Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morning Session

Nifong, looking gaunt, arrived in the courtroom just after 9.00am. In an event that hardly gives people confidence in the Durham judicial system, he received a warm hug from Durham judge Marcia Morey.

Lead witness Brian Meehan—remarkably—wore his DNA Security shirt. You’d think that, in these circumstances, he’d want to downplay any connection to his company. But, as we know, Meehan seems to operate under his own rules.

--

Smith: case not about merits of Nifong’s decision to prosecute; narrowly drawn to deal with Nifong’s remarks on September 22, 2006.

--

Charles Davis—special prosecutor.

Nifong pleads not guilty.

Davis opening statement:

Promises evidence that Nifong met with Meehan three times, and on each occasion, Meehan discussed the results of all tests, well beyond what was contained in the May 12 report.

Nifong opening statement: Nifong’s attorney Jim Glover is hardly a dynamo—very dry, almost pained statement.

“rather strange procedure”; “everyone coming into this courtroom with feelings, opinions, attitudes” about the case.

Suggestion is that the only real purpose of the Meehan tests was to determine the DNA evidence on Mangum’s false fingernails.

Two things going on: prosecutions against Seligmann and Finnerty, but not against the third.

Real issue was written report about oral conversations that took place at DNA Security. ‘With hindsight, and with an examination of the report,” Nifong would have acted differently. Meehan report was “quite bizarre.”

Concedes that results from DNA testing not “explicitly” reported. Question whether Nifong statements were “willfully” false—clear that Nifong’s statements were false.

None of the participants at any meeting with Meehan made any record of what was said at Meehan meetings. Only became an issue of dispute in December—no way anyone could remember accurately what was said that long after the fact.

Nifong was used to SBI, didn’t notice DNA Security

Nifong “simply didn’t pay any attention” to what was in DNA Security report.

Nifong always gave over everything to defense—this was not the rule in the Durham DA’s office.

“developed a habit of not paying much attention to the details and specifics of what was in these reports”: “What he did in this case was what he did in other cases.”

[This is an astonishing line of defense.]

Nifong “immediately” tried to get exculpatory information to defense as soon as he learned that the exculpatory info wasn’t included in Meehan’s report.

“Although the statements were not literally true, they were not willfully or purposefully lies.”

--

Brad Bannon lead witness:

Goes through timeline of his involvement in case and his receipt of the Meehan report.

Bannon: May 12 report contained results of reports of “only three” of the DNA tests done by Meehan.

[The irony of Brad Bannon as the lead witness in the trial of Mike Nifong is particularly rich.]

Joint omnibus motion: sought information relating to DNA Security work:

1) underlying data from both DSI and SBI labs;

2) specifically asked for Meehan statements in meetings between Meehan, Nifong, and police.

Served on Nifong August 31; received no response until appeared in court Sept. 22. At this hearing, defense specifically asked for material relating to the conversations. Nifong specifically responded to this issue, and said that “we did not ask any questions.”

Smith accepted this representation.

Bannon then discusses discovery of DNA conspiracy by looking through Meehan material. As he went through the evidence, he discovered that DSI had found the multiple unidentified male DNA.

Took him most of the month of November to make these findings, leads to the Dec. 13 motion.

Primary desire was a full report from DSI, as required by NC law and DSI lab protocols. When Meehan appears as witness, basic goal was to ask Meehan if “we got it right” in the Dec. 13 motion.

Smith overrules Nifong objection effectively trying to withdraw concession that events of Dec, 15 hearing occurred as they were written.

Glover: standing objection to Bannon testifying from transcript. Smith overrules.

Quotes from Nifong questioning of Meehan Dec. 15—seems to concede that Meehan report “less than the full truth.”

Received amended report from Meehan on Jan. 10—confirms the results from Dec. 13 motion, plus three more rape kit items that contained unidentified male DNA.

[During the Bannon examination, Dr. Meehan appeared to occasionally nod off or give big yawns.]

Glover cross-examination of Bannon:

By April 10, defense knew—thanks to SBI report—that there was no semen found; suggesting that this was the critical finding, anything else really wasn’t relevant.

Questioning focusing on fingernail evidence. Bannon makes the critical comment that Meehan’s finding on Dave Evans’ possible DNA was of the same kind of tests that the SBI had said no matches.

[At various points in the Bannon x-exam, Glover appeared lost.]

Glover consistently argues that lack of semen matches suggests that Nifong could have been honest. Notes that defense attorneys held a press conference publicizing this fact and no DNA matches.

Notes that Meehan made one and perhaps two more reports for AG’s office once it took over the case.

Glover seems to be implying that the multiple unidentified male DNA could have belonged to the Duke lacrosse players; he doesn’t know the case, however, particularly well, leading to often torturous and confusing questions.

“Without the report saying” that DNA didn’t match Dave Evans, Glover suggesting that Bannon was able to know that DNA results—didn’t need complete results.

[Glover is repeatedly, and consistently, avoiding anything that Nifong said to the court on September 22—the entire purpose of the trial.]

[The cross-examination is painfully slow and wandering, moving in no apparent direction. An astute courtroom observer compared it to a death penalty case, seeking to delay the inevitable.]

Today’s Perry Mason moment: Glover suggests there were no other DNA alleles stronger than any that Meehan reported.

Bannon: No.

Glover appears to be stunned.

--

The cross-examination continues, with Glover struggling to find items from both the Dec. 15 transcript and the Meehan DNA tests.

The current thrust of the cross-exam is that none of the unreported matches were all that important.

Glover is now suggesting that Meehan had little notice at the Dec. 15 hearing.

[Again, how is this at all relevant to what Nifong told the court on Sept. 22?]

Glover is now back to suggesting that all of these unreported items were irrelevant.

Bannon hammers home—“we know that they found male DNA on all of them, and only reported one of them on May the 12th.”

Glover now appears to be suggesting that finding epithelial DNA in rape kit items is irrelevant to a rape investigation.

These are “nothing significantly exculpatory”

Bannon: “That’s absolutely false, and you know it.” [Smith sustains objection to second part of clause.]

Bannon re-direct:

Given nature of attack, extraordinary that no DNA matches given nature of attack. “What the breadth and scope of this DNA testing that was unreported showed there was plenty of DNA evidence left behind—and it was male DNA, and all this male DNA didn’t match any lacrosse players.”

Also showed that Mangum’s story of no sexual contact other than Murchinson was false.

Glover also notes (as a question!) that the SBI tests found no DNA, thereby “directly contradicting” Mangum’s story.

--

Glover didn’t touch Bannon in the cross-examination.

--

Himan next:

Establishing timeline; notes that he met with Meehan three times, with Nifong.

Testifies that at April 10 meeting, questions were asked by Nifong, and Meehan went over weak source material that was found.

Testifies that at April 21 meeting, Meehan told them about the multiple male unidentified DNA.

--

Cross-examination:

Glover stressing with Himan on false fingernails—suggests they were very impt to investigation.

Glover: DSI got involved not because of the rape kit but because of the fingernails. Never specifically asked to test rape kit; should have focused just on fingernails; suggests that Meehan might have assumed that Nifong and Himan were closely coordinated.

Glover: no semen evidence “to support this story that she told”—just an extraordinary statement coming from Nifong’s attorney.

Also—Nifong always knew he’d have to turn over Meehan’s evidence—therefore had no reason to hide it.

Conceded that Meehan report wasn’t like SBI report in structure.

Himan concedes he didn’t really understand DNA “stuff” Meehan was explaining.

Glover now suggesting that Nifong might not have understood Meehan—notes that Nifong never ordered Meehan to keep things out of his report.

Glover: no one took notes at the meeting—now blaming Meehan, suggesting that he kept the results out on his own initiative.

Glover: did you ask for the report?

Himan: No—Nifong did.

[Glover again is avoiding discussing what Nifong said in the Sept. 22 hearing.]

Glover—why didn’t Himan say something about Meehan not including the exculpatory material in the May 12 report?

Himan: “I looked at the report; he said, ‘This is the report.” That’s what I took it as.”

Glover: why didn’t Himan notice the failure to include non-match

Himan: “Mr. Nifong asked for the report. He looked over the report. I felt that if he” wanted something in report, “he should have asked for it.”

Himan: not his job to tell DSI to do the report.

28 comments:

Debrah said...

This is such a tragic comedy!

I need to get my stage masks for this one.

LIS!

Topher said...

Semi off topic: Richard Jewell, falsely accused of being the Olympic Park bomber and subsequently hounded without mercy, died today.

I'm surprised no one's story has said "he wasn't a choirboy" yet.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Judge Smith seems to be pretty relaxed with the lack of attention to September 22. Shouldn't he remind the participants what they're here for? Or am I guilty of rushing to judgement?

Debrah said...

To "topher"--

No, Jewell was a Mama's boy.

Supposedly lived with his mother...on into middle age. Nothing exactly wrong with that, I suppose, for some people.

Just odd.

Reports are that he suffered from diabetes...which might have been prompted by the stress from what he suffered publicly.

(Think David Evans' father's condition now from the stress of this case.)

Anonymous said...

For those you you unaware...the trial IS on Court TV...

Anonymous said...

Thanks KC

Baldo

Anonymous said...

topher: He died yeaterday

D said...

KC, thank you for this and all your work.

Anonymous said...

The defense is going to try to muddy things and make it seem it was all so confusing that it is plausible that Nofing didn't understand. Nofing is going to be tripped up by his own statements -- I hope he gets the max for no showing on remorse and continuing to lie. At least he is no longer an officer of the court...

Debrah said...

KC needs to sit in a more conspicuous place and issue vogue moment......just for us.

:>)

Anonymous said...

Curious how Himan states he didn’t really understand DNA “stuff” but clearly recalls the peaks of a "weak source" on the dna histograms, etc. ... without notes.

Anonymous said...

Court TV commentator just bashed the Group of 88.

Anonymous said...

Jewel has nothing to do with this?!

scott said...

Nifong must have economized on his lawyer (maybe Cy's deep pockets are getting shallower). From KC's comments, Glover can neither dazzle with his brilliance nor baffle with his bullshit.

Too bad for Nifong that he couldn't get representation that is as good as he thought he was back in 2006 (when he was riding high, wide, and handsome and claimed "if I was an attorney, I'd be afraid to go up against me in court" or words to that effect).

I'm amazed that the court is allowing a line of Q & A that completely avoids 9/22/06 -- the purpose of the hearing.

Oh, wait. No, I'm not. Almost anywhere else, Nifong would be toast, but given that this is Durham, there's always the possibility these evasive tactics will be allowed to continue and he will skate.

Anonymous said...

Topher --

Jewell's story is a little different. Jewell was cleared by the same people who put him under suspicion, the FBI. Jewell's case was also different in that there was an actual crime, and an actual perpetrator of that crime who was caught and who admitted guilt.

Debrah --

While various sources differ on exactly what the age range of "middle age" is, the majority seem to agree that it doesn't start before 40. Jewell was only 33 when the Centennial Park bombing occurred and only 44 when he died.

Debrah said...

TO 5:02PM--

Really.

Age 33 is still old to be living at home.

When I left for school at 18, I never spent time at home after that except for holiday visits, etc.....

People are different, I suppose. I would think men would be even more anxious to leave the nest.

Nothing wrong with leading a Norman Bates life, I guess.

:>)

Anonymous said...

Middle age is the midpoint of your death.

For men, that's about 36.

Anonymous said...

Boy, while most in the blog defend the Duke team, I find it a bit sad to hear disparaging remarks about Richard Jewel. After the truth got out, both the FBI and the governor stated he probably saved hundreds of lives by his quick action.

Okay, he lived with his mom. So what? I just saw a clip on actor Owen Wilson, who is 38, and the suggestion made he should move home and be with family to get away from friends that do drugs and drink.Richard was younger.

Maybe Richard was a good son and his mom needed him. I'd rather think of him that way after all the injustice he suffered during his life. RIP, Richard.

inman said...

6:10

Since I'm going to outlive all of you, middle age is 53.

(My grandfather, in fact, lived to 105, after 3 heart attacks, prostrate and skin cancer and baldness. He also had a drink of alchohol every day of his adult life -- and in his 100's, his physicians prescribed a 5 o'clock cocktail every day.)

Anonymous said...

prostRate cancer?

Inman, I'll take 1 of those to go--what are the symptoms?

Debrah said...

To "inman" @ 7:14PM--

I totally agree that imbibing moderately is the best kept secret for good health and long life.

Most people don't believe it.

Debrah said...

I saw a guy I went to university with last Spring and he told me that I looked the same as my sophomore year when we shared a class. (I half-way believed him.) LIS!

He told his wife when we talked over the phone that it was like the same exact voice he remembered at some of the wild parties we attended with our friends.

LOL!!!

The secret is don't ever get married to anyone, and if you do, be madly in love.

I'm waiting for that. It keeps you thinking hot forever!

LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Debrorrah chides others for not staying "on topic" with the purpose of this blog. But (X) % of her comments are totally so self-centered that I wonder why the inteligent people on this blogsite give her so much credence.

Leg-shaving/ advice for love/ etc. etc.

Could we have a tad less "Deborrahhh" and a tad more pithy comment on the SUBJECT at hand today?

I don't really care. Y'all can amuse yourselves that way if you want to. But I'm really wishing we could return to something worthy of Prof. Johnson's attention, besides Deborrahh's personal fascinations.

Debrah said...

TO 8:05PM--

LOL!!!

LOL!!!

inman said...

7:25

Yes ... prostRate cancer ... for he was lying down when he contracted the disease ... it seemed that he caught it from the DNA extant on the surface on which he lay. CMG is not the only one who caught DNA from suspicious surfaces.

Oh...I forgot to mention, he also had prostate cancer.

Anonymous said...

8.05

Good point!

Anonymous said...

8:05

Who is this "Debrorrah" of whom you speak? Haven't seen that name here before...

Anonymous said...

8:05 Could not agree with you more. It is why we have fast scroll, so we can ignore the boring stuff - like leg shaving. She quit a few days ago but now is back. Well, I will be sad to see the end of KC.