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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nifong Contempt Hearing — Day 1

Today's items — updated:

Mike Nifong at Aug 30th contempt hearingAP/ABC11-TV:
Defense: Nifong Didn't Intentionally Try to Mislead Court [video] -- The former prosecutor who led the now-discredited Duke lacrosse rape case never intentionally tried to mislead the court and believed he gave all DNA test results to defense attorneys, a lawyer for Mike Nifong said Thursday during his criminal contempt trial. [...]

"The question is not whether those statements Mr. Nifong made are literally true or literally false," Glover told Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III. "The question is were they willfully and intentionally false and were they also part of an effort ... to hide potentially exculpatory evidence, and that's the issue before the court."

Anne Blythe & Joseph Neff, News & Observer:
Nifong contests contempt charge -- Former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong began fighting a criminal contempt of court charge today in the same courtroom where he once prosecuted people accused of crimes.

Mike Nifong at Aug 30th contempt hearingNifong, who was stripped of his law license this month, is facing Judge W. Osmond Smith III on the charge, which arose from his handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

The former prosecutor pleaded not guilty this morning. And at the close of prosecution evidence this afternoon, Smith refused Nifong's motion to dismiss the charge.


The contempt charges are limited to a short exchange during the September hearing, when Smith asked Nifong whether the May 2006 DNA report given to defense lawyers was complete: "So his [Meehan's] report encompasses it all?"

Nifong answered haltingly: "His report encompasses ever -- because we didn't -- they apparently think that everybody I speak to about, I talk about the facts of the case. And that's just, that would be counterproductive. It did not happen here."

The judge pressed for an answer: "So you represent there are no other statements from Dr. Meehan?"

Dr. Brian Meehan, director of DNASINifong responded, "No other statements. No other statements made to me."

Himan testified today that the report did not include everything Meehan had discussed with Nifong and police in April and May.

Meehan has said that he told Nifong several times that tests found DNA from unidentified men on Mangum's body and underwear. Nifong has confirmed Meehan's account in interviews and sworn testimony.
LieStoppers blog: The Return of Mr. Obfuscation
Lawyer: Nifong Never Read DNA Report That He Gave Defense [video] -- Former Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong never read a report about DNA evidence in the case before giving it to defense attorneys and, therefore, did not intentionally lie to the court last fall, his attorney argued Thursday. [...]
LieStoppers blog: Nifong Didn't Intentionally Lie, His Attorney Says
KC Johnson:
Afternoon Session -- -- Kathryn Jean is the first witness after lunch.

Appearing under subpoena with the State Bar file dealing with Nifong grievance.

Begins by discussing her grievance notice to Nifong re DNA—December 19, 2006 letter of notice and substance of grievance; and Nifong’s wild Dec. 28, 2006 response. A long pause ensues while Nifong attorney Jim Glover reads (for the first time?) the Dec. 28 letter.

Nifong response, as read by Kathryn Jean: in that, Nifong conceded that Meehan had told him about the unidentified male DNA. Also reads from Nifong response to the Bar: Smith’s “failure” to sanction him showed that Smith believed he had not behaved unethically.

[Nifong is, in effect, being hoisted by his own words, ad his varying stories in his responses to the Bar.] . . .
News & Observer:
Letter from Mike Nifong to NC State Bar (7 pages, .pdf, 28Dec06)
KC Johnson:
Morning Session -- Nifong, looking gaunt, arrived in the courtroom just after 9.00am. In an event that hardly gives people confidence in the Durham judicial system, he received a warm hug from Durham judge Marcia Morey. [...]

Nifong pleads not guilty. [...]
Anne Blythe & Joe Neff, News & Observer:
Nifong faces judge today -- Fallen prosecutor Mike Nifong, who spent the past 30 years accusing people of crimes, knows now what it is like to be the accused.

The former district attorney, stripped of his law license this month, faces Judge W. Osmond Smith III today on a criminal contempt charge that arose from his handling of the Duke lacrosse case. If found in contempt, Nifong could do jail time.

Some longtime court observers said they could not recall another case in which a judge filed contempt charges against a prosecutor.

"I've never heard of it," said Jim Drennan of the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill."I can't think of anything like this," said Peg Dorer, director of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys for the past 15 years.

Smith, the superior court judge assigned to the Duke lacrosse case, entered a strongly worded order against Nifong in late June.Smith's accusation? That Nifong lied to him on Sept. 22, 2006...
LieStoppers forum: Live Coverage of Nifong Contempt Hearing
WAMU Radio (Wash., DC):
Stuart Taylor/Barry Scheck on D Rehm Show, Prosecutorial Misconduct [audio] -- Former North Carolina prosecutor Michael Nifong was disbarred for withholding exculpatory evidence, dishonesty and fraud. What the case against the Duke lacrosse players may reveal about the power of prosecutors and the potential for prosecutorial misconduct
KC Johnson:
Editorial, News & Observer:
... truth and risks -- It makes sense to think strategically when a lawsuit dangles over your head, which is where the City of Durham finds itself regarding false charges of rape lodged against three former Duke University lacrosse team members.

Ex-District Attorney Mike Nifong lost his law license and his job over his eyes-closed pursuit of the accusations leveled by a hired exotic dancer. But Durham police played a role in the misguided prosecution, whether by going along with Nifong's efforts, by not protesting strongly enough that the evidence did not justify charges, or by both. Because a report in May by City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers totally failed to explain the department's conduct, the City Council had to order an independent investigation, conducted by respected experts and headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Willis Whichard.

City administrators have put that investigation in neutral gear for the next several days because the insurance company that would face a big payout if the students sue and the city loses is having the jitters. [...]

Reaching the truth as to how this case went so badly awry has to trump an insurance company's bottom line.

Moezeldin Ahmad ElmostafaJohn Stevenson, Herald-Sun:
Cabbie who figured in (Duke) lacrosse case sues -- Durham cabbie Moezeldin Ahmad Elmostafa is suing a department store chain and a security guard over a shoplifting charge that figured heavily in the now-ended Duke lacrosse case.

As it turned out, Elmostafa beat the shoplifting rap and was known among lawyers as the "hero of the lacrosse case" for becoming a defense alibi witness and standing up to former District Attorney Mike Nifong and Nifong's then-investigator, Linwood Wilson.

Nifong recently resigned and was stripped of his law license for misconduct in the lacrosse scandal. Wilson also lost his job.

Elmostafa's lawsuit was drafted by lawyer Tom Loflin and filed in Durham County Superior Court just before the close of business Wednesday.

The named defendants are Hecht's Company Inc.; May Stores X Inc, with which Hecht's is now merged; and Jonathan Massey, a former Hecht's security guard who originated the shoplifting charge against Elmostafa at Northgate Mall.

Attempts to reach the corporate defendants for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday evening. Likewise, someone at Massey's house said he was working and wouldn't be home until after midnight.

Defense lawyers had accused Nifong of belatedly bringing the misdemeanor shoplifting charge against Elmostafa as a pressure tactic in the controversial lacrosse case.

The alleged shoplifting incident was in 2003, but Elmostafa wasn't formally accused until May of last year.

The charge came shortly after Elmostafa signed a sworn affidavit saying lacrosse suspect Reade Seligmann was in Elmostafa's taxi around the time an exotic dancer claimed she was raped by Seligmann and two others during a party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. in mid-March 2006.

Elmostafa said he drove Seligmann to a bank machine, a fast-food restaurant and a Duke dorm.

When the shoplifting incident came up in court a year ago this week, Elmostafa testified that he merely gave a cab ride to a woman who later pleaded guilty to stealing several handbags from the Hecht's store at Northgate Mall. He claimed he didn't know what the woman was up to and didn't aid or abet her thievery.

Elmostafa was acquitted. [...]
LieStoppers forum: Cabbie who figured in lacrosse case sues
FreeRepublic.com: Cabbie who figured in (Duke) lacrosse case sues
John in Carolina:
Michael Gaynor, WebCommentary.com:
Duke Case: Herald-Sun Hysteria -- When it came to the Duke case, Durham. North Carolina's horrible Herald-Sun was an utter disgrace.

Now the day of reckoning is here and it's accusing the true victims of being punitive! [...]

I say that the Three should be compensated fully and then do whatever they want with the compensation they receive.

After all, reparations to them are in order and the North Carolina NAACP should be demanding that they be paid!
La Shawn Barber:
PC and Injustice in the Duke Lacrosse Case -- I just received a review copy of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, by journalist Stuart Taylor and blogger/professor KC Johnson (who’s attending former Durham County district attorney Mike Nifong’s criminal contempt hearing). Buy this book! [...]
TalkLeft: The Book: Until Proven Innocent -- "Anyone interested in this travesty of a prosecution simply must read this book."--Jeralyn Merritt, criminal defense attorney and publisher, TalkLeft
Will the tenured vigilantes in the Group of 88 go back to teaching? Or will they continue to pursue extracurricular activities and advancing their pet agendas?

Jordan Everson [Trinity senior], Duke Chronicle:
Dear professors -- Please note your job title. It is not expert, not researcher, not congressional testifier, not future Nobel winner. It is professor, maybe associate or assistant, but still professor.

So then profess! Enlighten your students with the marvelous task you have undertaken, the ideas that inspired you, that you have dedicated your life to studying.

I know, I know, you spent years researching for that Ph.D., and before arriving here your main concern has probably been research.

There is little for you to gain from professing; Research, not teaching, determines your career advancement. Only disastrously bad student evaluations will hinder your upward mobility, an easily avoidable fate so long you reserve low grades only for the truly indolent and hand out evaluations during the last day of classes.

Still, as professors you have an obligation to teach us, your students...

I fear that I am not receiving the education that I should be receiving in the basic world of knowledge. For that is, I think, the purpose of our undergraduate years-to get our real education, not to train for our profession. I hope that you will understand my pleas, that you will rededicate yourselves to professing and to resuming the sacred conversation between teacher and student.
Jon Ham, Right Angles blog:
Duke student asks professors to reassess their role -- Everson’s point is among those addressed in a new research paper published by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and written by Princeton Lecturer Russell K. Nieli.
Shuchi Parikh, Duke Chronicle:
Prez blasts judicial policy, cites alternative plans -- Duke Student Government President Paul Slattery discussed his agenda at the organization's first meeting of the 2007-2008 academic year Wednesday night. [...]

At the meeting Slattery presented comparative data showing that Duke lags behind peer institutions in the number of procedural rights reserved to students.

"We continue to not fare so well," Slattery said. "In fact, I think [the Duke administration] hates us."
Guess Not. Group of 88 professor goes off the reservation again.

LieStoppers blog:
Say What? Part II -- Duke University has begun another academic year and that means the group of professors called the Duke 88 are back. It didn’t take long for one of them to cause controversy. No, not about the Duke Lacrosse Case. They were warned that their indemnification from lawsuits only would include any actions before the settlement date of June 2007. This time it was about the Michael Vick Dog-Fighting Case.

Duke Professor Mary Kathy Rudy is an associate professor of women's studies and she wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on August 28.

White culture's hypocrisy about Vick

Unable to withhold herself she had to introduce Race & Class issues in her column. [...]

Stanley B. Chambers Jr., News & Observer:
Duke students play nice in town -- Incidents drop off after lacrosse case -- Don Ball has had fewer sleepless nights since the Duke lacrosse case erupted in his Durham neighborhood.

Off-campus incidents involving Duke University students for the 2006-07 school year declined more than 75 percent from the previous year, according to a recent report by Duke's Office of Judicial Affairs.

For neighbors, the drop indicates how the lacrosse case, in part, has caused students to realize the ramifications of their behavior, said Ball, 46, who has lived in the Trinity Park neighborhood, which borders Duke's East Campus, for 16 years.

"Everyone was nervous and concerned," Ball said. "There was a heightened awareness of not misbehaving off-campus. And I think it had a positive effect for a lot of people." [...]
Edward G. Robinson III, News & Observer:
Duke seniors decide to play -- Lacrosse players to use extra year -- Four former Duke men's lacrosse players have decided to return to the team for the spring season, accepting an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA.

Duke announced Monday that Matt Danowski, Dan Loftus, Nick O'Hara and Tony McDevitt were accepted as graduate students and have enrolled for the fall semester. The four completed their undergraduate studies at Duke and graduated in the spring.

Now they are back in school.

The four players were key contributors to the Blue Devils' run toward a 2007 NCAA Division I national title. The Blue Devils lost 12-11 to Johns Hopkins in the championship game. [...]