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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Duke Case — Holding the Rogue City Responsible

Today's items — updated:

Ray Gronberg & John Stevenson / Herald-Sun [reg. req.]:
Interim DA asks Attorney General to consider criminal probe in lacrosse case -- Durham County Interim District Attorney Jim Hardin has asked state officials to determine whether current or former government officials should face criminal prosecution over their handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

The request was confirmed Wednesday by Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for state Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Potential targets include anyone who acted "under the color of law enforcement," meaning former District Attorney Mike Nifong and an array of people in the Durham Police Department.

Hardin's request surfaced Wednesday, as attorneys for exonerated lacrosse players David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were meeting with Durham officials to discuss a potential federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

The three players were indicted last year on what Cooper eventually ruled were false charges of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping.

The subsequent fallout has included Nifong's disbarment, resignation and last week conviction on a charge of criminal contempt, all stemming from his attempts to hide exculpatory evidence from the players' defense team.

North Carolina law authorizes only a sitting DA, a sheriff, police officers or judges to request an investigation by State Bureau of Investigation.

Cooper's office is reviewing Hardin's request, said Talley. [...]

discussion:
LieStoppers: Interim DA asks AG to consider criminal probe, Jim Hardin
FreeRepublic: Interim DA asks Attorney General to consider criminal probe in (Duke) lacrosse case
TalkLeft: Hardin asks for criminal probe in Lacrossse case
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Lisa Sorg / Indy Week:
The Duke lacrosse case: Gimme some truth -- Mike Nifong goes to jail Friday. And on Saturday, having spent 24 hours behind bars on contempt of court charges, the former Durham district attorney will be released in time to catch Booker T. and the MG's that night at the Bull Durham Blues Festival.

The cost to taxpayers of Nifong's sleepover is roughly $77. But the price to learn the truth about the Duke lacrosse case is exorbitant. The Committee to Investigate the Durham Police Department, a 12-member group appointed by the city council earlier this year, has temporarily suspended its work, pending potential civil lawsuits against DPD filed by the falsely accused lacrosse players. What the committee may find in its parsing of the public record could supply the defense with enough ammunition to bomb the city in litigation. [...]

The committee must continue its investigation into DPD's actions, regardless of the expense. Durhamites will pay, either way.
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WRAL:
Attorneys for Former Duke Players, Durham to Discuss Possible Civil Suit -- Attorneys representing three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape and sexual assault were scheduled to meet Wednesday with attorneys for the City of Durham about a possible civil rights lawsuit.

A city spokeswoman confirmed last month that civil attorneys representing David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann contacted the city about the possible lawsuit, but it was not clear who could be sued – the city or the police department.

The attorneys asked city officials to gather all documents and communications related to the discredited Duke lacrosse case, which the City Attorney's Office is in the process of doing.

Kevin Finnerty, Collin Finnerty's father, said he sees the potential litigation as a way to hold the city accountable.

"If there were crimes committed and these people truly did things criminally and wrong, and they're responsible, then they're responsible," he said. [...]
discussion:
LieStoppers forum:
Durham, Duke LAX Civil Lawyers Meet Today, Negotiations Begin
FreeRepublic:
Attorneys for Former Duke Players, Durham to Discuss Possible Civil Suit
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News 14 Carolina:
Duke lacrosse probe could cost city -- The now infamous Duke lacrosse case continues to create problems for the city.

Durham's city attorney will meet Wednesday with lawyers representing the three formerly accused players to determine if the city will push ahead with a special probe into the police department’s investigation of the case.

City council members appointed the committee in July to determine if there was any wrongdoing inside the department and what, if any, changes need to be made but now they are concerned that the panel’s findings could be used against the city in a civil lawsuit.

Following the meeting, Durham’s attorney is expected make a recommendation as to whether the committee should continue its investigation.
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Editorial, News & Observer:
Nifong's day in jail -- It's no small irony that former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong will go directly to jail for a day. District Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III sentenced the D.A., infamous for his headlong sexual assault prosecution of three Duke University student-athletes, for lying to the court in September 2006. Had the students been found guilty of charges that proved to be wrong, they'd have spent many years behind bars. (They were accused of aassaulting a dancer who had been hired to perform at a lacrosse team party.)

Smith ordered Nifong to arrive at the Durham County jail on Friday and remain there for 24 hours. Considering Nifong's three-decade career in the Durham district attorney's office, and the judge's concern for protecting the integrity of the courts, it's an appropriate punishment.

And it's not the end of Nifong's woes. The ruling could make it harder for him to mount a defense in a civil case that the lawyers for the three students have indicated they may file soon. And, Nifong has been stripped of his law license by the N.C. State Bar. He is a man who has been disgraced. [...]
discussion:
KC Johnson:
The N&O Speaks Out; Catotti & Curtis -- the first round of campaign finance reports are out in the race for the Durham City Council. Incumbent Diane Catotti (pictured below, showing her support last fall for Mike Nifong) received money from one and only one Duke professor: Kim Curtis, of political science. [...]
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Nifong was tarred and feathered on the internet, thank you very much.

Glenn Reynolds /InstaPundit:
MY EARLIER REMARKS ON TAR AND FEATHERS have generated some interesting email. And they actually sprang from a conversation I had with colleagues a while back. Traditionally, Anglo-American political philosophy allowed for what Gordon Wood called "out of doors political activity" -- behavior that was extralegal, but not exactly unlawful, in response to overreaching by authorities. Pauline Maier's excellent book, From Resistance to Revolution, documents this during the colonial and revolutionary eras, but it actually persisted for some time afterward. The thinking was that government officials couldn't always be checked via law, because they controlled the law and its administration -- thus the need for citizens to (in the words of the Tennessee Supreme Court) "keep in awe those who are in power." The out-of-doors activity wasn't necessarily violent: generally, property was targeted first (think Boston Tea Party), and efforts against officials were generally designed to be embarrassing or humiliating rather than seriously dangerous. (Actually, back in the days when tar had to be heated over a fire, tarring and feathering was more serious than it is today, toward the end of the spectrum rather than the beginning.)

In my conversation with colleagues, we speculated that the Internet takes on part of this role, with humorous photoshops and YouTube parodies -- along with the ability to simply repeatedly criticize government officials by name (think Mike Nifong) undercutting the usual bureaucratic diffusion of responsibility -- taking the place of some of the older techniques. The response to that, of course, might be efforts to shut down Internet criticism. But that might simply encourage a return to older techniques. . . .

related:
Glenn Reynolds /InstaPundit:
I MENTIONED THE BRITISH TRADITION OF TAR AND FEATHERS yesterday, but I had no idea that it was still alive. This part seems key: "The community responded in the way it did because it had no confidence in the police."
comment: This whole discussion of tarring and feathering by Glenn Reynolds reminds us when idiot Duke Professor Robyn Wiegman said, "tarred and feathered is the language of lynching." This was just total nonsense.

She was playing a racial/lynching/censure/intimidation card with Prof. Steven Baldwin. He had written a letter to the Duke paper critical of the way the lacrosse incident has been handled by the Duke administration and of the Group of 88. Prof. Baldwin even apologized for using the phrase. Weigmann is a Professor of Women's Studies and Literature and she was a member of the Concerned Duke Faculty, which was the group that reaffirmed the stance of the Group of 88 in January 2007.
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Other items:

Steven Horwitz / History News Network:
Liberty & Power: Group Blog -- This case fascinated me for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which was the generally deplorable behavior of 88 Duke faculty and several members of the administration. However, the deeper fascination was much the same as I had with the Dan Rather memos case from a few years ago. In re-reading a long blog post of mine on that case this morning, I realized how much I wrote then was just as true of this case. In particular, my theme of the "blogosphere" being an example of liberty checking power seems just as, if not more, applicable to this case. Bloggers like KC (and there were others) dug deep while the mainstream media swallowed the hoax hook, line, and politically-correct sinker, and were a significant part of the process by which the three accused young men were declared innocent. [...]
------
KC Johnson:
Book Q&A; Various Items -- For the next few days, I invite those who have read the book to submit questions in the comment section. I’ll run a post on Monday responding to some of them.

The book also has a website, which contains, among other items, the full sourcenotes for the volume. [...]
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News 14 Carolina:
Third Duke lacrosse book released -- Tuesday marked the release date of yet another book about the Duke lacrosse case. It's a story that continues to stir emotion but a story that some are ready to shelve.

“Until Proven Innocent” sparked curiosity among customers at the Regulator Bookshop."There's a fascination with true crime, and here we are right in the middle of it," said John Valentine, co-owner of the bookshop. [...]

"Not Harry Potter huge, and not Hillary Clinton huge, but big," said Valentine.

The bookstore only sold a couple of copies on the first day, but Valentine said it's a book that will have the locals coming in and flipping to the index."

There's great curiosity to see who's mentioned and how bad people come across," said Valentine. [...]
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New Durham Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr.Stanley B. Chambers Jr. / News & Observer:
Lopez eases into job of Durham police chief -- The New York native doesn't plan a radical makeover but wants smooth progress -- In his first news conference as Durham police chief, Jose L. Lopez Sr. chose his words carefully while answering questions about the department he's still learning about.

A Durham resident since Monday, he said he is in the Bull City to stay: "They'll probably bury me here."

He reached out to the city's growing Hispanic community, giving an interview in Spanish to a Spanish-language TV network. A New York native of Puerto Rican descent, Lopez is bilingual.

His answers to specific questions about the department were mostly noncommittal. After all, it was his first day in his first job as a top cop, and in a new city.

"I find myself very lucky, very fortunate," he said.

Lopez, 53, spent 23 years as an officer in Hartford, Conn., rising through the ranks to become assistant police chief before accepting the Durham job in July. He was City Manager Patrick Baker's pick over two other finalists, including current Durham Deputy Chief Ron Hodge.

Lopez succeeds Steve Chalmers, who remains on the payroll until the end of the year with the assignment of helping Lopez make the transition into the job. [...]
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Brianne Dopart / Herald-Sun [registration required]:
Lopez takes helm of police department -- For a man in his first day on the job, Jose Lopez Sr., had a lot of explaining to do.

For a man who just took full responsibility for a police department that patrols a growing urban community, Durham's new police chief seemed pretty calm.

Appearing in a freshly ironed uniform and wearing a noticeably shiny chief of police badge Tuesday afternoon, Lopez fielded questions from local reporters at Durham Police Headquarters on Chapel Hill Street. The meeting was the new chief's first public news conference.

Questions he was asked ranged from his definition of "reasonable" response times to crime calls to moving forward in the wake of questions about police performance in the Duke lacrosse case. The new chief didn't waver.

To the first question, regarding whether the department should have a written policy on the time it takes officers to respond to calls, Lopez answered, "That's something that needs to be reviewed."

To the latter question -- about the lacrosse case -- Lopez said, "It's a sore in the history of this organization and as such, I don't plan to pick on it. If you pick at sores, they don't get better."

In response to follow-up questions regarding whether he would support departmental policy changes in the aftermath of the scandal, Lopez said he had not "read the investigation," but that he did "support this organization." [...]
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Letter to Herald Sun:
Paper let Durham down

As far as The Herald-Sun is concerned, the real question is why did the newspaper act as Mike Nifong's mouthpiece for so long, and how did the paper's ignorance of facts enable Nifong to keep up the charade that he had a case?

The Herald-Sun fueled the sham perpetrated by Nifong as much as any media outlet in the nation, and that is really saying something. If The Herald-Sun had reported the news in an unbiased manner, perhaps Nifong would not have been elected in November 2006. If, if, if.

Now the citizens of Durham will have to pay for the ignorance of what should have been the city's watchdog, The Herald-Sun. Also culpable, of course, is the city itself. And just as culpable are the citizens who voted to keep Nifong in office.

Well, you reap what you sow.

CRAIG HUNTER
Greensboro
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