain Duke University professors gave the students who were falsely accused of rape by Mike Nifong (later disbarred for his own misconduct) poor grades out of pure dislike. Willful misuse of grading authority reflects on the professor’s fitness to practice his or her profession, of which assigning grades is a part. While it might not merit the professor’s outright dismissal, it could bring disciplinary action. We would recommend, for example, intensive supervision of the professor’s grading practices for a probationary period of time. [...]

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