Friday, November 03, 2006

Questions and Answers, II

With the last edition 18 days ago, it seemed time for another Q+A post. Since August 28, when I installed a site counter, the blog has had more than 175,000 unique visitors, with over 320,000 page views. Visitors to the blog have now come from 83 countries outside the United States; new additions include Cuba, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bermuda, Netherlands Antilles, Ecuador, Argentina, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Croatia, Montenegro, Morocco, Uganda, Kenya, Bahrain, Pakistan, Palau, Taiwan, Cambodia, and Nepal.

The questions:

Q: Why Gottlieb was assigned to the case (and as lead investigator!!) is a question I’ve been asking for a while. Perhaps he volunteered???

A: It seems almost certain that the sergeant did, in fact, volunteer—and it’s worth speculating how different this case would be had he been on medical leave in March rather than July. I suspect that this blog wouldn’t exist, because there almost certainly would have been no case without Gottlieb’s pushing forward a transparently non-credible claim that the responding officers appear to have recognized as false; and then the sergeant’s willingness to aid and abet Nifong’s misconduct, culminating in his “straight-from-memory” report.


Q: For the NYTimes’ Public Editor: How can Duff Wilson use a quote from [Judge] Stephens and merely describe him as a local judge and the district attorney before Nifong- while leaving out that Stephens was previously the presiding magistrate over the initial indictments in this case?

A: I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for an answer to this question, which gets to the continuing biases of Wilson’s coverage. Another example comes from this morning’s article. Here is Wilson’s third paragraph:
The degree of the woman’s injuries has been central to the case. According to case files, detectives found that she had difficulty walking or sitting in the days immediately after she reported being attacked and that she told medical personnel up until several weeks later that her neck and back pains were a result of the attack.
In fact, unless Wilson is revealing new information in this paragraph, his statement is inaccurate: only one “detective,” former lead investigator Mark Gottlieb (in his “straight-from memory” report, filed months after the alleged events it described and contradicting the contemporaneous notes of several members of the department), provided any such indication. And while Wilson dutifully reported the accuser’s claims of pain in the UNC medical report, he continued to avoid mentioning the damaging elements in the report’s conclusions, first outlined by Joseph Neff last week.

If the paper had any journalistic integrity, it would pull Wilson from the case and assign someone who didn’t have an apparent motive of upholding earlier, deeply flawed, reporting. Had the Times followed its current approach in the Judith Miller case, no doubt we’d still be seeing Miller bylines discussing unfound WMD’s in Iraq.


Q: If the Duke 3 were black, would the case be scrutinized as such?

A: The short answer is no, because there almost certainly would be no case: Nifong would have had no political motive for prosecuting such a case given the pre-primary political dynamics.

The longer answer is considerably more interesting. In the early days of the investigation, when Nifong was—in James Coleman’s description—“pandering” to the black community, the D.A. highlighted the racial aspects of the incident and suggested that the players could be charged with a hate crime.

Then, suddenly, in early April, all talk of a hate-crime charge vanished. Nifong appears to have realized that however politically tempting, going the hate-crime route posed an unacceptable risk: bringing in the FBI. And, for very understandable reasons, Nifong needed to avoid federal involvement of any type into the investigation, lest FBI operatives decide to launch an inquiry into his misconduct.


Q: Who stands to benefit most from keeping this trial on schedule and “alive”? Aside from the Nifong get-out-the-vote reasons, who are the real decisionmakers here who stand to benefit from having this continue? I list some possibilities: publicists with book deals, politicians on the “right” with constituencies to keep, tv lawyers, etc. My humble opinion would be that shortly the leftist feminist groups are smelling a dead fish and will want to distance themselves from it. So if it continues, who gains?

Q: When are people en masse going to start making some serious waves with respect to Nifong’s frail accusations? It’s crystal clear that Mike Nifong is waging “lawfare” for his own vainglorious reasons. What repercussions, if any, is he likely to face?

A: The person with the most to gain from getting to trial is Nifong. He knows that the day the trial ends, the state bar’s ethics committee likely will open an investigation into his misconduct. If he can’t get to trial, the committee no doubt will conclude that he massively violated procedure to construct a case out of whole cloth; and doubtless will recommend suspension or disbarment. The committee should evaluate his misconduct without taking into account the results of the case; but we all know, in the real world, that the ethics investigate will not work that way.

It’s worth reiterating that Nifong’s interest at this stage is not the accuser’s (non-existent) right to a fair trial, or justice of any sort, but merely professional self-preservation.

As to the others whose self-interest dictates a trial:

  • Duke president Richard Brodhead. A trial might soften increasing criticism from alumni as to why the administration stood silently by as Nifong ran roughshod over the rights of Duke students. At this stage, Brodhead’s best-case scenario is for the D.A. to tarnish the players sufficiently to justify Duke’s apparent public relations strategy: claiming that the institution didn’t act to ensure that all Duke students were treated according to the same procedures as every other resident of Durham because the lacrosse players didn’t deserve Duke’s backing.
  • The New York Times. The case collapsing before trial will only strengthen the critics who have deemed the paper’s coverage a scandal worthy of the institution that gave us Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. Today’s Duff Wilson article, in this respect, conforms to the established pattern of spinning even seemingly neutral articles to bolster the paper’s interest in seeing a trial occur.
  • The Group of 88. The Group has made clear its hope to use the crisis to transform Duke’s curriculum; as Thavolia Glymph noted as far back as April 10, the lacrosse players’ innocence means that things are “moving backwards” for the Group’s agenda. Grant Farred’s recent Herald-Sun column offered the latest in remarkable thinking from the Group.

I agree with the questioner that left-wing activist groups—feminist organizations and the NAACP—have no particular interest in a trial. Yet they’ve proven unable to detach themselves from Nifong, and, as seen in recent actions by the NAACP, have inched closer and closer to justifying even Nifong’s April 4 lineup.

As to other groups—(1) cable TV talk shows have an obvious interest, although Tucker Carlson, for one, noted that it was difficult to find guests willing to defend Nifong’s conduct. (At this point, I doubt that anyone outside the Nifong family treats as credible the likes of Georgia Goslee, Wendy Murphy, and Norm Early.) (2) Politicians on the “right”: this case would seem to me an issue that is very exploitable for conservatives. Yet, for reasons that I’ve explored elsewhere, the right has proven reluctant to step in.


Q: Isn’t there a way to fight back legally — now? What if the unindicted players sued the city of Durham, the police and the N&O over the vigilante poster and other abuses? The poster offers a clear case of defamation and libel. Why wait? Why not get the legal wheels churning?

A: I emailed attorney Alex Charns, who has demanded that the city of Durham release information on the false information from the original “CrimeStoppers” poster. He responded, “The city’s promised response to my request to make any internal investigation public has not happened. As for the question of tactics, unfortunately, I am not in a position to discuss strategy.”


Q: What I am troubled by is this: Where are the Durham assistant district attorneys in this matter?

A: Technically, they have violated the bar’s ethics code by failing to report Nifong for his ethical misconduct. In the real world, however, this provision is almost never enforced, since their livelihoods depend on Nifong.


Q: Suffering some “consequences” for holding that party has what, if anything, to do with extremely serious felony charges being brought against the 3 LAX players? And when it is blindingly obvious that nothing remotely criminal happened at that party, why has Brodhead ignored the blatant misconduct of the DA?

A: Duke’s response to these questions has been one of the most curious aspects of the case. The administration appears willing to accept anything bad about the party—that “highly unacceptable behavior” occurred—but has maintained that anything positive about the players—such as the fact that Reade Seligmann was on a videotape someplace else when police claimed the rape was occurring—must be verified by a trial.

This novel approach might cause some to speculate as to whether the administration’s primary motive is not justice for its students but to defend the rush-to-judgment actions by influential Duke faculty members.


Q: There has to be a reason why the Herald-Sun and Ashley are so pro-Nifong when common sense says otherwise. How can we find out any connections between them?

A: It’s increasingly clear that Editor Ashley is a caricature of a small-town journalistic hack: his approach is to appeal to the basest sentiments of his readership, and, as Ruth Sheehan has pointed out, a pro-Nifong base exists in Durham. The only possible way to influence Ashley is to encourage his advertisers to pressure him to at least offer the appearance of journalistic integrity.

The odds of that occurring, however, seem very remote, as anyone who read Wednesday’s or Thursday’s articles by John Stevenson would understand.


Q: [In the 10-27 court session], did the DA really admit to becoming the lead investigator?

Q: Was there any mention of who or by what authority Nifong “put himself in the position of being a factual investigator in this case”?

A: In a properly operating system, or anything close to a properly operating system, Nifong never would have been allowed to have taken over the police investigation. The court session gave no indication of how Nifong usurped proper police authority—only that, on March 24, he did so.

Among reporters, only Benjamin Niolet appears to have recognized the significance of Nifong’s statement, repeatedly getting reaction to the item from defense attorneys. Niolet was also the first reporter to break the story that Nifong had never spoken with the accuser—an item that took several weeks to move into the mainstream. I suspect the same process will work here.


Q: By actively campaigning against Mr. Cheek, Mr. Monks is diminishing a chance that Mr. Cheek wins the election. Now, who is playing with the lives of the accused?

A: An excellent question, to which no good answer exists. Whatever motivates Monks’ spoiler campaign at this point, justice for the accused does not rank first, second, third, or 30th on his list of priorities.


Q: Stunning - the DA doesn’t/hasn’t spoken with the accuser or the accused about this case. This leads me to two questions: 1) What the hell does this guy do all day?; and 2) How much weaker would the case be if the DA hadn’t announced at the NCCU forum that he was handling the case personally?

A: I’ve wondered about this issue, too. We know that Nifong takes time from his schedule to read (and critique) the blogs. He also cleared time so that police could inform him the moment they picked up the cabbie who corroborated Reade Seligmann’s alibi.

Otherwise, he appears to do very little apart from constantly complaining about how his heavy workload justifies the slow pace of his handing over material to the defense and asserting that he’s not a politician as he uses his office to engage in political demagoguery.


Q: Why do judges permit prosecutors to speak obvious untruths in their courtrooms?

Q: Clearly Nifong was trying to frame these guys, but where was the Judge [Stephens]? Why was he silent and why did he let Nifong get away with it?

A: Judge Stephens appears to have had a policy of believing even the most incredible statements by Nifong (and then issuing endorsements of Nifong to the Times, which Duff Wilson dutifully reprinted without ever commenting on Stephens’ connection to this case). Judge Smith, on the other hand, appears to want to create the appearance of fairness by not rebuking Nifong.

But in this instance, the appearance of fairness and real fairness are mutually irreconcilable. Eventually he will have to decide whether he wants the appearance of fairness or actual justice.


Q: Is the case still in the “second setting”? At what setting will this case be for the December hearing?

A: With the arrival of Judge Smith, the case has now moved outside of North Carolina’s (deeply flawed) “case management” system, and was designated as exceptional status.


Q: Personally, what has happened in this case scares the hell out of me. It could have been anyone’s child—if the situation fit Nifong’s political agenda at the time.

A: Not a question, but this comment is dead-on.

Thank you for the questions; I’ll continue running the Q+A posts as long as people continue to supply interesting questions.


Anonymous said...

Excellent, KC. It's still hard to understand the reluctance of the attorneys representing the unindicted players to sue over the vigilante poster. This would bring pertinent information to the public's attention and lay the foundation for further legal action.

Anonymous said...

Duff Wilson just dropped da bomb on Nifong.

Club owner recants his affidavit to Nifong. Says he found work records after he signed affidavit. It is Precious in the video, and she worked the 23rd/24th/and 25th of March.

Linwood Wilson claims owner never told him about finding the work records.

Owner wants to file a new affidavit.

The 23rd is just 7 days after her painful interview with Gottlieb.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Brodhead gains by having the LAX mess drag on is another great example of the twisted logic that permeates this web site. Clearly, the best result for Brodhead and for Duke would have been if the LAX players had not made the decision to hold their little party in March, to hire strippers, to threaten the strippers with broom sticks, to shout racist ephithets in public, and to send out disgusting emails because in that case there would have been no LAX mess. Unfortunately, that result has been denied to us by the irresponsible behavior of the LAX players. The second best result would have been a speedy dismissal of all the charges because in that case there would have been less damage to the reputation of Duke and the rest of us would not have been forced to listen to all of the garbage that you and the LAX team parents have been dumping on Brodhead in your zeal to divert attention from the real bad guys, who are of course the sons of those same LAX team parents and in particular the captains of the LAX team, who were the masterminds of the party. After listening to the fanatics on this web site for the last couple of months, I have to say that I really wish that Brodhead had just decided to shut the LAX program down because the LAX players and their parents and other supporters have done more damage to the reputation of Duke in just a few months than any other group of people has done in the entire history of the university and it is clear that we all would have been much better off if we had never heard of any of them.

Anonymous said...

Once again we hear that it's all the LAX team's fault, that they've been charged with rape, deserted by the administration and slandered by their own professors because they had or attended a party. Right...

do you think you might feel just a bit differently if this were your child?

HMan said...

To 2:25
Most places I know, the bars close at 2:00 am. I suppose that a few minutes after that, you are at home and have had time to check out KCs latest offering of wisdom and insight before responding with un-sober vehemence as to what you really think - or need to think - about all of this.
There were 20 plus stripper parties at Duke last year. The broomstick comment hardly phased little Kim or she would never called one of the guys a "little dicked white boy". That is not how a naked woman talks to a gang of guys she is actually afraid of. And the email? Your reaction to it is merely proof that you are out of touch with current college kids in general. Watch a few hours of "Southpark", study "American Psycho". Unless you do this, you will remain someone who does not know what he is talking about.
Saying that the LAX party is the root reason for this mess is childish. It is like if a murderer claimed his victim was at fault for insulting him.
Brodhead and the Duke administration were supposed to act like responsible adults at such a time of crisis. They should have shown that they could keep their heads and keep their grasp on fundamental principles of law and civilization like "due process". Instead, they gave into primitive impulses. They rushed to judgment. They failed to control their jealosies (on many levels) of the LAX guys. They wilted in fear of the thug-like nature of Durham politicos.
Dude, it is too late for Duke in this matter. They could have been heroes but instead they were craven, cowardly, and dishonest - all on the record, totally in the open.
The train has left the station and the final, permanent history of Dukes failure and shame in this matter is now being set in concrete.

Anonymous said...

"Had the Times followed its current approach in the Judith Miller case, no doubt we’d still be seeing Miller bylines discussing unfound WMD’s in Iraq."

Um, KC, I love your blog, but you might want to take a look at a story on Drudge right now linked to the NYT concerning the exposure of Iraqi plans for an atomic bomb in 2002. Sporting their usual blinders, the NYT thinks this story is somehow a slam at the Bush administration, but a broader view tells us something altogether different.

I realize this is a bit off-topic, but you raised the issue.

Otherwise, keep up the great work, and thank you for all that you're doing to expose the depth of this miscarriage of justice concerning the Duke lacrosse players.

Anonymous said...

We now know why Mike Nifong has been so desperate to
avoid revealing the content of his conversations with
accuser Crystal Mangum. The actions of the DA's
office over the last week indicate Durham police and
chief investigator Nifong were certainly aware that Ms
Mangum was continuing to strip (and likely engaging in
paid "one-on-one" sexual encounters) in the days right after she made rape accusations.

Nifong likely counciled her in his face-to-face
meeting and his numerous calls to her to stop these
activities (which she did not; having been seen
stripping as recently as last week)

Nifong's attempt to manipulate the media backfired on
him today; and further disgraced the Herald-Sun.

It turns out the only new "fact" in the Duke case ever
reported by the Herald-Sun turns is a knowing lie
fronted by Nifong's office.

Mike Nifong sent his perpetually dishonest
investigator Linwood Wilson out to the media to
attempt to discredit 60 minutes video evidence that
Crystal Mangum was dancing as soon as 1 week after her
false accusation of rape.

The only reporter stupid and malicious enough to print
Mr Linwood's intentional lies was the H-S's John
Stevenson, who claimed that Platinum Club owner Victor
Olatoye contradicted the story of numerous patrons and
his own manager about when Crystal Mangum was doing
lab dances and pole dancing at his club.

Other reporters simply called Mr Olatoye and got the
actual story:

From the NYTimes

"Mr. Olatoye said that a day after he had signed the
affidavit he told the district attorney’s office that
he needed to change it. But an investigator for the
office, Linwood Wilson, said Mr. Olatoye never told
him about the new information, and added that he was
now expected to file a new affidavit on Friday."

The Dude said...

As always, this is exceptional analysis. The club owner recanting and actually having records to prove the accuser worked9as a dancer) shows Nifong and the durham(read as : KEYSTONE) cops did all they could to solict false information yet have not made any attempt to correct the record(maybe Friday). The duke Lax accused have a great civil matter. They deserve all the cash they can get and it comes out of the taxpayers pocketbook. Then lets see how nifong reacts.
***Side note---Since this was put on a special trial calendar, the judge has some explaining to do and may be RETIRING soon with his pension.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to add Alan Colmes as part of the Nifong family. I am sure he still feels this case needs to go to court.

Anonymous said...

Check out Duff Wilson's article in today's NYT.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work. A note on the Bar investigation. For obvious reasons this post is anonymous. I have talked to one of the 32 Bar Counselors, which run the NC Bar. He was evasive, which he should be, but I did get the feel that a complaint has definitely been made. As he said "We take lying to a Grand Jury pretty seriously". Last night I again pushed him for some scoop, all I could get was that something would happen within 30 days. That means I think after the election we will see some action against Nifungu. It also means that something will be done BEFORE the trial. I think the next hearing for the case is in Dec. Thought you'd want to know this.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Nifong reading and critiqueing the blogs, is there anyway that he could be forced to reveal this information in any kind of legal hearing /proceeding that might be upcoming?

Anonymous said...

Durham Herald now is running a story that another dancer has confirmed the Crystal was dancing, but they do not mention the new affidavit from the owner, funny the NY Times can get that information, but the local paper is somehow missing it, Hm mm.

Anonymous said...

I would add Fox News 'expert' Lise Wiehl to the list of agenda-blinded commentators. She isn't quite as crazy as Wendy Murphy, but she isn't far behind.

I raised the question about the assistant district attorneys involving themselves in Nifong's unethical behavior.

The fact that their paychecks depend on their working for Nifong does not relieve them of their ethical duties. A bank robber's pay check depends on his robbing banks. As an officer of the court who has taken an oath to uphold the law upon admission to the bar, a lawyer has a greater duty than a layman to distance himself from questionable conduct. In fact, I believe most lawyers take that obligation seriously, and I am astonished that Nifong continues to have attorneys working with him on this case. Those in his office working on other cases are probably in the clear (though they should not taint themselves by working in any office that is engaged in unethical or illegal conduct), but any lawyer actively assisting him is participating in his unethical conduct, participating in his tortious acts, and involving himself--if it comes to it--in criminal behavior. Only investigation(s) to come will sort it all out, but the big enchilada is that a Nifong helper technically could be at risk for bar discipline, liability in a civil suit, and prosecution (most probably federal if it occurs). I don't know why they aren't packing their briefcases and getting out of there. At the very least, they should be asking themselves if they have (to put it crudely) pissed off enough smart people with money to expect some payback if they can't win on this prosecution. I think they may have.

KC Johnson said...

I agree completely with the 10.36: not all people in Nifong's office have worked on this case, obviously, but some have, and his misconduct could threaten their careers as well.

When I was in Durham last week, was told by a few people that two ADA's have given notice. It would be interesting to get a sense of how significant the turnover in the office has been in, say, the last year.

Anonymous said...

Who else is interested in having this case go to trial? The Media. N&O and H-S circulation would rise significantly if there is a trial. More people would watch TV for summaries of each day's trial proceedings. Advertising revenue would spike up. Those pathetic reporters would be entertained by a 2 month trial; they'd be writing articles on every conceivable aspect of the trial. Precious Ruth and the 6 other dwarfs at N&O will be in heaven.

TombZ said...

Re: Brodhead's Choice

At this point, Brodhead has two options for losing his job at Duke, either the alumni or the faculty (specifically the group of 88 potbangers).

By continuing on his current 'leadership' path, Brodhead hopes for any legal outcome that would justify his hostility for the lacrosee team, potentially escaping the wrath of alumini, parents and students. IMHO, He's toast when this ordeal is over, no matter the legal outcome, barring 3 convictions (which I don't see as being in the cards).

If he were to recant and repent he'd be tarred and feathered (oops, there I go again) by the liberal elements of the faculty.

Richie-baby, pick your poison!

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson, you claim that President Brodhead would benefit from having the case against the three LAX players go to trial, and you deduce from this that he is secretly hoping that the case goes to trial. I find your logic to be very strange and singularly unpersuasive. For example, the defense attorneys would also clearly benefit from having the case against the LAX players go to trial because they would then be able to continue billing their time out to the defendants at $300 an hour for several additional months. Should we deduce from this that the defense attorneys are secretly hoping that the case goes to trial? In a way, professor, you would also benefit from having the case against the LAX players go to trial because that would allow you to continue running this web site, receiving pats on the back from all the LAX team supporters for the great job you are doing, and enjoying your five minutes of fame. Should we deduce from this that you also secretly hope that the case goes to trial?

Dan said...

Brodhead and the University overreacted because (a) initially, the accusation was not taken seriously by the Durham authorities, so it was treated as such by Dean Sue and others; and (b) once Nifong became involved, it became a political football, B-head felt betrayed by his staff, and everyone (worldwide) projected their own worst fears (and in the case of 88-or-so people, their own wishful thinking) onto the case - especially after Nifong made this a case not about a physical assault, but instead, a struggle about race, gender, class, jocks vs. innocents, and gown vs. town

ed said...


@ 11:52

Professor Johnson, you claim that President Brodhead would benefit from having the case against the three LAX players go to trial, and you deduce from this that he is secretly hoping that the case goes to trial. ...

"Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad" - Mr. Spock

I include that quotation because quite frankly your statement has the logical relevance of a potato.

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.52:

Re the claim that Brodhead "is secretly hoping that the case goes to trial": I don't believe I ever used the word "secretly" or "hoping" in the post. I invite you to re-read the post to determine what I wrote.

As to my wishes: the underlying premise of virtually every post on this blog is that the case never should have been filed; and that its going to trial would be a travesty of justice. I have communicated this premise dozens of times. I invite you to reread any group of, say, 15 or 20 posts if they haven't been clear to you.

huesofblue said...

11:52, I disagree about the defense attorney's having the most to gain financially from a trial. Their reputations are strong enough that I suspect all of them have turned down a lot of work in the past 7 months. If the case were dismissed tomorrow they'd be sending someone else $300 an hour bills by the end of the week. Nevermind that they'd look brilliant in the process (when the DA wouldn't cooperate with them, they engineered a PR campaign that might see the DA booted out of office! It's amazing).

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter how much the attorneys of the falsely accused young men are getting paid. It doesn't matter if it its 10 milion dollars. When all is said and done, the city of Durham, Duke University, and press and talking heads that slandered these boys and put them and their families through a living hell will be the ones to pay. Nifong will probably shut down the strip club that Crystal works at, dig up some very old misdomeanor charges on the club owner, the bouncer and the other stripper who all have confirmed that Crystal was stripping and doing various other unseemly activities days after the false incident. Witness intimidation is Nifungus's MO.

Anonymous said...


The defense team has stated repeatedly that this is a travesty of justice and that no one should have ever been arrested. This is not a team that seems to be exploiting this case for financial gain. On the contrary, they seem to a fine, ethical group of lawyers doing everything possible to end this case in order for these men to resume their lives.
KC Johnson has also repeatedly made the argument this case should end. Consequently, I doubt seriously that he devotes hours/day researching a case, that he has no personal interest in, for his "five minutes of fame." He probably looks forward to returning to a normal life, but many appreciate the fine quality of his research. My guess is when he first began writing about this case, he never imagined he would be involved to this extent and on a daily basis. Who could have imagined the many layers of corruption that would be uncovered in Durham?
Brodhead is the one who said he looked forward to the players being "proven innocent." Frankly, I just will just never understand that comment. He refused to meet with the lax parents and as of today, still doesn't have contact with the three indicted players. That is simply unacceptable in my opinion. Next, surely you don't deny that the recent articles by the 88 are simply disgusting and show a level of hate for Duke students that is extremely alarming? After reading some of that junk, I am furious.
While I found even their initial remarks disgusting, after all that is now known, for them to still be writing that filth, proves this is about nothing more than pushing their own agendas. They should be fired, period.
I keep attempting to figure out your connection to the adminstration/faculty. I'm interested in this case because I am a Duke parent(not a lax parent) what exactly is your connection to the case? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

To Professor Johnson:

As usual, your response to my post is very disingenuous. In your article, you state that Brodhead would benefit from having the case go to trial, and you clearly imply that he therefore wants the case to go to trial, otherwise there would have been no reason for you to include this point in your article. You are obviously trying to take another cheap shot at Brodhead. The fact that you did not happen to use the words "secretly" or "hopes" is irrelevant.

Also, your statement that the premise of your posts is that the case never should have been filed misses the point. I am not suggesting that you really want the case to go to trial. I am simply pointing out that just because someone might derive a benefit from having the case go to trial does not necessarily mean that he wants the case to go to trial. In other words, your logic does not stand up to analysis.

To 12:19 PM:

Unless you serve as the financial advisor to all of the defense attorneys, you have no basis for saying that if the LAX case were to end tomorrow, the defense attorneys would immediately be able to bill all of their time to other clients. Also, even if they were able to bill their time to other clients, they would lose the ego gratification associated with having the national media hanging on their every word. Should we conclude from this that the defense attorneys want the case to go to trial? The truth is that this argument as applied to Brodhead is completely bogus and simply provides one more example of the biased, cheap shot nature of many of the articles and posts that appear on this web site.

Anonymous said...

When Brodhead does not want a trial, he makes it known.
Why did Brodhead write a letter to president of Armenia of all people, when Duke student was going to be put on trial in Armenia? Brodhead is not doing anything of the sort in this case.
In fact after two students were indicted, Brodhead said to the effect of that even if they did not do it, whatever they did is bad enough.

huesofblue said...


My basis is that I work at a law firm billing over $300 an hour; I have decent idea of how the legal market works. The lawyers hired in the Duke case were hired because they're the best criminal defense lawyers in the area. And when a lawyer is the best at what they do within a legal community, they don't struggle to find work. That's especially the case if you're coming off a clear victory (which a dismissal would be) in the highest profile case in the country.

So while I can't swear on a stack of bibles that they'd be able to find new clients, I'm pretty confident asserting it on the message board of a blog.

Anonymous said...

To 12:42 PM:

You are missing the point. I am not seriously suggesting that the defense attorneys or Professor Johnson want the case to go to trial. I am simply pointing out that just because someone might derive a benefit from having the case go to trial does not necessarily mean that he wants the case to go to trial. Thus, the suggestion in Professor Johnson's article that Brodhead wants the case to go to trial is nothing but a cheap shot that does not stand up to analysis.

In response to your other question, I too am the parent of a Duke student who is not a LAX player. I believe the LAX players are innocent of the charges that have been made against them, but I am deeply offended by the way in which Professor Johnson and the LAX team parents have been beating up on Brodhead. I believe that the LAX team parents are mad at Brodhead because he cancelled the LAX season which was going to be the big moment of glory for them and their sons, he refused to meet with them when they thought they were entitled to a meeting, and he has not spoken out aggressively on behalf of their sons. As a result, they have decided to seek revenge by posting anonymous negative comments about him on this web site, and Professor Johnson has decided to help them out because he has become friendly with some of them through his work on this case and they constantly stroke his ego by telling him what a great job he is doing.

I think the LAX players did a lot of damage to Duke through their irresponsible behavior, and I think their parents are doing a lot more damage to Duke by incessantly posting comments on this and other web sites that are designed to trash the university and trash Brodhead. As I have tried to point out in my posts, most of their criticisms, like the suggestion that Brodhead wants the case to go to trial, are nothing but cheap shots that have no basis in fact but simply reflect their fanatical and petty quest for revenge against a good and brilliant man who was put in an impossible position by the irresponsible behavior of their sons and who has refused to do their personal bidding in this case but has instead tried to do what be thought was in the overall best interests of the university. I really do wish that Brodhead would shut down the LAX program because clearly we and our children and the rest of the Duke community would be much better off without the LAX players and their parents.

Anonymous said...

1:43 PM, this is still pure speculation on your part. Also, the work they would go back to would be less interesting, and they would undoubtedly miss the media attention. This case is the high point of their professional lives, and I doubt that they are eager for it to end.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I need to respond to the illogical attacks on Professor Johnson and others from the angry poster. The entire premise of the post is illogical. The outrage has nothing to do with the misbehavior, or lack of it, on the part of one or more of the lacrosse players. Certainly, based upon publicly available information, Reade Seligmann is not culpable in any sense other than showing up for a party thrown by classmates. Dave Evans is obviously more culpable and his actions in arranging for a stripper are offensive to many reasonable people.

Yet, these students did not cause this situation anymore than a criminal defendant tortured by police (and that does happen) caused such torture. Our constitutional rights are nor forfeit because of our conduct.

To blame the lacrosse players as a group for this conduct reveals an even greater level of ignorance. While most prosecutors are quite ethical, across the country a substantial number (although a small percentage) engage in precisely this conduct on a regular basis. In almost all of those cases, the victim of the unconstitutional conduct is a person who has engaged in anti-social behavior that you would likely condemn. To thus condemn the lacrosee players as the "cause" suggests that any conduct that is anti-social or morally tainted opens the door to waiver of even more important rights. Let me see. . . would that mean, in your way of thinking, that a prostitue stripping for an athletic team "deserves" rape. Or, would it mean that a robber caught by the police could be tortured. Your position is just baseless.

As for the claim that the defense attorneys would benefit from a trial, you really do not know what you are talking about. To begin with, the pattern in most criminal cases of substance is that the defendants run out of resources in a long trial. The absolute worst thing for any criminal lawyer financially is to go to trial after trial. One reason plea bargaining is so prevelant is that it is in the defense attorneys interest not to go to trial.

True, in this case, the defendants have greater resources but the costs are still punishing and a large risk. By contrast, if Nifong actually withdrew the charges, these defense attorneys would have a lifetime reputation set in stone and in a state of North Carolina guaranteed high paying work the rest of their life. Want an example. Daniel Petrocelli did the OJ civil trial for free. He later joined a much larger firm and was last seen doing paying Enron work.

People like you just miss the whole point. I am against sexual assault, of course, and find the alcohol drenched campuses of today disturbing. But this unbelievable abuse of power which, even listening to Nifong himself is horrendous, should be profoundly disturbing to any thinking person who cares about our basic rights. That you cannot see that, says more about you than the people you see as fanatics.

Anonymous said...

To: 1:45 post. As a Professor Emeritus from a midwestern university, what particular offends me is the crass and unseemly behavior of the "88" faculty members at Duke and the President's public indifference to the reprehensible behavior of these "88. The players and their parents have been hung out to dry. This does not excuse the borish behavior of the players for hiring strippers, underage drinking etc. This does not mean that they should be charged with rape when no rape occurred.

Anonymous said...

1:45 - you state the parents and lax players brought this on themselves and that Brohead acted in the best interest of the University. Please explain to me why he stood by and did nothing when the "poster" were posted and when 88 members of the faculty spoke out against their own student body and continues to till this day. If your child was being singled out in class by his/or her professor for something that might have happened, would you be singing the same song? Time for you to look at your own logic and see if it stands up to your anaylsis?

Anonymous said...

There is a good editorial today in the Lumberton, NC newspaper, The Robesonian. Now if only the newspapers in Raleigh/Durham would follow suit!

Anonymous said...

"I really do wish that Brodhead would shut down the LAX program because clearly we and our children and the rest of the Duke community would be much better off without the LAX players and their parents."

Yeah, let's hold a group of college kids to a higher standard than the President and the faculty..

huesofblue said...


I totally agree that this is an exciting case. I find it fascinating enough as an outsider to have burned an amount of unbillable time that I shudder to think about. I don't doubt for a second that the lawyers enjoy the spotlight too.

But cases like this are also exhausting, with trial itself being the hardest part by far. The lawyers here are also talking with their clients on a regular basis, and will be very aware of the toll the case is taking on the accused and their family. I can't imagine they really want to see the seligman's sell their house and cash out their retirement just to get an additional 15 minutes of fame. If the lawyers got the case thrown out tommorrow, I think they'd be very happy.

Not to sound to cynical, but criminal defense attorney's don't usually get to represent people they think are innocent. On those rare occasions when they do, I think they really care a lot about seeing their client go free.

Anonymous said...

To anon 1:45 who claims to be a Duke parent that is offended by the attacks on Brodhead. I am also a Duke non lax parent, and I would submit you are either not what you say you are, or you are seriously out of touch with what happened on campus last spring.

Brodhead's decisions and actions were solely designed to "save face" for the University at the expense of student's rights, significant turmoil, and I would submit even danger on the campus. In the long run these actions will only hurt Duke as an institution.
First of all we have administration telling the lacrosse players not to tell their parents about what was going on, a move that clearly was designed to deprive the students of their proper rights to their own attorneys and representation. Then we have him refusing to meet with the parents and players. By the way before this happened, he did meet with the captains, who told him the truth about what happened, apologized for what they had done (the underage drinking etc.) and received assurances from him that if the DNA tests came back negative that the lacrosse season would resume. When the attorneys were hired and Mr. Nifong began spouting his inflammatory rhetoric, we heard nothing from administration... they were well aware that the captains had given statements and that there was no "wall of silence"

Then we had an atmosphere of intimidation on campus with the wanted poster, the potbangers marching, and lacrosse players that were mistreated by professors and other students. There was no place for them to turn for support.. the administration gave them none. Then there were threats about the New Black Panthers marching onto campus, possibly with weapons, to question the players. This was stopped, but only at the last moment.. initially they were told they would be allowed on campus IF they were peaceful... what a joke. And finally DPD investigators were given the OK to sneak into dorms and try to question students without their attorneys present... another obvious violation of their rights. Have you spoken to your son or daughter about these events, and what they thought about them?

I don't think that Brodhead did a good job at all. I may not be as harsh as KC, but I feel that he did not show leadership, he did not stand up for the rights of the students, and he was deathly afraid that the University would be accused of being a "white racist" institution, so he felt compelled to bend over backwards to try to not give any favor to his own students. His words spoke about innocence, but every statement he made dripped with the presumption of guilt.

Anonymous said...

2:05 PM, I think you are the one who misses the point. As I said in my prior post, I believe the LAX players are innocent of the charges that have been made against them. Although I did not expressly say so, I also believe that the DA is guilty of a massive breach of legal ethics, and I certainly would not attempt to argue that just because the LAX players had a party that blew up in their faces, they therefore deserve to be subjected to abuse by the police and the DA. However, I believe the LAX players, and in particular the captains of the team who organized the party, the guy who made the broom stick comment, the guy who shouted the racist epithets, and the guy who sent the disgusting email, bear a large measure of responsibility for creating this mess, and I believe that the attacks on Brodhead are basically just part of a vendetta by the LAX parents who are mad at him for the reasons set out in my prior post. I see nothing illogical in my position: the LAX players deserve much of the blame for creating this mess but they are not guilty of rape, (2) the DA is guilty of a massive breach of legal ethics and the LAX players did nothing to deserve the abuse they have been getting from him, and (3) the attacks on Brodhead are largely without merit and are just part of a vendetta the LAX parents have decided to pursue against him. As for my comment about scrapping the LAX program, I really had a much better opinion of the LAX players and their families and had no desire at all for Duke to scrap the program until I spent some time tuned into this web site. After a few weeks listening to the garbage that KC and the LAX team parents have been directing against Brodhead, I came to realize that their comments are not motivated by love for Duke or by a desire to insure that the university my child attends becomes the best that it can possibly be. Instead, their comments are motivated by a personal and fanatical desire for revenge. Once I realized this, I became very angry.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Hues of Blue. The fact is that most of the clients defense attorneys deal with are guilty. Mine were when I did it years ago. But if you are an ethical attorney you work hard for all of your clients and cannot help being pleased if you succeed; even when that means getting someone guilty off. When the rare, innocent client comes along--and they do once in awhile--the emotional strain is far greater. You know that you are fighting more than a purely technical battle and that a loss is a personal disgrace and a public injustice. I think there is even a risk that emotional concerns may impair the defense by getting in the way of cold, and effective, calculation. An innocent client is a nightmare. But it is wonderfully rewarding to win such a case. I am certain (absent racist jury nullification) that the LAX attorneys will win, hopefully without going to trial, and (though I am an agnostic) God bless their struggle. Looking beyond the victory, there should be painful retribution against Nifong and his lackey enablers: discipline, tort liability, and hopefully prosecution. Prosecutors can make honest mistakes and they should never be punished for a good faith prosecution of someone who turns out to be innocent. That is the worst nightmare of an ethical prosecutor. In this case, there is abundant evidence of scheming malice and not a scintilla of good faith. In this case, justice demands lawful revenge.

Anonymous said...

"For example, the defense attorneys would also clearly benefit from having the case against the LAX players go to trial because they would then be able to continue billing their time out to the defendants at $300 an hour for several additional months."

The firms, especially Cheshire's, that are involved in this case do not lack clients.

Even if you choose to believe that one of the top law firms in Durham lacks clients you should acknowledge that the attorneys would PREFER not to go to trial. There is a reason for this; by going to trial they could lose. Defense lawyers do not want to lose - it is far better to have the case dismissed. They are interested in building their reputations to increase billable hours. If they can do that they will hire additional lawyers - who are not partners - and reap the financial benefits.

If they went to trial and lost their standing would be diminished. They also would have to deal with DA Nifong (assuming he wins) which is a downer for present I would not choose any of the firm's involved if I wanted to plead out a case as Nifong viscerally dislikes them.

Anonymous said...

The counterargument to my post (above) is that if the defence went to trial and won their reputation would be boosted further. They are taking every action to prevent a trial from ocurring (as ethicaly required of them) and are likely risk adverse. You don't want to take something to trial that might be subject to reverse jury nullification.

In addition the firm could have a problem with *Durham* clients right now (note: they don't just practice in Durham and they don't all practice criminal law). They are actually a regional firm and Raleigh/Cary are more attractive financially than Durham.

By killing the case off and initiating a complaint to the Bar earlier the attorneys might regain their ability to negotiate pleas with a new DA. Trials last a long time.

The Dude said...

TO 1:04(and his/her other posts of which they have been numerous.

Do you ever have anything to say that you can back up with facts. Sock puppet that you are! You the hell are you to tell people they can't comment on a blog unless the are qualified in certain fields of expertise. You obviously have no expertise in anything. You haven't been answering any of the questions that were asked of you(prior threads and posts). Just an anonymous little twit who is responding when a nerve is hit. Have a great day and leave the discussion, good or bad, to those that are trying to discuss and learn something. You don't need it. You know EVERYTHING already!

Anonymous said...

Thought I'd also note something about Brodhead: he will be sacked if LAX negatively impacts alumni contributions - and alumni give Duke's response as a reason. Large planned donations that were cancelled would also have the same effect.

Duke needs continued increases in the endowment to maintain its 'ranking' - the endowment and alumi giving percentage are important calculations in the rankings.

I don't find Brodhead's reaction all that surprising and I imagine he is rather annoyed the LAX is 'distracting' from what he would 'like' to do - ie make his 'impact' felt on duke (instead of responding to complaints).

As for the party it was not some sort of an abberation. Hiring strippers at off campus parties is common (this wasn't technically 'off campus' because it was university owned property - which was bought to get rid of community complaints btw). The actual location, however, would be classified as 'off campus'.

Hiring strippers for a party is of questionable judgement. That doesn't mean that they 'asked' for this to happen or that it was necessarily wrong. Indeed, if it was wrong Duke would have taken enforcement action against those involved with other Duke parties that hired strippers. They didn't so obviously they didn't view it as violating university policies *then*.

Part of the reason such parties occur is that Duke lacks a proper Code of Conduct/Honor Code that forbids hiring strippers. I don't think they should; regulating off campus behavior is a little odd - if it is legal which hiring strippers happens to be. In contrast getting caught with drugs will subject you to Duke's honor code (caught off campus).

Same deal with most other private universities.

huesofblue said...

3:26 wrote

"Prosecutors can make honest mistakes and they should never be punished for a good faith prosecution of someone who turns out to be innocent. That is the worst nightmare of an ethical prosecutor."

I gave Nifong the benefit of the doubt for probably far too long based on that alone. Even when it looked liked the only thing he had was the AV's testimony, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when I thought he had looked into the AV's eyes, listened to her story from her own lips, and determined for himself that he believed something horrible had happened to this woman. To find out that he hadn't even done that was the last straw. I don't he gives a rats ass about whether or not these players are actually guilty. And that strikes me as the wort possible mindset a prosecutor could have.

HMan said...

To 2:05 pm
A basic mis-alignment has always existed beween how the defendants and their families see this case and how someone like Brodhead seems to see it. If you or your kid were starring at 30 years in prison; effectively ruining a life which otherwise held so much promise - because of false accusations pushed by the reptile Nifong - nothing much else would matter. You lose this, and it is all over. These parents are literally fighting for their kids lives and parents have been known to get fierce at such times. Brodhead has been in a fog of un-knowing about this. He seems to treat it as an abstraction to be balanced by a wise administration against other factors; for example Duke/Durham relations or the (supposed) issues with LAX team image.
That mis-alignment is not a small thing and it represents a huge failure of imagination and will on B-heads part. If your neighbor falls into a well, the right thing to do is run over a try to get a rope down. If, instead of doing that, you elocute on the persons past shortcomings, the role they played in falling in, the need for helping various others, etc. a serious mistake has been made because you will never be get along OK with them (or their survivors) again, ever. An innocent life is not to be balanced by abstractions, for many reasons, but one is that abstractions do not have long memories.
Duke took steps that directly increased the legal jeopardy of the LAX kids at a time when they were in extreme danger. Maybe Duke started off believing that Nifong was acting in good faith and so doing things like denying the team legal representation was a benign step. Maybe, but that was long ago.
Here is Brodheads dilemma: If he speaks out now about the DAs corrupt handling of this case he indicts his long, earlier silence and complicity. If he remains silent and waits on an obviously corrupt "system" to grind this out, he goes into the history books as a first example of moral cowardice.
And he did indeed bring this on himself. Months went by when a few words in public demanding proper proceedure for his own students would not have cost him so much. But not now.
Like I said, the train has left the station and LAX families are for sure going to hate him forever. And I do not blame them.

Not A Duke Parent or Alum said...

A short comment: I have no connection to Duke nor do I know anyone connected to the LAX team or their parents. For months I have been appalled by the travesity that is occuring in Durham and the lack of courage emmanating from Duke.

Kids acted stupidily and boorishly. That does not make them evil felons. However, those charged with being smarter, wiser and with better ethical compasses have acted horrendously. There is no comparision.

When I focus on the matter, I genrally am most appalled by Nifong, but there are so many others who have lacked the courage to do and say the right thing. At the top of that list is Brodhead. One can understand his initial concern and hesitancy. But as the facts emerged and as the behavior of his faculty emerged, especially the comments from the brain police 88, Brodhead's responsibility and duty was to exercise courage and he did not.

So we can debate whether he wants the trial to proceed or not, but that is an extrememly minor and ultimately irrelevant debate. The real issue is that he lacked courage and for that reason above all others Duke is tarnished.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please!

To the whiner shilling for Brodhead, get a grip! Nothing the lacrosse players did brought this on themselves. Yes, the party was a bad idea, yada, yada, yada, just like thousands of college and team parties, which have been going on for centuries, are bad ideas.

The major flaw in your reasoning is that you blame the boys for false accusations that were strictly initiated by and under the control of a weak woman who used rape accusations as a means of escaping commitment to a drug rehab that night, and then were picked up and run with by a loser DA desperate to get elected.

Ask yourself, quo bono? Who has benefited from the pursuit of this case? Nifong. How did he do that? He did it by riling up and pitting blacks against whites, have-nots against haves, and left-wing politically correct group thinkers against individual critical thinkers.

Which category of Nifong support group do you fall into that pits you against these boys?

Anonymous said...

To all those angry because someone is defending Brodhead:
I am also a Duke non-lax parent. I am not the person who has been defending Brodhead today, but I believe that poster makes some reasonable points. I don't agree with everything he/she said, nor do I completely share his/her harsh criticism of the players, but I too believe we are a little too quick to blame Brodhead for this whole mess, when there is a lot of blame to go around. The players DID make a big mistake. The fact that others have had strip parties doesn't matter. The group of 88 used this to serve their own, biased political view, and that is reprehensible. But the AV, Nifong and other investigators are the real villains--especially the DA, as it is HIS JOB to see that justice is served. Yes, in hindsight, knowing what we know now, the Duke administration could have reacted both more quickly and more conservatively. However, Duke has NO authority over the DA's office, and anyone who believes that Duke could have done anything to prevent the DA from using this as his personal "shining moment" is naive.

And to the 3:08 poster and those who think they know what all Duke parents are thinking--you certainly did not talk to the Duke parents I spoke with over the weekend. Everyone I talked to believes the boys are innocent, but I didn't hear anyone express the level of hatred of Brodhead that seems to appear on this site. In fact the people I talked to generally like Brodhead and feel he did a pretty good job (not perfect) considering everything that was happening. However, people I talked to do share a common concern that the university, through its policies, has encouraged a situation where parties are pushed off-campus and into the town, where they are likely to become rowdier and more dangerous in a number of respects.

I think everyone needs to focus on the real bad guys, because they are the only ones who have the power to correct this travesty.

Anonymous said...

Dude, it has been my experience that those who engage in the kind of juvenile name calling that you do are usually very shallow people with nothing of importance to say.

Anonymous said...

To the above poster;
There is no excuse for Brodhead's refusal to meet with the LAX parents. None.

There is no excuse for Brodhead's refusal to reach out to the LAX parents and the players in even an unofficial, behind-the-scenes-off-the-record-kind-of-way. None. (That's just not human, IMO.)

There is no excuse to apologize to ONE player (Sherwood) and not the others. None.

I don't think he is evil; maybe it's the Peter Principle at work here. But I do think Duke can do better. That's the question we should be asking ourselves. We can always do better.

A Non-Lax Duke Parent

Anonymous said...

I am anon 3:08.
You attributed some statements to me that I did not say. I under no circumstances blame Brodhead for this mess, nor have I ever stated that. Yes, Nifong and the false accuser should be the focus here, I agree with you. In addition I did not express hatred for Brodhead in my post. I do feel that he did a poor job in terms of leadership, as I said. I also feel that this lack of leadership resulted in quite a bit of chaos and commotion, and a feeling last spring that the campus was not safe. There was an atmosphere of intimidation and fear if you weren't on board with the group of 88 and the potbangers. I'm not sure if you were in touch with your son or daughter when the black panthers were threatening to walk on campus, but the students were emailing amongst themselves to stay in.. many were afraid. This should NEVER happen on a college campus.
My D was friendly with many of the athletes and lacrosse players, and she saw first hand how they were treated. They were singled out both in and out of class, insulted, and made to feel unsafe on campus. This also should NEVER happen on a college campus. So for these things I do blame Brodhead.
Duke is about excellence in athletics and academics. That is it's history and it's legacy. I'm not sure Brodhead understands that even now. Many of these professors are now trying to use what happened as an excuse to promote their political agenda, and they have been emboldened to speak out and suggest that maybe Duke should do away with student athletes. Well, that's not going to happen.. If you went to the Blue/White scrimmage Coach K gave a speech about Duke's legacy of excellence in sportsmanship, athletics, and academics. I think he did this to kind of say... in your face group of all you want but I have the power here, and sports are definitely not going away at Duke ever.

Anonymous said...

To 3:08..the only comment I intended to attribute to you was your comment that anon 1:45 was probably not a duke parent because he was out of touch with how things are/were down there. I am not anon 1:45, but I am a Duke parent. My son lived very, very close to the lax house. He is friends with many of the players. He had to deal with the pot-bangers, the drive-by threats, etc (which the lax players did not have to deal with because they had all moved out--moving was not an option for my son so he, and his housemates, had to deal with it all spring.) I feel very much in touch with what was going on last spring and what is going on now. I am sure the boys are innocent, and I blame Nifong for this terrible injustice (and the AV.) While I think, in hindsight, there are things the university could have done better, I do not detest the administration as most who post here seem to, and I try to put the admin's reaction in the context of the events at the time.

I think anon 1:45 makes some good points. And although his/her tone is somewhat antagonistic, it is no more so than all those who are now attacking him for daring to stand up for the university. I just think, if in fact anyone on this site wants a true discussion, that it would be good to try to actually consider another's point of view before condemning it.

kbp said...

Thanks KC, GREAT as always!

A couple things here. First, Your Comments page has become more time consuming to read than your posts, for obvious reasons. If it grows much more, it may need its own forum!

Last, don't you think it would show Ron Stephens the respect he is due if we just refer to him as "Ron Stephens". The title distorts the true image he is due.

Trinity'88 said...

For the people who are defending B-head: I'll give it to you that perhaps he responded (failed to respond) the best he could early in this case; especially given the outrageous comments made by the DA that he was so certain that a rape had in fact occurred that night. But how can you approve of his actions/inactions as time progressed and more information was revealed that clearly discredited the AV, the DA, investigators involved, etc. and gave the Duke LAX accused credible alibis? How can you be OK with a University President who does not protect the student's basic civil rights? The next time it could be your child who made a poor decision, but is charged with a false felony crime and railroaded by a DA seeking political gain. Would you be comfortable with B-head on the job then?

Anonymous said...

Brodhead arranged the situation such that the boys were told not to contact their parents or an attorney, yet the possibility of serious legal charges loomed early on.

Brodhead's step in this respect was inexcusable. The university should be sued for that and for allowing the police access to the boys while in their dorms after they were represented by lawyers.

The Duke administration has been wrong and has wronged these students right down the line from the very beginning.

The Dude said...

to 5:25

HIT ANOTHER NERVE HAVE WE! Please use use real purpose when you troll around the site(s). first you were a Duke parent. Now you are a Psychologist. Stuff it. Please stay somewhat on topic and PLEASE source your material.

Anonymous said...

To 5:50AM--I have not seen any evidence that "Brodhead arranged the situation such that the boys were told not to contact their parents or an attorney." I have read, although it seemed unsubstantiated, that Pressler, on orders from someone above him, told the players to keep it quiet, but nothing implicating Brodhead. And we know that in the first week Brodhead himself was not well-informed by his staff... Yes, I think that was wrong for anyone to advise minors not to tell their parents (or an attorney) of possible legal trouble. I would like that accusation substantiated (and not by an anonymous lax parent.) I would like to know exactly what was said,when, by whom and what their reason was. (i.e., did they say it the first day, thinking it would all blow over by the next...)

Brodhead's refusal to meet with the parents, while it seems troubling in hindsight, does not bother me so much when I think about the circumstances at the time. If it were my child, I would want to meet with someone with authority, but not necessarily the president. He had met with the captains, he was dealing with a media blitz the magnitude of which hasn't been seen very often anywhere, and he had a DA claiming that a rape had definitely occurred. What would that meeting have accomplished? The parents would have told him their sons were innocent (as the captains had already told him.) What else would have happened that couldn't happen with another administrative member (one who was not dealing with the press and the community all day.)

Anonymous said...

10:58 AM, I think you make some very good points. I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

12:39 AM, I do not think it is the job of a university president to defend students who have been charged with a felony. The LAX players are represented by an army of very capable and highly paid lawyers, including Bob Bennett, Joe Cheshire, Kirk Osborn, and several others, and it is their job to defend the players. People on this web site keep beating up on Brodhead for not joining the defense legal team, but it is not his job to serve as a member of the defense legal team. Furthermore, even if he did start speaking out on behalf of the players and critizing the DA, what would that accomplish? Does anyone seriously believe that Nifong would have dropped the case just because Brodhead went public with some negative comments? If not, then what difference does it make? There are plenty of negative comments coming from the defense lawyers. The main thing that would happen if Brodhead were to inject himself into the case is that he would alienate the entire black community in Durham, including the political leaders of Durham. I will let you guys figure out whether that would be in the best overall interests of the university. As far as I am concerned, the LAX players got themselves into this mess, and it is up to the LAX players to dig themselves out of it with the help of their attorneys. The LAX players put Brodhead in an impossible situation through their irresponsible behavior, and the LAX team parents have no right to criticize him for taking those steps which he believes are necessary to protect the best interests of the university as opposed to doing what they want him to do, which is to take the side of their sons, regardless of whether that is in the overall best interests of the university.

KC Johnson said...

To the 10.58am:

The issue about Brodhead's refusal to meet with the parents occurred on March 25. Nifong made his first public comments on March 27.

I've never claimed that Brodhead knew about the decision to tell the players not to hire attorneys at the time it was made; I suspect he didn't know of it, though, of course, we could only know for sure by obtaining access to internal Duke correspondence from the period. As the Bowen/Chambers report makes clear, the decisionmaking apparatus seems to have been confined to Wasiolek, Moneta, Trask, and perhaps Burness in the period between March 16 and March 23.

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.40:

My sense is that a university president has an obligation to ensure that local authorities use the same procedures when dealing with students of his or her institution as when dealing the residents of the city.

I'm unaware of any city in the country other than Durham where this isn't the case.

It certainly isn't Brodhead's fault that Nifong elected not to use the same procedures when dealing with students of Duke as when dealing the residents of Durham. But Brodhead's silence on these procedural matters represented an abdication of his proper duty as president.

I'm unaware of anyone on this site, or, indeed, of any public comment I've seen anywhere that has castigated Brodhead "for not joining the defense legal team," or who has suggested that such a move would have been appropriate for him.

Anonymous said...

KC--regarding your comments about my 10:58 post. I believe your assumptions about who gave directions to not tell anyone (Moneta, Wasiolek, etc) are probably correct. I realize you have never attributed that direction to Brodhead, but some posters have drawn that assumption. I suspect that the "don't tell" comment was made before anyone realized the seriousness of the situation, and during the time when they honestly thought it was going to blow over. They probably thought that, by not telling anyone, they were preventing the possibility that a "leak" would cause it to become a bigger deal. It certainly doesn't make me comfortable with them ever telling kids not to tell their parents, but there may have been some perceived logic at the time. Also there have been other problems with Moneta and Wasiolek and their inconsistent treatment of student groups that preceded Brodhead--in fact there was much concern (on the part of students)during the Keohane years. Moneta and Wasiolek were believed to be unfairly anti-fraternity, yet overly tolerant of bad behavior from athletes. All of this certainly contributed to the climate on March 13, and that climate existed when Brodhead arrived.

If Brodhead's refusal to meet with the parents came before Nifong's announcement, I am even less concerned. I don't think parents necessarily have a right to meet with the president (this isn't prep school) and, if it was before Nifong's announcement, the university was still in the "this will blow over" phase. The president has a lot to do every day--maybe he really was just extremely busy, he was told these charges would blow over, he HAD met with the captains, and other senior administrators were meeting with the parents.

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson,

As usual, I find your latest comments about President Brodhead to be extremely disingenuous. You say it is your sense that a university president has an obligation to ensure that local authorities give students at his university the same treatment that they give to residents of the city in which the university is located. Your choice of words here is extremely odd. What exactly do you mean when you say it is your sense that a university president has this obligation? I gather that what you mean is not that this is written down in the gospels somewhere but rather that this is merely your own personal opinion on the matter. However, your opinion on the matter does not mean a thing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that your opinion on this particular matter is one more great example of the biased, shallow, and one-dimensional analysis that permeates this web site.

In my opinion, a university president has an obligation to look out for the best interests of the university. In this case, the best interests of the university may not be identical to the best interests of the LAX players. For example, the LAX players and their parents might find it helpful if Brodhead were to speak out aggressively on behalf of the players and attack the DA for his procedural abuses, but this action might not be in the best interests of the university because it might serve to alienate the black community in Durham, including the political leaders in Durham, and this in turn might create all kinds of problems for the university down the road.

I think it takes a lot of gall for you and the LAX team parents to suggest that Brodhead has an obligation to speak out aggressively on behalf of the LAX players when doing so may not be in the best interests of the university, especially when you consider that it was the LAX players who created this mess and put Brodhead in this extremely awkward position in the first place. As I said, professor, this is nothing but a biased, shallow, and one-dimensional analysis of the situation which is being put out there by you and the LAX team parents not because it is the best thing for Duke but simply because it serves your agenda of helping out the LAX players and tearing down Brodhead. In the future, I would suggest that you stop pontificating about what obligations Brodhead does or does not have because it is clear to me that you do not have the slightest clue what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

Professor, in your article, you state that a trial might soften increasing criticism from Duke alumni about the manner in which Brodhead has handled the LAX case. Do you have any evidence to support your statement that there is increasing criticism from Duke alumni regarding Brodhead? For example, have you contacted the tens of thousands of Duke alumni around the world and concluded that there is in fact a trend of increasing criticism? Or did you just make this up because you wanted to take another cheap shot at Brodhead and pander to your audience of LAX team parents?