Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shifting Standards

Trustees at other elite institutions ignore the lessons of the lacrosse case at their peril. Ten months ago, the response of the Brodhead/Steel administration might have seemed a skillful navigation between the local community, the media, and faculty extremists on the one hand and upholding the presumption of innocence—if only in a pro forma fashion—on the other. In light of current events, the administration’s disinclination to demand that Duke students be treated according to the same procedures as all other Durham residents doesn’t look so impressive.

At the very least, the case should inspire trustees at other institutions to develop contingency plans on how to respond to high-profile charges against students when the behavior of local law enforcement raises questions.

Duke BOT chairman Bob Steel first addressed this issue in a little-remembered statement on April 7, 2006, which took an expansive view of the University’s responsibilities toward its students. At the time, Steel asserted,

As President Brodhead has consistently stated, the crimes alleged are grave and, if verified, will warrant severe punishment from both the criminal justice system and Duke’s student judicial process. Simultaneously, we must protect the rights of students who have maintained their innocence and not been charged with any crime. [emphasis added]

Before any students were charged with a crime, the lacrosse players’ rights were violated in at least four ways:

  • Nifong’s late March/early April pre-primary publicity barrage;
  • The false statements of the Durham Police Department that no players had cooperated;
  • The April 4, 2006 lineup;
  • The DPD’s April 13, 2006 nighttime sojourn to the Duke dorms.

The latter event offered a particularly easy opportunity for Duke to have implemented Steel’s policy. DPD officers surreptitiously gained entrance into the dorms by following behind a Duke undergraduate who swiped her keycard. They questioned Duke students that they knew were represented by counsel—an act that, because Nifong was by then personally directing the police investigation, appeared to violate Rule 4.2 of the North Carolina Code of Professional Responsibility. As the Baker/Chalmers report noted, all but one of the players declined to answer any questions.

The day after the DPD’s nighttime sojourn to his campus, President Brodhead declined comment when asked about the matter while at NCCU. Later that day, Aaron Graves, associate vice president for campus safety and security, issued a statement that suggested the DPD had acted properly. Incredibly, Graves then appeared to chastise the players for not telling the police what Gottlieb & Co. wanted to hear. “Duke,” Graves stated, “reiterates its earlier statements that it is cooperating fully with the police investigation and urges anyone with information pertinent to the events of March 13 to cooperate with the authorities.”

Duke has never explained why it abandoned the standard laid out by Steel in his April 7, 2006 remarks. It is interesting to speculate how Steel, Brodhead, and their advisors might have acted had they been guided by a policy holding that the institution “must protect the rights of students who have maintained their innocence and not been charged with any crime.”

Nearly a year after he wrote the words above, Steel summarized Duke’s general policy in a very different way. In an April 11, 2007 e-mail, he wrote, “We believe that it was essential for the University to defer to the criminal justice system.”

The recently posted Duke Office of News & Communications case summary likewise ignored Steel’s April 2006 words, and instead observed that the Brodhead administration focused on “avoiding interference with the legal process,” since “it was the job of the legal system—not of Duke—to determine legal guilt or innocence.” Indeed, Brodhead at one point described his policy as that of “broad deference to the legal process.”

As a result, the president remained silent as Nifong launched a procedurally improper pre-primary publicity barrage, obtained indictments based on procedurally improper lineups, and shirked his procedural responsibilities by declining to meet with defense attorneys who said they possessed exculpatory evidence. In his summertime response to the Friends of Duke letter, Brodhead explicitly rejected an opportunity to raise these issues publicly, and instead expressed his hope for a speedy trial, where “we are eager for our students to be proved innocent.”

This “broad deference” philosophy also served Brodhead’s short-term interests in dealing with a faculty whose public voice was dominated by the Group of 88. He could pacify the Group with public denunciations of the lacrosse players—as in his April 5, 2006 statement—while avoiding any comment about the case that might have alienated the Group’s rush-to-judgment mentality.

Brodhead has never explained why, in politically correct cases during his tenure at both Yale and Duke, he followed not a policy of “broad deference to the legal process” but instead Steel’s April 2006 approach that a university “must protect the rights of students who have maintained their innocence and not been charged with any crime.”

In the end, Brodhead himself didn’t follow his own policies in the lacrosse case. The ONC document approvingly noted that “soon after it became clear in court that Nifong’s statements were not credible, [Brodhead] invited [Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty] to return in good standing, months before Cooper’s decision.” In addition, “after Nifong dropped the most serious of the charges—rape—in December 2006, Brodhead called on him to recuse himself from the case, saying, ‘Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.’”

Both of those decisions were, in my opinion, correct; I praised them at the time. Yet they also contradicted a stated philosophy of “broad deference to the legal process.”

The ONC contends that Brodhead reinstated Seligmann and Finnerty “soon after it became clear in court that Nifong’s statements were not credible.” At the time the president made his decision, however, the “legal process” was still ongoing: the two still faced two serious charges, with Nifong as the prosecutor. Brodhead might be correct that Nifong lost credibility “in court” on December 15. But, according to the “broad deference” standard, only a judge or a jury—not Brodhead—had the right to determine whether or not Nifong was credible.

Likewise, Brodhead might have been correct that it was proper for him to call for Nifong’s recusal in December but not in July. But, again, according to the “broad deference” standard, Brodhead had no right to call for Nifong’s recusal.

As Jim Coleman has pointed out, an excessively aggressive defense of the players by Brodhead could very well have backfired, playing into Nifong’s hands. Yet the players’ interests were hardly served by the opposite approach—“broad deference” to a “rogue prosecutor,” coupled with periodic presidential denunciations of the players’ character and the administration’s inexplicable refusal to enforce Chapter Six of the Faculty Handbook.

In the end, the sensible standard would seem to be the moderate one that Steel articulated on April 7, 2006 and Brodhead belatedly adopted: upholding the academy’s traditional support for due process and procedural regularity by criticizing Nifong’s procedural improprieties, while declining comment on the specifics of the allegations.


Anonymous said...

A Confederacy of Dunces.

"If that's all there is to life, then let's keep dancing."?

Anonymous said...

I have found many academic/ educators to be chickens@#$s. Duke has more than its share.

Duke, the NY Times, the voters of Durham, Nifong, etc----> is there anybody that would trust these people with ANYTHING important? All have a lack of character.

And tell me why the innocence project and the ACLU were so useless here?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I think white males does not fit the ACLU or Innocent Project agenda. I have stopped financial support to these organizations.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

5 ways I suspect,

5. Lying to a Grand Jury to falsely indict (I guess, technically, this is just before an indictment)

Can add number 6 perhaps if you include all 46 players in the illegal order for all to produce DNA.

And these are just the ones prior to an indictment, the list grows exponentially after that !!


Anonymous said...

As usual, political correctness justifies doing wrong.

What I fail to understand is why there is any currency remaining -- at all -- in something that has repeadedly been shown to be so bankrupt. In fact, one could make a very strong argument that this sort of thing is very damaging to society in ways that are not noticed by most.

It disgusts, but does not seem to be subject to change. We have a collective learning disability and any discourse on the deeper issues can't be allowed -- it is career suicide for a politician and doesn't fit the adgenda of the press. The thing is, a race to the bottom is bad for everyone, including those who see themselves as benefitting from this system of preferences.

Anonymous said...

JLS says...,

Professor Johnson, sorry but in tonight's post, I think you have confused rights of the individual with the duties certain people have.

1. An individual does not have a right to have the DA not make inflamatory comments, the DA has an ethical duty not to make such comments.

2. An individual does not have a right to have the police not falsely claim they are not cooperating, the police have duty to the public not to lie.

3. An individual does not have a right to a certain kind of lineup, but rather the rules of evidence keep out unreliable identification and again the police have duty to the public to operate in such a manner that they can take good case to trial.

4. A student in the dorms does not have a right not to have the police come try to talk to them, but again the police have duty to inform them of their rights and the rules of evidence can keep out statements if the police question you without your attorney present.

Your over arching point, Duke has a duty to its students and failed in this case, is correct. But the lacrosse players rights were not violated in any of the four instances that you suggested.

Anonymous said...

Let me make a few comments on strippers:

1. A large % of men (and a small % of woman) have been in the presence of strippers.

2. This probably includes many of your parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, and spouses. That might even include the Times, the gang of 88, etc.

3. Military, bachelor parties, promotions, Vegas, etc, etc

4. This is different than prostitution.

5. As we speak thousands and thousands of people are in the presence of strippers.

6. Both parties are acting under their own free will.

7. ALL races go to strippers.

8. Clearly, visiting a strip club would have made more sense.

9. An occasional visit to a strip club as a young person in one thing, constant visits are another. Pretty pathetic.

10. I'd rather have a bunch of Vegas strippers on a jury than any 12 voters from Durham.

11. Check out Chris Rock's routine about strippers. Says it all.

12. That said, while its stupid to bring strippers into your home--> NOTHING these boys did justifies the LYING prosecution.

13. A good rule of thumb--anybody or any publication that focuses on the hiring of the strippers in this case is not to be taken seriously.

Gary Packwood said...

JLS 12:36 says...

...Professor Johnson, sorry but in tonight's post, I think you have confused rights of the individual with the duties certain people have.
Is it reasonable for all citizens to have certain expectations about the duties of those who have the authority to take away their freedom?

William Jockusch said...

For the first time, I disagree with you KC. The last thing that is needed is a new set of formal standards. Our world already has far too many formal standards for all sorts of things, to the point where, for example, people frequently sign important documents without reading them, because there is simply too much there.

Furthermore, as this case shows, just because someone has formal written standards on how to do something, does not mean those standards will be followed.

What is needed is for administrators to use their common sense in dealing with such situations. Pointing out how Duke didn't do that will help create this. Promulgation of new standards will not.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

If Duke's old standards didn't make them do the right thing, how will new ones?

Anonymous said...

JUST like wall street, broadrot doesnt take his own advice

wall street sits in judgement of the finest companies in the private sector, but ignore what it tells others

broadrotten is a methaphor for PC..he has no beliefs..he seeks an adoring audience...

like our enemies, he is willing to sacrifice students on the alter of PC because thats WHAT HE BELIEVES IN...and as long as the cowardly DUKE BOARD OF TRUSTEES defends this humorless, insentive, ignoramus they are ones who have WASHED THEIR HANDS like pontius pilot

Anonymous said...

i agree with you KC, the other institutions will have to deal with this sooner or later...

the philosophy department of the top school in this field PRINCETON is where this issue needs to start..its a philosophical issue first and foremost

Gary said...

Pilots have procedures that they practice following even though in rare cases such procedures will cause the plane to crash when an extraordinary pilot could have saved it. The point is, on average more planes are saved by following procedure.

For similar reasons we have our legal procedures, checks and balances rather than relying on having a kind and wise king.

One of the themes of KC's career revolves around upholding procedure/due process for this reason. Duke could fill both requirements: Not trying to dictate legal outcomes AND standing up for it's students simply by insisting that fair and consistent procedures are adhered to by political, legal and even press entities. Stick to that and weather the stormy excesses of the politically correct Left AND the moral certainty / theocratic Right.

I think that's the point.

Anonymous said...

Prof Johnson: finally getting tough (sort of) on Brodhead. Hope to see more of it. And hope you don't pull your punches at him in your book.

Can you tell us? Do you think Brodhead ought to resign over his handling of the lacrosse affair?

Anonymous said...

On April 5, 2006 Brodhead published this pledge:

"I pledge that Duke will respond with appropriate seriousness when the truth is established".

The truth HAS been established, yet there has been no appropriately serious response. So much for Bhead's "pledge". So much for his credibility... what little remains of it.

It is now apparent that the "truth" B'head had in mind was the guilt of the lacrosse players. Had they been convicted, there can be little doubt that B'head would have done everything in his power against the students and would have fallen over himself to renew the campaign against racism and sexism on campus in the most pious and sanctimonious terms.

There were no convictions, so nothing gets done? But the truth has revealed that serious violations DID occur, albeit against the lacrosse players, and not by them. So where is the serious response? We can only infer that no "appropriately serious" response is warranted when the victims are white males. It is warranted when the victims are women and minorities.

It is amazing how far this double standard has gone in the US.

Anonymous said...

KC writes: " ... Brodhead at one point described his policy as that of “broad deference to the legal process.” "

Very well, but the legal process that was underway also contains a large bundle of rights that are afforded the accused. That is precisely why we have Due Process rights, among others.

Brodhead said "broad deference to the legal process" but what he did constituted broad deference to the prosecution and law enforcement, and not a scintilla of deference to the accused.

This is the very same convoluted logic, bias, and ignorance of the legal process that caused Brodhead to opine the singlemost utterly ridiculous statement in this entire debacle, " we are eager for our students to be proved innocent.”

Again, he has it upside down; he lives in Wonderland. It is the job of the State to prove any accused guilty.

And finally, to expand on JLS 12:36's mostly accurate version of Rights vs. Duties 101, Brodhead clearly had a DUTY to those three accused students; a duty that by any measure he failed miserably.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

Brodhead's policy of “broad deference to the legal process.” appears to be part of a developing meme by both Duke and the City of Durham, to wit, "We were done in by a 'Rogue Prosecutor'."

As Nifong's carcass lies rightfully bleeding before the State Bar, the sharks descend on it; this horrible incident is all Nifong's fault.

In Duke's case, their spin is to avoid culpability by maintaining that they gave deference to the legal process and it was flawed and corrupt.

In listening to Monday night's Durham City Council proceedings, several council members made pointed comments about the "Rogue Prosecutor" and one member even called for his resignation.

Unlike Duke, the council appears headed for some admission of City (DPD) wrongdoing, however mild that may turn out to be. The Baker/Chalmers report was a farce and the Council knows it.

Duke, on the other hand, apparently sees no wrong in what its administration and certain professors did, and I believe they will jump on the "Rogue Prosecutor" meme like flies on fresh horse manure. That too is a farce.

The CYA effort is now in full warp mode, but the trolley is still on the track regardless of how much Duke or the City might wish that it would return to the barn.

One Spook

bill anderson said...

Somehow, methinks that had the accused been something else of a different "identity group" and Nifong had done the same things, Brodhead would have been all over him from the start.

This is what happens when higher education and the legal process are thoroughly politicized. The academic curriculum (not to mention academic processes) already have been politicized through and through, and now we have to live with the results.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, no one here is forced to read the NY Times. You are, however, obsessed.

Anonymous said...

There is a simple explanation for everything Duke did in the first months of this case. Brodhead, et al., got caught up in the lynch mob mentality and decided the players were guilty.

Anonymous said...

I think it is all summed up by his statement that whatever they did was bad enough.

It never occurred to him that they might be absolutely innocent and so he never behaved in a way that took that into consideration.

rrhamilton said...

"I pledge that Duke will respond with appropriate seriousness when the truth is established".
-- Pres. Broadhead, April 2006

This has been my point in a colloquy with a Duke law prof. I conceded to him (as KC appears to concede) that maybe Duke had to "take a powder" when the radicals were riding high.

But why the inaction NOW? What happened to Brodhead's PLEDGE?

Anonymous said...

If you look at the totality of the response, they started off thinking this was baseless and was not going to amount to anything. Then, when this became a cause and the press coverage and the on-campus radicals were creating pressures, they caved. "It is not about the truth." The infamous e-mail was probably enough to sew some doubt and they were unwilling to risk being caught on the wrong side of this -- they were also inept and hoped that this would make it go away. They clearly were not thinking about due process, any of the students involved, the coach, etc. They wound up causing far more damage than they might have prevented and there is no outward sign that anything has been learned.

Bear in mind that this same sort of thing has happened before. It is a wise man who learns from the mistakes of others. It is all of the ugly truths that this affair has exposed that make it so compelling and make many wish it would go away. This is history and the truth must out so that those who are willing to see can learn from it. But again, this had happened before and no lessons were learned. At best, the administration has been shown to be profoundly unwise.

I'm not sure Duke has really learned from this, so it is most likely that many others have not learned either.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly no lawer and the fact that Edens is a dorm does complicate things somewhat, but renters and tenants do have rights.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Edens episode seems like a bad act, particuarly when taken along with the attempted e-mail forgery. But then there is, by now, essentially no question but that there were bad actors involved so bad acts are to be expected. The fact that Duke would immediately issue a statement sactioning the bad act, rather than remaining silent until things became more clear is perhaps a sign of how badly they wanted to be seen as part of the solution, rather than as part of the problem. Again, very unwise.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree that "a student in the dorms does not have a right not to have the police come try to talk to them." The students were, effectively, within their home, which the police entered without permission by following students who opened the doors with their cards. Duke dorms are not open to the public; it's necessary to have a key card or come in as the guest of someone with a key card. As I understand it, the police had neither a warrant nor the residents' permission to enter; weren't they, as a result, at least possibly violating the students' Fourth Amendment rights?

I admit my constitutional law is a little rusty, so I may be wrong about this. I know this much, though--as a parent whose daughter lived in Edens in the spring of 2006, I was very angry that the university did not even formally question or object to the way the police entered the dormitory. Not only do such visits give the police even more ability to pursue unequal treatment of Duke students, but they raise the possibility that actual criminals (thieves, rapists, etc.) might enter the dorms dressed as police officers, and that unwitting students might not challenge them because they had been conditioned by the university's attitude to think that this was "okay."

Anonymous at 12:19--I think there may be reasons other than "white males" why this case hasn't been taken up by the ACLU or the Innocence Project. The ACLU, after all, defended the right of American Nazis--the ultimate unsympathetic white males--to march in Skokie a few years back. As for the Innocence Project, I think most, if not all, of their work on specific cases involves people who have already been convicted. It's not realistic to expect every organization to address every problem, and while this case certainly has involved serious abuse of the justice system, there are actually a lot of other pressing problems out there, both in the justice system and in the society/country/world as a whole, that people might choose to work on.

If those priorities aren't your priorities, of course, then your choice not to support those organizations is completely appropriate. But the fact that those organizations have chosen different priorities isn't by itself very persuasive evidence that the organizations are setting their priorities based solely on race or gender.

Anonymous said...

College students living in college dorms are not "renters" under Constitutional decisional law, in the traditional sense. The University may consent to the search of their dorms if they are living on campus.

Similar to high school students' freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures being a weak argument as to why their lockers should not be unreasonably searched... the argument fails in the Courts.

Anonymous said...

"The University may consent to the search of their dorms if they are living on campus."

Question (I may not have kept up): Did the DPD ask Duke for permission to go in the dorm? If so, why did they follow in a student, rather than an authorized University official letting them in? Thanks,


Anonymous said...

Ed: Don't know the answer to who let them in... just setting forth the general proposition that one doesn't have the same Constitutional protections in a dorm room as they do in an apartment.

You might imagine that when such a crime is even alleged, that a University would be forthcoming about allowing a search of their students dorms. The University isn't necessarily concerned that a student's bong will inadvertently be found by the police, etc., and the University would likely take disciplinary action if such an item were found, even if (as in the Duke case), the eventual alleged crime was found to be a crock.

Thats just the way colleges typically operate.

But the general proposition stands -- while the Constitution isn't non-existent in that setting, it doesn't apply as it does in other search and seizure contexts.

Anonymous said...

JLS is probably wrong on every one of his points but 2.
As to 1.-- that an individual does not have a right to have the DA not make inflamatory comments about him because it's only an ethical restraint for the DA-- not so. To the extent that the DA's comments prejudice the potential juror pool, the individual has a constitutional right to a change of venue or, in the event no change of venue can remove the taint, to a dismissal of the charges.
As to 3.-- that an individual does not have the right to a certain type of line up because this is a matter of the rules of evidence-- not so. The line up may violate the individual's constitutional right to due process and be thrown out on those grounds whatever the rules of evidence are.
As to 4.-- that a student in a dorm room does not have the right for the police not to come and talk to them-- not so, depending on the facts. If the lacrosse players the police came to visit were represented by counsel (which I believe they were) and the counsel had told the police not to interview their clients except in the presence of counsel (which I do not know if they did but would be stunned to learn that they did not), then any attempt of the police to interview the players outside the presence of counsel would have violated the individual's rights. As to the debate on the thread as to whether the cops could go into the dorms, the answer is that their presence inside the dorms was not appropriate. The dorms are private property. If they gained entrance as alleged (slipping in after a student used her security id to gain access), they were in private property under circumstances where: they were not invited by the property owner, not acting pursuant to a warrant and not in "pursuit" of a criminal in circumstances not requiring a warrant. Accordingly, their presence was unauthorized and they would have been required to leave if requested to do so (presumably by Duke as the owner of the property).

C. Thomas Kunz

John Bruce said...

KC, I think you mean "sortie" and not "sojourn:.

Anonymous said...

Brodhead only cared about protecting himself. In the beginning instead of remaining calm and letting the facts come out he rushed to judgement with all the other wackos. He rode the storm where ever the wind blew and did not look out for the best interest of his students or the University. When it looked like the players were innocent, he then swayed the other way, never really taking a stand either way, talking in ambiguous terms and twisting his statements after the fact. Brodhead showed an absolute lack of leadership, integrity, charachter and proved himself to be the self serving bumbling fool he is. Steel was pulling the puppet strings behind Brodhead, looking out for the almighty $. And in the end they screwed themselves and Duke.

Anonymous said...

10:16 - thanks for your response. It seems to me that the 800 lb question remains: did Duke authorize the dorm entry, if so whom (or who?)?


Anonymous said...


You have the right to swing your fist and the ethical obligation to do it in such a way that it does not come in contact with my nose. That means I do have the right to not be punched in the face.

Locomotive Breath said...

It seems to me that the 800 lb question remains: did Duke authorize the dorm entry, if so whom (or who?)?

I remember seeing video of a Brodhead press conference that was taking place at the same time as the dorm entry. He was asked about it and turned into a stuttering idiot. It was clear that Brodhead, at least, did not know about it.

Ralph Phelan said...

Broadhead will only shown to have behaved "unwisely" if he loses his job. Comparing his fate with that of Larry Summers, it appears that he is responding rationally to the system of incentives he works within. This may be sad, wrong, or immoral, but it's not incompetent.

Similarly, unless the Duke board sees a measureable decline in admissions, a measureable decline in donations, or has to pay out damages that are large compared to the size of their operating budget, the "standards" they operate under will not have "shifted."

So far as I can see, the pressures that caused them to want to hire "gang of 88" type faculty in the first place have not gone away, and we have not yet seen evidence that the current scandal has produced any counter-pressures of comparable magnitude.

Anonymous said...

"Broadhead will only shown to have behaved "unwisely" if he loses his job."

I guess that's according to your definition of wisdom.

IMO, he has been shown to behave immorally, unjustly, and with clear double standards.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Innocence Project and its failure to involve itself in this case, such accusations fundamentally misunderstand the goal of the Innocence Project and its role in overturning convictions.

From its website: "The Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent further injustice."

Thus, as no one was convicted in this case, it lay far outside of the mission statement of this organization. Further, I believe that at this time the Innocence Project is focused on cases where the convict is on death row, funneling their resources toward those who are most likely to be executed as a result of a false conviction. This includes some convicted of rape, but only when coupled with a murder conviction. None of these prerequisites were met in this case.

As much as we may be outraged at the progress of justice in this case, it does not lay within the scope of the Innocence Project, and they should not be faulted for not getting involved: it is simply not their job.

Everything is not a conspiracy. Saying that it is so diminishes the rhetorical effectiveness of your argument. And makes you sound rather shrill.

Anonymous said...

did Duke authorize the dorm entry, if so whom (or who?)?

Duke's fairy-tale history of events includes an investigation of the administration's response to the incident

One might expect the answer to such questions there. But instead it investigates why the university did not respond as quickly as it should have and proposes how, in the future, Brodhead's April 5th
"eloquent" and "effective leadership" might come sooner.

Anonymous said...

12:51 hit it on the head regarding the job of the Innocence Project.

Clearly, everything is a conspiracy to most of you. Please find out what a group does before you blame them for not doing something they don't do in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Re--did the university authorize the entry. LB correctly points out that Brodhead didn't appear to know about it; if I recall correctly, at the time administration officials made some ambiguous statement about their attitude of cooperation that implied they might have known about it (or at least the Duke Police might have known about it), but that seemed much more in the nature of a CYA "of course we are aware of what is happening on our own campus" statement than an actual assertion that they had authorized the action.

As another commenter has pointed out, it seems very unlikely that police officers would have needed to catch the door after an entering student if they had authorization from the university to enter the dorms.

To C. Thomas Kunz and anon at 12:51 pm, thanks for presenting so much more articulately and completely the points I was struggling toward in my 9:24 AM post.

Anonymous said...

Please find out what a group does before you blame them for not doing something they don't do in the first place!

The NYT invoked the Innocence Project to support Nifong and to downplay the negative lacrosse DNA results. In Lawyers for Duke Players Say DNA Clears Team the counter argument was:

"Nifong said most rape cases did not depend on DNA testing ...

"Peter J. Neufeld of the nonprofit Innocence Project, an expert on DNA testing, said that in general, an absence of DNA evidence did not necessarily mean there was not a crime. "There have been thousands and thousands of men who have been convicted in the United States of the crime of rape without DNA and without semen," Neufeld said."

I don't think the Innocence Project or Neufeld has ever publicly objected to being used to promote the hoax.

Anonymous said...

***"Peter J. Neufeld of the nonprofit Innocence Project, an expert on DNA testing, said that in general, an absence of DNA evidence did not necessarily mean there was not a crime. "There have been thousands and thousands of men who have been convicted in the United States of the crime of rape without DNA and without semen," Neufeld said."***

This is an entirely accurate statement. This is a very well-known organization. As much as you care about the Duke case more than any other similar case, in reality it is one of many. The IP is cited all the time, because of the respect it has in the legal community.

Just because you care about this case more than other cases, doesn't mean the attorneys at IP have to run around, figure out where they are accurately quoted (the statement is 100% true), and then spend the time looking at the facts of the case to decide whether or not they should "object" to a bad man quoting an accurate statement made by an IP attorney.

This is a huge stretch. You already have about 100 boogey-men you relentlessly attack for their involvement in the Duke case (or lack thereof). Of all the great stretches made to tie innocent people into the wrongdoing of the Duke case -- criticizing the IP for not "objecting" to a DA accurately quoting one of their own, who accurately stated the facts regarding DNA evidence and convictions -- is by far the biggest stretch.

Anonymous said...

If Neufeld was being asked that question about convictions and DNA -- because he is an expert in the area -- regardless of what he thought about the actual facts of the Duke case, he should have answered the question the EXACT SAME WAY he did. That qoute doesn't say anything about whether Nifong is a great guy doing the right thing, or whether the boys are guilty.

"Hey Mr. Neufeld, can there be a conviction without DNA evidence in a rape case?"

What should he say:

"Well, first I must analyze all of the facts of the underlying case that causes you to ask me that particular question, and if I think the people are guilty, I'll answer it accurately... if not, I'm not sure what I'd have to do in order to not be a boogey-man on 'durhaminwonderland', so I'll get back to you after surveying the posters there"; or

"The answer to that inquiry is [insert his accurate statement here]".


Anonymous said...

I prefer straight up theory myself, Conspiracy is more fun and the folk who do it, love it. I don't think there was any conpiracy in this event except for Nifong and Meeham at the end. Having written that, Peter Neufeld disgraced himself and his project by not defending DNA - not the defendents.

Ralph Phelan said...

"I guess that's according to your definition of wisdom."

My point is that the underlying problem isn't about Brodhead "not doing his job," it's that he *did* do his job just the way his employers (the board) wanted him to.

G88 faculty have experienced no career damage due to their actions - on the contrary, many have gotten promotions, indicating that whatever written job description Duke has on hand, a faculty member's "real job" is to be PC. Again, this appears to be as the university's board of governors wishes things to be.

The question that puzzles me as an outsider to it all is why the board holds being PC as one of its highest priorities. This mess surely can't be good for individual donations or recruiting bright white & asian students, so there must be some countervailing reason for sticking to PC.

Is it the fear that Jackson & Sharpton could, if they chose, do orders of magnitude worse damage to Duke, meaning that the safe thing to do is always knuckle under? Is it a fear of crippling Civil Rights lawsuits if they don't keep their minority numbers up? Do Government funding sources (be it the NSF or student load programs) impose a heavy penalty for not toeing the PC line?

Whatever the problem is, it won't be solved by pointing yet another way out that Duke didn't follow its stated procedures and values. That's already glaringly obvious, and it's equally obvious what the "real" rules are. To fix things requires figuring out why the real rules are the way they are, so the root cause can be attacked.

Anonymous said...

Chairman Williamson of the NC Bar said " Despite the old saw that "Absence of evidence, did not mean evidence of absence, In this case, the absence of team DNA with the DNA of others present, did mean "evidence of absence." Paraphasing to be sure. The transcript is at Liestoppers forum.

Anonymous said...

If the accusser is not swabbed for DNA fairly soon after the alleged rape, there may not be any DNA. After a few days of showers, etc it will be diluted or gone entirely. Crystal's body was a crime scene as she was in the ED a few hours after she left the house. Now that we have the technology - lets use it. We now know how inaccurate eye witness reports are. "The old fashion way..." , showed what a dope Nifong is and was.

Anonymous said...

1:53 Thank you for the explanation. No, Neufeld did not object to his statement or the Project being used to support the hoax.

Anonymous said...

The Innocence Project didn't have to do anything. Thats not their bag of tricks. A member was quoted accurately, for having made an accurate statement about what is needed to prosecute in terms of DNA (if anything at all).

Even lay people who read about crime in the news know that DNA evidence isn't needed to successfully prosecute a criminal defendant... but it is very helpful.

Why should the guy have "condemned" or "criticized" Nifong with respect to having used an accurate quote made by him?

The guy has an obligation to condemn or criticize something that is unrelated to his mission statement, even when he is quoted accurately from a statement that was accurate?

Anonymous said...

"Clearly, everything is a conspiracy to most of you. "

Is this the shrillness to which you refer?

Anonymous said...

***"Clearly, everything is a conspiracy to most of you. "

Is this the shrillness to which you refer?***

Have you read most of these posts? I'm surprised the Pope and Sylvester Stallone haven't been brought in as silent accomplices to your grand conspiracy.

You hear those black helicopters?

By the way, this case meant more than the normal criminal case to the people of Durham, Duke University, a smattering of liberal college professors across the country, the Durham authorities and DA's office... and America while it lasted (even that ebbed as the case fell apart, making it less of a news story, spiking again shortly during the exoneration period).

Simply stated, you all care about this stuff much more than anyone else does. You make too much out of it. Its just one case that (thank God) ended up the right way after these boys were put through hell for doing nothing.

But the point remains -- you make it as if its the only case in the world and that somehow everyone has to have condemned Nifong in order to retain their credibility. Sure, people intimately involved or who spent time analyzing the case should have done so... but a guy should just because Nifong quoted him? Thats ridiculous.

You may put your tinfoil hats back on my little loons!

Anonymous said...


Your logic is as effective as your name-calling. IMO, this case DOES reflect larger issues in this country, and it's "learning moment" to our society goes far beyond.

Anonymous said...

5:26: Quit gnashing your teeth, it's not good for them.

Methinks you protest too much.

Anonymous said...

More proof that at Duke like many other "elite" institutions political correctness trumps due process at every opportunity. The problem with this approach is that it corrupts institutional standards and sends a message to students that political expediency is an acceptable substitute for the truth. The sad fact is that the Duke trustees to this day see nothing wrong with their total disregard for the truth.

Anonymous said...

I hate to agree with 5:26.My sister in law is smart, has an MA, lives in NC but knows almost nothing about this case. Lack of interest.

Anonymous said...

My sister in law is smart, has an MA, lives in NC but knows almost nothing about this case.

I doubt she knows much about other high-profile NC cases, such as Little Rascals, Alan Gell, etc. That's fine, we all have lives to lead and we can't possibly have time to know or care about every injustice.

On the other hand, at the "Conversations with Duke" President Brodhead jokes (accurately) that this case has gotten far more press attention than international topics such as the North Korean nuclear weapons program.


Yes, people on this blog care about this case much more than most. I (and no doubt others) want accountability, not a whitewash.

The NC bar is criticizing Nifong for saying "I don't want the image of Durham in the eyes of the world to be of Duke players raping a Black girl." Nifong could argue it was an "accurate statement" with which we should all agree, and which "doesn't say anything about whether the boys are guilty." Do you think the NC bar would accept that argument?

Anonymous said...

Ralph Phelan--

You are the voice of reason. I've read your postings here and find them refreshingly perceptive and correct, much like Professor Johnson's. I hope you'll post more.

M. Simon said...

The Bonehead Administration at work.

Anonymous said...


In your zeal to point the finger of blame for the LAX fiasco at Duke and Brodhead and to portray the LAX players as a group of fine young angels who did nothing wrong and were just innocent victims of the bad behavior of others, you have conveniently failed to mention that the players were represented by an army of very highly-paid and highly-experienced criminal defense attorneys whose sole responsibility was to defend the players against exactly the kinds of procedural abuses described in your article. You have never provided a good explanation of why it should be necessary for Brodhead to get out in front of the television cameras to criticize Nifong and the DPD for these abuses when the players already had an army of defense attorneys taking care of this. Nor have you ever demonstrated that the players were harmed in any way by his failure to do so given the fact that the defense attorneys were aggressively and publicly criticizing and challenging Nifong and the DPD at every opportunity. You also seem to be contradicting yourself when you criticize Brodhead for not being more aggressive in publicly criticizing Nifong and the DPD for their procedural abuses but then turn around and agree with Professor Coleman that if he had done so, it might actually have worked to the detriment of the players. So I think your logic leaves something to be desired.

Anonymous said...

To 12:34-

"In your zeal to... portray the LAX players as a group of fine young angels"

KC has not tried to potray them as angels, but rather innocents falsely accused of rape (not bad behavior), harrassesd and hate/race mongered by some faculty, and victims of a politically correct administration, among others.

Relative to them (supposed adults), these students are angels and the others are demons - if you insist on using that kind of phraseology.

Anonymous said...

12"34 Without that army of high priced lawyers, three million dollars and another army of bloggers, these guys would have been in prision long ago. Possibly beaten, raped and murdered. for hiring two stripper is just not right.