Liestoppers yesterday broke the news that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has endorsed calls for a Justice Department inquiry into Mike Nifong’s misconduct. In a letter to a constituent, the
Compare Obama’s approach to the case with that of his two main rivals for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
Then there’s John Edwards. Amidst a high-profile case of prosecutorial misconduct that effectively defined North Carolina justice for the nation, Edwards first remained silent, then hired as his chief blogger Amanda Marcotte, and then declined to fire Marcotte even after her indefensible remarks about the case went public. (Marcotte eventually resigned from the campaign.)
It’s not difficult to see which of the three candidates has been on the right side of the case.
Speaking of the Justice Department, other
The bill is actually far too mild: it gives the governor authority to suspend a district attorney if and only if the Bar both moved to have a disciplinary hearing and asked the governor to suspend the D.A.
Such a scenario, it would seem, rarely if ever would occur: most D.A.’s would have enough respect for the law to request a leave of absence if they were charged by the bar with multiple ethics violations, breaking three state laws, and violating the U.S. Constitution. The state does need, it would seem, some more flexible check on what is now the all-but-unlimited authority of local chief prosecutors.
Nonetheless, North Carolina DA’s, who were slow to move against Nifong (though, on December 29, they did so), strongly protested the measure. In an interview with Herald-Sun reporter Ray Gronberg,
Such cautions are well-taken. Yet the DA's position would be considerably stronger if they recommended an alternative. The state should have had some mechanism in place to remove Nifong once it became clear—by early May, certainly—that he was prosecuting the case in a highly unethical manner.
Yesterday’s posting of the police photo of the accuser, taken on March 16, 2006, gave the lie to the claims by the accuser’s father, Travis Mangum, that his daughter had swollen eyes following the “attack.”
It’s worth raising the photo in another case of journalistic malpractice—the August 25 Wilson/Glater article in the New York Times. Upon, they claimed, reviewing the entire discovery file then available (more than 1800 pages), Wilson and Glater wrote,
But in addition to the nurse’s oral description of injuries consistent with the allegation, Sergeant Gottlieb writes that the accuser appeared to be in extreme pain when he interviewed her two and a half days after the incident, and that signs of bruises emerged then as well . . . During that [March 16] interview, the woman, who is dark skinned, said bruises were beginning to show from the attack. A female officer took photographs and confirmed that “she had the onset of new bruises present,” Sergeant Gottlieb wrote. (The female officer’s report does not mention bruises.)
Did Wilson and Glater believe that the photo suggested the onset of new bruises? If not, why did they repeat Gottlieb’s claim as if it could be true? Or, perhaps, did they actually fail to review the entire discovery file, as they had claimed?
Speaking of the Times, the paper’s ideology-infused journalistic standards remains on display, with Selena Roberts—fresh from her appearance at Orin Starn’s Friday anti-lacrosse hate-fest—returning to the Duke case after a months-long absence. When last heard from, Roberts was mysteriously describing a search warrant as a “court document,” falsely stating that none of the players had cooperated with police, and comparing the team to gangsters or drug-runners.
In her March 31 column, Roberts all but stated that a rape occurred, and seemed to be demanding that the players be charged with obstruction of justice. Now, she says, the rape allegation was irrelevant to the broader cultural issue: the “irrefutable culture of misogyny, racial animus and athlete entitlement that went unrestrained that night.”
Roberts concludes her column by urging Duke to implement the recommendations of the Campus Culture Initiative. CCI leaders Peter Wood, Karla Holloway, and Anne Allison no doubt are heartened by the endorsement from their ideological comrade.
Friday, WRAL ran a story describing the procedures employed by the special prosecutors. Reporter Julia Lewis noted that James Coman and Mary Winstead have not spoken to the media, but have met with defense attorneys. They also have interviewed several members of the lacrosse team.
Nifong, of course, did none of these things. While he was eager to meet with the media in his pre-primary publicity barrage, he had no eagerness to actually obtain evidence that the people he was targeting might be innocent.
UNC law professor Joseph Kennedy, a Nifong critic, praised the behavior of the special prosecutors: “In a high-profile investigation like this, they assume the very first action on the case will be seriously scrutinized.”
Kennedy added that it was perfectly appropriate for the prosecutors to have repeated meetings with the accuser to discuss the events of the evening. “Given some of the questions raised about the accuser’s story, they’re probably trying to resolve any sort of ambiguity or contradictions. And secondly, make an overall determination if the person would come across credible in the courtroom.” Nifong, of course, never met with the accuser to discuss the case, and didn’t send anyone from his office to meet with her until December 21, when the accuser told a tale that contradicted each of her previous myriad, mutually contradictory, stories.
Of course, as ABC’s Law & Justice Unit has reported, the accuser has decided to perform as “The Uncooperative Miss M,” refusing to answer prosecutors’ detailed questions about the evening’s events.
The Chronicle continues its common-sense approach to the Campus Culture Initiative report with another first-rate editorial, this time on the CCI academic proposals. The editorial board praises some of the worthy suggestions of the CCI, particularly the call for increased faculty-student interaction.
Yet, quite appropriately, Chronicle editors criticize the mandated “
In another academic story, the paper notes that President Brodhead has committed to creating a new dean’s position. The position is designed, according to reporter Iza Wojciechowska, to “better integrate the multiple aspects of undergraduate life-including student affairs and academics-and will act as the University's principal spokesperson on undergraduate education.”
Sounds like a great idea, right? The chair of the search committee for the new position, however, is Peter Burian, chair of classical studies. Burian was last heard from signing on to William Chafe’s latest embarrassment, the February 23 Chronicle op-ed that begged people to act as if no new facts had emerged in the case since April 6. The article used the Group’s favorite tactic of anonymous quotes from alleged students to make the faculty member’s point, although in this case, Chafe was caught recycling alleged student quotes that he had previously had described differently.
Will Burian bring the Chafe mindset to the search committee? His willingness to affiliate with the Chafe op-ed does not offer encouragement.
With the lacrosse case imploding, Group of 88 member miriam cooke (she does not capitalize her name) appears to have found a new protest cause--Palestinian terrorists. Sami al-Arian was a former University of South Florida professor who pled guilty to conspiring to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization. (He entered the plea deal after a trial on more serious charges ended in a hung jury.)
Given that al-Arian admitted his crime, most people would consider him guilty. Not, apparently, cooke. Here she is with members of a group called "Fight Imperialism Stand Together," holding a sign reading, "No More Persecution."
It's good to see that cooke has moved from one mainstream cause to another.
Finally, a great column in Friday's New York Post from John Podhoretz, noting one of the great ironies of this case. Even as Nifong's career implodes, and the accuser is seen nationally as a liar, and the city of Durham has exposed itself to massive civil liability, "some of the most disgraceful actors in this case will go unpunished."
Podhoretz speaks, of course, of the Group of 88, and campus allies such as Peter Wood and Orin Starn--professors who exploited the case to advance their personal, ideological, or pedagogical agendas on the backs of their own students. As he astutely notes, "It is not too much to say that many of the adults at Duke, who should be stewards for their students, actually wanted the false rape story to be true because it fulfilled their ideological predilections."
Brodhead, Podhoretz notes, might not survive this affair--everything, of course, depends on the reaction of Duke alumni, and particularly of donors. But "for those 88 professors - what consequences will they experience?" Podhortez concludes:
Consequences? Don't make me laugh.
The tenured ones will continue to enjoy their aristocratic installment in Durham. The untenured will be supported in their efforts to find similar perches elsewhere by the rest of the Gang of 88, because that's how academic politics works.
How about even the loss of even a single night of sleep?
Oh, no. Not these folks. They're fighting the white patriarchy. They're on the side of the dispossessed and oppressed. They're giving voice to the voiceless. They're giving hope to the hopeless.
They're fools at best and monsters at worst - and neither fools nor monsters are much troubled by attacks of conscience.