This marks the 700th post for the blog. In the upcoming Yaeger/Pressler book, graduated lacrosse player Kyle Dowd provided an excellent, concise, summary of a main theme of the blog, regarding the Group of 88. Said Dowd:
If you look at it, their whole argument is, “We only put that ad out there to start a dialogue about these issues.” The only problem is, you are willing to start dialogue but now you refuse to speak to the media, you refuse to speak to us, you refuse to speak to other professors. So you’ve actually decreased dialogue about these topics, which is in complete contradiction to your original goal.
No matter which way you look at it, they’ve failed.
For those who missed it, an important post by defense attorney Brad Bannon in the Liestoppers forum:
I have read a lot of comments & commentary critical of Judge Osmond Smith and his conduct in the matters of the State of
v. Evans, Finnerty, & Seligmann. As someone very close to those cases & the victims of this hoax, I understand the desire to hold accountable those responsible for instigating & perpetuating it. As someone with previous experience before Judge Smith, and as the lawyer on the defense team primarily responsible for pursuing discovery issues at every hearing where Judge Smith presided in the Evans/Finnerty/Seligmann cases, I can assure you that he is not one of those people. North Carolina
Before Judge Smith took over the cases, Joe Cheshire & I tried a very intense double capital murder trial before him in the summer of 2005 in
. Judge Smith was an honorable, thoughtful, fair, & truly professional jurist throughout a trial where two young men had lost their lives, one young man was facing the death penalty for that loss, three devastated families filled a very tense courtroom, and emotions continually ran high. In that scenario, Judge Smith showed respect to all persons involved & maintained a dignified courtroom atmosphere that served the process very well. While respectful to both sides, he was partial to neither; he was only partial to the law & to his role as a neutral judge. He exhibited the same high qualities & standards in the several hearings he conducted in the EFS cases. In short, he was—and is—exactly what a judge should be, and the Memorandum he filed in the cause on Tuesday only serves to reinforce my belief in that regard (for whatever my belief on that subject is worth). Raleigh
There are a number of people whose actions related to the false accusations against Dave, Collin, and Reade deserve significant scrutiny. Osmond Smith is not one of them . . .
I appreciate the comments of everyone on this board. I am not a word policeman & would never purport to tell people how to act or what to think. That said, I believe some may misunderstand the true role of a judge, and that is to be a neutral arbiter of facts & law. It is not to do research on the backgrounds of lawyers & then treat those lawyers differently (better or worse) than their counterparts in the courtroom. The adversarial system of justice rises & falls on the neutrality of the judge that oversees it; those judges are, likewise, bound by the various statutes & rules that give them their authority. While we often see judicial conduct that is anything but neutral, we always hope for it. Osmond Smith more than provided it in this case. I was there for every moment he acted in his official capacity in these matters, whether in open court or in chambers, whether Mike Nifong was the prosecutor or Jim Coman & Mary Winstead were the prosecutors. As it relates specifically to events that transpired on December 15, 2006, the reason Osmond Smith did not act on those events is simple: as the defense lawyers responsible for seeking that action, we have not yet asked him to do so. In fact, on December 15, when he directly asked me at the conclusion of Dr. Meehan's questioning whether we (the defense) were prepared to seek any additional relief based on what had just happened, we specifically told him that we would like to review the transcripts of the hearing before taking such action, and he deferred to that request. I have every reason to believe that, once we do act, Judge Smith will conduct a fair review of any such request (and a hearing, if necessary), and he will do exactly what he honestly believes the law & the facts require.
This week’s “Only in
Surely, it would seem, he would retreat from such a statement when given time to reflect. Yesterday’s N&O, however, revealed otherwise. Declared Hodge, “I don't see, at the end of the day, whatever is uncovered about what the Durham Police Department did not do as it relates to the Duke lacrosse case will be major.”
City Councilman Eugene Brown noted that when Hodge made his original remarks, “There was laughter, as well there should be.” Brown further observed that “Hodge definitely represents the status quo—that things are fine.”
Jim Cooney added that whatever Hodge seems to think, “There were serious investigative missteps in this case . . . The decision-makers in Durham should think long and hard about choosing anyone who thinks that the police department should continue to conduct this kind of investigation.”
A good editorial in yesterday’s N&O on the need for a comprehensive inquiry into the Durham Police’s mishandling of the lacrosse case. Both the citizens of Durham and of North Carolina, the editors realized, need “a more forthcoming account of the police department's performance in the case than one issued last month by Police Chief Steve Chalmers,” which “clearly was deficient.” The editors also blast City Manager Patrick Baker’s approach, which “contained a few mild criticisms but otherwise staunchly defended the handling of the case.”
Despite the need for a comprehensive inquiry, the staffing of the committee raises grave concerns. At the bare minimum, acceptance of the complete findings of AG Cooper’s report should be a requirement for service on the commission—a standard that would rule out Councilwoman Diane Catotti’s selection of Aurelia Sands Belle. Committee members also should have no conflicts of interest in dealing with the DPD—a standard that also would rule out . . . Catotti’s selection.
More broadly, the lack of criminal defense attorneys on the panel—an apparent outgrowth of Catotti’s insistence on hard quotas from the Council’s appointments—threaten to render the investigation stillborn before it starts. That the body’s only currently practicing attorney is a graduate of
Joan Foster turned her attention to Ron Hodge in a witty poem this week.
Meanwhile, an unintentionally humorous verse comes from the blog, “Listening Project,” written by a Duke graduate student. A tribute to Wahneema Lubiano, “All My Affect,” includes such stanzas as:
attention gains wingsThough the site is allegedly authored by a graduate student in English, the dictionary contains no entry for the word “cielding.”
and outfits and land
from the way you listen . . .
what was a glass cielding
becomes sturdy enough
to rest books on top of
past our reach
This post, meanwhile, appears as if it could have been penned by Lubiano herself.
The "Real Social Disaster" site--organized by Duke students seeking an apology from the Group of 88; or, in the alternative, for President Brodhead to stand up for Duke students against the actions of faculty extremists--currently has 994 Duke students. It would be good to see the total reach 1,000.
Of course, no apology will be forthcoming. While the Group was eager to "listen" to a handful of anonymous quotes from alleged Duke students, since those anonymous comments happened to conform to the professors' worldviews, there is no evidence they desire to hear from real Duke students.
An excellent post from John in Carolina on Greensboro blogger David Boyd--who, appropriately, took to task the Greensboro News & Record for its lightweight coverage of incoming Bennett College president Julianne Malveaux.
Malveaux's "commentary" on the case--in which she wildly asserted, "I think something happened here . . . You may not be able to prove anything. But something did happen here, and it was something wrong"--came just before the announcement of her assuming the presidency. The N&R's summary of this comment?
Her quick wit and words have won her fans — and detractors. Malveaux caught flak in the early 1990s for comments about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and more recently, for remarks about the Duke lacrosse case.
N&R editor John Robinson responded, oddly, "Yes, we should have included more on the Duke issue. But, really, we have covered it in earlier papers." The issue wasn't the case itself--it was Malveaux's extremist interpretation of the case. And the N&R, to my knowledge, did not cover Malveaux's interpretation earlier.
Richard Jencks had a nicely done radio commentary this week, on KSCO AM:
In Spring 2006 the Duke lacrosse team was a favorite to go to the national finals. But three team members had been indicted for the alleged rape of a strip dancer engaged to entertain at a team party. Duke's President, Richard Brodhead, not only did not afford to them the presumption of innocence, but believed that there was something about lacrosse itself that somehow contributed to the alleged crimes. So Brodhead canceled the team's remaining 2006 games, fired the lacrosse coach, removed the game of lacrosse as a varsity sport, and decided that, pending trial, the two indicted players who had not yet graduated were not eligible to remain at Duke. Many in the Duke community labeled the team as part of a culture of privilege, racism and violence. Team members were taunted night and day.
For the 2007 season Brodhead reversed himself, reinstated lacrosse, and hired a new coach. Despite the demoralizing background, and the continued absence of two of its best players, the Duke lacrosse team fought through to the 2007 finals against Johns Hopkins. Down ten to five at the half, Duke ultimately lost by the margin of a single goal. But who can say that this Duke team did not achieve one of the most courageous victories, both for their own vindication, and for the game they loved, that has ever been achieved in college sports? Meanwhile, the Attorney General of North Carolina had dismissed the criminal charges and declared the three indicted students completely "innocent."
Finally, three great opinion pieces from this week’s Chronicle. Jason Trumpbour wonders why Duke has no protested the “separate-but-equal” justice system imposed by
Scheduling notice: I will be in Raleigh, live-blogging the Nifong ethics trial, all this week.