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Monday, June 25, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — June 25, 2007

Updated — today's items:

Linwood WilsonNews & Observer:
Nifong's chief investigator out of a job -- Linwood Wilson, who served as District Attorney Mike Nifong's chief investigator, will be out of a job tomorrow.

Candy Clark, administrative assistant for the Durham district attorney's office, confirmed this afternoon that Wilson will not be an employee there in the morning. She could not comment further on the departure. Jim Hardin, who succeeded Nifong as district attorney after Nifong was ordered disbarred for misconduct related to his handling of the Duke lacrosse case, could not be reached.

Wilson was instrumental in Nifong's investigation in the Duke lacrosse case...

LS forum: Stop the Clock Linwood's Gone!
KC Johnson: Linwood Is Out
TalkLeft: Another one bites the dust
LieStoppers blog: Linwood Gone!
DailyPundit: Nifong Investigator No Longer Employed

WRAL: Nifong's Top Investigator Toppled -- Officials with the District Attorney's Office said Wilson would "no longer be employed by the Durham DA's office" after Monday. Officials declined to comment further, and it was unclear whether he was fired or was asked to resign...
Flashback: Nifong, Abrams, and the 911 Hoax -- Flashback, March 31, 2006:

ABRAMS: Have you identified the person who made the 911-call?

NIFONG: Have I personally identified...


NIFONG: Do I know if the...

ABRAMS: Do you know who it is?

NIFONG: ... to my knowledge that—I do not.

ABRAMS: OK. So that person has not come forward to say I was the one who made the call.

NIFONG: To my knowledge, no one has done that yet..

discussion: LS forum: Nifong Deposition Part I and II
Sheldon "Water Buffalo" Hackney Awards
John Leo, The New York Sun:
And the Award Goes To ... -- The last of our three finalists is president of Duke, Richard Brodhead. Because Michael Nifong made himself such a spectacular villain in the lacrosse case, Mr. Brodhead escaped without much criticism. But here is what Mr. Brodhead did: On hearing the first reports, he abruptly canceled the lacrosse season, suspended the two players named in the case, and fired the lacrosse coach of 16 years, giving him less than a day to get out.

This helped create the impression that the players were guilty. His long letter to the campus on April 20 did the same thing. He didn't say the boys were guilty, but he talked passionately about the coercion and assault of women, the legacy of racism, and privilege and inequality — all of which fed the anger aimed at the lacrosse team.

Mr. Brodhead did nothing to deter the tsunami whipped up against the players by some students and the Group of 88, an alliance of mostly radical race and gender professors. One of the looniest of the 88, Houston Baker, answered a polite and worried letter from one of the lacrosse moms by calling her "the mother of a farm animal."

Without any comment from Mr. Brodhead, the protesters issued death threats, carried banners that said "castrate," featured photos of lacrosse players on "Wanted" fliers, and banged pots outside the boys' residences in the early morning hours to disturb their sleep. A word from the president about leaving the boys alone and guaranteeing them a fair trial would have been nice...

Jon Ham, Right Angles: Brodhead catching it broadside
John in Carolina: Brodhead Wins Sheldon Award
John BurnessWilliam L. Anderson:
It Still Is Not About the Truth -- [book review: It’s Not About The Truth...] -- The craven attitudes at Duke were not limited to Alleva, Brodhead, and the radical faculty. John Burness, the corpulent Duke vice president, according to the book, regularly slimed the players and Pressler in "off-the-record" remarks to the press. Thus, reporters were told that the players were "bad actors," with the coach having been warned the year before that his team was a "train wreck waiting to happen."

Unfortunately for Burness, there was no "train wreck" document. The year before, Duke lost in the NCAA championship game by one goal against Johns Hopkins (the same fate that befell the team this year), and the Duke administration awarded Pressler with a big raise and a long-term contract. It was not a team "out of control" by any means.

However, Burness’ slanderous remarks hit their intended targets....
"A fat stomach never breeds fine thoughts." — St. Jerome
Editorial, Yakima-Herald:
Attorney in Duke case dishonored victim, accused, system -- The guiding principle of our law and justice system -- innocent until proven guilty -- was trampled in the court of public opinion by an overzealous prosecutor seemingly more interested in his political career than the lives he was ruining.

Even Duke University got caught up in the circus and has now settled with the players and their families. The players -- Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans -- were suspended after they were charged. The university also canceled the team's season and forced the coach to resign.

Now let the Nifong case be an object lesson for prosecutors across the land. Their job is to pursue justice, not just get convictions or clear cases with plea bargaining.

Nifong's misconduct was too egregious to ignore. He not only violated a public trust, he callously ignored the canons of justice he swore to uphold.

That is inexusable and unacceptable in Durham County, North Carolina, or in Any County, Anywhere, when the judicial system is called upon to determine the guilt or innocence of people after due process of law.

It needn't take a high-profile case to drive that point home.
Judge to Hear Evidence Nifong's Removal -- A Superior Court judge has set a Thursday morning hearing in a civil complaint seeking to remove disbarred prosecutor Mike Nifong from office.

Although Nifong was suspended as Durham County district attorney last week, he remains on the job until his July 13 resignation takes effect.

Judge Orlando Hudson suspended Nifong with pay, saying his presence in the district attorney's office raised credibility questions in all prosecutions. Gov. Mike Easley appointed former District Attorney Jim Hardin as an interim replacement until someone could be named to fill the rest of Nifong's term.

At the Thursday hearing, Hudson will address issues raised by Durham resident Beth Brewer. She filed a civil complaint in February demanding that Nifong be removed from office...
N&O: Judge sets hearing on Nifong's removal -- On Thursday, Hudson will consider a petition filed by Durham resident Beth Brewer asking for Nifong's removal. Hudson has appointed Raleigh lawyer Robert Zaytoun to prosecute the case against Nifong. The hearing is set for 9:30 a.m...

LS forum: Hearing date for Nifong
KC Johnson: Nifong Hearing
Forum topic(s) of note:
LS forum: Crystal impaired and passes out on Police
LS forum: Crystal says 60 Minutes LIED!!, L I A R S
LS forum: LEVICY, High-man's notes
LS forum: Crystal must be charged
----------Mike Nifong
Jonathan Turley, Washington Post:
(professor of law at George Washington University Law School.)
Lots of Prosecutors Go Too Far. Most Get Away With It. -- It was an extraordinary scene when Michael B. Nifong, the district attorney in Durham, N.C., took the stand to defend his law license after his failed crusade to convict innocent Duke University lacrosse players of gang rape. He had no more success with his own defense. After being disbarred for "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation," he was suspended from his job last week and now faces a possible lawsuit in civil court.

What's most remarkable about the whole scene, though, is how rare it is. Nifong's misconduct was hardly unusual: Some of the most high-profile cases in history have involved strikingly similar acts of prosecutorial abuse. But instead of being punished, the worst violators are often lionized for their aggressive styles -- maybe even rewarded with a cable television show.

Nifong is a classic example of the corrosive effect of high-profile cases on a prosecutor's judgment and sense of decency...
Michael Gaynor:
Duke case involved societal prosecutorial abuse -- the Duke case should teach us that racism begets racism, black racism is as pernmicious and debilitating as white racism, the Democrat black bloc vote was too tempting to Mr. Nifong, racial pandering worked for Mr. Nifong and justice in the Duke case was long delayed because Mr. Nifong was not the only one playing racial politics or the only one railroading innocent people.

Arts & Palaver blog:
A Great Prosecutor to Convict an Innocent Man - Nifong, Fatty Arbuckle, and Nancy Grace

Duke Prosecutor Nifong condemned. Nancy Grace gets her own TV show.
LieStoppers blog:
Things that make you say, "Hmmmm...." -- [Durham Chief of Police Steve] Chalmers... Durham Mayor Bill Bell ... City Manager Patrick Baker ... John C. Midgette, executive director of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association

Missing Dry Erase Board Photo Located -- Drive Crystal to market...

Gottlieb Confesses -- The deposition of Durham Police Department Sergeant Mark Gottlieb, the supervisor of the Nifong/Mangum Hoax “investigation,” offers the clearest indication to date that the Grand Jury was intentionally manipulated and deceived into bringing indictments against three innocent men for invented crimes. Gottlieb’s sworn statement is tantamount to a confession to obstruction of justice and perjury...
KC Johnson:
More Foolishness -- Despite Williamson’s admonition, those intent on making themselves look foolish continue to do so...

Syl Jones frets that “the Duke boys’ activities weren’t exactly cherubic... Too bad Jones didn’t do the job of an op-ed columnist and explain precisely what the “something” that happened was.

Wesleyan College professor Claire Potter. In April, Potter posted an item...

Potter’s argument appears to boil down to: she can say whatever she wants about the case, even when she provides no factual basis for grave accusations, but criticism of what she published is unacceptable. This sort of approach fits in very well with the line of argument from the Group of 88 over the past 15 months: “free speech for me, not for thee.” ...
Carbolic Smoke Ball blog:
MAJORITY OF DUKE'S 'GANG OF 88' SUFFER FROM ACUTE DEPRESSION SINCE LACROSSE PLAYERS' ACQUITTAL -- Last night, for at least the tenth time Paula McClain dreamed she was presiding over the castration of the three former Duke University Lacrosse players who were declared innocent by North Carolina's attorney general last April of all charges stemming from an alleged rape of a black stripper.

"They're lying on their backs on slabs, and I'm bringing the [castrating] device down on one of them," McClain says. "I'm just at the point where I'm about to snip-snip, when I awaken. The euphoria of punishing these evildoers quickly vanishes and I realize it was just a dream. Then I slink back into a very, very dark place." ...
"I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly." — Michel de Montaigne
KC Johnson:
Weekly Roundup -- ... Durham City Councilman Eugene Brown penned a superb guest column in the Herald-Sun addressing the departure of Mike Nifong...

The always penetrating Kristin Butler has another must-read column in this week’s Chronicle...

In six days, Paula (“no to due process”) McClain will become chairperson of the Academic Council. McClain’s defiant response to the settlement with the three families—a claim that none of the faculty were legally vulnerable for their actions—fit with her general outspokenness in defending the Group of 88’s position over the past 14 months...

Group of 88 member Charles Payne—who chaired the African-American Studies program when the program (from all appearances, at least) sponsored and paid for the Group of 88’s ad—has left Duke to accept a position at the University of Chicago....
KC Johnson on Paula ("no to due process") McClain:
Celebrating Ignorance
Paula McClain: No Means No
Paula McClain: Rationalizing Nifong
Moving Forward with McClain
Crying Wolf
McClain: Group of 88 Defiant, Despite Settlement
FreeRepublic: An Open Letter to Dr. McClain at Duke
Ray Gronberg, Herald-Sun:
Lacrosse caller was ID'd ealy in probe -- Notes from two detectives show that Durham Police Department officials kept saying publicly they didn't know who placed the 911 call that launched the Duke lacrosse case long after investigators had identified its source.

One of two strippers who performed at a lacrosse team party, Kim Roberts, owned up to placing the call when she was first questioned by police, during a March 22, 2006, meeting with lead Investigator Ben Himan.

Though Roberts was specific about what she did, department officials told reporters that investigators didn't know who'd placed the call. They stuck to that story for nine days, through March 31, 2006, and kept repeating it even after Himan's boss, Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, obtained further confirmation from Roberts....

"When the police don't step up and say she made the call and it was a bogus call, that keeps the pot stirred," said Durham attorney Butch Williams, who represented unindicted lacrosse player Dan Flannery. "That's the impetus. And when you don't clear it up in a timely fashion, it caused a serious problem."

Another attorney, Alex Charns, agreed. The department's public-affairs missteps, he said, need to be investigated by the committee the City Council assembled to review the Police Department's handling of the lacrosse case...

Charns counts among those missteps police Cpl. David Addison's decision to issue a CrimeStoppers bulletin that said a "horrific crime" had occurred at the party.
Ray Gronberg, Herald-Sun:
Durham prosecutors' 'no-drop' policy questioned -- A late twist in now-suspended District Attorney Mike Nifong's State Bar disciplinary hearing has people talking about whether Durham prosecutors are doing what the Bar's ethics guidelines require to shut down weak cases.

The talk started after one of Nifong's former assistant district attorneys, Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, testified that local prosecutors have a "no-drop" policy that calls for pushing ahead with at least some criminal cases, no matter how tough it might be to prove them, when they believe an alleged victim's claims and in an accused person's guilt.

The practice appears to be one of long standing. Montgomery-Blinn's testimony is consistent with what other assistants have said to at least one lawyer in the area, and with what a former Durham district attorney, Ronald Stephens, told reporters during his time in office.

But State Bar ethics guidelines -- which on the point mirror the advice of the American Bar Association -- say district attorneys and their assistants must "refrain from prosecuting a charge that [they know] is not supported by probable cause."

And the state Supreme Court last year said satisfying the standard of proof in criminal cases requires more than just believing an alleged victim, even in rape cases...

"No one should be charged or indicted for a crime unless there is convincing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt," Rosenthal, an assistant city attorney, said in a posting last week to the Watts Hospital-Hillandale Neighborhood Association's e-mail list. "Where it is one person's word against another's, no charges should be brought unless there is convincing evidence that a crime was committed."

Rosenthal said in the e-mail that a Nifong assistant had told her the local practice amounts to "throwing cases in front of a jury." ...
discussion: LS blog: No Drop Nonsense -- Regardless of Montgomery-Blinn's puzzling attempt to justify Nifong's hijacking of the Hoax by testifying to the existence of a "no drop" policy, a drop rate in excess of 50% and a less than 1% ratio of trial convictions to accusations tell a different story. The actual numbers show the prevailing office policy may have been more accurately stated as a "half dropped" policy or a "four in a hundred go to trial" policy.

related: KC Johnson: Montgomery-Blinn and NC "Innocence"
Letters to Herald-Sun:
BA supports officers

A recent article in The Herald-Sun has apparently given some the impression that the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (PBA) is not in support of one of the association's local chapters, the Triangle Chapter of PBA, which represents Durham police officers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It was accurately reported that a letter to the editor was published without going through the association's normal communication process. However, the concerns of our Durham members are real, legitimately-based and completely supported by this association.

The City of Durham has gone through some very serious issues in recent months. A highly contentious, controversial, nationally reported investigation, pay and benefit issues and the very important selection of a new police chief are just some of the serious issues facing Durham leaders.

We support any legitimate investigation that includes the review of all those involved in the Duke lacrosse case. A legitimate investigation based on the rule of law and procedural due process would certainly include the investigation of some of those who have called for the investigation.

Durham's police officers are highly trained professionals who risk their lives daily serving and protecting their citizens. Their input is valuable in finding the truth and solving the issues. Rank and file officers should not become scapegoats for the indiscretions and poor decisions of others who may be rethinking their own original actions.

The writer is executive director of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, Inc.

John C. Midgette
Hudson showed guts in dealing with Nifong

I applaud the immediate suspension Judge Orlando Hudson handed down to Mike Nifong...

What about the accuser? When are charges going to be brought against her? And let us not forget gutless Duke University President Richard Brodhead who should submit his resignation immediately for his mistreatment of Mike Pressler and his lack of support for the three falsely accused lacrosse players.

Shame on all of you. Thanks again, Judge Hudson. It is refreshing to see a judge with guts.

Robin B. Huff
John in Carolina:
INNOCENT: N&O asks about "f" word.
INNOCENT: Another Opportunity From DPD
MSNBC Considering Nifong to Take Former Imus Slot -- Dan Abrams, long time correspondent and newly named General Manager of the Cable News Network MSNBC, announced today that former Durham County District Attorney and recently disbarred Mike Nifong was being considered by MSNBC to replace the newly released and former long time morning host Don Imus ...