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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Duke Case — Oct. 23, 2007

Today's items - updated:

Anne Blythe / News & Observer:
Pressler has hurdle to clear -- Former lacrosse coach must show a judge that Duke reneged on an agreement -- Mike Pressler, the former Duke lacrosse coach, could go back to square one, legal experts say, if a judge rescinds his settlement agreement with his former employer. But first Pressler and his attorney, Jay Trehy of Raleigh, must convince a Durham County judge that Duke reneged on its confidential agreement.

"Typically, when a plaintiff wants to rescind a settlement, that is so they can seek further relief and further damages," said Timothy Davis, a contracts and sports law expert at the Wake Forest University law school in Winston-Salem. "In lay terms, that means they want more money."

Davis said he was speaking in general terms and did not know details of Pressler's case.

In a complaint filed Oct. 11 in Durham County Superior Court, Pressler alleged that John Burness, Duke's retiring senior vice president of public affairs and government relations, made disparaging remarks about him to the media. According to the complaint, an April 9 article in the New York newspaper Newsday quoted Burness as saying the difference between Pressler and current lacrosse coach John Danowski was "night and day."

The second comment came in June, when Burness reportedly told The Associated Press, "It was essential for the team to have a change of leadership in order to move forward."

Pressler hopes to get a jury trial if the settlement is rescinded.

He is the only Duke official to lose a job over the Duke lacrosse case. [...]

Nate Freeman / Duke Chronicle:
Burness to vacate the VP position in June -- Burness said he informed Brodhead of his plans to retire following the 2007-2008 academic year when he was reappointed to his position in 2005. He added that he timed the announcement for late October in order to leave the search committee enough time to find a replacement.

Brodhead said the search committee will look for a replacement who will be able to use new media technology as a part of his or her job.

"We are looking for someone who can help us build the kind of communications apparatus a great university is going to need in the next decade," Brodhead said. "It will have to be someone who can work with both old and new media, has a sense of all the audiences the University wants to reach and has a strong sense of the value of education and research."

Despite negative publicity brought on by the lacrosse case and its resulting lawsuits, Burness said qualified candidates will not hesitate to seek out his position.

"I have every confidence they will get an absolutely first-class person for this job," he said. "We've all been distracted, obviously, by lacrosse, but there are terrific opportunities at this university." [...]
Jane Stancill / News & Observer:
Voice of Duke during lacrosse case to retire -- VP Burness has served 17 years -- Duke Senior Vice President John F. Burness, the university's public spokesman during the lacrosse case, will retire in June after a 17-year tenure.
Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations since 1991, reported to three Duke presidents -- Keith Brodie, Nan Keohane and Richard Brodhead. He is well-known in higher education circles and helped create a widely praised Duke-Durham neighborhood partnership that increased the university's outreach to Durham.

But the past 18 months put Burness on the defensive as he faced an international media storm surrounding the lacrosse case, in which three Duke players were accused of raping an escort service dancer at a party. The former players were eventually exonerated by the state attorney general, and Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred for mishandling the case. [...]
Ray Gronberg / Herald-Sun [reg. req.]:
Duke spokesman Burness to retire on June 30

Baldo cartoon / LieStoppers blog:
Burness gets the Massage

John in Carolina:
Burness Leaving Duke

LieStoppers forum:
John F. Burness to Retire
Michael Gaynor:
Richard Brodhead: Duke's prize "pig in a poke" -- Until Proven Innocent: "Confronted with a crisis of epic proportions, with Duke's hard-won reputation at risk, he [Brodhead] faced his ultimate test of courage. And in an extraordinary moral meltdown, he threw in his lot with the mob" — that is, Mr. Brodhead allied himself with the rogue prosecutor and the rogue Gang of 88 who embodied Political Correctness at Duke. It is highly significant that Professor Parker can attribute to only one cause Mr. Brodhead's weird bobbing about in self-justification in The School of Hawthorne: that he feared being denounced as politically incorrect (for writing about only famous white men). Two decades later that same terror towered up and surged over Mr. Brodhead in the scene Stuart Taylor, Jr., and KC Johnson describe (p. 137). The result: huge costs to Duke in prestige as well as an avoidable expenditure of plenty of money. [...]
Mayoral forum slated at Duke tonight
-- The Duke College Republicans and the Duke Democrats' mayoral forum featuring Mayor Bill Bell and City Councilman Thomas Stith will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 tonight in Page Auditorium.

The forum, to be moderated by Duke Political Science Department Chair Michael Munger, will focus on crime, Duke-Durham relations, and local business and community development. Students, faculty, and community members will have the opportunity to pose their own concerns to the candidates in a question-and-answer session. [...]
Thumbs Down on Durham

Jon Detzel / Duke Chronicle:
Bear Durham -- Don't stop believing -- It's entertaining when people argue that Durham is a great place to go to school. I tend to agree, but only in the sense that by "great place to go to school" these misguided individuals actually mean Duke is a great place to go to school.

Because describing Durham as "great" is further away from the truth than your average bold-faced lie.

For me, the biggest issue isn't that Durham is a relatively small city, that it is generally unsafe, that it isn't especially affluent or that it lacks a reliable source of fresh water.

Indeed, like most other Duke students, I can deal with taking my life into my hands every time I go out at night to Brightleaf or Ninth Street.

The worst that's going to happen is that I get robbed, maybe at gunpoint, and then possibly beaten up.

The real problem is that Durham isn't all that fun. [...]
Vitamin T blog:
When a Noun Becomes a Verb -- Two months ago Durham County D.A. Mike Nifong was disbarred, served one night in jail and paid a $500 fine. This was just an appetizer to the full-course, bacchanalian banquet of beat down that he is about to 'enjoy' in civil court. The 'unspecified damages' sought by the families of the lacrosse players must certainly be in the tens of millions of dollars. [...]

My prediction is this: Nifong and Brodhead have last names too delectable to remain unclaimed by America's pop-culture lexicon. Just as Robert Bork's last name was reduced to describe the slanderous attack against an appointee or nominee, and Rick Santorum's last name was claimed for something I won't echo (yes, I have standards), Nifong's name will come to describe either (a) prosecutorial misconduct in it's highest (or is it lowest?) form; or, (b) see 'screw job.' [...]

Similarly, Richard Brodhead's name stands a 50/50 chance of coming to describe something akin to the following: (n.) one who claims a passionate adherence to the top of a fence. alt. one who refuses to acknowledge moral authority for fear of alienating a constituency [see faculty senate]. [...]
Richard Kirk / North County Times:
Nifonging John Monti? -- Was John Monti Nifonged? Or perhaps one should ask if John Monti is being Nifonged?

Mike Nifong was the district attorney who rabidly pursued bogus rape charges against three Duke lacrosse players in order to bolster his political fortunes among African-Americans in North Carolina's Durham County. Nifong won the race for re-election but later lost his job and law license when evidence of prosecutorial misconduct became overwhelming.

It is unlikely that Monti, the bilingual East Los Angeles schoolteacher recently prosecuted for assaulting day laborers in Rancho Penasquitos on Nov. 18, 2006, will receive the same vindication as the lacrosse trio. Last month a jury found John Monti not guilty of charges brought against him by the office of San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre. But the nature of Monti's case, though it smacks of political opportunism, makes it harder to prove that the camera-loving city attorney pursued Monti to punish anti-illegal alien groups.

The incident in question began when Monti and some day laborers got into a scuffle over pictures that Monti was taking of them. Obviously, taking snapshots of folks who might be here illegally isn't a way to make friends. But Monti says his efforts were motivated by his belief that young girls were being sexually abused in nearby migrant camps. [...]
Z Investigation Countinues

Eric Ferreri / News & Observer:
Duke student's dinners exquisite, perhaps illicit
-- By day, Bryan Zupon is a Duke University senior studying history and economics. By night, he's an avant garde chef who prepares poached duck for his friends and infuses fruit with carbon dioxide to give it some fizz.

For the past year, Zupon, 21, has hosted weekly dinner parties at his cramped campus apartment, bowling over friends and the occasional chef and food writer with his ultramodern cuisine.

Word of this venture, which he calls Z Kitchen, has spread more widely and rapidly than he'd like. He insists that Z Kitchen isn't a restaurant, but Durham County health officials aren't convinced.

If Z Kitchen did qualify as a restaurant, it would be illegal because it lacks proper permits. The Health Department scolded Zupon last year over some language on his Web site -- www.zkitchen.net -- that suggested Zupon was running a restaurant. Now, authorities want to be sure Zupon is truly cooking for friends and not running an eatery out of his apartment.

"We are looking into him very carefully right now," said Robert Brown, the county's environmental health director. "It sure looks like he's running a restaurant. He's getting reviews up and down the East Coast." [...]
Bull City-in-Wonderland:
CHAPTER NINE: The Durham Nocturnal Herald editorializes: Presumption of Innocence is the Cloak of Cowards

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