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Friday, September 14, 2007

Duke Case — Club Fed

Today's items — updated:

Feds Making the Rounds in Duke LAX Case -- Disbarred District Attorney Mike Nifong's troubles may be far from over. And that may be the case for several individuals that were closely involved in the Duke Lacrosse case, according to Eyewitness News sources.

While Attorney General Roy Cooper is considering a request to investigate public officials that handled the case, ABC 11 Reporter Tamara Gibbs has learned federal investigators are collecting testimony and other court documents from Mike Nifong's ethics trial and his recent contempt hearing.

Sources say the U.S. Attorney's Office Middle District of North Carolina is considering whether to investigate the case. Investigators are trying to determine whether the civil rights of the former defendants were violated. Numerous calls to the U.S. Attorney's Office were not returned. [...]

LieStoppers forum:
Feds Making the Rounds in Duke LAX Case

KC Johnson:
Federal Inquiry?
Rumour du jour
comment: The LieStoppers blog had the scoop on this Feds involved in Lax story. Memo to staff: Next time use the "Exclusive du jour" label for all LieStopper reports.
LieStoppers blog:
Heard around Town -- LieStoppers has heard from multiple sources in Durham that the Campaign to Keep Mike Nifong in Jail has gathered a potential ally!

The Feds!
comment: Nifong used trumped-up rape charges to win an election. Say hello to my little Fed.
David SaacksWRAL:
Duke Lacrosse Case Took Its Toll on DA's Office -- Public perception surrounding Mike Nifong's prosecuting three former Duke lacrosse players took its toll on staff over the last year and a half in the Durham County District Attorney's Office, the district's top prosecutor said Thursday.

"Even though we may have had nothing to do with that case, (they'd think), 'Oh, you're absolutely evil because you're connected with that case,'" said David Saacks, who took the helm last Friday after Gov. Mike Easley appointed him to fill the district attorney post vacated by Nifong. [...]

And as for his former boss, Saacks called Nifong's actions disappointing and "very sad."

"I've known him for 15 years, as long as I've been here. He was the one, when I started here – he was the one that brought me into the court to have me sworn in as a lawyer and as an assistant DA," Saacks said. "It was very sad, personally, for me."

"I think he made some mistakes. I think he admitted he made some mistakes," Saacks said later. "I don't think he's as bad as people are saying. I don't think he's as great as maybe other people are saying. The truth usually lies somewhere in between." [...]
WRAL video: Durham DA on Nifong, Duke Lacrosse & the Office
Editorial / News & Observer:
Not from around here -- What a curious position Governor Easley finds himself in, especially as a former two-term state attorney general. Less than a month ago, Easley signed into law a bill that requires a person appointed to fill a vacancy in an otherwise elected position to be eligible to vote for the office if an election were held on the day of appointment. Easley then appointed David Saacks to the vacant position of Durham County district attorney. But Saacks is a Wake County resident and thus ineligible to vote in Durham elections.

The unsatisfactory response from Easley's office is that the state constitution gives him appointment powers for district attorneys, and that trumps a law legitimately passed by the legislature.

Easley may have a point as to whether the law should survive a collision with the constitution. But that's a matter for the courts to decide. [...]
Ruth Sheehan / News & Observer:
This chief is willing to talk -- Still, [New Durham Police Chief] Lopez sees Durham's problems as more image than reality.

"You'd think that we were inundated with crime," he said.

"It's no more here in Durham than anywhere.""Did you know, I just found out today that there is crime in Cary," he said, deadpan.

In part, he blames the media for this portrayal; in part, he said, it is the department's own fault for closing itself off from public scrutiny.

Lopez promises to be accessible. He spent Monday in a succession of interviews and speaking at a Rotary club.

He was asked a lot of questions about the lacrosse case. He thinks these questions "re-victimize" the people of Durham.
More Fish Mongering

Linda Williams / The Editor's blog / News & Observer:
Gimme a fish sandwich and a bottle of beer -- Sometimes a fish sandwich is just a fish sandwich. Sometimes it's something you drive across the county for.

Folks, it has come to my attention that we have a serious cultural misunderstanding out there in the blogsphere regarding a fish sandwich that appeared in Barry Saunders' column published Tuesday. Instead of paying the wrongly accused Duke lacrosse players the $30 million they are said to be demanding from the city of Durham, Barry suggested for each a fish sandwich, a bottle of Yoo-hoo and a one-way Greyhound bus ticket.

This prompted numerous online accusations that Barry is anti-Catholic. One writer declared that the offer of the sandwich is a knock-off of "fish eater," a derogatory term for Catholics. This writer apparently reaches this conclusion because "two of the three falsely accused are Catholic, as were 80 percent of the Duke Lacrosse team and the coach".

When told of the accusation, Barry's response was "huh?" His first thought was to make the offer a pork chop sandwich, but chose fish on a whim. He and most of us here in the newsroom are perplexed at the accusation of bias because "fish eater" is not in our vocabulary (I take it that the term is most commonly heard in the Northeast) and the religion of the people involved in the Duke lacrosse case is not something that has entered our consciousness. [...]
Duke Chronicle:
KC Johnson:
  • More Unanswered Questions -- Crystal Mangum

    Crystal’s children - where are her kids? If she had mental problems substantial enough so she could not be indicted, is the state of NC allowing her to keep her kids? [...]

    Q: I believe one thing is apparent. The frame-up was conducted with the cooperation of the DPD, the city fathers, the Duke administration, certain district judges and the media. The breadth of it is stupefying.

    The single most important question (that will be answered soon) is: what will the City of Durham do? [...]

    John in Carolina:
    Until Proven Innocent questions
Michael Gaynor:
Matt Dees / News & Observer:
Lacrosse panel stuck in idle -- Mayor still wants an accounting [...]
John in Carolina:
An N&O news story or ad? -- reads like an advertisement Durham City leaders purchased in order to present in the best possible light the city’s involvement in the attempted frame-up of three innocent Duke lacrosse players and the ongoing cover-up of same. [...]
Ray Gronberg / Herald-Sun [reg. req.]
Sweeps net charges for 22 at Duke, complaints -- The first major N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement sweeps in Durham since the onset of the Duke lacrosse case have left 22 Duke University students facing an assortment of charges related to underage drinking.

Two students were jailed briefly, and the others received tickets. All 22 also are due a lecture from administrators in Duke's Office of Judicial Affairs.

But the sweeps -- one on Aug. 30 and the other Saturday night and into early Sunday morning -- also produced complaints from students that ALE agents were rude and in some cases abusive.

Several voiced their feelings in a Duke Chronicle article published Monday, and Duke Student Government President Paul Slattery followed suit in a Thursday interview with The Herald-Sun. [...]
LS forum:
Sweep for Duke Students -- NCCU gets a pass... evidently
Ray Gronberg / Herald-Sun:
Student groups at Duke backed -- One of the key proposals to emerge from a study of Duke University's campus culture looks like it's on the way to the scrap heap following a review by the school's provost.

Dismantling the selective-living system that allows fraternities and a few other groups to book large blocks of dorm rooms, as the campus culture task force urged in February, "would be inconsistent with our aspirations to create a vibrant, pluralistic community," according to a new report from Provost Peter Lange's office.

While it does seem that fraternities have too great an influence on the university's social scene, the way to deal with that is to strengthen the ability of other students to band together, the new report said.

To do that, the university likely would have to modify its housing program to accommodate new groups, the report said. Duke also will have to subsidize new players on the social scene to ensure that they have the resources to compete with old-line groups.

Fraternities hold the upper hand in Duke's scene because they're among the few organizations on campus that have the space, money and know-how to navigate the school's rules and organize social events, the report said.

The report from Lange and his staff set the stage for a series of 11 campus forums that will begin Monday. Lange and Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki will lead the forums, which are supposed to gather more comment before Lange settles on a set of recommendations for Duke President Richard Brodhead sometime this winter.

Early reactions suggest that Lange's take -- which emerged from the provost's consultations this spring with 37 student, faculty, staff and alumni groups -- has more fans than the campus culture task force's did. [...]
Patrik Jonsson / The Christian Science Monitor:
Legacy of Duke case: a rein on prosecutors? -- The misguided rape case that canceled Duke University's lacrosse season, caused a national uproar, and sent a disgraced district attorney to jail for a day last Friday is causing a handful of states to ponder a troubling question:

Do prosecutors have too much power?

In New York, the General Assembly's Codes Committee recently held hearings on whether prosecutors need more oversight.

In California, three court-related bills, await Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature, would study or reform how police and prosecutors handle eyewitness identifications, the interrogation of suspects accused of serious crimes, and the use of jailhouse informants.

In Durham, N.C., itself, where three Duke lacrosse players were charged then exonerated over accusations of rape, the city is mulling a settlement proposed by the players' lawyers that would cost a reported $30 million and would force city officials to push for regulatory changes that would mean more oversight of prosecutors.

Some observers see a potential sea change in US attitudes over prosecutorial power. [...]
Letters to Herald-Sun:
Questions for players

According to news reports, the lacrosse players are suing me and my fellow Durham taxpayers. If they get what they are asking for ($30 million), estimates put my personal cost at aboutproximately $1,000. They are punishing me for the sins of Mike Nifong. I have to ask, how is that different from Nifong trying to punish them for the sins of the lying stripper? Are they no better?

Apparently their justification for the suit is that Nifong was an employee of the taxpayers, and we are responsible for the actions of our employees. If that's the case, shouldn't the taxpayers be suing the players? After all, they hired the stripper and she put this whole fiasco in motion.

Shouldn't they be held accountable for the actions of their employee?

For the record, I wrote many letters in their support, including one printed by this newspaper and one read on the air by Bill O'Reilly.


Avoid corrosive battle by settling lacrosse case

The abrupt halting of the review of the lacrosse case reported in The Herald-Sun is disappointing. Let's hope that suspension of the committee's work will be only temporary. It would be most unfortunate to deprive the people of Durham of the wisdom and judicial skill of Willis Whichard, and benefits of the work of the remarkably talented and broadly representative committee that he assembled.

Why can't the City of Durham and its insurers follow Duke's example by addressing Durham's legal liabilities in this case proactively through a settlement out of court? That could forestall a knock-down, dragged-out legal battle that would carry huge monetary and non-monetary costs to both sides. Such a battle would also be more corrosive than enlightening.


How to raise millions

I have an idea how we can make up some of the $30 million to the LAX players:

-- Collect from the Rev. Jesse Jackson the money that he is going to give to the accuser for school and maybe the Rev. Sharpton will throw in his usual 2 cents.

-- Have the accusatory Black Panthers, return to Durham and hold a fund raising benefit.

-- Have Mayor Bill Bell, Duke President Richard Brodhead and the "Durham Committee" who supported Mike Nifong at the public lynchings/meetings, pitch in a few dollars. Have Victoria Peterson do the collecting, she is good at getting the publicity. This would help make up for the civil rights violations.

-- Maybe the Duke "Gang of Profs' will chip in at least a few dollars each, it will give them some more publicity.

-- All the voters for Nifong, should pitch in at least a dollar.

Citizens of Durham, please remember: "Its Not About the Truth" in the Bull City, everything always comes down to race, even in the newspaper. This might not make up all of the needed funds but it will make me feel better about my hometown.


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