One attorney initially involved in the lacrosse case, Butch Williams, currently represents Roy Bodden in a murder trial. In pre-trial actions, prosecutor Tracey Cline attempted to introduce a 911 call reporting the shooting, in which the victim allegedly identified Bodden. Williams protested, citing the recording’s poor quality; and Judge Ripley Rand found it “difficult to believe” that all 911 tapes in
We needn’t worry about this issue complicating the lacrosse case: Mike Nifong appears disinterested in using contemporaneous audio evidence. Despite defense requests for their preservation, the district attorney and (after March 24) supervising investigator allowed police to destroy the recordings of the initial police calls identifying the accuser as “passed out drunk.”
Why confuse the jury with facts, when case strategy is based instead on an appeal to prejudice?
In recent months, NCCU law professor Irving Joyner, designated by the state NAACP to “monitor” the case, has emerged as a forceful, eloquent advocate for the prosecution. He declared, “This case originated in
Yet Joyner wasn’t always so blasé about civil liberties or the rights of the accused, even in cases where he had no legal involvement. In
Joyner’s NCCU colleagues, silent on the issue of police misconduct in the Gottlieb report or the “separate-but-equal” policy of disproportionately meting out punishment to Duke students, seem to care more about the matter when it hits closer to home, even when the “misconduct” appears trivial or non-existent.
Janice Dargan, an adjunct in the NCCU English Department, was recently ticketed by Officer T.D. Hart, who claimed that she hit the automobile behind her when she tried to park her car. Dargan told the officer that she was late for a class, and asked him to resolve the matter during her office hours. He agreed to do so.
Dargan’s response? To publicly castigate Hart for allegedly speaking to her in a “rough” fashion. “They need to understand the unique environment of a college campus,” said the NCCU adjunct. “Officers should use a little more discretion in the way they operate.”
Three recent Herald-Sun articles provided unintentional insight into the flawed workings of the
1.) In an article that could have been subtitled “Gangs? No Problem!,” the department revealed its solution to the city’s gang problem: use cooked statistics. The city council authorized $60,000 for a study asserting that the police department’s estimates of gang membership are more reliable than the (inconveniently higher) estimates of both the county sheriff’s office and the state. And, for good measure, the study called for funding a gang prosecutor’s position in Mike Nifong’s office from state rather than
2.) City Manager Patrick Baker announced that he wants to have a new police chief in place by the end of August—a timetable that will allow the current chief, Steven Chalmers, four months on the city’s payroll with nothing to do. Baker said that Chalmers could be moved to his office, to handle a “special project,” or could use up accumulated vacation time. (Since Chalmers was out of sight for months at a time earlier this year, allegedly tending to an ill mother, it’s remarkable he has any vacation time remaining.) Baker didn’t say why the city even needs a police chief, given that Nifong appears to believe that he can usurp the role whenever it’s politically convenient to do so.
3.) A December 7 article that has since vanished from the H-S website discussed the City Council debating the DPD’s plans to build a pricey new headquarters and to reduce the number of substations from five to two. Part of the justification: the excessive cost of leasing the buildings that house the current substations. Mayor Bill Bell expressed skepticism about the proposal.
For Gustafson, though, Steel’s hypocrisy especially sticks out. “I’m sorry,” he asks,
Is this the *same* Chairman Steel who said [to rationalize canceling the lacrosse season], “We had to stop those pictures,” and, “It doesn’t mean that it’s fair, but we had to stop it. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think it was right—it just had to be done” in the New Yorker not three months ago? Well, sir, now the pictures are of a Chairman of the Board of Trustees who must recuse himself from financial decisions, and of an Undersecretary of the Treasury that has watchdog organizations questioning if it is possible to perform that job ethically while continuing the leadership role of the Board.
To re-cast your own words—“You have to stop those pictures. It doesn’t mean that it’s fair, but you have to stop it... It just has to be done.” Duke needs a leader of the Board of Trustees that can be fully engaged in *all* aspects of the University, and the Treasury needs a person at Domestic Finance in whom the country can place its complete trust.
This is not the time for Duke to have a leader who must walk on eggshells to avoid any sense of conflict of interest. If, for example, Duke wants to oppose the City of
Durhamregarding rezoning, or rebuilding Central Campus—we now have a Chairman who must either remain silent or face headlines the next morning, “Federal Official Applies Pressure to - Uses Leverage to Promote Duke.” Durham
And, heaven forbid anyone decides to look into the claims of prosecutorial misconduct in the lacrosse case or Duke-Durham relations with respect to allegations of improper behavior by the Durham Police Department. Though, I suppose that’s not really going to happen. Maybe in the next round of committees, we can create an “Off-Campus Culture Initiative.”
A thoughtful commenter on the Liestoppers board, by the way, took issue with critiquing Steel’s conflict-of-interest difficulties, arguing that he didn’t see that Steel “has done anything legally, morally or ethically wrong. He’s doing what virtually every person confronted with that situation does.”
Not exactly, as the various good-government groups pointed out. The primary task of a Trustee is to tend to an institution’s fiduciary responsibilities—and even more so, the chairman of the BOT. The primary task of the undersecretary of the Treasury in charge of domestic finance is, the Washington Post noted, to “oversee the nation’s multi-trillion-dollar financial markets.”
As a conflict inherently exists between these two positions, Steel’s response has been to say that he’ll recuse himself from his Duke obligations. The result for Duke: it now has a BOT chairman who can’t do a major component of the job, and whose sole rationale for remaining appears to be to prop up the Brodhead regime.
The Liestoppers board also quotes an advertising brochure sent to high school seniors interested in Duke, which I reproduce in its entirety, with links added:
are intertwined. When you’re part of one, you’re part of the other. Faculty members and their families live near freshman residence halls and in neighborhoods close to campus, where there’s a lively mix of native Durham North Caroliniansand international researchers, grassroots activists and Research Triangle professionals. Life here is part cosmopolitan, part small town . . .
We know the decision about where you spend the next few years is a big one. As you consider all of the factors, let us tell you why more that 210,000 people are proud to live in Duke’s home city of Durham, North Carolina. It’s not just the good weather!
Many Duke students enjoy working with kids in all grades of
’s public schools. Our engineering students partner with local contractors to design and build playgrounds and parks. [These activities, as we’ve seen, produced generous responses from the “community.”] And local political figures lecture in public policy classes. Durham
Chances are you’ll find these and other new, creative ways to link your knowledge and interests to those of your neighbors.
Our special community is filled with civic-minded individuals who feel passionately about Durham. We all work together to enhance the safety and welfare of our residents, students and visitors.
Come experience Duke in
for yourselves. It’s where great things happen! Durham
/s/ Richard H. Brodhead /s/ William V. Bell
President of Duke University Mayor of
In fairness to Duke, I’m sure that many prospective parents—for very legitimate reasons—worry about sending their sons or daughters to Duke right now, given the behavior that we’ve all seen of
Former NBA player Charles Barkley, of all people, delivered a stinging rebuke to Nifong enablers who want to use the justice system to address real or perceived racial wrongs. The O.J. Simpson case “and the Duke Lacrosse scandal,” said Sir Charles,
show you that we have a racial divide in this country, because it’s just really about being right or wrong. I, personally, think O.J.’s guilty. When the Duke Lacrosse thing happened you saw people taking sides. I’m like, well I don’t have an opinion, I don’t know any evidence and now that I’ve seen evidence I don’t believe anything happened.
When Charles Barkley is offering more perceptive commentary on criminal justice than the New York Times, we have truly entered Wonderland.