Today's items - updated:
Anne Blythe / News & Observer:
Head of DNA lab in lacrosse case loses job -- Brian Meehan, head of the private lab that did DNA testing for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse case, is out of a job.
Reached at his home in Elon this afternoon, Meehan confirmed that he no longer worked for DNA Security in Burlington.
But he declined to elaborate further. “I’ll be able to say more in two days,” Meehan said.
In May 2006, two months after the off-campus Duke lacrosse team party that gave rise to an escort service dancer’s gang-rape accusations against three players, Meehan produced a 12-page lab report that excluded information about the presence of DNA of unidentified men found on the body and clothing of the accuser.
That omission of crucial evidence helped lead to the downfall of Nifong, the district attorney who lost his law license and career over his zeal to prosecute the players on allegations that proved to be untrue. [...]
At a court hearing in December, Meehan testified that he and Nifong had agreed to what he would include in the 12-page report in May. That report did not meet the standards and protocol of DNA Security, a company that Meehan helped found. [...]
Duke Lacrosse DNA Tester Removed From Post -- The head of a private laboratory where DNA evidence in the Duke lacrosse case was tested no longer works there.
The move comes less than a month after the former defendants filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Dr. Brian Meehan, former District Attorney Mike Nifong and several others involved in the investigation.
Civil attorneys allege they were part of a "DNA conspiracy" and purposely withheld potentially exculpatory evidence that could have been used to clear their clients of the criminal charges against them. [...]
During a North Carolina State Bar disciplinary committee hearing into allegations of unprofessional conduct against Nifong, Meehan testified the district attorney never told him to hide the evidence but never told him to highlight it either.
"Why I didn't do it, it was poor judgment on my partm at the time when I drafted that report," Meehan testified in June.
In court, Nifong said Meehan was eager to be part of the case.
Meehan, as well as the other defendants, have about a month left to respond to the lawsuit. A lawyer representing DNA Security said the company plans to file a motion to dismiss the complaint.
Meehan out of job
Duke Lacrosse DNA Tester Removed From Post
Ding Dong Bell, Mighty Meehan Has Struck Out
Duke Case: Rebutting KC Johnson -- I stated that Mr. Bannon's characterization of a letter by Dr. Meehan that I had quoted in full (so readers could judge for themselves) was "NOT a fair characterization." KC ignored that letter instead of trying (futilely) to rebut my assertion that it had been mischaracterized and instead pretended that I was suggesting that the DNA Security report might be excusable. [...]
Kempermanx / LieStoppers:
NC Bar Ethics Course, Crystal get a pass -- I have not been keeping up much, but this weekend I spent some time with "Bar Buddy". Last week, the NC Bar had a continuing education course in Charlotte, for lawyers, and Nigfugu was the subject of the ethics course.
I can not spell, but the lawyer who headed up the Bar investigation, and Cooley (sp) one of the boys lawyers spoke. It was sold out. Bottom line. Question, "why did they not prosecute Crystal",
The defense asked the state not to prosecute her.
The boys did not want to have to come back and testify and face the nuts in Durham who still think Nifungu is a saint.
Sad, but true, nuts CAN intimidate people.
Joan Foster / LieStoppers blog:
A Disciple of the Nifong Method --
Anna Mills Wagoner....
Is ignoring all that mail
About a dirty little plot
To send three Innocents to jail.
Anna Mills Wagoner....
That Girlfriend seems unconcerned.
Are the LE just her bestest friends
She doesn't want them " burned?"
Anna Mills Wagoner
Is cool and cavalier.
Even Hardin's ardent call
Has fallen on deaf ears.[...]
Rogue Prosecutors the Rule or the Exception? -- A once obscure topic, prosecutorial abuse has gained prominence in the minds of many Americans as a result of the Duke lacrosse case, and the actions of the prosecutor, former-District Attorney Mike Nifong.
Nifong, although a local prosecutor, has become the poster boy of prosecutorial abuse on every government level. With a story line that included sex, racial tensions, and gender and income inequality, the Duke case captured the attention of the media and the nation. We now know that Nifong willfully disregarded evidence of the boys' innocence and thanks in large part to enormous public attention and condemnation, he has been rightly stripped of his badge and the keys to his office.
Similar attention is drawn to cases with strong partisan interest like the obstruction of justice case against Vice President Dick Cheney’s aid Scooter Libby and the corruption case against Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson, where public opinion is sharply divided but nevertheless intense. This pressure too provides a safeguard against prosecutors who overreach or simply trample Constitution rights.
While the media and the people act in these cases as the bulwark of liberty our founders envisioned, the same can not be said for less popular cases. As a result, we are moving toward a system where the safeguards provided by the Constitutional rights of the accused are guaranteed only to those deemed by television executives to be ready for prime-time. In cases where the public interest is negligible and of low intensity prosecutors seem to have almost free reign. Examples from the home district of Judge Mukasey, and Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Charles Schumer, prove instructive. [...]
In the KPMG case, the government prosecution was found to have violated the defendant’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The judge wrote that the prosecutors “used their life and death power over KPMG to coerce its personnel to bend to the government’s wishes” and described the prosecutors actions as “outrageous and shocking” [...]
ALL THE GOVERNOR'S MEN -- The Spitzer scandal news just keeps on coming. You have to wonder if this fast-and-loose approach to the law suddenly started when he became Governor, or if it characterized his behavior as a prosecutor, too. Governor Nifong?
John in Carolina:
“Governor Nifong” Questions? -- What about reaction to the "Governor Nifong" – I mean Spitzer story?
Has Duke’s President Brodhead issued a statement saying whatever Spitzer did “is bad enough?”
Is Brodhead looking forward to a trial at which Spitzer will have his chance to be “proved innocent?” [...]
PAC attack with all deliberate speed -- By nearly any measure, Durham politicians have had a dismal two years.
There was of course the lacrosse scandal, which recently spawned a $30-million-plus civil rights claim. And let's not forget the $600,000 yard-waste blaze that erupted in 2006, followed by the lead contamination scandal that left Durham in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
City Council was caught accepting a $2-million payoff in exchange for Central Campus zoning considerations. The city manager waited until the city had less than 80 days worth of water left before enacting mandatory conservation measures. District Attorney David Saacks' appointment ended up violating state law. And just this week, we learned Durham police officers are back under investigation for accepting sexual favors from prostitutes for the third time in 20 years-information that newly arrived Chief Jose Lopez outrageously concealed until after last week's election.
Oh yeah, and the murder rate is up 50 percent from last year.
I think it was Benjamin Franklin who first said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. That's why after two years of broad-based failures of leadership in Durham, it was quite a shock to see incumbents Bill Bell, Diane Catotti and Eugene Brown enjoy landslide victories last Tuesday. Are local voters just crazy? [...]
William F. West / Herald-Sun
Property owners to get valuations -- For the first time in six years, Durham County taxpayers on Friday will find out the current market values of their businesses, homes and land.
And they'll start getting an idea of how much they'll be paying the tax man next year.
The county on Friday will mail out more than 97,000 notices of property value change letters.
This is a result of a property revaluation initiated not long after the last one was completed in 2001.
The value of all categories of property countywide increased by an average of 30 percent over the last assessment, from more than $18 billion to more than $23.4 billion, Durham County Tax Administrator Ken Joyner said Monday.
So, a home worth $150,000 based on the 2001 assessment and charged at that rate in the most recent tax bill in theory would now be worth $195,000, meaning the tax bill -- if current rates remained unchanged -- would increase from $1,251 annually to $1,351 annually, Joyner said.
The silver lining for taxpayers is that the county, under state law, must follow a "revenue neutral" approach. That is, if one's property value goes up, one's property tax rate must come down to produce equal funds for the county budget, particularly when one's property value is below that 30-percent threshold. [...]
Zach Braff skips Tailgate -- This weekend the undergraduate student body converged upon the Blue Zone for one last gloriously inebriated time. And judging by the number of my friends who could recall exactly what happened, the Georgia Tech Tailgate provided a fitting end to this season's series of raucous pregame celebrations. [...]
People tell me that you can't explain Tailgate to someone who hasn't been-like it's akin to visiting a Third-World country, but with fewer amenities and less civilized behavior. So my impressions of Tailgate are solely based on what I read on JuicyCampus.com. [...]
I also held a job at the Textbook Store for the better part of my Duke career that required I work most Saturdays. So while most of my friends frolicked in fermented fun, I sold Duke lacrosse gear to the visiting fans who thought they were being hilarious. As if the word "Duke" followed by the word "lacrosse" were a setup and punch line in and of themselves.
"Two guys walk into a bar. Duke. Lacrosse."
But in retrospect, I do regret my indecision to miss Tailgate. [...]