The incomparable Kristin Butler penned her final column of the year by noting, with sadness, that Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann won’t be returning to Duke—and by asking some hard questions: “Why should our wrongly accused classmates come back after everything they’ve been through? Can we say we have learned anything from their (and our) ordeal?”
As for the University: silence appears to be the order of the day. Silence regarding the occasion when “
Tara Servatius has done the best reporting on the relationship between the case and North Carolina’s open discovery law, and she did so again with a piece last week. The issue: a proposal—mentioned by Joe Cheshire in the April 11 press conference—to roll back the open discovery law, which Servatius appropriately dubbed the “Nifong Protection Act.” The measure stated, “Disclosure is also not required of legal research or of records, correspondence, reports, memoranda or trial preparation interview notes prepared by the prosecuting attorney or by members of the prosecuting attorney’s legal staff.”
Servatius sat down with Jim Cooney, who similarly was outraged by the proposal. Reade Seligmann’s attorney noted, “Under this bill, the DA wouldn’t have to produce it [notes of the interview] unless the DA believed that was evidence of innocence. The DAs would always take the position ‘no such thing.’” Indeed, this is just what Nifong tried to do regarding his: April 10 conversation with Dr. Brian Meehan; his April 11 chat with Crystal Mangum; and a June meeting with SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy.
Servatius then sat down with the legislative sponsors of the bill—and got them to admit they didn’t know the measure’s terms. Senate sponsor Tony Rand, according to Servatius, justified the bill as a way to protect social security numbers of victims and witnesses. When Servatius pointed out the bill didn’t even address that issue,
What they have proposed essentially undoes everything that has been done the last four or five years and again it’s going to mask the truth in these cases and all that leads us to is innocent people being convicted. For the life of me I cannot understand in view of what has played itself out in
why the district attorneys believe this is a good time to actually cut back on the open file discovery provisions. This bill isn’t written for DAs who follow the rules. The bill is written for DAs who aren’t following the rules. Durham
From this week’s humor file: At Liestoppers, Joan Foster channels ABBA. The fifth verse is particularly good.
And espn.com’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback does its version of NFL draft. Its mocking selection for the Carolina Panthers also contains a serious message:
14. Carolina Panthers: Moezeldin Elmostafa, Durham, N.C. cab driver
Elmostafa is the witness who knew that one of the Duke lacrosse players couldn’t possibly have done what he was accused of doing, and stuck to his story despite police attempts to intimidate him into silence. And while everyone is rightly bashing the sleazeball district attorney, what about the
police department? The Durham police in this case come off looking highly suspect, yet no officers or commanders have been fired. Durham
The left-wing “netroots” hasn’t exactly distinguished itself in its approach to the case. First, Melissa Lafsky at Huffington Post said that rape charges shouldn’t be dropped as long as Susan Estrich didn’t call Crystal Mangum a liar—and then, when it was pointed out Estrich had called Mangum a liar, simply eliminated the sentence but kept the rest of her post unchanged. Then Amanda Marcotte embarrassed the John Edwards campaign with her vile language, presumption of guilt, and preference for airbrushing posts that proved intellectual indefensible.
And now DailyKos has gotten into the act, with a post from Betsy Angert, who proclaimed that she could “stay silent no more and needed to “flush out what I believe is folly” “Stunned and sickened” by the dismissal of charges, Angert announced that “a subtlety [sic] violent, destructive, and abusive action took place.” That Mangum (who Angert describes as a “financially strapped student” and a “scholar of lesser means” but who the AG’s report portrayed as a mentally imbalanced person who had a drug dependency) chose to strip for a living “speaks to a society in trouble.”
How, Angert cried out in anguish, can we forget “the accuser’s vivid account of racist and misogynistic taunts?” (Apparently Mangum had no trouble forgetting them: ) Dismissing the support petition for Reade Seligmann, Angert mused, “Are their [sic] enough affluent and admired Black persons able to plead a similar case?” The accused students, Angert fumed, had lives “filled with achievements, accomplishments that few Black Americans have available to them.” After meandering off into a discussion of Tiger Woods and Oprah(!), Angert compared the lacrosse party to an event with people “dressed in blackfaces, Klu [sic] Klux Klan costumes, and carrying a noose.”
Quite an analysis.
Duke Basketball Report has a common-sense reaction to the release of the AG's report:
The mystery here is, as it has been: why did Mike Nifong do this? Was it just for a pension?
Given the magnitude of the crime committed here - and in our opinion, even if Nifong is never charged, using an unstable woman to frame three innocent men is at least a moral crime - one has to wonder about his other cases. Which seems more likely to you - that he would start cheating on a high-profile case like this? Or that this is part of a pattern? We have no idea, but it’s a disturbing yet important question to ask.
What takes our breath away is the arrogance of it, the idea that the D.A. could just so blatantly spin a case out of nothing.
In fact, given the magnitude of what has transpired, we’d really urge attorneys, or law students, or journalists (which rules out just about anyone from the Herald-Sun) to pore over the records of the office for the last decade or so to see if anyone else was hung out to dry. Our hunch is that what happened in the lacrosse case didn’t happen in a vacuum.
Yet another in the long line of Herald-Sun factual errors about the case: both the summary of the AG’s report posted Friday afternoon and John Stevenson’s Saturday article contained the following assertion: “For the first time, the alibi defense that accused lacrosse player Collin Finnerty planned to use came to light in the report.”
Actually, 60 hours before the report appeared, Finnerty’s alibi was publicly revealed here.
In the time between the staff reports article and the appearance of the Stevenson article, I alerted H-S editor Bob Ashley about the error, and he acknowledged receipt of my e-mail. Yet not only did no correction appear, but the error was repeated--even after Ashley knew the statement was false.
At this stage, why should anyone be surprised?
Last week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thomas Stinson had a superb article on the lacrosse team's quest for the 2007 national championship. He noted the irony of what had changed since 2006:
Coach John Danowski astutely summarized the attitude of the team:
The kids are angry; they're angry at the world. They're angry at the faculty. They're angry at some administrators. They're angry at the media. They're angry at those people who jumped to conclusions without even meeting them, without even getting to know who they were and getting to know the real circumstances of that evening.And Stinson noted that despite AG Cooper's call for apologies--and the willingness of some people, such as Ruth Sheehan, to accept his advice--the Group of 88 "has yet to respond." And, given their behavior over the past 13 months, few would have expected any different behavior from the Group.
At Real Clear Politics, Dennis Prager listed eight lessons of the case, in which “
A few worth noting: At Duke, “eighty-eight professors, abetted by Duke’s president, created a mob mentality against the young men not unlike that of a lynch mob”—though “of course, nothing will be done to Duke’s president or to those professors.” And “the next time you hear that someone was indicted by a grand jury, unless you have knowledge of the case, or reason suggests possible guilt, don’t assume it.”
Read his full column here.