Monday, May 07, 2007

Brad Bannon: The Unknown Soldier

DIW reader Dave Dixon recently interviewed defense hero Brad Bannon. My thanks to Dave for allowing me to run the resulting article on DIW, and to Brad for agreeing to the interview.


For some, the question of their true occupational calling is never ending. For Brad Bannon, the decision was very simple. At age 14, Bannon read the book Fatal Vision, by Joe McGinniss, and he knew he wanted to be a criminal lawyer. The book was about the case of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, who was charged with murdering his wife and children in North Carolina in 1970. One of MacDonald’s defense lawyers was Wade Smith (a familiar name, more on that later). Smith was not MacDonald’s lead lawyer and had only been slated to talk to the jury in closing arguments for one hour. But then that hour was whittled down to 10 minutes. Nevertheless, in just those 10 minutes, Smith had a very significant impact on the jury. Long after rendering the verdict to convict MacDonald, one of the jurors would later say, “I don’t know. We wanted to believe. We really did. Maybe if Wade Smith had just talked to us a little longer…”

That line stuck with Bannon. “It reminds me of why I stay at work late at night,” said Bannon. “I am constantly telling myself, ‘Well, if I just keep looking through this stuff, for just 30 more minutes, I might find something.’” It was that internal motivational voice that helped Bannon uncover the withheld exculpatory DNA evidence in the Duke case. “I didn’t know anything about DNA or what all of those documents meant, but I decided to learn about it all and to go through all of those pages, literally thousands of them, and I kept telling myself the whole time, ‘Thirty more minutes….’ Which, of course, always turns into hours and days and nights. And then, one of those nights in November, I found it.”

The work ethic also produced a new nickname for Bannon. The weekend before the December 15 hearing, Jim Cooney and his wife were in New York, visiting his daughter and her fiancee. Cooney's daughter, who is in the music business, had some backstage passes for the "Tenacious D" concert--Jack Black's band. The Cooneys opted out and went to dinner instead. It turns out that Brad was in New York as well and went to that concert; he is a "Tenacious D" groupie.
After the hearing on December 15, as the defense team was all congratulating Bannon, Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans announced that the attorney had a new nickname for the rest of the case: "Tenacious B." The nickname stuck.

On working as a team with other lawyers

The Duke defense team was very impressive by make-up, and so was the chemistry and unselfishness at the core. Bannon said that working with the lawyers in this case was one of the greatest experiences of his professional career. “I am not a sports guy, but I have been around enough sports to know my share of sports analogies, and the same principles are true of our team. Being part of a great team, no matter what that team is doing, means recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses unselfishly.”

So, while Joe Cheshire took the lead in the case when dealing with the media and the public (often speaking for not only his and Bannon’s client, Dave Evans, but also on behalf of Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty), attorneys like Bannon diligently worked behind the scenes and in the court room. “Joe was our primary public voice for several reasons,” explained Bannon. “He had the courage to speak out and put himself on the line publicly very early on, when it was necessary but also kind of scary. These kids were being poisoned in public, and Joe saw things being done at the early stages of this case that were factually wrong and prejudicial to a fair trial. At that time, it was hard to do anything to stem the tide of what was happening. But Joe’s desire to set the record straight put him out front for us.”

“I have worked in the legal arena for nearly 10 years, all of that time with Joe’s firm. I certainly do my own cases, and Joe does his, but we often work as a team. My focus has always been on the details and analysis of a case, and Joe has always been out front in the courtroom and, if necessary, the public. We took a similar approach in the N.C. State tailgate shooting case in 2005. I did a lot of the preparation work and a good share of the courtroom work, but Joe was out front--the lead lawyer. The bottom line is that there is no ego involved, and we really respect each other, which is why we work so well together.”

Brad’s Role Models

Born in Queens, New York, Brad is the son of a military father, and his family moved numerous times in his youth. Brad’s parents separated when he was young, and he grew up with his mother, Becky, and his older brother, Dean, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Becky Bannon taught public school for nearly 35 years and is retiring this year. His mother’s incredible commitment and hard work instilled the values that now drive Brad. “I know it sounds cliché, but my mom is my hero. She is very well respected and loved in her school district. She always had a fierce commitment to her students’ education, and she was even more committed to raising my brother and me. It’s not easy to be a single mother raising two boys as a public school teacher. As an adult, I am more and more amazed at what an incredible person she is, and what sacrifices she made to raise us. She took a situation that was thrust on her, and she performed incredibly. She never abandoned her commitment. She taught me everything I needed to know about responsibility.”

Not surprisingly, another role model Bannon cites is Joe Cheshire. “One thing a lot of people don’t know about Joe is that he basically gives as many hours in his week to uncompensated roles as he does for paying clients. Few people who have reached that point in their careers do that who don’t have to do that. I know the best moment in my career was the beginning, when Joe hired me to work for him. I always knew I wanted to be a criminal lawyer. But to end up in the Carolinas, in this city, working with Joe, has made all the difference. A lot of people go through their life hating their job, but I feel like I hit the jackpot when I got to work for him and to work with the people at my firm, who are basically my family.”

Wade Smith is also a role model for Brad. “Before the Duke case, I had brushed elbows professionally with Wade, but I never got to work with him as I have in this case. It is odd to think that 20 years ago my first real exposure to criminal law involved him, when I read Fatal Vision. He was one of my inspirations to become a lawyer, and now I am actually working with him. And the great thing about Wade is that he absolutely considers me his equal, when the truth is that I could never be that.”

Bannon cites another member of the Duke lacrosse defense team as a role model, one whose impact was particularly helpful to the defendants in that case. “After Jim Cooney and Mary Pollard freed Alan Gell from death row, Joe was appointed his lead trial counsel. Jim stayed in the case and worked pro bono. His major task was the presentation of scientific and expert testimony that, in conjunction with other evidence, proved that Alan could not have killed the victim in that case. I got to work very closely with Jim in that case and saw how an expert lawyer works with expert testimony. Since then, I have done my best to copy Jim’s approach, which is what I did with the DNA in the Duke case. I mean, I’ll never get to the level where Jim is, but I sure will continue to try.”


Those who run into Brad Bannon in a grocery store might confuse him for a local college student, with his youthful appearance. “I get it all the time about looking young,” said Bannon. “I can’t go anywhere and have a beer without being carded. I just recently stopped getting carded at R rated movies.” However, Bannon takes it in stride. “It’s not something that bothers me. It can be a hurdle with clients, especially those I’m appointed to represent. People already have concerns about being assigned this lawyer they don’t know, and then, on top of that, he looks 12 years old. They initially read it as inexperience, but once they spend time with me, it’s not a problem. It’s actually become part of my introduction. I’ll say, 'Hi, I’m Brad Bannon. I know I look young, but I’m really 36 years old, and I’ve been a lawyer for almost 10 years.’”

Surprisingly, in light of his role in the very high profile lacrosse case, Bannon was seldom recognized in public. Outside of an incident in South Carolina when he visited his mother at Christmas and was approached in a restaurant and asked if he was a defense lawyer in the case, Bannon went unrecognized. “Of course, that’s to be expected. I wasn’t front and center in this case until after Judge Smith restricted cameras from the courtroom, and I haven’t said much about the case outside the courtroom.”

On the Emotional Toll of His Work

As anyone can imagine, working in criminal law takes an emotional toll on all sides. Despite Bannon’s tremendous skill in his occupation, he is no exception to such feelings. “I have worked on cases where, in every direction you look, there is devastation.”

“In the Duke case, our clients are factually absolutely innocent,” Bannon explained, “but as criminal defense lawyers, we often represent guilty people who are rightfully charged. And, for example, in a murder case, it is gut-wrenching to hear the victim’s family members speak about the unimaginable loss of a loved one. It’s also gut-wrenching to sit with someone and wait for the jury to tell him whether he is going to live or die, especially when you know that decision has a lot to do with how well you’ve done your job.”

But Bannon understands and accepts that such an emotional toll comes with the job, and it constantly reaffirms for him the importance of his role. “It isn’t just a job, it is a commitment to people who have put their lives or the lives of their loved ones in your hands.”

Mock Trial Coaching

Despite his busy schedule, Brad finds time to coach the Mock Trial Team at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh. “I was on the mock trial team at Socastee High School all four years. My senior year, I was the captain, and we won the State Championship in South Carolina and the National Championship in Texas. When I started working with Joe, my friend Bryan Collins, who is now the Public Defender for Wake County, was coaching the Cardinal Gibbons team and asked me if I would like to coach. I remembered when I was a mock trial ‘lawyer,’ I looked up to the real lawyers who coached me with great admiration. To me, they were like rock stars. They had careers and families, and yet they came to our high school every afternoon or evening and made that sacrifice to help us. I felt like I needed to do something similar.”

On the role of blogs vs. the mainstream media in this case

Bannon feels that information from blogs was often more reliable than information from the mainstream media about this case. “I think that trend followed other trends in blogs about politics, current events, and the War in Iraq,” explained Bannon. “That was one of the most fascinating things about the news coverage of this case. It wasn’t the mainstream media trying to outdo each other in service to pre-existing meta-narratives. It was people who didn’t have the compensated, corporate backing of the mainstream media and said, ‘Hey, let’s focus on facts and not an agenda.’ I know other cases have been discussed on blogs before, but this might be the first case to get this much attention in the blogosphere. And, just like the mainstream media, some of it is reliable, and some of it isn’t. I personally believe there should be standards for bloggers, like putting their real names on their blogs, like Professor KC Johnson has done in this case with his site.”

“But the debate should not just be about standards for bloggers. The debate should be about standards for all media, whether mainstream or in the blogosphere. For example, many times I read in mainstream media coverage that ‘It is agreed’ that this or that happened, when there was no such agreement. Other times I read comments attributed to ‘sources close to the investigation’ who should never be given anonymity, and whose comments were wrong.

So tell my why information like that should be reliable just because it is under the banner of the New York Times or the Durham Herald-Sun or broadcast on a 24-hour news channel? If it’s unreliable, it doesn’t matter whether it’s spoken or written by a person we know in the mainstream media or published by a person we don’t know on the internet. It’s still unreliable.”

The View of North Carolina’s Legal System in the mind of America

While Bannon refuses to comment on the conduct of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong or his pending State Bar charges, he has put his own spin on one of Nifong’s most controversial public statements in the case: “I am not going to let the view of Durham to America be a bunch of Duke Students raping a black girl from Durham.” Bannon said he would like to shout from the mountain tops, “I am not going to let the view of North Carolina’s criminal justice system to America be this case.”

As proof of North Carolina’s legal progression, Bannon cites numerous examples. “In the past several years, North Carolina has acted progressively in all branches of government to improve the fairness of our state’s criminal justice system. In 2000, we established the Indigent Defense Services Commission to oversee the provision of legal representation to indigent defendants and to develop training, qualification, and performance standards for that representation. Joe Cheshire was instrumental in the establishment of IDS and is still the Chair. In 2002, our then Supreme Court Chief Justice established the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission to study issues related to wrongful convictions and to recommend changes in criminal law and procedure to avoid such miscarriages of justice.

The Commission’s first major action was a comprehensive study of how to avoid one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions: mistaken or false eyewitness identifications. The study produced the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission Recommendations for Eyewitness Identification, which were implemented by numerous law enforcement agencies in North Carolina, including the Durham Police Department by General Order 4077 dated February 1, 2006, though that order was ignored and violated during the PowerPoint ‘identification’ just two months later in the Duke case. In 2004, our state’s Conference of District Attorneys and criminal defense bar came together to recommend passage of North Carolina’s open-file discovery law, which went into effect in October of that year and required the complete files of all law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies in felony prosecutions to be provided to the defense. In 2006, we established the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the first statewide commission in this country established to review claims of actual innocence by convicted prisoners. Wade Smith sits on the Commission. So you can see that North Carolina as a whole has acted progressively and consistently over the last several years on many fronts to improve the fairness of the criminal justice system and has, in fact, been a nationwide leader in some of those efforts. You can also see that defense lawyers in the Duke lacrosse case have been actively involved in those reforms.”

Bannon also says that the relationship between defense attorneys and prosecutors in North Carolina is much more cordial and professional than that seen in the Duke case with the original prosecutor. “Most of us recognize that we are all professionals, and we all play necessary roles and have special responsibilities that work toward one goal: the fair administration of criminal justice in our state. I assure you, it gives me no pleasure to be in an antagonistic professional stance with a prosecutor, and I’m usually not. This case is an anomaly, and North Carolina is not a backwoods, regressive society. We are progressive, particularly in the area of recognizing flaws in our criminal justice system and constantly working to improve it. The train has long been on that track of progression, and it was only derailed in people’s minds as a result of this case.”

Future Reforms in Criminal Procedure Law

But Bannon does believe that this case highlights the need for additional improvements in certain aspects of criminal procedure. “I would hope the legislature would explore Grand Jury reform. One of the things we absolutely know is that the lead police officers and prosecutor who were in charge of this case in Durham had meetings with experts about DNA. We know those experts told them that they discovered DNA from multiple people that did not match any of the accused. It would be fascinating to know if that information was presented to the Grand Jury in Durham. The only way we would know that is if there was a record of the Grand Jury testimony, and we do not have that requirement in North Carolina. Unlike federal court, in state court in North Carolina, the Grand Jury is a secret proceeding and not recorded in any way.”

Brad Bannon the person

After graduating from Law School at Campbell University, Bannon took the job with Joe Cheshire and decided to live in Raleigh. “I wanted to stay in the Carolinas, and I like the fact that Raleigh has some of everything. Here in the Triangle, you find people from all walks of life. There’s also the educational institutions, the research facilities, the hospitals. There’s a lot of knowledge and talent in this area, and I like the diversity of people and cultures in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill.”

Despite being a bachelor, Bannon has very limited free time. “I work a lot. It goes along with the type of job I have. But I run, and I spend time with my friends when I can, and I try to see my mom.” He also tries to talk to his older brother, Dean, as much as possible. “I really look up to him, even though I don’t get to see him that much. He splits his time between Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.”

Bannon is also an avid music fan. U2 is his favorite band, and his affection for them goes beyond their music. He greatly admires their humanitarian efforts in Africa related to AIDS relief, debt relief, and fair trade.

Bannon also takes great pride in being a dog father. He has two dogs, Sandy, a terrier mix, and Friday, a Shih Tzu mix. He loves to tell the story of how he “adopted” Friday. On a Friday morning in November of 2004, Bannon was driving to work and feeling the emotional toll of a sentencing hearing the preceding day in a murder case. While approaching the busiest intersection on his way to work, he saw a small, 12 pound dog walk into the intersection. Bannon made sure the dog got out of the road and then pulled over. Despite never seeing Bannon before, the dog immediately trotted up to Bannon and laid down in front of him. “And that was it,” said Bannon. A few immunizations later, Friday joined the Bannon household and quickly bonded with Sandy.

Thanks to Bannon, Friday has a lot to be grateful for. So do those people who can call Brad their attorney.


Anonymous said...

Bannon has certainly become one of my heros!

This case has changed my view of the justice system in many ways -- one of those changes is my opinion of defense attorneys...

Anonymous said...

Two of the people I admire most in this world are K.C. Johnson and Brad Bannon. Gentlemen, this is a better planet because each of you is here.

Anonymous said...

It takes a lot to keep digging,
to look at things a little longer,
a little harder: I'm truly
impressed with the work that
led up to the "aha!" moment
with regard to DNA; it's those
moments that become pivotal,
those moments of brilliance
that most often change the course
of history.

Of course, the other side of the
story is that Mr. Nifong might,
instead, be holding a trial for 3
young men, rather than facing a
trial of his own. But for
Bannon's inspiration, there would
be no statement from the Attorney
General, no unequivocal declaration
of innocence.

Nifong, a person with the instincts
of a Haman, is now being hung on
his own scaffold, the one he
created for others.

It's hard to slow the speed
of a train, but it's possible to
change the course of the track;
Bannon switched the track the
train travelled on, just before
the train got to full speed.

The DNA was the switching station;
nearly everybody thought this
train was headed for the state


Cedarford said...

While the interview was good, it was rear view mirror perspective. Case is over, congrats!

I would have been interested in Bannon's perspective on lawsuits and who might be involved, and if this all is backburnered for Nifongs Bar proceedings to play out.

Anonymous said...

A little rear-view perspective can be good. Excellent interview.

Chicago said...


Brad kindly but firmly declined to comment on Nifong's bar hearing in an effort to provide Defendant Nifong with a fair trial. It is the smart and ethical thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Right, it's a retrospective,
but the pivot-point is an
important place to witness:
it makes it clear that this
outcome was not so very clear,
and that attention still must
be given so that the course
of justice continues in the
direction that is desirable.

It's also a well-deserved
breather, one that runners
use when they're surveying
the race: those that are ahead,
and those in pursuit.

I doubt we'll see Brad Bannon's
perspective on who might be
up next, after Nifong.
As a defense attorney, he might
end up defending one of those
people we have come to know
and despise.

Ever watch TV where they have
3 or 4 interviewees?
Two might be DAs; two might be
Defense Attorneys. I think I
remember a couple of cases where
one of the attorneys (who just
about declared the defendant
guilty) ended up defending

Bannon's savvy enough not to
pee in his own well.

On the other hand, I share your


Anonymous said...

1. I never realized how potentially risky it was to one's legal career to go up against a local (and potentially vengeful) DA. I hope this point continues to be expanded in the coming months.

2. I'm sure glad there are guys like Bannon out there. His explanation of his job is perhaps the best I've ever heard. I still get inspired thinking about how he helped turn this thing around.

3. RE Fatal Vision-- while Wade Smith came out looking quite good in the book, many of the other lawyers (either in the book or later on in their careers) didnt fare so well.

4. This case is the best thing to happen to criminal attorneys in years. Look for an increase in bright/idealistic young people wanting to enter this area of law.

5. Still, its worth keeping in mind that great statement in The Godfather: "a lawyer with a briefcase can steal more money that a hundred men with guns and masks"

6. The lack of help for the Duke 3 (at least publicly) from the Innocence Project and perhaps Alan Deshowitz is shameful and is just another reason why so many have a negative view of the legal profession.

7. Brad Bannon is clearly a fantastic lawyer (and must have been raised right by his mom).

Anonymous said...

I imagine that is Soldier, not Solider ...

Anonymous said...

6. The lack of help for the Duke 3 (at least publicly) from the Innocence Project and perhaps Alan Deshowitz is shameful and is just another reason why so many have a negative view of the legal profession.

I give you the Innocence Projects... but actually, Dershowitz came out and supported an investigation of Nifong :

"I believe in the assumption of innocence before trial. I believe in the right of every defendant to a fair and impartial trial. I believe in the duty of every prosecutor to seek justice, and not merely victory in the courtroom.

"I believe these principles have been violated in the actions of Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong. Elected prosecutors must be held accountable for their misconduct and the prosecutor in the Duke case appears to have withheld exculpatory evidence, failed to interview the complaining witness in a timely fashion and refused to consider obvious evidence of innocence. His entire course of conduct in this case should be scrupulously investigated. December 31, 2006"

He is the ONLY law professor, AFAIK, outside of James Coleman, who spoke publicly against Nifong.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I was stunned to discover that it was Bannon who deciphered the lab results. I had naturally assumed the families hired a DNA expert to do that.

I have worked with lawyers for over two decades - so I can confirm the obvious. Bannon is one incredible lawyer.

hman said...

I get the fact that most criminal defense attorneys go for years without having clients that are actually, for sure, capitol "I" innocent. I respect them none the less for it all.
If a guilty person gets let off - well, there is some amount of harm that follows. But if a rogue DA is running amok and convicts the innocent at will; none of us are safe and the republic is in danger. And the republic is what really matters, imho.
A. Lincoln was in real-life a very good attorney. Before he was President and Saviour of his country he was a kick-ass lawyer of the sort who got guilty murderers to walk and big railroad firms their right-of ways.
I suppose I am saying that I respect good defense attorneys when they are defending the obviously guilty as the actual innocent.
On the other hand, I believe a lot of us got involved in this case because it was so painfully obvious from the start that no crime was committed. The 3 accused were beyond ordinary innocence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brad - You, Jim, Joe and the rest have done more to raise the Lawyering business in the eyes of Americans since the framers.

Anonymous said...

The defense lawyers did outstanding jobs. A striking contrast to Nifong. But in the end, a lawyer is just a hired gun who argues a case for money. In this case, LOTS and LOTS of money. (Millions, I believe.) So they SHOULD have done a good job. Should they be branded "heroes" for that? No. They just did what they were well paid professionals hired to do. "Well done" is sufficient.

Michael said...

Thanks for the great bio. I'll have our son read it - he's been following the case somewhat loosely as he sometimes sees me reading DIW and has a look at what I'm reading.

Anonymous said...

2:27 -- I disagree. Can you name one other case that defense attorneys succeeded in getting prosecutors to declare their clients INNOCENT??

Yep, the parents paid LOTS and LOTS to this team of defense attorneys but, I'd bet the "INNOCENT" outcome was more than they had hoped/prayed for.

bill anderson said...

I disagree with 2:27. Yes, good lawyers are well-paid, but in this case they fought hard. I appreciate what criminal defense lawyers do precisely because most of their clients are guilty. We have to protect the rights of the guilty because if we do not, we see what happens: the rights of the innocents also are trampled upon.

Good work, K.C. Your post today was from the heart.

Michael said...

re: Just doing their jobs

There are people that just do their jobs and there are people that go beyond what their jobs require. The people that just do their jobs get paid just like the people that are heros.

Anonymous said...

Alia sez:

This is a marvelous expose on a group of individuals who've worked together, who've exhibited the very best about America and the justice system.

It still works. It still has honor and respect for morals and ethics and the value of each individual. It isn't just about billings and wins.

Excellent article.

Nifong's hat trick said...

Some people strive to be just like their heroes. Brad Bannon took it one step further and became a hero himself.

Anonymous said...

For all those ladies thinking that Brad is The dream of all dreams.....sorry he's not the marrying type, just imagine spending the rest of your life never being able to win an argument.

Anonymous said...

One Brad Bannon is worth a million Johnny Cochrans.

Teach1975 said...

Everytime I read about the work Brad Bannon and the other lawyers did related the DNA etc. it emphasizes the fact that Nifong did not comply with open discover.

Gary Packwood said...

DIW - New Model for Reporting Current Events

Chicago 12:58 said...
...Brad kindly but firmly declined to comment on Nifong's bar hearing in an effort to provide Defendant Nifong with a fair trial. It is the smart and ethical thing to do.
Chicago is correct I believe and he also helped me realize that DIW is a new model for reporting current events.
In this article we read content that would be ignored by the print media and sliced and diced by TV.
With the DIW model however we learned new information twice. Once by reading the article and then a second time by reading the comments about the article.
Thanks to KC I learned about Brad and his persistence and I learned from Chicago that Brad's persistence extends to insuring that a fair trial be afforded to Mr. Nifong. I missed that the first time I read the article.
How can we promote this new DIW model for reporting current events?
Should we ask KC to study the possibly of sharing sections of his book here for us to read and comment?

Chicago said...

For those of you saying Brad is about billing and winning, you obviously did not read the piece carefully. Brad is about justice and integrity.

Anyone questioning Brad's heroic's in this case needs to go back and carefully read the article. Examine the fact that Brad, Joe and Cooney do a lot of Pro bono work. Additionally, as Brad mentioned, this is not a game to him, this is about helping people and helping family's.

I would also encourage anyone who questions Brad's motives to read this letter he wrote to the State Bar.

duke09parent said...

Interesting that "Fatal Vision" led Brad to become a defense criminal attorney. That book, and the movie it spawned, made MacDonald look like a monster. (I was convinced.) I would have thought it would motivate one to be a prosecutor.

I had the impression that one of the reasons Chesire was lead spokesperson was that he and his family had a long history of supporting civil rights in Durham.

jamil hussein said...

a bit off-topic, but related to local gang88 chapter in Denver:

Firing casts shadow on CU diversity

As michelle malkin reported, CU has no problem with con artist, academic fraud Ward Churchill, but conservative teachers (who do not advocate 9/11 conspiracy theories or angry studies) will be systematically removed from the University. Gang88 is winning.

Indoctrinate U

Anonymous said...

Will someone please clarify what exactly it was that Brannon found in those thousands of (DNA test) pages one November night? I thought it was Meehan's statement on witholding exculp. evidence that turned the tide.

I cannot imagine what a biologically unversed person would find in thousands of pages of DNA lab test data that would be comprehensible to him.


Chicago said...


If I understand it correctly, when Nifong was finally forced to turn over his results from Meehan he did so with out a summary. Nifong had previously called the request a witch hunt and did everything in his power to avoid turning over that information.

So essentially Nifong handed over nothing but a bunch of test results that your run of the mill human being would not know the first thing about beginning to understand. Bannon bought a DNA book and taught himself the material, then spread all the pages around a large table in a conference room in his office and literally spent days pouring over the material until he found evidence that DNA from people who were not lacrosse players had been found inside Crystal.

Your statement at the end of the paragraph speaks for itself. No one (including Brad) had a clue what all the papers meant, Brad had to first teach himself how to understand them and then pour through them to identify people who were not Duke Lax players.All of Brad's hard work would have not been neccesary had Nifong provided a DNA summary of Meehan's finding as he was legally required to do.

Anonymous said...

Knowing all this DNA stuff is not going to hurt any lawyer - this is the wave of the future.

Wade Dowdle said...

Brad has been nominated to receive the 2008 Charles English Award given by the American Bar Association. The comments and plaudits seen on this blog should be sent to ABA.

The Charles R. English Award is given by the ABA Criminal Justice Section for those who have distinguished themselves by their work in the field of criminal justice.

The public is invited to send comments and testimonials on this nomination to: ABA Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association, 740 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005 Attention: 2008 Charles R. English Award or by e-mail to

Lets see that this deserving young man gets the recognition that he has so richly earned.

Anonymous said...

Wade Dowdle -- I think I read that the deadline for nominations for the 2008 Charles English Award -- was in early March or April. Are you certain that Brad's nomination was accepted (since it seems to have gone in past the published deadline) and, is the ABA still accepting comments??

Wade Dowdle said...

No, the 2007 deadline has passed and the recipient has been selected. I spoke with the Section Director who said that he would accept nominations and comments for the 2008 Award. It may be early, but lets strike while the iron is hot and get as many comments and recommendations as we can.
Yes, Brad's nomination was accepted and many have already sent their Second to the nomination. I would love to see all the articulate and knowledgeble bloggers on this board send in their responses.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wade Dowdle said...


How cynical! Yes the SBI reported no DNA, but it did not report the presence of multiple DNA donors who were not LAX players. Too, it was not known until Bannon revealed in open court on Decemeber 15th that Nifong and Meehan had conspired to withhold the exculpatory evidence.
It was this revelation that broke this case wide open and resulted in the AG pronouncement of Innocent, instead of "Insufficient Evidence"--which would have been devistating.

In the words of a fellow defense counsel in the case, Mr. Jim Cooney:

"Brad Bannon is one of the great heroes of this case. The defense was not tipped off to the DNA and we were not tipped off to Brian Meehan being offered up for examination on December 15th. The DNA information was discovered for one reason only: Brad Bannon literally locked himself in a room with 2,000 pages of laboratory data and reviewed every single page until he understood it. On December 15th, when Nifong offered up Meehan, I think that he never believed that we would take him up on it because he knew that we had not prepared for it. We went forward on the fly with no preparation and led with Brad. In my opinion, his performance was one of the most remarkable things that I have witnessed in a courtroom in my 25 years as a trial lawyer. His performance broke Meehan, exposed Nifong's actions to the world, led to the Bar intervening with ethics charges and, ultimately Nifong's recusal.

In short, he won the case that day."

Bannon had verified his findings with a non-testimonial DNA expert prior to the hearing, but the credit for the discovery belongs to him and him alone. Too, the DNA expert did not and could not have revealed the Nifong/Meehan conspiracy.

Your "paid previcator" comment reflects a generalized distain for lawyers. If you have read this posting, you'd have to conclude that Bannon is a hard-working, alturistic, very intelligent and dedicated attorney. As for his being "paid," certainly he is, and rightfully so. You can be sure that the attorneys involved had reasonable fees, because the person who hired them (David Evans) is also an attorney and knows how to keep legal fees in bounds.

You should also know that all of the attorneys involved do a substantial amount of pro bono work and have saved at least one innocent man from death row. So, when the Court of Final Judgement that you cited is convened, these gentlemen will come off very well!

Perhaps your cynicizm would be better placed by examining the Nifong/Meehan connection.

Chicago said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chicago said...

8:12-Very well stated. Bannon is a hero and he did win the case with his hard work in seeking TRUTH and JUSTICE. Two things the prosecution had a complete absence of displaying.

12:48 Your comments are sickening.

Anonymous said...

It is very exciting to watch someone perform a job with complete devotion and reap the rewards Brad Bannon and his client have enjoyed. Thank you, Brad Bannon, for dazzling us with your dedication to and success in cracking the case wide open. From a distance, we have shared most gratefully in that triumph.


Purps said...

If I could through myself
Set your spirit free
I'd lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light
And to the day

To let it go
And so to fade away
To let it go
And so fade away

I'm wide awake


Thanks, Brad

Duke 85 said...

"McDevitt, who’s from Philadelphia, is the son of a Teamster; Carroll, a Long Island native, is the son of a firefighter, and his two brothers served in the Navy. While Group of 88’ers such as Grant Farred might deem McDevitt and Carroll representatives of “white privilege,” few reasonable people would do so."

You mean their fathers had JOBS. Their parents might even be married. Therefore, of course, they are representatives of white privilege. Anyone who pays taxes are the rich. If your children don't qualify for free/reduced price lunch you are rich. While there are people who can support themselves in a capitalistic society and others who can't or choose not to then the wealth has not be redistributed enough hence "white privilege".