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Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — August 9, 2007

Updated — today's items:

Duke's "lynch mob" continues to be scrutinized
Christopher P. Anderson, Stanford Daily:
Duke process of the law -- [...] Duke English Prof. Houston Baker issued a hysterical, racist and unsubstantiated letter demanding the dismissal of every player on the team and the abolishment of the lacrosse program. The campus priest told a parent he wouldn’t minister to the team until they “confessed their sins.”

This lynch mob was not quelled by Duke president Richard Brodhead, who stated “whatever they did was bad enough” and suggested the case go to trial so the players would have the opportunity to “prove their innocence.”

Openly stating “it’s not about the truth,” the Duke athletic director demanded the lacrosse coach’s resignation before indictments were even obtained. Duke was sued and later settled. The harassment continued at the classroom level, where a professor with an open anti-athlete bias failed two lacrosse players. (One whose graduation was almost blocked by the failing grade received a settlement.)

Few at Duke were willing to stand up against the tide, and the voices of reason didn’t come from the media...

Voices at Duke and elsewhere pounced on the case to stump for a repeal of scholarship athletics. However, the destructive firestorm that ensued showed that it was a vocal minority of faculty members and administrative enablers, rather than an athletic team, that was out of control. The case certainly puts some of the more shrill voices opposing big-time sports in a different light.

Brian EttkinSemi-Apology
Brian Ettkin, Albany Times-Union:
It's time to write wrongs -- so here's the fourth annual I-was-wrong-and-you-were-right column:

This one bothers me the most, because it mattered the most. It wasn't whiffing on a game prediction or misjudging a trade or even calling for the firing of a coach who deserved to be defended.

It was my rush to judgment in the Duke lacrosse case.

I called 47 Duke lacrosse players cowards "standing behind team sports' code of silence -- what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room, and what happens after hours stays in the locker room, too ..." for following their lawyers' counsel and declining to tell police what happened the night an exotic dancer alleged she was gang-raped at a team party.

I wrote they were "shielding teammates when they should be seeking justice" and that "invoking a code of silence ... strongly suggests they want the truth not to be known."

From the team's lack of cooperation with police I speciously inferred guilt.

I was naive. I never imagined the county district attorney would behave unlawfully and be found guilty of fraud, dishonesty, deceit; of stating falsehoods before a judge; of lying about and withholding exculpatory DNA evidence.

I was wrong...

comment: Ettkin steps up and says he was wrong about his "rush to judgement in the Duke lacrosse case." This sounds like an apology without actually using the words "I'm sorry."
Not all is lost at Duke
KC Johnson:
Remembering the Good -- In an essay published last December, Political Science chairman Michael Munger noted that the Group of 88 was out of line not “for expressing a view,” but “for (a) a rush to judgment, and (b) presuming to speak, or appearing to be presuming to speak, for Duke and Duke’s faculty as a whole.”

With Group members occupying such prominent positions (chairperson of the Academic Council, Dean of the Social Sciences faculty at Trinity College), it’s easy to forget that—as Munger pointed out—the Group does not speak for Duke’s faculty as a whole. Indeed, the Group, their new additions in the “clarifying” faculty, and their more cautious ideological allies probably comprise only 20 or 25 percent of the arts and sciences faculty as a whole. And it’s worth remembering that there were many examples of Duke professors whose behavior was a credit to the profession...

Steven BaldwinIn April, Chemistry professor Steven Baldwin risked “arousing the wrath of the righteous” by asking why Duke fired Mike Pressler before the Coleman Committee completed its investigation. He paid tribute to Pressler’s personal character and the kind of students he recruited to Duke. With the Coleman Committee’s findings of Pressler as blameless, Baldwin’s words looked prescient.

Then, in October, Baldwin became the first Duke professor to publicly criticize the Group of 88. He noted, “As a Duke faculty member I regard my students in much the same way I regard my children. When my kids do something wrong, I demand accountability. When they break the rules they pay the price, whatever that might be.” ...
Austin Rhodes, (GA) MetroSpirit.com:
Blasting everyone equally -- I now find myself accused of being a woman-hating, black-hating and specifically “black woman” hating misogynist — all because I launched an attack on the lying stripper who falsely accused the Duke lacrosse players of rape...

If a mistake was made, it was in my failure to separate the physical description of the liar from her hideously malicious accusations and tawdry proclivities...

Calling criminals scumbags, tramps, perverts, sickos, psychos, etc., is America’s right and America’s practice. To say that my harsh description of the Duke accuser is an indictment of women, or black women specifically, is beyond ludicrous. It is an indictment of her and no one else.

A liar who would see innocent people tortured for fun and profit should face no end of retribution (legal, of course) from men and women of good conscience everywhere. Peer pressure is more effective than judicial punishment in many of these cases. Only when forgiveness is asked and punishment accepted, should the heat be removed.
Tara LevicyForum topic of note:
LS forum: Levicy inactive?, NCBON lists her as inactive. -- Levicy's license appears to be inactive at the moment.
Michael Gaynor, WebCommentary.com:
Duke Case: Brad Bannon's August 7, 2007 LieStoppers Board Post -- My point was NOT that Mr. Bannon did not do brilliant and heroic work (I have thought he did), but that I also thought he knew what to look for, as a matter of reasonable foreseeability in the circumstances and probably from his source(s), but at least from my multiple reports. Those who blithely suggest that I am seeking personal credit fail to think it through. For what? I did not learn to speak DNA or take any risk in reporting what I repeatedly reported. I transmitted a message. It IS significant, however, that there WAS a message to transmit. Unfortunately, North Carolina needs to become much more whistle-blower-friendly and THAT is not coming along nicely yet.

After the much deserved dismissals and declaration of innocence in the Duke case, Brad Bannon registered with LieStoppers.

I agree with LieStoppers poster skeptical that Mr. Bannon's sixteenth LieStoppers Board post should be highlighted, so I set it forth in full below, with comments interspersed...
Michael Gaynor, WebCommentary.com:
Duke Case: The Late Senator Hruska Was an Honorable Man -- William F. Buckley, Jr. did state it better, when he said that he would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone directory than by the entire faculty of Harvard University.

Question: Who of these persons bears any blame for the actual scandal that was the Duke case: United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Judge Kenneth Starr and the late Senator Roman Hruska?

Answer: None of them.

UNlike North Carolina Central University Law Professor Irving Joyner, Justice Thomas has used one standard regardless of color. UNlike former Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong, Judge Starr let former President Bill Clinton know what the DNA tests results on Monica Lewinsky's blue dress was (BEFORE he testified, avoiding perjury) instead of concealing pertinent evidence (it was NOT Judge Starr's fault that the evidence in that case was INculpatory). UNlike the scurrilous defenders of the Group of 88, the late Senator Hruska vigorously defended traditional America values and supported fair treatment of all instead of scapegoating.

In "Political Scandals, Careless Comparisons, and the Duke case," posted on February 25, 2007, I began, "There are Republican scandals and Democrat scandals, neither of which justifies the other," but emphasized that "[t]he Duke case definitely is a Democrat scandal and extends well beyond the misconduct of an individual."

I further stated:

"Winning over liberals to the cause of justice in the Duke case is a noble goal, of course, and Brooklyn College History Professor Robert KC. Johnson, a self-described centrist Democrat who has not voted Republican, has tried hard and usually very well to do so...
After Duke Lacrosse Case, Questions Abound About Grand Juries -- After a grand jury indicted three Duke lacrosse players last year in a case in which officials later determined that a crime never happened, some are questioning the process – including the secretiveness – of grand juries as a whole.

Grand juries typically hear one side – the prosecutor’s. One local district attorney and two people who served on a grand jury said they have concerns about the secret process, including training procedures and a lack of oversight.

Because of the secretive nature of grand juries, WRAL has concealed the identities of the two former jurors. They did not serve on the grand jury that indicted the Duke lacrosse players.

“Someone is testifying against you, saying things that aren’t written down (and) that you can’t confront later in court,” one of the former grand jurors said.

Testimony is secret, and there are no transcripts of grand jury proceedings. Jurors are chosen at random and can serve anywhere from six to 12 months.

The grand jurors who spoke with WRAL said that if investigators told them there was a confession, it was taken at face value and it meant an indictment would be returned.

“We wouldn’t have to hear the whole story,” one former grand juror said.

“We wouldn’t have to discuss it if he said he had a confession,” the other said.

One juror said they were allotted five minutes per witness...

Durham Gangland Problem Unchecked
John in Carolina:
Durham’s Gangs & Nifong’s Legacy -- A few days ago a Raleigh N&O story on crime in Durham included the following:
Stith was the first of several [Durham City] council members to mention threats made by a gang member sentenced to life in prison for murder last week.

Tyrone Dean told jurors who convicted him that he would have people follow them home to retaliate for their verdict...
Gang violence is a major problem in Durham. Gang-related crimes are growing in number and boldness. Shootings are committed in broad daylight and near schools and shopping areas.

The cops on the street will tell you they’re now battling gangs that are larger and better organized for crime than a year ago...

But that all [fighting gang problem] went by the boards when Nifong decided to frame three white Duke students rather than take on gang-related crime...
comment: Durham's unchecked gang problem will be another sad legacy of the Nifong era. It really is sad that law enforcement in Durham took their eye off the real problem of gangs to prosecute a hoax. Thanks JinC for reminding us of the big picture.
John in Carolina:
Nifong’s Apology: “On rye?” -- Most of you know there’ve been differing reactions to Mike Nifong’s apology during a July 26 court hearing concerning criminal contempt charges pending against him.

I posted my initial reactions here.

Now a few other comments:

Some folks were dissatisfied with what Nifong said. They feel he should have said more about what he did wrong. Others wonder why the attorneys for David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann accepted his apology and agreed to drop their request that he reimburse them for the time they’ve spent preparing for the criminal contempt hearing...
Chuck Gallagher, NewsReleaseWire.com:
Ethics and Ambition: The Consequences of an Ambitious Duke Prosecutor -- How often have I said in presentations around the country, "Every choice has a consequence! It is an inescapable truth...just like gravity." Yet, it seems daily we are bombarded with media rich coverage about bad choices and the consequences that follow. The Duke Lacrosse fiasco and Mike Nifong's prosecution is but another example. The question now is not what happened (that has been well documented), but how could someone expect to make so many wrong and unethical decisions and expect to get by or go undetected?

Nifong resigned, has been disbarred, and now is facing the possibility of criminal contempt of court. Attorneys for the Duke Lacrosse players wrote that Nifong's misconduct "shocks the conscience and defies any notion of accident or negligence." The consequence of a conviction of criminal contempt of court could land Nifong in prison...