Monday, April 02, 2007

The Hon. Ronald L. Stephens

Among the most frightening aspects of this case is the realization of how few people were necessary to keep the fraud alive. Nothing could have occurred, of course, without a deeply unethical DA. But beyond Mike Nifong, the cast of characters was surprisingly small:

  • One investigator—first Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, then Linwood Wilson, both willing to trim the rules.
  • One SANE nurse-in-training—Tara Levicy, who preposterously argued that an exam showing only diffuse edema in the vaginal walls and no DNA matches was consistent with a violent 30-minute, condom-free gang rape.
  • One lab director—Dr. Brian Meehan, who was willing to enter into an agreement with his “client” to withhold exculpatory evidence.

And one judge. One of the two people who recommended Mike Nifong to Governor Easley, Judge Ron Stephens appeared at six critical junctures in the lacrosse case. At each stage, he made decisions that appeared questionable at the time, dubious in retrospect, and deeply troubling when viewed in totality.

March 23

Stephens signed off on the non-testimonial order requiring DNA samples from all 46 white team members. This order—and the press coverage it received—initiated the media frenzy.

It’s hard to overstate the constitutionally suspect nature of this order. To obtain such an NTO, police are supposed to show probable cause that a crime occurred and probable cause that each person subject to the NTO could have committed the crime. Yet at the time of the order, Nifong had no evidence—much less probable cause—that anyone not named Adam, Matt, or Brett committed any crime.

The office’s response? Make things up. The March 23 NTO cited Dan Flannery’s voluntary admission that he booked the dancers under the name of “Dan Flanagan” to assert that the players used first-name aliases at the party—even though Kim Roberts’ police statement, sworn out the day before, expressly denied such a claim.

Stephens didn’t care. Though at that stage of the process the only check on a rogue prosecution, the judge signed on the dotted line. Months later, in his response to the Bar, Nifong would claim that he wasn’t bound by the order’s promise that DNA would exonerate the innocent, since he personally hadn’t requested the order.

Stephens’ response? To date, nothing.

April 5

On March 28, police served a sealed warrant on Ryan McFadyen. They found nothing, because there was nothing to find. By April 5, the case was very different than it had been when Sgt. Gottlieb scoured McFadyen’s room.

  1. Nifong learned that the DNA evidence his office had promised would “immediately rule out” any innocent people had, in fact, exonerated all the lacrosse players;
  2. Nifong ordered the Durham Police to construct a lineup that violated their own procedures in multiple ways. In that lineup, the accuser didn’t recognize McFadyen.

Nifong’s response? Stand aside as his house organ, the Herald-Sun, petitioned Stephens to unseal the order. Stephens’ response? To unseal it, even though the investigation was ongoing. The result? Inflaming community sentiment against the lacrosse team, overshadowing the defense’s revelation five days later that the DNA results had exonerated the players.

April 18

Stephens imposed bonds of $400,000 on Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty. To provide some perspective: in 2005, a Durham rape suspect with 17 prior convictions had received a $100,000 bond.

The move formed part of a pattern of decisions by Stephens seemingly intended to facilitate Nifong's political aim of making it look like he had arrested "dangerous" criminals. Six days before, he had consented to Nifong's request to seal any grand jury indictments, a practice common with flight risks.

Whatever Stephens' motive, it was not a good-faith belief that Seligmann and Finnerty were flight risks. Despite the absurdly high bond and sealed indictment, the judge didn't even require them to forfeit their passports--the first step taken when a court genuinely believes defendants are flight risks.

May 18

One of the lowest points of the case. As members of a hate group spewed death threats at Reade Seligmann, Stephens asked them to change seats in the courtroom, as Mike Nifong stood idly by. He treated Kirk Osborn with ill-concealed contempt, did nothing as Nifong treated Osborn unprofessionally, and denied Osborn’s request for a speedy trial.

The latter request was particularly unusual—in real rape cases, the defense almost always wants to drag the process out, in the hopes that a real victim might grow discouraged and elect not to testify.

June 22

Stephens did everything he could to prop up Nifong’s collapsing case. The same judge who had been so solicitous to unseal an (ultimately extraneous) item favorable to the prosecution with the McFadyen e-mail denied a request from the N&O and the defense to unseal the accuser’s (clearly relevant) medical record—without providing an explanation. When the N&O asked for a hearing on the issue, he said no.

The most interesting section of the hearing involved requests by Joe Cheshire to force Nifong to memorialize his conversations with Dr. Brian Meehan. (In these conversations, Meehan subsequently revealed, he and Nifong entered into an agreement to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence.) At the time, Nifong said that he and Meehan had discussed nothing of consequence. Presciently, Cheshire noted, "It's very difficult for me, although I take Mr. Nifong as an officer of the court at his word, to believe that there was no discussion at all as it relates to that testing."

Without explanation, Stephens denied a defense request that Nifong include a memorandum of the conversation in the discovery file.

The defense then asked that Nifong file a memorandum of the conversation for Stephens to review in camera. Without explanation, Stephens denied the request.

The defense then asked that Nifong file a memorandum of the conversation under seal, for use in any possible appeal. Without explanation (or, seemingly, any innocent rationale), Stephens denied the request.

In short, Stephens did everything in his power to ensure that no written record survived of conversations between Nifong and Dr. Brian Meehan.

November 1

In that morning’s New York Times, Duff Wilson penned his pre-election shout-out to Nifong, playing up the strength of Steve (polling-at-2-percent) Monks and ending his article with quotes from three Nifong supporters. Here was Wilson’s wording:

“He’s a good person, he’s a good lawyer, but he’s in a situation he has never been in before,” said Ronald L. Stephens, a local judge who was district attorney before Mr. Nifong.

Wilson, evidently, did not consider it journalistically significant to mention that the judge who made the five decisions outlined above had given Nifong a pre-election endorsement. And Stephens, evidently, did not consider it ethically problematic for him to issue a pre-election endorsement of a man whose misconduct had been facilitated by his own actions.

---------

Ron Stephens’ twin brother, Don, is a judge in Raleigh. In a 2003 interview with the N&O, Don Stephens said that a good judge remains anonymous. “The goal,” he said, “is no one remembers I am involved.”

Judged by his twin’s standards, Ron Stephens was a bad—a very bad—judge in this case. No one is going to forget that he was involved.

101 comments:

Anonymous said...

Judge Stephens has a twin brother.

He or his twin is married to a painfully unattractive woman who was running for a judgeship somewhere and lost this past election cycle.

All of these players are low rent, old-time, yellow dog Democrats who cover one another.

Many at the News & Observer are tight with them. That's why the policy of the N&O of endorsing political candidates---who, btw, are almost always Democrats---is very troubling.

How does a newspaper cover those with whom they fraternize and support?

It's all so sleazy.

Debrah

Anonymous said...

I am expecting a headline on DiW this week: 'Its Over'.

Anonymous said...

I do not live in Durham, NC (fortunately). Tell me, is EVERYONE there corrupt or incompetent?! Sounds like a banana republic.

Anonymous said...

Great post! You do pull it all together, KC.

Chicago said...

Excellent story KC. The cantankerous role of Judge Stephens in this case should not be over looked. Judge Stephens could have put an end to this hoax at an early stage by doing the right thing. Instead, he demonstrated a pattern consistent with enabling the good old boy network.

I loved how you ended the article by stating his actions, will "not be forgotten." I hope Judge Stephens is also some how mentioned in the upcoming civil suits.

The fact that some one physically theatened Reade in a court of law and Stephens did nothing is absolutely beyond comprehension.

Dodi said...

While initially everyone was talking about the perfect storm of race, class and gender, the true perfect storm is the combination of 1) an accuser with drug and mental problems, 2) an unscrupulous DA who needed to win an election to secure his pension, 3) a no-show police chief, 4) a city manager who specifically silenced police officers who knew what happened that night, 5) a local newspaper that confuses cheeleading with journalism, 6) local activists who believe in the principle of guilty until proven innocent, 7) a small group of radical professors with their own political agenda, 8) a larger group of fellow traveller professors with no backbone or integrity, 9) an administration with even less backbone, 10) a state with minimal controls over rogue prosecutors, and now 11) a dishonest judge who refused to reign in his buddy Nifong.

When these young men are finally cleared, there will also be a perfect technological storm in their favor: 1) DNA testing that demonstrated that the accuser's testimony was false, 2) time stamped photos that demonstrated that Precious had broken her fingernails while dancing (not while defending herself), 3) a neighbor's cell phone that indicated that the two dancers entered the house at midnight (which contradicts the latest complaint), 4) cell phone records that demonstrate that Reade Seligman was on the phone or calling a taxi, 5) the ATM photo that shows he was out of the house when the "crime" occurred, 6) internet sites such as this one that have been sistematically dismantling the case. Just think: twenty years ago the three young men would have had none of this in their favor, and it would have been their word against hers.

bill anderson said...

Unfortunately, Judge Stephens has absolute immunity to any civil suits, thanks to a ruling years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, that does not mean that Stephens should not be criticized and raked over the coals.

More than anyone else in the hoax save Nifong, Ronald Stephens made sure that this piece of garbage would become a real-live legal case. This man was a former prosecutor, and he could tell the difference between a rape and a hoax, and I firmly believe that he knew it was a hoax, but decided to prop up his friend, Michael B. Nifong.

The only way that any information can be dislodged is if the federal government conducts a criminal probe into this case. I would like to know what Stephens knew, and when he knew it.

K.C., this is one of the most important posts you have put up to date. Good work. Very good work.

Chicago said...

I nominate Dodi's post for "post of the year." I could not have said it better myself.

bill anderson said...

Unfortunately, Judge Stephens has absolute immunity to any civil suits, thanks to a ruling years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, that does not mean that Stephens should not be criticized and raked over the coals.

More than anyone else in the hoax save Nifong, Ronald Stephens made sure that this piece of garbage would become a real-live legal case. This man was a former prosecutor, and he could tell the difference between a rape and a hoax, and I firmly believe that he knew it was a hoax, but decided to prop up his friend, Michael B. Nifong.

The only way that any information can be dislodged is if the federal government conducts a criminal probe into this case. I would like to know what Stephens knew, and when he knew it.

K.C., this is one of the most important posts you have put up to date. Good work. Very good work.

Anonymous said...

All I know about Judges, I learned watching trials on Courtv. I was shocked at the demeaned of not only Stephens, but Titus. I nominated Stephens on the "worst judge in America" site. Potted plant Smith reled out camera coverage at his hearings. He saw what those two looked like. is there no way to make a complaint - Hudson, of course, would do nothing. Is this what the DOJ is supposed to stop?

Anonymous said...

JLS says...

Yeah on the CourtTV board before this hearing some guy who claimed to know Stephens was trying to tell us all there what an honorable guy Stephens is. I said, I hoped so.

Well then we have at that hearing:

1. No action when a defendant is threatened in his courtroom.

2. No action when Nifong behaves highly unprofessionally.

3. No seeming understanding of the high profile nature of the case he was dealing with making me wonder is Stephens is just a simpleton.

4. No discipline of Nifong's highly unprofessional smirking in his courtroom.

All of this when this case was in the news daily and when the NC Bar was already according to them investigating Nifong's behavior.

Anonymous said...

Ronald and Donald.

Donald and Ronald.

How unimaginative and provincial their parents must have been.

Debrah

Anonymous said...

My problem with Stephens is in the 23 March NTO, the unsealing of the McFadyen e-mail on April 5 when after CGM picked three other guys on April 4, and when he was asked to approve the order to transfer the swabs to DNASI after semen wasn't discovered March 29 on the swabs & her underwear.

Judge Stephens, a former DA & experienced Superior Court Judge, made every decision in favor of Nifong when common sense says otherwise.

Why did the Judge approved a DNA sweep of a team? The affidavit submitted omitted descriptions of the suspects

12. On March 23, 2006 Assistant District Attorney David Saacks obtained a non-testimonial identification order which was supported by the affidavit of Investigator Himan. This affidavit identified three men named Adam, Bret and Matt as the alleged perpetrators of the sexual assault. These names were obtained from the complaining witness herself. This affidavit contained no physical description of these three men.

http://www.kirkosborn.com/Motions/MotionforRecusal4.0.pdf

So Judge Stephens orders DNA test on an entire team without descriptions and waives the 72 hour rule.

Think what you want. I smell a rotten fish

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world of hack judges. Someone should file a complaint against him for tolerating the physical threats of Seligmann in court. There is a Code of Judicial Conduct. Maybe Seligmann should. This judge is EVERY bit as bad as Nifong. Every bit as bad. And a Democrat . . . . why am I not surprised.

Hyde Park said...

KC -

Interesting Post.

Did the defendants' attorneys ask that the indictments be sealed to allow their clients to turn themselves in without the media hoopla before the arrests?

How did the bail come about? Is there any record of whether this amount was requested by the prosecutor or determined by the Judge?

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with everyone else.

KC has begun the week with one hot post.

It rips off the flesh to reveal the rotted carcass of this case.

Debrah

Anonymous said...

Everytime I see the poster "dodi", I think of the romantic swarthy billionaire Dodi Al-Fayed.

The now very dead dodi.

Debrah

Anonymous said...

KC,

I cannot help but wonder whether you are really correct when you say Stephens endorsed Nifong. Subsection C of Canon 7 of the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct states in part as follows:

"C. Prohibited political conduct. A judge or a candidate should
not:...
(2) endorse a candidate for public office except as permitted under subsection B of this Canon or otherwise within this Code;...."

The stated exception for endorsements under subsection B has to do with joint campaigns for judicial offices (clearly irrelevant in the Stephens/Nifong case).

If you are correct, KC, why hasn't a complaint been filed against Judge Stephens? Justice Nathan Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas recently spent more than $300,000 defending against a complaint that he violated a similar Texas Canon when he told people he thought Harriet Miers would be a good Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Hecht won, apparently on First Amendment grounds (which seems appropriate), but the Stephens/Nifong situation is much different. Harriet Miers was not a "canidate," to start with; but more importantly, she would not be appearing before Judge Hecht in her capacity as a Justice of the U.S, Supreme Court (Nifong, on the other hand, would frequently appear in Stephens' court).

Maybe I'm missing something, but Stephens seems to have violated the Canon if you are correct; and if so, someone should take him to task with a formal complaint.

Anonymous said...

JLS says...

re: anon 1:20

Who is to say if such a complaint has been filed against R. Stephens? Anyone here know who has standing to file such a complaint and with whom such a complaint is filed?

RRHamilton said...

12:45 Debrah,

I admire most of your posts, but I had twin cousins named Ronald and Donald; both died as children. My twin sister's name is Robin; I'll let you guess my first name. Please stay on the subjects at which you write so very well?

psych said...

KC,

Thank you. One of the most offensive players has been getting a free pass. Ever the pessimist I expect this to continue. Thank you for shining some light on this unsavory judicial procedure.

Anonymous said...

The charges will be dropped this week and when they are I hope KC, bill anderson and the others will continue this pursuit of justice against these morally corrupt individuals.

I guess I was naive and should be grateful this case woke me up, but my faith in the entire criminal justice system has been shattered.

Not only does my heart go out to the three boys but I think of all the convicted who were nifonged.

Anonymous said...

I think your comments about miss Levicy are out of line. Her written report is simply factial and honest. Vaginal edema is in fact consistent with excessive fornication (the same way as swollen feet are consistent with excessive walking). Miss Levicy didn't know the results of the DNA exams, the rape kit she collected however the truth. It is not miss Levicy's fault that miss Mangum lied to her about not having sex in the previous week. Let us be gratefull for the evidence she collected and reported.

Anonymous said...

"Pigmeat Markham" had a vaudeville act called "Here Come De Judge" that Sammy Davis Jr. reprised on "Laugh-In" in the seventies. The sketch involved a judge behind his bench, who throws the book (actually he swats them on the noggin with an air-filled bladder)at every defendant brought before him. I am reminded of this when I read about Stephens' conduct in the courtroom. We are fallen on evil times when men such as this hold sway over the innocent. Durham needs a good laxative.

Anonymous said...

We don't know if Levicy actuaaly said what is claimed by Himan or if those words originated with Himan as wishful thinking or simply as his interpretation.

Anonymous said...

I am with the 6:09 comment, I don't understand your animus against the SANE nurse.

She took many notes and provided evidence that has been very helpful in establishing the truth.

Even if she did make a comment to Himan (of which I am not persuaded), there is a world of difference between findings that are "consistent with" or "proof of" something. I think consistent with is probably correct, but the phrase denotes virtually no evidential support for the rape.

bill anderson said...

The charges will be dropped this week and when they are I hope KC, bill anderson and the others will continue this pursuit of justice against these morally corrupt individuals.

I cannot speak for K.C., but I do intend to stay with the case. This is not simply a miscarriage of justice; it is a deliberate miscarriage of justice. Stephens and Nifong KNEW what they were doing. Both of them were acting like prosecutors, but a judge is supposed to act like a judge, like "His Honor" instead of "His Dishonor.

(Let me add that I do not think the charges will be dropped this week, but will be gone soon.)

Kathleen Eckelt and others have taken Levicy's "diffuse edemia" comments apart. I have no idea what Levicy told Himan, but whatever was said was bad enough.

Anonymous said...

If justice ever comes to the People's Banana Republic of North Carolina, Judge Stephens will be wearing orange coveralls and shooting hoops on an asphault lot surrounded by chain link topped with concertina wire.

Stephens is a criminal. sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

KC, why hasn't someone on the defense side filed a complaint with the NC Bar against Judge Stephens? Are Judges under the authority of this body?

Anonymous said...

KC, This is an exceptional post. I hope you have devoted sufficient pages of your book to the malfeasance of Judge Stephens.

james conrad said...

the judicial system in durham has shown itself to be incompetent, dishonest and morally bankrupt. most states have commissions where a judges conduct is reviewed and sanctions can be imposed. rather than wait on big brother (DOJ) in washington to clean up this mess, i am more interested in what the NC legislature & gov. plan to do about reforming this corrupt system of justice

scott said...

Dodi's list @ 12:35 AM looks more like the real deal. Even with the one-two punch of Nifong - Stephens, and with huge assists from Gottlieb, Wilson, and Meehan, this case could never have gotten to where it is today without the participation of several other individuals and groups based on what they did or failed to do to live up to the standards that should be expected. What about Inv. Himan? If he hasn't outright lied, he definitely looked the other way while others were doing so? Where was Chalmers? How the hell does one justify paying him as a police "chief" for the last year? Of course, we also have the other participants (including those that failed to participate)that we know so well.

I don't put Levicy's actions in the same league as these others. Her remarks, inaccurate as they may be (I'll leave that to the experts), essentially boil down to an opinion or a judgment call. She's a nurse-in-training. I'll bet if the management of the facility had had a crystal ball and known the shit that was going to hit the fan from Mangum's visit, they would have had someone with a lot more experience than her working on Mangum. The others, named above, took overt action of a dishonest nature that moved the case along.

Anonymous said...

KC - Your latest is excellent. The judges have troubled me from the beginning, but not being a lawyer I figured that's the way it works. Not so it seems. I have also been lucky to have had very little contact with the legal system (traffic court). Of course a system run by humans will be imperfect. But the Durham justice system looks like a bunch of incompetent, weak men who hold each other "you know whats." I'm sure Stephens has lost political clout by recommending a stupid egomaniac like Nifong.

Anonymous said...

KC: When you write that Stephens "had given Nifong a pre-election endorsement," are you referring to the quote in your posting ("He's a good person . . ."), or was there something else Stephens said? It seems very improper for a judge to have endorsed a particular candidate for DA, especially when that candidate was currently appearing before the judge in an active case. That would certainly violate the canons of judicial ethics in my state, and it appears that it also violates NC's judicial conduct code (if one of the above commenters is correct). If there is another quote, please provide it. This blatant misconduct by Stephens should not go unpunished.

Anonymous said...

Today's piece should be a wake up call for all the Hoaxsters, the AG, the SPs and every member of the Durham and N.C. power structure. We have exposed Nifong as the criminal he is, how long do you want us blog hooligans looking into your activities ? Drop the charges today.

AMac said...

In agreement with what's been said already in this thread: IIRC, the written report produced by SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy does not seem to have involved any fabrications. It recounted "diffuse vaginal edema," consistent with sex, but not the sorts of trauma that would have been consistent with a sexual assault (again, IIRC). I don't think there is any reliable account of what Levicy said, as Gottlieb's straight-from-memory report is anything but.

The standard operating procedures that Duke U. Medical Center SANE staff must follow still seem only poorly explained. In particular, what form does supervision of a nurse-in-training take, and who is to write and sign off on the final report of a nurse-in-training's exam? That seems to be the main problem.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't it be argued that:

1. Stephen's actions are pretty standard given this was the very early "pre-trial"/discovery aspects of the trial? I believe I remember something about him wanting to leave major decisions to whoever would be the presiding judge at the trial.

and

2. Isn't KC essentially agreeing with Nifong when he says, right or wrong, "the medical examination report backs me up"? Yes, you could absolutely argue the report was inaccurate however, as KC notes, that doesn't mean that Nifong was lying when he said the report corroborates that an assault took place.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:25am said,
I do not live in Durham, NC (fortunately). Tell me, is EVERYONE there corrupt or incompetent?! Sounds like a banana republic.

Every team needs a logo. I submit the following links to be nominated for logos for the Hoaxers.

banana

dancingbanana

bananas

Anonymous said...

I now can see how the nazi court system worked in Germany.

Mad Hatter said...

Re: 8:46
Add Bananas in Pajamas to that!

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson suggests that Judge Stephens knowingly furthered a hoax with his early rulings; another commenter suggests his actions were prompted by the political cronyism of Democrats.

I can't prove either of these theories wrong, but to me a more likely and straightforward explanation is that Judge Stephens' background was as a district attorney. While we might hope for better (might even, if we got our acts together, demand better), I think it's not uncommon for trial court judges with prosecutorial experience to rubber stamp the actions and requests of prosecutors without giving them much thought, based on a (conscious or subconscious) pro-prosecution bias.

That being said, to paraphrase President Brodhead, if he didn't deliberately further a hoax, whatever he did do was bad enough.

In retrospect, unsealing the McFadyen e-mail (for which there was, really, no justification whatever--I mean for the unsealing, though in another sense I suppose the same could be said of the original e-mail) was a singularly damaging moment in the case, especially with respect to "collateral" damage--as it led directly to the cancelling of the lacrosse season and the "resignation" of Coach Pressler, as weel as to public furor and a vast increase in damning commentary about the case, the team, and the so-called "culture of privilege" at Duke generally and among Duke athletes specifically.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should be "as well as" not "as weel as" in my 9:11 AM post.

jamil hussein said...

Unfortunately, Judge Stephens has absolute immunity to any civil suits, thanks to a ruling years ago by the U.S. Supreme

He can be removed from office. DOJ recently fired 8 prosecutors and Bill Clinton fired all 93 prosecutors (of which one was investigating Clinton). Congress removed Alcee Hastings (corrupt judge) from office. As you can expect, Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) is now in congress. Since we have now "the most ethical congress" in history, I expect the congress to start the removal process in coming days. /sarc

Maybe he can run for congress after removal and face Nifong in Dem primaries.

Sean said...

Has anyone heard what happened at Michael Burch's court appearance? The lack of coverage continues to astound me...
This article is all I could find (basically saying that he had a court date last tuesday)

jamil hussein said...

Justice Nathan Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas recently spent more than $300,000 defending against a complaint that he violated a similar Texas Canon when he told

This is totally different. Don't you understand the difference?
Nathan Hecht is a republican. Had she been a democrat this would have been perfectly ok. There are different laws for republicans and democrats in this country (Harry Reid's and Obama's land deals would be front page news if they were republicans, Dianne Feinstein would have been indicated already because of the
Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, where she sat while voting for appropriations worth billions to her husband's firms).

So there will be absolutely no consequenses for Stephens. Corrupt dems are safe.

Anonymous said...

I think its time for Copper to make a decision, either drop charges or go foward so the boys can get on with their lives.

Anonymous said...

We have learned as parents that one of the SP is on vacation for TWO weeks and that nothing will happen until her return.
AMAZING we are kept hanging like this.... the travesty of justice continues....

Duke Lax Mom AND SO VERY PROUD OF IT!!!

Gary Packwood said...

Evidence and the SANE Nurse

This SANE certification issue is about to go over the top and into the realm of the absurd.

There is a difference between job security and job protection.

If the SANE nurse political association keep ramping up the verbiage about who does what to whom as a job security strategy they may wake up soon to find legislation moving down the pike to do away with SANE nurse ...as a job.

I can almost imagine a criminal trial where juries will be required to listen to testimony from the senior supervisor of the supervisor who supervises the SANE nurse.

One can only hope that SANE nurses are not out in community organizations soliciting patients.

No Means No!

Anonymous said...

12:25:00 "banana republic"?

No its worse. It is Zimbabwe.

Anonymous said...

"At each stage, [Ron Stephens] made decisions that appeared questionable at the time, dubious in retrospect, and deeply troubling when viewed in totality." I know it is much easier to say this. But, DIW, back it up and demonstrate why and how Judge Stephens could have avoided your labels of "dubious" & "deeply troubling."

P. Rich said...

The Democratic Party machine in NC will have been grinding away behind closed doors for months now. The primary topic will be damage control, not "justice," which is a coincidental by-product of many legal proceedings anyway.

What makes this an even more interesting political situation is the parallel drama being played out on the national stage. I'm sure the Dems do not want this to blow up into a broader Party PR disaster. No doubt the NC gov is getting lots of "hep."

Anonymous said...

We have no evidence that Nurse Tara said "consistant with rape" except Gottlieb's word. Why would we believe him - he is discredited on every other statement he has made or written. Nifong said " my reading ....." is discredited and all she wrote was "vaginal edema." No bruising, etc. Poor Nurse Tara is a nobody in this hoax. What did Doctor Manley write?

Anonymous said...

jamil hussein,

Justice Nathan Hecht is a he, not a she, but your point is well taken.

KC Johnson said...

To the 10.47:

Not clear what is being asked here:

1) He could have acted according to basic principles of civil liberties and denied the NTO unless Nifong's office could produce probable cause against each of the 46 players.

2) He could have not given the interview to the Times, given his connection to the case.

3) He could have set bail consistent with other rape cases involving defendants without prior records.

4) He could have granted a routine request to force Nifong to memorialize his conversation with Meehan and place it under seal.

5) He could have acted consistently on releasing case-related info, rather than unsealing evidence favorable to the prosecution's public case and keeping sealed information favorable to the defense's public case.

D.M. said...

KC, you include in the cast of characters necessary to keep the fraud alive:

One SANE nurse-in-training—Tara Levicy, who preposterously argued that an exam showing only diffuse edema in the vaginal walls and no DNA matches was consistent with a violent 30-minute, condom-free gang rape.

This is the second time in two days you've criticized this nurse (I think unfairly). A lot of the people you're writing about here clearly seem to be rotten apples, but to quote Sesame Street, "One of these things is not like the others." Maybe it’s just overzealousness; but it seems like you've really mischaracterized the role of the SANE nurse. She collected evidence and presented observations the night the rape was reported. I haven't read anything about the nurse being involved at all after that night, let alone in interpreting the meaning of DNA results.

Thanks- DM

jamil hussein said...

I'm sure the Dems do not want this to blow up into a broader Party PR disaster

Had the lacrosse team been illegal immigrants, Gonzales and DOJ would have rescued them immediately.

Had they been islamic terrorists in Guantanamo, Nancy Pelosi's team would have raised the issue and rescued them.

Instead, they were just a bunch of ordinary white people.

(reminds me of Elaine's comment in Seinfeld)

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.41:

There is good reason to believe that Levicy played a critical role in keeping this case alive. That is not so with Manly.

Ex-prosecutor said...

As for Judge Stephens, his supportive remarks about Mr. Nifong may not have been violative of the judicial ethics code, although it was unwise of him to make the statements.

Here's why it could be argued that his favorable words likely, in my view at least, were not actionable. In 2002, the US Supreme Court ruled in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White that judges have a right to free speech, resulting in the federal courts concluding that provisions of state ethics codes regulating judicial speech are unconstitutional.

Since the supreme court decision, state courts generally have upheld their ethics restrictions on speech by judges and judicial candidates, while the federal courts have stricken them down. While I know of no cases considering the endorsement restrictions, there are a number concluding that judicial candidates can announce their views on the hot social issues, such as abortion, stem-cell research, gun control, etc.

I question whether the Texas justice would have been disciplined had he filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court, claiming that, in seeking to impose discipline for statements which he had made, Texas was unconstitutionally limiting his First Amendment rights. Though such a suit probably would have stopped the ethics prosecution, likely it would not have been a politic action.

Also, I should add that it's one thing for a judge to make favorable comments about a candidate for a non-judicial position and quite another for the judge actually to endorse the candidate, such as in a reelection ad.

What would have been interesting would be if Mr. Nifong had used, in his campaign, the words of Judge Stephens. Then, in my opinion, the judge would have had an obligation to ask Mr. Nifong to stop using the quote.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link where I can find a picture of "The Honorable" Stephens??

Georgia Girl said...

Duke Mom said "...the SP is on vacation for TWO weeks and nothing will happen until her return".

How convenient! Sounds like it's part of the overall design to delay the inevitable (dropping the charges). Like you and your family haven't been through enough hell!

KC, in that rigged lineup (all lax players), how SHOULD the lineup have been conducted? Should there have been several lineups with a ratio of 5 lax to 10 non-lax, per lineup?

Anonymous said...

jamil hussein:

Your 9:28 comments about the democrat party double standard could not be more spot on! If you haven't already, check out Ann Coulter's latest column dealing with the same at

http://www.anncoulter.com/

It would be humorous if it wasn't so true (my humble opinion, of course)!

As for 10:47 poster, your failure to recognize how clearly KC backed up his initial comments about judge Stephens in today's gem of a post tells me you're either a Durham democrat insider or you've just graduated magna cum laude from the pre-school for the intellectually feeble....(or both!)

Anonymous said...

Goning to the GJ and skipping a " probable cause hearing" certainly played a huge role in the Hoax. With the behavior of Stephens and Titus, there is no reason to believe the guys would have gotten any justice there either. $400,000 for bail was really a set up. Its my quess that Nifong and Stephens were surprised when the families came up with the money for bail. Many of us would have been in the felony jail place since the indictment. Those boys could have been beaten, raped or murdered by other inmates. Nifong and Stephens knew that. Remember that laugh and smirk from Nifong when the defense asked for a bail reduction. he deserves whatever he gets.

Anonymous said...

In the Cash Michaels thread you linked to last week, we find this regarding today's post:

Quoted from DIW:
The office's response? Make things up. The March 23 NTO cited Dan Flannery's voluntary admission that he booked the dancers under the name of "Dan Flanagan" to assert that the players used first-name aliases at the party -even though Kim Roberts' police statement, sworn out the day before, expressly denied such a claim.

Comment in Cash Michaels thread:
I've read Kim Roberts' police statement. It's not there.

====
Question by me:
I read it too, they have it online (with a transcripted version below).

Can you explain, KC?

dwshelf

duke09parent said...

A question has been raised about the Stephens' allegations. Kim's handwritten statement says she met a "Dan F." at the party but she doesn't say anything about who hired the dancers and what aliases were given and doesn't say anything about first name aliases. Can KC or someone point out or link to where Kim expressly denied that the players used first name aliases?

I never quite understood why any of us supporters now complain about the NTO on DNA. That evidence is the best we have now that no rape occurred by any of the players tested. Is anyone on the defense side now going to move that the results of the tests be suppressed?

I am not surprised that a sitting judge took a prosecutor's and police statements at face value on such an investigatory order. At least it was done on the public record and not by some secret judical panel on search warrants in the name of the righteous icon national security.

KC Johnson said...

Kim Roberts' statement (which the police had on 3-22) says that she asked Dan Flannery for his ID, which he showed. She then states that she spoke to "Dan" and "Dave." In their statements (which the police also had on 3-22), Flannery and Evans said that they spoke to Kim Roberts. These three items were the only evidence that the police possessed regarding the use of first-name aliases at the party. All three denied the 3-23 police theory (which it's worth noting, the police themselves hadn't been using before 3-22).

On Stephens and the NTO: there might be another instance where, a week into a police investigation, 46 people got an order to give over DNA, but I'm not aware of it.

On the procedures: no, it shouldn't have been 5 lacrosse players to 10 others. The Durham procedures required five filler photos for each suspect. Since, by April 4, Nifong was claiming that there were 46 suspects, there should have been five filler photos for each player.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's any doubt that the first-name alias claim was "made-up".

The question regards whether there is evidence for an assertion that Kim Roberts "expressly denied such a claim" in her sworn statement of the day before.

Detractors focus on this kind of detail to attack the entire thesis.

Supporters focus on it to help perfect the thesis.

dwshelf

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. These key players have triggered so much injustice, and Judge Stephens role is in some ways the most important. He was the first line of defense against a rogue prosecutor--except for the GJ, which seems not to count--and he really worked willingly with Mr. Nifong to keep things well on track. I hope someone is exploring this; I am not sure he needs to be a judge.

Observer

Dan Weber said...

Stephens imposed bonds of $400,000 on Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty. To provide some perspective: in 2005, a Durham rape suspect with 17 prior convictions had received a $100,000 bond.

Bonds aren't based solely on the severity of the crime; they are also based on their ability to dissuade the defendant from fleeing.

You would naturally ask more from an upper-class person than a lower-class person.

There may well be other reasons that the bond was unreasonable, but the price tag of $400,000 is, by itself, insufficient reason to base that as so.

Cedarford said...

I somewhat disagree with KC in that some of his small band of people ID's as being the core of the Frame needed direct authorization of others to have the POWER to do as they did. Specifically - what high officials gave Nifong power over City cops and other resources in the Frame?

Where did the power to access funds pay the cops OT, the private lab testing not done even in capital murder cases come from? Judge Stephens?

Mayor Bell? Patrick Baker? The Durham City Council? What Durham city lawyer endorsed the paper transferring city power and hopefully for Durham...liability...over to the State in the authority of Michael Nifong?

Was it the Durham Democrat Party powers, many twin-hatting as NAACP representatives that joined with elected officials and Nifong and seized on the SANE Trainee's "consistent with rape" report as the smoking gun? And the whole pack of them went off the rails on a Crusade for the violated Nubian Queen?

Where is that document that records Nifong having City resources given to him?

If it was verbal only, God help Durham from the tort lawyers.

*********************
I do agree that overall, this was one of KC's best posts ever.

And as for the SANE trainee, she was a trainee she should have identified herself as such and deferred to qualified medical personnel to offer opinions to Himan. I agree with KC Johnson that this woman's studies major, Levicy, has some explaining to do on why she ventured opinions that were not her call to make, why she encouraged the investigator's belief "something definitely happened".

wake-up call said...

This case happened because a few people were willing to do whatever it took to further their personal agendas.

It became a media circus because many people were blinded by their politically correct agendas.

This case is ultimately not an issue of right versus left.

No one is immune to the corrupting influence of power, especially not those who think they are immune to it.

It is frightening to realize that without the means to fight back, the Duke lacrosse players would have almost certainly been convicted of crimes they could not have possibly committed.

Such is the nature of our "justice" system.

Anonymous said...

1:03 You belong on the TL board and not here with civil people. Insulting someone is truly evil.

Anonymous said...

I tahink the reason for the 400,000, they wanted these boys to go to jail and learn a lesson.

duke09parent said...

I have to disagree with those who applaud KC for this post. I actually think it is a pretty weak condemnation of Stephens. He may or may not be a "very bad judge" but this doesn't prove it.

March 23 -- Maybe KC is looking at something else, but when I look at the hand written statement of Kim, I don't see the express denial of aliases he said she made. In the "Facts That Establish Reasonable Grounds" for the NTO order, the cops refer only to one first name alias, claimed by CGM as "Adam" who everyone referred to as "Dan". The cops also claimed that Dan Flannery "admitted using an alias to make the reservation to have the dancers attend...." Has Dan ever denied he admitted that or used a different name for the reservation? Has anyone asked him? Giving a DNA sample with cheek swabs is so minimally invasive and not revelatory of very private information I doubt many judges would have denied the cops application. Besides, as I said above this process HELPED the defense. The state's application for the NTO can be read on Kirk Osborn's site, this document on page 16:

Cops' Facts Supporting NTO

Here is Kim's handwritten statement:

Kim's Statement

April 5-- Unsealing the McFadyen email. I agree this was bad. But what are the standards for release of this kind of material? Was release out of line while not releasing CGM's record was not? I don't know myself.

April 18 -- The high bonds. As someone else pointed out above, the amount of bonds is set to insure a defendants' appearance at trial. The severity of the offense and the past record of the defendant are just factors. The defendants were out of state residents and arguably had the means to flee to a non-extraditing jurisdiction. In my observation bonds are often set high early and a judge can be persuaded in a bond reduction hearing to lessen it, which did occur here. Certainly it is absurd now to think the guys would try to flee, but that's hindsight.

May 18 -- Poor control of the courtroom was bad. Were the threats loud enough that everyone in the courtroom, including the judge? Denial of a speedy trial was bad, particularly in retrospect, but given the lack of NC statutory requirements, was it out of line for court practice there?

June 22 -- Denial of N&O's request for release of CGM's medical record and denial of defense request that Nifong memorialize his conversation with Meehan. Neither of these strike me as unusual. Release of a person's medical record is pretty invasive. The defense was entitled to it, of course, but I don't see any compelling reason for the public to have it. Regarding the requested memorandum, Nifong had just said on the record, being transcribed by a court reporter, that no substantive discussion took place. Chesire didn't believe it and was right. But from a fair judge's perspective reducing that statement to writing doesn't chang anything. Nifong lied to the court. There is not much valid criticism to be made against a judge accepting, until proven wrong, the open court representations of the county's chief prosecutor.

November 1 -- Stephens' endorsement of Nifong. He ought not to have talked to the press about the case or about Nifong. I also wonder about the judicial ethics of a judge publicly endorsing a candidate for office. But is that par for the course in NC? Did Stephens go outside the usual bounds of conduct for judges in that state? Aren't they elected and also politicians?

KC Johnson said...

quick response to Duke '09:

There's nothing in Kim's statement to suggest the players used first-name aliases at the party; indeed, her statement disproves the claim, because she admits talking to Dave and Dan (not aliases).

As the NYT (of all places) revealed, Flannery booked the strippers under the name "Dan Flannagan," as he admitted in his statement. There is and was no evidence, anywhere, that he used the name "Adam" or any other first-name alias at any time, and no evidence that he or anyone else used a first-name alias at the party.

A judicial order of 46 people giving DNA isn't minimally invasive. Here's Durham defense attorney Alex Charns—a specialist in civil liberties who had authored a book on the FBI’s relationship with the Supreme Court: “I can’t imagine a scenario where this would be reasonable to do this so early in the investigation. It seems unusual, it seems over-broad, and it seems frightening that they’re invading the privacy of so many people.”

duke09parent said...

KC,
Thanks for the clarification on the aliases business.

Ordering DNA swabs of even team members who were not at the party was overly broad. I just have a hard time being sorry Stephens ordered this since the results are so favorable to the guys, as they knew it would be.

My criminal lawyer friends often refer to judges as hacks for the prosecution, so I'm neither shocked nor surprised when search warrants and the like are granted with thin showings of probable cause. If Stephens is like this, he's hardly unusually bad for it.

You are doing a great job. This is one essay that doesn't resonate with me, though.

Anonymous said...

Stephens is the first judge I have ever seen who has sucessfully shown contempt for his very own court. Justice isn't blind in Durham, it's cross eyed! Yet society's "check and balance" for such matters, our Federal Justice Department, seems to have stolen Lady Justice's blindfold and tried it on for size. To anyone whoever has held pride in our criminal justice system, it's all so very sad.

This from a Disgusted Retired Trooper and Former Judge.

Anonymous said...

I think taking DNA samples is very invasive. DNA contains medical records. To take DNA samples without probable cause is troubling, at best.

Anonymous said...

Duke09parent @ 4.44--

Much of your "defence" of the judge seems to amount to saying: "He may have been bad, but in NC bad is normal". Yes, but it's still bad.

Anonymous said...

Well, the "dead man walking" was loud enough, I heard it watching Courtv - thats loud enough for me. Stephens said "This trial is not jumping ahead of other trials "- which was never the issue. He was rude to the defense attorney throughout the hearing. Nifong was at his smirking, snug, laughins and shaking head best. There is no excuse for this sorry Judge, but things in NC justice are not changing. My job is to keep myself out of NC.

Anonymous said...

KC - What reason do you have to believe that Nurse Tara played a critical role in promoting the hoax. You are the man, but that smacks of Duff's "body of evidence."

Georgia Girl said...

Well, I'm hanging on to every post trying to understand the "inner workings", but I've got a long way to go.

There must be a reason why ya'll keep me in the dark. (don't answer that)!

Anonymous said...

KC, please continue to expose Stephens in this case. This judge has not gotten enough scrutiny from the MSM for his role in empowering and assisting Nifong in this hoax. It's clear he had a "wink" "wink" deal with the DA's office. This collaboration should stun anyone who believes in the system. The NAACP and Joyner should be more concerned about the these activities and what has been happening to the poor defendants that have been rail-roaded for eons by the "Justice" system in Durham.

Anonymous said...

Gagrl

Because you still use the word "ya'll" without any concept of its derivation.

MTU'76 said...

I would like to help clear up confusion about the "SANE nurse in training" the "nurse in training."

SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) training begins only after a nurse has been licensed. Therefore she is not a student nurse she is a student in her chosen specialty. SANE is a certification program that requires a certain number of hours in the class room and also a clinical internship. I suspect that the "SANE nurse in training" was in the internship phase. You should contact DUMC or the NC Board of Nursing or just google SANE internship Duke to find the description of their program. If she was in her internship then it is a valid question to ask where the teacher went.

There has been a movement in nursing where women get their undergraduate degrees in something like womens studies, underwater basket weaving, AA studies, and so on, then get the MS, RN degree. Who do you want looking after your sick mother? A Florence Nightingale a la womens studies or maybe some other nurse with a bad manicure who washes her hands after every patient, and carries the fundamental concept of care with her to every patient regardless of color, creed, or sex? You decide, dear.

jamil hussein said...

As I said earlier, Stephens can be removed from office. (If this is state court, is it up to congress or state legislature?)

In anycase, he can be removed and clearly should be removed. Petition or campaign issue? Any honest good politicians left in NC?

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to agree with duke09parent. I believe that of all the main players in this case, the judges are the least culpable.

I know this has dragged on too long. But, it has not dragged on much longer than most other triple-defendant rape cases. That may sound facetious, but this is a complicated case, and if it goes to trial, the logistics will approach those of the Normandy Invasion.

As to those who feel that the judge should have granted Kirk Osborne's speedy trial motion, that was dead on arrival, so early in the process. I imagine the main reason he filed it was to be on record as having asked for a speedy trial if the case did not come to trial after 18 months or two years -- he was "preserving the issue."

It was fair to not allow the three defendants have their cases tried ahead of others who had already been waiting. We supporters of the players have often (rightly) criticised those who have called for a prosecution just because the players are wealthy, white and male. Demanding that the players should have already had their trials when many poor, minority defendants were already in line with the players were indicted is inconsistent with our demands that the players be treated equally.

What if the judge had granted the speedy trial motion and Nifong had tried them, say, last September, and they'd been convicted? The main thing the players have wanted is for someone to examine the case, determine that there is nothing there, and dismiss the cases before the players are placed in jeopardy of a conviction.

If the length of time the players have waited is unacceptable, then it is something that needs to be addressed on a systemic basis, rather than attacked as an example of prosecutorial / judicial hostility towards the lacrosse defendants.

I think the cases are well on their way to being dropped. I don't think it's necessary to paint everyone who has had anything to do with this case as irredeemably evil.

Anonymous said...

I live in England (although in the US this year for my job, and following the case very closely and with much interest). There's plenty wrong with perfidious Albion, God knows, including its share of grievous miscarriages of justice. But I am shocked by the way criminal justice operates in NC. Court officials (in this case Nifong) running for office? A judge (in this case Stephens) endorsing a political candidate, particularly one whose case he has been involved in directly? What!?!

Anonymous said...

11:56 - yeah, we do things differently over here. Ever since that dust up in 1776, and the later one in 1812, we have charted our own course. Even drive on the other side of the road. Shocking, I know!

But all smart-assery aside, it is curious that so much of the judicial system is elected - but if they were appointed, they would be appointed by politicians who were elected, so this is just removing the middle man, so to speak.

Hope you are enjoying your stay, and I am certain that you will have many interesting stories to tell when you return home. Those whacky colonials - not only can you not get a decent cup of tea there, they ruin a perfectly good language, and imagine this - they elect their DAs! The horror!

Anonymous said...

Lets not over reach = any good politicans left in North Carolina?

Anonymous said...

12:27--

I predicted that some readers here (not most) would be unable to take even moderate criticism of their judicial system from outside, no matter how qualified. So I'm not reeling in shock here.

The obvious drawback in democratising judicial offices is the temptation to politicise what should be a wholly non-partisan proceeding. The events in Durham over this last year bear this out. Would Nifong have been so tempted to press this case if he hadn't needed black votes in a tight race? Democracy is fine in the political sphere, and ONLY there.

Your attempts at sarcastic humour are neither well-bred nor impudent. Just lame.

By the way, WE won 1812 - 14. You invaded Canada (as part of your own imperialistic policy of "Manifest Destiny") and were successfully repelled, thereby allowing a non-politicised judicial system to develop north of the border. It seems to have worked out rather well.

Anonymous said...

To 11:40

You are completely wrong in your assessment. It has never been a matter of moving the LAX trial ahead of any other. ALL defendants are entitled to a speedy trial as a matter of right. In most U.S. jurisdictions, the prosecution failing to bring a case to trial within 6 months would be grounds for dismissal. This chain of events is activated by a defense motion for speedy trial, which Kirk Osborne duly filed. Beyond this, there are usually strict timetables imposed on the prosecution designed to mandate progress toward trial. Why is this? The founding fathers recognized that being under indictment imposes crushing burdens on defendants absent any attainder, and they specifically intended to limit the damage that could thus be wrought by mischievous prosecutors. Trial dates can legitimately slip as a result of complicated pre-trial motions, interlocutory appeals, etc. Such is not the case here. It's been over a year, and there hasn't been ONE substantive hearing on the evidence, and defense motions have gone unanswered for months. Almost all delays in criminal cases, by the way, are due to the defense in the hope that evidence of guilt might diminish over time. The delays in this case, however, are extremely unusual in that they are due exclusively to the prosecution's steadfast refusal to move the case forward toward resolution.

By contrast to a defendant's right to a speedy trial, prosecutors enjoy NO right to speedy indictment. A prosecutor must therefore refrain from indicting any party unless prepared to try the case immediately. Nifong, however, had no case, so he couldn't go to trial. He nevertheless needed an indictment BEFORE the Democrat primary, and he needed the case to be viable through the general election in November. This is why he went to the Grand Jury (where no record is kept of proceedings), eschewing a probable cause hearing -- in order to win unreviewable, half-assed indictments just in time for his primary election. This is why he set a long trial date -- to keep this case alive past November. This is why he concealed evidence -- to avoid dismissal prior to November as his case fell apart in public. Last, this is why he lied to the Court -- to avoid being held accountable for his manifest misdeeds in pursuing his personal interests at the expense of Justice. This vile SOB should spend the rest of his miserable life in the NC State Penitentiary, a stern warning to all those who might be tempted to violate their duties as officers of the court.

Finally, your concern that a speedy trial might have resulted in conviction is specious. The defense case was well established back in May, so a conviction then would have been no more likely than a conviction this Summer, should the SPs insist on subjecting themselves to the humiliation of a public trial. Moreover, a conviction then would have been no less likely to be overturned on appeal than now, but would at least have had the redeeming virtues of having been far cheaper and less personally disruptive. All told, there was absolutely no downside to a speedy trial, whatsoever.

Ironically, Nifong's recusal probably injured the defense more than it helped, at least in a strictly legal sense. Absent Nifong's recusal, the defense would probably have been able to force a substantive hearing on the evidence by now, with an overwheliming likelihood of suppressing line-up and in-court identifications of the accused. That accomplished, any judge would have been compelled to grant defense motions to dismiss all charges -- case closed. With Nifong gone, however, the defendants must now be subjected to an intensely political review conducted by the AG's office, with attendant delay, cost, and risk. It could yet work out well for the defense, but more as a matter of PR than law.

-- SteveDinMD

Anonymous said...

Re: SteveDinMD at 3:01 a.m.:

Thanks for responding to my post. However, it appears that you have missed the point I was making. I never said that the right to a speedy trial is not guaranteed to all defendants. That's why I said it would not have been fair to those other defendants to have had this case heard first. Rather, I said that the failure of the defendants to receive a speedy trial in this State is a systemic failure; it is not directed at the lacrosse players only.

As to the supposed speciousness of my argument that the defendants might have been convicted if they had gone to trial last summer or fall: I stand by that position.

Your own arguments to the contrary are based on the notion that the courts, including any post-conviction appellate courts, would have behaved completely rationally, in favor of the Defendants. Not that they shouldn't rule in their favor, but you never know. That's why, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a slam-dunk case, and if you can get the case dismissed before trial, then in 99.999% of the cases, that's the best win there is.

I also think you devalue the burden of a conviction, even one that is overturned on appeal. First, there's the stigma that attaches with a conviction -- "the jury convicted him, but the appellate courts threw it out on a 'technicallity.'"

Further, once convicted, a defendant has to prove that the conviction was wrongful. That's much harder to do than win a trial where you're presumed innocent.

And while you're waiting for the appellate courts to overturn your conviction, there's a good chance you'll be serving your sentence; post-trial release is not a right, and it's not often granted.

Anonymous said...

2:54 AM

Hope you go back to Londonistan soon - clearly the strain of interacting with you lessers is wearing on you. "Just lame" indeed - you can't be from England - my guess would be Los Angeles.

Altho' the misspellings you used for "democratising" and "humour" are nice attempts at appearing British, you are clearly a pretentious academic from parts unknown. And if you are a pommy bastard, good work keeping Canada, eh? That has really added to your "empire" - ha! America lite, where the bacon is round, the sport is hockey, and the season is always winter.

Like so many travellers from England you like to sneer, make fun of America, and so on. Almost makes me sorry you didn't lose WWII. The good news is, you are losing the latest war, and that can only be a good thing. So pray to the east, and have fun puttin' all your women folk in bags.

Anonymous said...

8:42--

You are the Ugly American, for all to see.

Fortunately, in my time here, I know that you are very much in the minority. I spend a good part of my time in the UK defending the US (not always an easy job). People like you make it a real challenge.

Try visiting Toronto in August. Ignorance strikes again.

Do you have ANY response to my substantive points, or do you want to confine yourself to abuse and insult?

Anonymous said...

9:42

Whoa - you defeated us again. War of 1812 all over again. At least you didn't stoop to, as you so eloquently put it in your condescending accent "abuse and insult?" Oh, that's right, you did - you started with "You are the Ugly American, for all to see."

Well done. You may now return to the land of queens and imams, shoe bombers and Cat Stevens, and all the rest your inbred lot has accomplished in the last few thousand years.

And please don't defend us - people will get the wrong impression when a pooftah like you carries on so.

Now contribute something to this thread in line with your station in life and huge intellect or begone!

duke09parent said...

[moderator--beware of double post, I tried sending this before, but it didn't look like it went through, so I'm trying again]

2:54,

I apologize for our jingoistic member at 8:42. Those outbursts are one of the prices we pay for freedom of speech. He, of course, forgets (if he ever learned) that many of our cherished legal traditions come from English law.

As to the elections of judges and prosecutors, my own state of Virginia has popular elections for prosecutors and legislative appointments of judges for 7 year renewable terms. We actually haven't had much of a problem with prosecutorial excesses. I like not having poplularly elected judges. It removes them from the faddish obsessions of the public and allows them to decide issues on a sound legal basis. Having the legislature appoint them doesn't make them apolitical, party and political connections still count more than legal ability. But there is no perfect system and I am satisfied with the one we have here

Anonymous said...

8:03 Right on Brother. I love the English and they love Americans - As one of our few allies in this world, there is no need to insult them. I go so far as to only spend money in countries that like Americans. Had there been no change of venue at that "speedy trial". these boys would have been "up the river". in the "joint" and subjected to numerous horrors from the other inmates.

Anonymous said...

I think it is obvious from the Bahamian courts that there is less b ^^^^^^^ in the English court systems and more honorable.

Anonymous said...

8:03 AM said:

Thanks for responding to my post. However, it appears that you have missed the point I was making. I never said that the right to a speedy trial is not guaranteed to all defendants. That's why I said it would not have been fair to those other defendants to have had this case heard first. Rather, I said that the failure of the defendants to receive a speedy trial in this State is a systemic failure; it is not directed at the lacrosse players only.

>>>>>>SteveDinMD: Other criminal defendants are owed NOTHING by the LAX players. Let them or their respective counsel file their own speedy trial motions. If lengthy pre-trial delay is a systemic problem in NC, then let Kirk Osborne's motion herald a systemic remedy. I rather think it's more an "elective" problem at the whim of rogue prosecutors, but the remedy is neverhteless the same.

As to the supposed speciousness of my argument that the defendants might have been convicted if they had gone to trial last summer or fall: I stand by that position.

>>>>>>SteveDinMD: They could be convicted now or six months from now, should the SPs opt for a trial. The delay has served no constructive purpose.

Your own arguments to the contrary are based on the notion that the courts, including any post-conviction appellate courts, would have behaved completely rationally, in favor of the Defendants. Not that they shouldn't rule in their favor, but you never know. That's why, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a slam-dunk case, and if you can get the case dismissed before trial, then in 99.999% of the cases, that's the best win there is.

>>>>>>SFD: The speedy trial motion was, first and foremost, a means to compel substantive hearings on the evidence, i.e. an opportunity for dismissal, which we both agree would be the best possible outcome -- trial is an honor best avoided. Might the courts have behaved irrationally months ago? Yes, but they're no less prone to irrationality today. With respect to appellate courts, at least, the judges are not elected to office.

I also think you devalue the burden of a conviction, even one that is overturned on appeal. First, there's the stigma that attaches with a conviction -- "the jury convicted him, but the appellate courts threw it out on a 'technicallity.'"

>>>>>>SteveDinMD: Yes, there is a stigma in having had a conviction overturned on appeal, but where is there NO stigma? There is a stigma in being acquitted at trial. There is a stigma in having charges dismissed in advance of trial. For that matter, there is a stigma in having been indicted in the first place. The LAX players' reputations have already been severely damaged; there's simply no avoiding it.

Further, once convicted, a defendant has to prove that the conviction was wrongful. That's much harder to do than win a trial where you're presumed innocent.

>>>>>>SteveDinMD: No, an appellant must only establish that there was a correctable error of law.

And while you're waiting for the appellate courts to overturn your conviction, there's a good chance you'll be serving your sentence; post-trial release is not a right, and it's not often granted.

>>>>>>SteveDinMD: Continuance of bail pending appeal is in many jurisdictions almost routinely granted -- even the convicted Enron defendants were so favored -- though I'm not in a position to comment on the practice in North Carolina. The risk would be the same in any case, either now or then. Look at the facts. The players stand in no less jeopardy today than they did at the outset. The only difference is that today they're each a year older and $1 Million+ poorer. A speedy trial was their best option at the time, IF they could have gotten it.

Anonymous said...

more to come on Judge RONALD Stephens in the very near future. Lack of PROFESSIONALISM continues to this very day.

Anonymous said...

The ultimate irony: he will almost certainly be the next District Attorney of Durham County.