Thursday, November 23, 2006

Questions and Answers, III

It’s been more than three weeks since the last Q+A post, and it seemed an appropriate time for another. Since August 28, the blog has received over 255,000 unique visitors, with just more than 460,000 page views. It now has received visitors from 94 countries, with new additions including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Luxembourg, Moldova, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, and Djibouti.

Q: KC, I am wondering what your professional opinion is. I believe I read somewhere that there is factual evidence that not all lacrosse players were at the party. If that scenario is true, would it be possible for the lacrosse players who were in the lineup photos and not at the party be considered fillers?

A: There were, to my knowledge, three lacrosse players who could prove they weren’t at the party. For three principal reasons, they would not be considered fillers:

  • On March 31, when Nifong ordered the police to confine the lineup to lacrosse players, he had no firm information on which players were and were not at the party; he publicly stated, in fact, that all 46 were suspects. (In his capacity as lead investigator, Nifong ordered two non-lacrosse players he knew attended the party to be excluded from the lineup, presumably because in his capacity as police department spokesperson, he had failed to mention them in his public remarks about the case.) Durham General Order 4077 required police to have supplied five fillers for each suspect—or, 230 fillers, in 46 separate arrays. If lead investigator Nifong had wanted a narrower photo array, he should have asked the police to actually do some investigating before moving on to a “multiple choice” lineup.
  • Filler photos are supposed to consist of people wholly uninvolved in the investigation that bear some physical resemblance to the suspects—i.e., other white college athletes, perhaps lacrosse players at UNC or Virginia; or wrestlers at Columbia; or even baseball players at Duke. This requirement explains why even the first photo lineup (March 16/21) was procedurally suspect: it should have consisted of the six suspects at the time (lacrosse players named Adam, Brett, or Matt, plus Dave Evans and Dan Flannery) plus thirty non-Duke lacrosse players. Ironically, this procedural error is a boon for the defense, since it opened the door to the accuser saying, two days after the event, that she was only 70% certain that she even saw Reade Seligmann at the party, only to be 100% certain 19 days later that he looked like a person who allegedly assaulted her. As an expert in lineup ID processes, Iowa State University professor Gary Wells, noted, “Memory doesnt get better with time. Thats one of the things we know. How does she get more positive with time?
  • If the accuser had chosen, say, Brad Ross—the only player she twice stated she was 100% sure of seeing at the party, who in fact wasn’t even in Durham that night—there’s no reason to believe Nifong wouldn’t have sought and maintained an indictment against Ross despite this evidence. After all, he didn’t consider Seligmann on videotape someplace else at the time of the alleged attack to be grounds for dismissing the allegations against Seligmann.

One final point on this issue: the policy mandates a specific number of fillersfive per suspect. So even interpreting this issue in a light wholly favorable to Nifong and listing as fillers the three players who could prove they didn’t attend the party at any point when the accuser was present, the ratio would not be the required 5:1 but instead .07:1.

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Q: If Nifong has such a strong case, why doesn’t he turn it over to a special prosecutor? That way, he and the community get their trial, and the lax supporters get their wish to see the “evidence” independently reviewed.

A: An excellent question. We know, of course, why the “minister of justice” has refused this option: a special prosecutor would obtain access to his entire case file, and would be ethically bound to file a complaint against Nifong to the state bar if the fileas is very likelyrevealed procedural violations. Moreover, a special prosecutor would have the right to recommend criminal charges against Nifong or Sgt. Mark Gottlieb.

Nifong enablers, on the other hand, have never provided a convincing answer to this question. Over the last several months, Nifong has shown himself to be a figure of dubious competence. That 51% of Durham voters cast ballots to recall him earlier this month suggests a majority of the potential jury pool they doesn’t believe a word he says about the case.

Those who fashion themselves as advocates for the accuser, therefore, should be eager for a special prosecutor to be appointed, allowing someone more competent and less personally polarizing to handle the case.

That, to my knowledge, none have advocated this proposal suggests that, whatever motivates the NAACP, or Nifong’s allies in the media, or a segment of the Duke faculty, or people like Harris Johnson, Greg Childress, and Chan Hall, seeking “justice” for the accuser isn’t high on their lists.

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Q: Do you seriously believe that Brodhead has the power to stop Nifong from pursuing his case against the LAX players?

A: I do not so believe. I do believe that Brodhead did—and does—have the obligation, as president of Duke University, to publicly demand that Durham authorities treat Duke students according to the same procedures granted to every other resident of Durham. To date, Brodhead has refused to take such a stance, suggesting that he accepts the city’s “separate-but-equal” policy toward his own institution’s students.

In the long term, it seems to me this passivity will be extraordinarily damaging to Duke’s ability to recruit top-flight students. I would imagine that parents considering sending their sons or daughters to Duke (especially sons) would have to think long and hard about whether they are willing to risk their children to an academic environment dominated by the Group of 88 and a legal environment characterized by the “separate-but-equal” system constructed by Nifong.

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Q: Did some of the Group of 88’s ads and statements venture from fair criticism into slander and/or libel of the three indicted and the 40-odd unindicted?

A: The Group of 88’s statement and subsequent actions, coupled with the Brodhead administration’s refusal to challenge (to borrow a phrase) the faculty’s “highly unacceptable behavior,” should give any parent great pause about sending their child to Duke under current conditions.

As to the question of legal liability: the Group of 88’s statement betrayed the signatories’ responsibilities as faculty members and was one of the most disreputable acts that I have witnessed in my 13 years as a college professor. While academic freedom gives faculty members a right to operate in a contemptible fashion if they so choose, the question is whether any or all of the Group’s actions crossed the line from contemptible to something actionable.

The clearest case is Peter Wood, who appears to have slandered Reade Seligmann and also made highly negative public comments about other lacrosse players for which the Coleman Committee found no corroboration. That Duke would have nonetheless installed Wood as chair of the athletics subgroup of the Campus Culture Initiative is nothing short of astonishing.

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Q: KC, I have a question. During the time you have been operating this web site, have you ever received any financial support either directly or indirectly from any current or former Duke LAX player, any member of the family or other relative of any LAX player, any other person who you have reason to believe is a supporter of the LAX players, or any attorney or law firm representing any of the indicted or unindicted LAX players? Also, have you received any nonfinancial assistance or advice or have you discussed strategy or worked in a coordinated manner with Bob Bennett or his law firm, or any other lawyer, law firm, or public relations consultant working on behalf of the LAX players or their families? Just curious.

A: These questions have a tone somewhat resembling, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” I am, however, happy to answer them.

Question Set One: I have received no financial support of any form, from any source, for my work on this case. The site is hosted on a free service (blogger.com), using my personal internet connection and computer. All work is, and has been, done by me. All time spent has been my own. All incidental expenses related to my posts, totaling several hundred dollars since the case began, have come from my personal checking account.

Question Set Two: My interest began when the Group of 88 issued its statement on April 6. As of that date, I had no connections to Duke and knew no members of the team or their families. At the time, I considered the statement a betrayal of the signatories’ duties as professors; I feel even more strongly on the issue now. Of course, as the extent of Nifong’s misconduct became apparent, my interest and involvement expanded as well.

As someone who has followed this case extremely closely, I have detected no role at all by Bob Bennett or his law firm; I have never spoken with him or with anyone representing his firm. I have never spoken with any public relations consultant working on behalf of anyone. Like everyone else seriously covering the case, I would have been derelict not to have asked questions both of defense lawyers and of Nifong’s office, and I have done so; since July, however, attorneys on both sides have operated under the restrictions imposed by the gag order.

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Q (via e-mail): This link describes the role of Mike Nifong’s staff members. As you can see, Linwood Wilson is listed as a “Worthless Check Program Coordinator.” If his role is to track down people who write bad checks, why is he the lead investigator in a high profile rape case?

(Here is a definition of the Worthless Check Program I found online: “The Worthless Check Program is a service of the District Attorney’s office in some counties. It allows people who have written checks that have been returned with insufficient funds to pay off those checks and any other fees that go along with them before anyone files a criminal process.”)

A: I have heard that Wilson has been promoted, to “chief investigator,” a position apparently unfilled in the D.A.’s office for several years.

It’s hard to imagine what he has done in this case to merit promotion: Wilson doesn’t exactly project an image of competence. His highest profile moment in the case came when he shouted down defense attorney Joseph Cheshire on the courthouse steps, claiming that he had read the discovery file and that, contrary to defense suggestions, the accuser had never changed her story.

The next day, Cheshire faxed a report to local news sources, with a copy of a police report handed over to the defense the previous day showing that the accuser had told one of the first police officers to interview her that five, not three, people raped her.

Wilson also had some other memorable actions in the case: he discovered Elmostafa’s 2.5-year old misdemeanor warrant, but never discovered the accuser’s previous filing of a three-man gang rape—a combination that provided a sense of his priorities. But I suppose that’s what we should expect when a district attorney hands over a criminal investigation to someone who was hired to track down bounced checks.

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Q: Is there any consequence for the attorney general of North Carolina for failing to exercise his duties in this case?

A: In a word, no. North Carolina law, ignoring the recommendations of the American Bar Association, contains no provision for a state attorney general (or governor) to act in the interests of justice and remove a rogue district attorney. Only the district attorney himself or herself can request appointment of a special prosecutor: obviously, that would never occur in this case, since a special prosecutor would obtain access to Nifong’s files, opening up the possibility of charges being filed against Nifong himself.

That said, nothing has prevented Roy Cooper—or Governor Mike Easley—from publicly disassociating themselves from the Nifong Rules. As they have elected not to do so means, I think it’s not unreasonable for observers to conclude that the two men are satisfied with Mike Nifong providing the image to the nation of how justice in North Carolina operates.

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Q: KC-Going way off the subject here, but sometimes we need to be lightened up, so here is my question. Are you an everyday bow-tie guy or is that just in the picture? Just curious. Paul Simon would be proud! :)

A: Although the two issues are unrelated (except perhaps subliminally?), I was a strong supporter of Paul Simon’s 1988 presidential campaign; and yes, I’m an everyday bow-tie guy . . .

Thank you for the questions; I will do another Q+A post as appropriate. In the meantime, the bow-tied staff of this blog extends warm holiday greetings.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a note to says thanks for all your terrific work, KC. Cooper and Easley should be ashamed. Surely they can't be proud of Nifong.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving KC and thank you for all you do.

Anonymous said...

A Happy Turkey Day from me too, K.C.
Texas Mom

bill anderson said...

This was very enlightening, and it answers important questions about the lineup -- and the criminal nature of this whole sham investigation and upcoming (I hope not) trial.

As for Childress' "not such a big deal" comment, it tells me everything I need to know about the mentality in Durham. We have a dishonest case, bogus indictments, and a lynch mob mentality, and it happens in broad daylight.

I have never seen such a combination of bad actors in my life, from rogue faculty and administration members to rogue police to rogue "journalists" to a rogue DA. The damage done here is immeasurable, and in the long run, it will not be only the lacrosse families who pay. This will damage Duke University for years to come -- no matter what a PR firm might tell us.

K.C., thank you for all of the work you have done.

Thomas said...

Every time I come here to read this site I learn something new about this case. I can't thank you enough for your work on this.

I do have a question that I'm hoping you might consider for your next round of question/answer:

Do you think the Gang of 88 and Nifong /Gottlieb's actions are a result of their personal lack of maturity/integrity or do you think that they are reflecting a more global problem (misandry?) that could be replicated in any college town across the country?

Giving away my own bias ;>).....Are you familiar with the writing of Nathanson and Young from McGill University? "Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture" and "Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men"? I think these two books offer a good groundwork in understanding the dynamics that lie beneath the Duke Lax mess.

Anonymous said...

To KC Johnson,
Thank you for your amazing work in exploring every aspect of this case and illuminating for the world the sad realities of what must be one of the strangest cases in modern US history. Your patience and persistance (and that of the folks at Liestoppers) in educating yourself and the rest of us has been dazzling. The mainstream media have so poorly covered (1) Mr. Nifong and the DPD's breathtaking, unchecked misconduct, (2) Duke's response (morally indefensible and instructive for any school administration), and (3) the facts of the medical evidence that initially sounded so troubling, I do not wonder that many people have not yet risen above their own prejudices and separated truth from lies or logical reasoning from emotion laden agendas. From all of us out here trying to make any sense of this case, we are thankful for you.

Anonymous said...

K.C. you have a happy thanksgiving.

This case is never going to go to trial. Whats also sad about this case is the wasted time and money put into this hoax that could of been put to better use. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving KC--so many of us are thankful for your devotion to exposing all that is wrong with this case, and your determination to see that justice is achieved for these young men.

Anonymous said...

This quote summarizes why I have been and continue to be interested in following the Duke Hoax.

"From all of us out here trying to make any sense of this case, we are thankful for you.
8:41 AM"

Everything I have ever believed about the laws of our nation, everything I have ever believed about academia, everything I have ever believed about race relations and our common humanity, has been challenged ever more deeply by the unfolding information about this Hoax.

I cannot "make sense" of this case- it goes against every fiber of my being. I believe that somehow, with K.C., Liestoppers, JinC, NDlax, and all the bloggers who are here, Collin, Reade and Dave will be exonerated- but the cost is high, and it has been so very unneccessary. The "good men" are not remaining silent. Heaven knows what would have happened if it were not for the likes of K.C.
Texas Mom

Anonymous said...

On a day we all pause to give thanks, my deep thanks to you, KC. If all things happen for a reason, perhaps some small reason for your courageous tenure fight was to prepare you for this courageous battle-not to put too teleological a point forth. Thanks KC for your courage, wisdom and tenacity.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving! It's interesting to know what prompted those of us not directly involved with Duke to take an interest in this case. For me, it was the day the captains issued a statement apoligizing for the shame they caused themselves, Duke, and their families. It didn't sound like the statement of some guys who would violently attack a woman. It made me pause and think; wonder if they DIDN'T do it. As I continued to follow the case, I was drawn in by the fools that surronded the boys and took advantage of them at every opportunity.

NDLax84 said...

I’m an everyday bow-tie guy . . .

Fag.

;^P

Happy Thanksgiving, KC!

bill anderson said...

K.C., Don't be fooled. I guarantee that Mike is wearing clip-on bow ties! Anyone who would challenge the world's most ethical DA (Michael Liefong) cannot know how to tie a bow tie!

But Happy Thanksgiving to Mike, anyway, and may the Giants get back on track.

Anonymous said...

Chicago wishes KC a Happy Thanksgiving and gives KC special thanks for answering my bow-tie question. Please know the question was in mere curiousity and in no way malicious. I am very thankful for the coverage you are giving this case and I too like the bow-tie.

bill anderson said...

I would concur with K.C. that what the Duke Gang of 88 has done is the most disgraceful thing that has happened in this whole unhappy affair. Unlike Nifong, who apparently loves the challenge to "win" and needed this case for his own political future, or even the black community of Durham which is seeking revenge against past injustices, the Duke faculty has nothing but pure hatred of people who apparently do not fit the image of what they believe a Duke student should be.

Furthermore, I doubt there is one member of the Duke University faculty who actually believes that anyone of the Duke 3 raped the accuser, yet we see large and vocal portions of that faculty demanding that the young men be put on trial.

Do not believe this notion that a trial will help them "prove their innocence." Individuals are placed on trial because they are charged with crimes. In a reality-based world, (1) a real crime first must be committed, and (2) we have to know if the person or persons in the dock are the ones who committed said crime.

In this case, neither condition is met. Yet, we see the Duke administration and faculty still demanding that people that they KNOW did not commit crimes go on trial for their very freedom.

If this does not tell you that the people in charge of Duke University have no interest in the students other than grabbing high-priced tuition out of them, then nothing will. Yes, there are good faculty members and coaches -- and others -- at Duke. But they apparently are in a minority, or their voices have been drowned out by the pot bangers.

I realize that there are loyal Duke people out there who are defending the university, or saying that we are dealing with a "few bad apples" in the administration and faculty. I think that what is happening at Duke has been coming for a long time. The hard left has taken over literally ALL of the elite universities, and it was only a matter of time before they were going to demand political show trials of people who do not fit the leftist mold.

Had a contingent of Duke faculty members (more than the few who have emailed me) stood up and shouted, "Enough," then perhaps I would have a different view of the place. That nearly everyone has been quiet tells me either that they don't care or that the hard left is so powerful and influential at Duke that they dare not publicly contradict them.

In other words, this sort of thing could happen again and again at Duke. That is what is most frightening -- and depressing -- to me.

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving, KC!!! Thanks for all your great work on the case!!

P.S. I like the bow-ties.

bill anderson said...

If I see anyone of the Evil Gang of 88 wearing bow ties, I might have to re-think my own practice of wearing them....

Nah, those guys would be wearing clip-ons!

sceptical said...

Thank you for your efforts to shine some light on this case. The truth will eventually prevail. Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

To your point about the photos and the attendees of the party. There were many students at the party who were NOT members of the lacrosse team. None of them have been contacted, and for obvious reasons they have not come forward. I heard this from my son the night after the party. He's at Duke obviously. So if this goes to trial they may show up and ask why weren't we in the line up, etc. Nifungu is an idiot. It won't be keystone cops anymore, it will be nifungu cops.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KC Johnson said...

My email address is kcjohnson9@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

BA,

can we dispense with the "evil" adjective--it's got a low iq connotation, sort of like trying to impress someone at a party with your knowledge of toni morrison novels

Anonymous said...

kc, do we need posts by morons re "lamest college presidents"?

why not reprint something worth reading--like charles murray's brilliant essay, "the inequality taboo"?

KC Johnson said...

Evil, I agree, is not a great adjective to use.

It is applicable, in my opinion, to Nifong--since there's every reason to believe that he was fully conscious of what he was doing. I don't think it's applicable to any of the other actors in this case.

Anonymous said...

if u want to call him names, why not use one that will really piss him off?

some suggestions:

tubby mediocrity
out-of-shape incompetent
ass-kissing panderer
future convicted felon
founding partner, Shyster, Pettifogger & Phelon
Porky

well, u get the picture

Anonymous said...

I like Porky!!!!!!!!!!

Go, Porky, get dem damn lacrosse players, you fat pig!

bill anderson said...

Well, then I will use Gang of 88. I will dispense with "evil," although I do so with heavy heart....

bill anderson said...

Of course, there is "diabolical," or maybe "satanic." So many adjectives, so many people....

Anonymous said...

KC,
I feel your answer regarding possible contacts/financial incentives was disingenuous.
Could you please answer :have you had any contact with the LAX-ERS attorneys,including but not limited to,hand signals,Morse code,loud sounds or the absence of same in a repetitive pattern,Mayflies or voices emanating(supposedly) from thin air.
And could you explain the large deposit of pre war Polish Zlotys you've recently claimed.No answer?
Now,I want to be a little more serious.AJ Cronin was a mid 20 th century English doctor and author.I think he mainly wrote mysteries, but am not sure.My mother had a copy of "Beyond This Place" about a young man who becomes convinced his father was convicted wrongly,and knowingly so by an ambitious prosecutor.Towards the end of the novel,where it's increasingly clear the prosecutor manipulated the case,his wife asks words to the effect of "How could you do this?"He replies,"My job is to convict people."Her rebuttal is,"No it isn't.It's to see justice is done."
I think I will try to find a copy of the book and send the page to Mr. Nifong.

Anonymous said...

i do not see why you guys waste so much time on side issues like the duke 88 and pres. brodhead. specifically, kc and bill anderson are leading a jihad againist brodhead and the duke 88. let me state some facts:

1.the duke 88 have a right to free speech and unlike kc and anderson's asses actually taught some of the lacrosee assholes and know them personally unlike kc and anderson


2.the duke 88 are tenured teachers at duke and are of a higher academic quality than kc and anderson

3.pres.brodhead is a man of honor trying to save duke when it was in a firestorm of bad publicity and he is to be respected and not vilified by kc johnson, who is following the agenda of the duke lax parents who want brodhead to apoplgise to the hideously behaved offspring that they raised who dishonored duke with an all day drinking party that their coach warned them not to have and having underage players at said party, providing x rated sex show at said party and allegedly taunting the women with racial insults and allegedly assaulting one of them. brodhead had no choice but to take the actions that he has. the duke lax players were wrong then and have been wrong for a very long time and their behavior was not corrected and this current trial is the result. kc and bill anderson want to make this a vendetta againist brodhead and the duke 88 but that is a side issue to everyone except the duke lax parents.