Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Book Q&A; Various Items

For the next few days, I invite those who have read the book to submit questions in the comment section. I’ll run a post on Monday responding to some of them.


A link to the Good Morning America video is here. The book also has a website, which contains, among other items, the full sourcenotes for the volume.


Reviews of the book have begun to appear.

In Newsweek, Evan Thomas offered praise in a review that asked whether the case was “Academic McCarthyism.” He stated:

In their vivid, at times chilling account, the authors are contemptuous of prosecutor Mike Nifong, whom the North Carolina legal establishment disbarred for his by now well-documented misconduct. (Nifong’s lawyer, David Freedman, says “there are a number of people who testified at the state bar proceeding that [Nifong] was a very caring career prosecutor.”[!!]) But their most biting scorn is aimed at the “academic McCarthyism” that they say has infected top-rated American universities like Duke.

A much-beloved dean at Yale before Duke hired him away in 2004, Brodhead is shy and sensitive, dryly witty and poetic, the authors write. Nifong, the Durham D.A. (who was held in criminal contempt of court last week for lying to a judge while pursuing the case and sentenced to a day in jail), is depicted as a bully and blowhard. What the two men had in common was an almost willful disregard for the facts . . . The authors make the Duke faculty look at once ridiculous and craven. For months, not one of the university’s nearly 500-member faculty of arts and sciences stood up to question the rush to judgment against the lacrosse team. So much for the ideal of the liberal-arts university where scholars debate openly and seek the truth. (“This book provides one interpretation,” says Duke spokesman John Burness.) The only group that shows any common sense in “Until Proven Innocent” is the student body. Aside from a few noisy activists who assumed the players were guilty, Duke undergrads mostly overlooked the political correctness of their professors.


The Chronicle headlined Anne Llewellyn’s review, “Nuanced Johnson/Taylor book hits mark.” Llewellyn observed that the book “provides new details gathered from scores of interviews with the defendants, their families, friends and members of the Duke administration, including President Richard Brodhead,” producing “an account of the trial that engages like an episode of ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ while maintaining a respect for the complexity of that oft-neglected thing called reality.”

The book, she continued, “devotes many pages to fleshing out the personalities and experiences of the defendants as well as those close to them. Often used as “representatives” of some form of social ill-whether perpetrators of white privilege and oppression or later martyrs of reverse racism-it is refreshing to now see them as three-dimensional human beings.”

Llewellyn concludes:

Taylor and Johnson’s chimera of journalism, contemporary history and social commentary places the now-familiar narrative within a larger context of the authors’ understanding of a long and messy history of prosecutorial misconduct in America, an influx of radicalism within universities and a broader culture of political correctness.

Though not swayed by each and every one of the authors’ conclusions, this reviewer finished the book with more than a few things to think about and reasonable confidence that the book was offered up in good faith after a careful investigation, and was neither a work of expediency or exploitation to further any type of agenda.

In short, in a case where it seems like we have heard much too much, Until Proven Innocent is worth one more hearing.


Anonymous said...

The more you learn about this "case", the more compelling it becomes. Cliché, but if it were fiction, no one would believe so many missteps by so many could unfold in the wake of a single non-event.

It is incredibly revealing to see how far different individuals and groups were willing to rush, headlong with no regard for the facts, in an effort to shape the story to preconceived theories of how things are, or ought to be.

Bear in mind that this case was made into a high profile spectacle, driven by these motivations – the very same motivations that lead to marked contrasts where some stories do not merit any attention and are buried, while others are twisted into exemplars in furtherance of agendas. It is telling how some still cling to fantasy or are in denial, unable to admit to having been show to be monumental hypocrites.

AF said...

KC, enjoyed seeing you on GMA. I normally do now watch it but had my DVR set today and couldn't wait to get home from work to hit the play button.

The only shame is that the reviewers have not spent time in Wonderland. Those of us who have regularly read DIW know of your intricate research and confident writing style. I can hardly wait for my copy and the opportunity to pore through it.
Have a wonderful and successful trip to Israel. Hopefully, another book will be in order upon your return.
Thanks again and be safe.

Anonymous said...

I just checked my e-mail and the book has been shipped. Yay!! Can't wait to read it.

However: Item Subtotal: $16.47. Shipping & Handling: $16.48.

WTF!! The S&H costs as much as the book? Oh, well, I'm not going to cancel or return, because I want this book to be Number 1 on the charts!
Go KC!

Anonymous said...

Will never order another book that I am truly interested in an e-mail today that I wouldn't get it until the 10th.

hman said...

When I read the account of Brodhead telling the innocent LAX guys how much of a bind he had been put into, I had an Aha! moment. Because he could only have meant one thing: He was facing an unwanted choice: he would have to choose between looking after the interests of his own students (the normal role of a Univ. Leader) and staying on good terms with the rabid gang of PC thugs his sensitive, shy, poetic soul was deathly afraid of. So of course he did not want to hear evidence of the kids actual innocence. Any such knowledge would only increase the inner turmoil of this shy, poetic man who had already decided to sell them out.
So; the question. What do you surmise Brodhead thinks now, KC? He is gonna read your book. How will he feel afterward? Is your sense of the man that he could ever experience the redemptive effects of deep shame?

Anonymous said...

The focus has shifted to the Gang of 88. This is as it should be. Nifong was an anomaly. The G88 is not.

Joe Gargery said...

Cuomo talked too much...I hate that. Are you scheduled to go on C-SPAN, KC? Maybe Q&A with Brian Lamb? That would be much better than a six-minute morning rush-job geared towards hausfraus.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with Evan Thomas' assertion that "[t]he authors make the Duke faculty look at once ridiculous and craven."

In fact, it was the Duke faculty that made itself look both ridiculous and craven. Johnson and Taylor simply reported what they (and the rest of us) saw.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre; "...The authors make the Duke faculty look at once ridiculous and craven..."

That's one tepid way to look at it.

The other is that Duke's faculty and administration made themselves look ridiculous, craven, racist, evil, and incompetent. One may make the case that they continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

How did the pressure brought to sign the original and subsewuent statements from the faculty manifest itself? It would seem to ripple out from a few ring-leaders.

Anonymous said...

Early in this situation Al Sharpton made a visit to Durham as did Jesse Jackson. Who got them out of Durham? It would seem someone knew what was up all along in both the local black and white communities. This was my first sense that the whole affair was a hoax.

no justice, no peace said...

Though KC's book is currently #68 and rapidly moving up the Amazon list, I thought it most interesting which book is #51.

"Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition by American Psychiatric Association.

One wonders how many Chapters are dedicated to the pathologies of Nifong, the Klan of 88, Brodhead, the BOT, the pot bangers, the MSM, and other abettors.

Sadly I stopped in a Borders yesterday and they did not yet have the book.

Based upon the merchandings of Bill Clinton's book one would think he were running for office again. Isn't it odd that there is no picture of Hilary or Bill on the cover?

One can only hope that the next time I'm in there KC's book will have consumed a portion of the shelf space.

Anonymous said...

OT but I found Whoopi Goldberg's defense of Mike Vick rather perplexing. She excused him because she said in the part of the country that he's from (the South) dog fighting is acceptable. Would she make the same point for advocating racial discrimination (they say the South is the bastion of this discrimination), or rampant sexual immorality (unwed mothers in the Bible belt), or race/class/gender discrimination (academic community), or denying jobs to 50+ year olds (age discrimination)? It seems as though she justified them de facto by her defense of the "other Mike".

gs said...

The City is so guilty it's just a question of how much money is in the settlement.

Attorneys for Former Duke Players, Durham to Discuss Possible Civil Suit

Michael Barger said...

You have been a dogged Diogenes for our times. I hope the publication of UPI will begin the rollback of Political Correctnesss.

A criticism: the Thomas Dunne UPI page is lame. No table of contents, no excerpts. Likewise, there is no "Look Inside This Book!" for UPI at Amazon. Wake up people!

A suggestion: Please put up a video archive of your book tour vids. It sucks to have to google every single one as they come up.

Bring it on. I can't get enough of you guys.

Anonymous said...

Has Nifong ever had contact with "critical legal studies", perhaps as a student in law school? (This is the Gang of 88 version of law school. There are people who openly adhere to it.) Nifong's behavior seems to be exactly what would be expected of a believer in the positions advocated in "critical legal studies".

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the book to arrive. Meanwhile, if you are sending copies to anyone, please consider sending one to new Durham police chief Jose Lopez. He's quoted in today's News & Observer describing the rape hoax as "a sore ... and I don't intend to pick at it."

Business as usual in Durham...

Anonymous said...

Metro Magazine ( has an exclusive cover story on Joe Cheshire today....great read.

Anonymous said...

Is Duke a state school?

Anonymous said...

To 12:39,

You are either reading the shipping charge incorrectly or it is written incorrectly. I just viewed my order and the shipping and handling was $3.98 which is consistent with other books I have ordered.

bill anderson said...

I do agree with 3:16 that Cuomo talked too much. I also remember early in the case when the defense was releasing information, that he complained that their actions (interpreted as "trashing the victim") would make it more difficult for other women to come forward when they were raped.

When did Cuomo change his POV? His record clearly shows he was on the prosecution side, at least early on.

bill anderson said...

I have one question regarding Newsweek: Has either K.C. or Stuart talked to Jon Meacham there? (I have known Jon for many years, and have not spoken to him about this whole matter, but I am curious as to why he chose to put the boys' pictures on the cover -- and why Newsweek is not more apologetic about what it did.)

Anonymous said...

To 6:28
I had a similar reaction to her cultural defense of Vick. Would she should defend female genitalia mutilation on cultural grounds?

Debrah said...

"Duke undergrads mostly overlooked the political correctness of their professors."

I don't think this is entirely true.

There were enough students following the lead of the Gang of 88 to make life on Duke's campus unbearable for the lacrosse players at the time.

After the horrific cover that Thomas' mag used early in their own rush to judgment, might he be engaging in some wishful thinking?

Many who were wholly on the side of the Gang of 88 and Brodhead make tepid remarks about the things known now as facts, but they fail to admit the true damage done....of which they were a part. Front and center.

Thomas still clings to ....The narrative was right. view of the world.

He, like some other liberal apologists, love to describe Brodhead as a poet.


Because he sometimes reads poetry? Or because he sometimes pens a few of his own poems?

In the final analysis, Richard Brodhead is a mental midget. No man with real intellect buckles under the pressure of his own power--power he had at his disposal and never exercised.

It is gratifying to read that Thomas has full praise for the book and now understands that his narrative didn't fit this case.

But when will he understand that his narrative is wrong?

Anonymous said...

To 9:06
Of course Lopez won't pick at it because it is not a sore. It is an abscess. The puss we have seen oozing out of Durham is just the beginning. If there are civil suits we will see more. Unfortunately, deals will be cut and the rampant criminality of Durham will remain hidden.

Debrah said...

I do wish everything wasn't so rushed and that we had several more weeks to really discuss the book after everyone has theirs and has had time to read it.

But, alas, KC is soon off around the world.

It's difficult to see how he has the time left even for this book promotion. It's no small task preparing to live for any length of time in another country. It can take endless hous of prep.

I think many of the stores are just now getting the book and it takes them a few days to unpack all the boxes. I talked with someone at Barnes & Noble and the guy said the reason the books were not displayed out front is because they have yet to unpack them.

Anyone living in the Triangle area should call their bookstores--Borders, B&N, The Regulator, etc.....and any of the other independent stores to ask for a prominent store display.

This travesty took place in your area. It was a significant and drawn out event. People living here need to read the chronicling of how it all took place.

The guy at B&N was really nice about it and assured me that his boss was not a Brodhead and Gang sympathizer.....LOL!....just that they had not yet had the time to unpack the books.

Consequently, perhaps by next week everyone will have gotten their book and will have read it.

Amazon must be deluged with orders because of their snail's pace.

But that's good news!

scott said...

9:06 AM --

Thanks for the heads up on Chief Lopez.

Sounds like his style of
Hear no evil
See no evil
Speak no evil
will ensure the methods and rogues gallery of law enforcement that Durham has exhibited on the world-wide stage will remain firmly in place.

Way to go, Mayor Bell and City Manager Baker. Durham's status as the armpit of the Piedmont is safe.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:56 wrote:

Early in this situation Al Sharpton made a visit to Durham as did Jesse Jackson.


Yeah? Prove it.

To the best of my knowledge as a Durham resident, these impending visits (particularly Sharpton's) were just foul rumors that never materialized.

Sharpton is a buffoon, but occasionally he absorbs a valuable life-lesson, and he didn't want to fall for the same vaudeville ("I been done gang-raped by de bad white mens") routine twice, especially when it's not in his best interests to look so stupid.

Al never showed up in Durham, and I'm pretty sure that Jesse Jerkson, who made less temperate remarks than Sharpton, similarly only commented from afar. Citations to prove me mistaken are welcome.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the 88 be characterized as academic stalinists instead?

or was academic mcarthyism used for its irony?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book yet (in the mail) but one question I would love to preemptively ask is about your thinking process and your approach to the blog and the book over the last 18 months. My curiosity is mostly out of sheer awe at how you continued your teaching while researching and writing so much. I would be interested in learning when you decided the blog was going to follow this case through to the end, versus just making a few comments about the case early on. And when did you decide to start researching for the book as opposed to just writing the blog - interviewing dozens of people takes an enormous amount of time.

And to echo many other comments here, thank you again for the high quality of work and your pursuit in this case. I have been actively reading political blogs since 1996, and I have to say that you have struck out into brand new territory with your work here. I have never seen any other work like it on any case, and I think it will prove to be a model for many researchers, writers, and activists in the future. And that will be a good thing, because sunlight is always the best disinfectant, as the judge used to say.

Best of luck on the book.
Jack Straw

Nicole said...

An excellent article, well worth reading:

Debrah said...

TO Bill Anderson--

If you know Jon Meacham personally, I wish you would ask him to do his version of the Lacrosse Hoax and give a real explanation--which Evan Thomas does not--about that horrific cover.

Even when KC is in Israel, this whole issue can still be discussed and should be.

Newsweek should do more.

Anonymous said...

bill anderson said 9:52AM

I have exactly the same question about Newsweek. Jon Meacham was not the editor at the time that the Newsweek cover ran. The editor was Mark Whittaker.

Evan Thomas was questioned on the decision to run the cover. He said that he had a "twinge" about the cover but that was all. He never divulged exactly WHO made the decision.

The decision was shameful.

Ralph Phelan said...

Michael Barger said...
"I hope the publication of UPI will begin the rollback of Political Correctnesss."

I'm hoping for some synergistic effects with the release of the "Indoctrinate U" movie.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting the source notes for your book on its website. It is wonderful, but sometimes frightening, to go back and review other peoples writing in this debacle.

In particular, it was heartwarming to re-read a couple of emotive pieces written by female supporters of men's lacrosse.

Without posting the source notes this would not have been possible. So thank you!

Joe K

Anonymous said...

anonymous said 9:06AM

Lopez is quoted in today's News & Observer describing the rape hoax as "a sore ... and I don't intend to pick at it."

Lopez is making a big mistake. Deep wounds must heal from the inside and Lopez should be doing everything in his power to see that all of the problems uncovered in Durham are addressed before the wound is allowed to heal. I feel the same way about the Duke administration who is so eager to move on.

Yes, the process can be painful but Lopez should be picking at Durham's "sore" daily.

Debrah said...

When you look at the list of people who have critiqued the book and you read what they have to say...ALL of them--no matter what their political stripes--have praised it in every way.

ALL of them enthusiastically echoed the book's conclusions and it's clear that the magnitude of destruction registers.

It's good that KC has put a spotlight on Evan Thomas in a post. He has high praise for the book, but the signature smarm is there.

Never does he just dive into the heart of the matter. He has to veer off into some creepy description of the "poetic and witty" Brodhead. He can never just come right out and explain to his readers the underlying reasons for the Hoax.

The other book reviewers had no trouble in doing so.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Johnson:
Finished the book yesterday (I would echo your recommendations to DIW readers to head to Borders where I found my copy on Saturday stashed in the law section) and I thoroughly enjoyed the succinct telling of the whole sordid affair but I was left a little wanting with regard to Chapter 25, The Assault on Excellence.

In chapter 25, the authors succinctly set forth many of the arguments featured in this blog regarding the state of higher education. Specifically, the chapter tells of the shift away by most universities from traditional standards which has led to an overall decline in the value of a liberal arts education. The chapter seems to conclude that the only "fix" must come from outside of the institution. The recent battle at Dartmouth and the board of trustees is the most recent example of an attempted remedy. I was curious though, if you are aware if any colleges or universities have adopted, or attempted to adopt, a hiring criteria based on "intellectual diversity"? I'm not sure how such a criteria would operate; perhaps, for example, a search for two history professors would require one to have been educated in the more "traditional" method, i.e., political, diplomatic and military history and another focused on ethnic, gender, race, class history. It seems it would be very interesting to attempt to implement a hiring criteria based on true intellectual diversity and move away from "collegiality".

Again, you and Stuart Taylor did an excellent job in telling this story. If I were to pick a favorite theme of the book, I think it would be the juxtaposition of Nifong and Broadhead. Clearly, Broadhead is Nifong's intellectual superior, but they are morally equivalent. Nifong, after over 20 years as a member of the bar, immediately abandoned his ethics for personal gain when it was expedient for him to do so. Broadhead refused to show any moral strength and immediately buckled to the pressure of his faculty abandoning any pretext of fairness for the Lacrosse players and their coach. They were both in leadership positions, yet both failed to lead. They both should have heeded the examples of true leadership as so beautifully set forth in your book of Mike Pressler (Broadhead's sacrificial lamb) and Kerstin Kimel.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 9:52 said...
...To 6:28
...I had a similar reaction to her cultural defense of Vick. Would she should defend female genitalia mutilation on cultural grounds?
What is the connection between Vick and Dogs and female genitalia mutilation?

Are you a member of the G88 at Duke University?

How about Vick and Dogs and the slave trade in New Orleans just prior to the Civil War?


sceptical said...

Congratulations to you and Stuart on the "birth" of "Until Proven Innocent." My copy from Amazon is on the way and I look forward to read it.

On the discussion section of Amazon, the first poster asked about source notes. I replied with the URL for the notes, but I wonder why they were not included with the text?

The book is a popular accounting of the events but also has historical implications (a modern classic?), so it is unfortunate that an obsessed reader will need to go on-line for the source notes.


Bruno said...

I don't agree with Anne Llewellyn’s use of the expression "reverse racism". I think it's more appropriate to talk about "anti-white racism". the "reverse racism" expression actually promotes racist stereotypes against white people.

Please see my page : reverse racism Vs anti-white racism

Debrah said...

If you go back and watch the GMA interview from yesterday, KC really did hit the right points in his last response segment.

Some of us were wishing for more in-depth discussion of all the players besides Duke and Nifong, but far better than Stuart, KC summed it up with a few lines.

Listen to his last segment when he lists all the negative players...and then ends with "it's depressing".

He was comprehensive in a very brief period of time.

Anonymous said...

I believe Goldberg was arguing for a cultural defense of Vick and dog fighting, i.e., dog fighting is part of the culture of the South and therefore, perhaps, he is to be judged differently than say a defendant guilty of dog fighting in NY. Of course such a defense, both inside and outside a legal setting, must be rejected; justice is blind and there are not multiple standards based on culture. Likewise, assault can not be defended based on values of a certain culture. I was not trying defend her argument; but to criticize it.

Anonymous said...

Joe Gargery said...
That would be much better than a six-minute morning rush-job geared towards hausfraus.

I hope this isn’t meant as an put down to stay at home moms.

Anonymous said...

9:52 said:
I had a similar reaction to her cultural defense of Vick. Would she should defend female genitalia mutilation on cultural grounds?


Exactly what I was thinking as I listened to her. It was not the wisest choice of arguments.

Anonymous said...

To 12:51pm

"justice is blind and there are not multiple standards based on culture."

Oh really? Aren't there multiple standards for black strippers in Durham? Why is Mangum not prosecuted then?

cathyf said...

I don't know what argument Oprah was making, but I certainly would entertain an argument that goes something like this:

Gang rape is a depraved evil act. Period. I have no problem at all imposing that belief on other people.

I find dog fighting distasteful, but I am not nearly so comfortable imposing that belief on others.

I claim that I am not a hypocrite -- it's simply that gang rape is a much more serious evil than dogfighting because I have the consistent moral position that offenses where humans are the victims are more serious than offenses where animals are the victims.

KC has compared the Vick case and the LAX case as to people's rush to judgement and the general mob psychology, using the point of comparison that Vick is an athelete and the LAX players are athletes. I would say that there is also a completely different aspect of comparison -- that Vick is a criminal and Nifong is a criminal, and Vick's crimes are significantly less serious than Nifong's crimes. It's a completely independent point, and I'm sure there are other interesting and edifying comparisons which are also independent.

mac said...

Does Whoopee Goldberg think drowning, electrocuting and torturing dogs is a Southern-thang, too? (Gee, maybe cross burning is also in the blood, a cultural leftover, hence the Duke Lacrosse Burning?) What a dismal attempt to remove responsibility from Vick.

Perhaps Vick's now been elevated - (or levitated)- to Jesus-hood, like a Durhamite once wrote regarding Nifong's travails?

I hear that Whoopee hates the word "stupid," calling it the worst word in the English language. Well, what she said about Vick is stupid.

I hope she doesn't get to weigh in on the problems surrounding this case, and of Durrhh in general.

KC might need to begin writing something called "The Encyclopedia of Stupidity" to deal with all the assorted numbskulls peripheral to and residing in Wonderland.

Debrah said...

TO "mac"--

We might never leave Wonderland!

Anonymous said...

Got my copy at the Glenwood Avenue B&N.

Spent my entire lunch hour (and then some) burning through the first several chapters.

It is better than I hoped for.

Bravo K.C.

Anonymous said...

To Mac @ 2:30

Just my opinion, but I think Cathyf has the better argument. I think many of your earlier posts have been well-reasoned and thoughtful, but I don't think you advance your argument here with name-calling.

I suspect some folks, including hunters, fishermen, rodeo fans, etc. are reluctant to challenge the PC crowd considering humans just another species (isn't that the speciest theory of some of the G88?). I agree with Cathyf, without condoning what Vick did, in my book his crime is much less than Nifong's.

Vick has at least had the courage and grace to make what to me sounded like a sincere and unequivocal apology for his actions, with a denunciation of the sport and a commitment to do better.


Anonymous said...

In re: Whoopi and Vick

I did not take her comments as a defense of Vick, and I think this is a very relevant topic vis-a-vis the behavior of Nifong and G88.

Goldberg correctly pointed out that Vick was pursuing a goal reflected in the culture in which he was raised. Being a kingpin in the dogfighting world is a position of respect that he likely aspired to for many years, and his success on the the football field enabled him to reach that status. That doesn't justify the behavior, although it does explain it to a degree. However, he was always well aware that this behavior was well out of the acceptable boundaries defined by society. "Keepin it real" means having the cajones to defy these boundaries instead of capitulating when you become rich. His apologies for the decisions now are obviously false...he is only sorry that he was caught and that his enablers did not let him get away with his crimes.

I have been told that NC prosecutors have been astounded by the number of bad mistakes made by Nifong, and that they were in complete contradiction to his character. And that this apologies are for these out of character mistakes. This is absolutely false...his behavior reflects years of subsuming justice for the exercise of power, and his behavior in this case is clearly in line with his previous bad acts as a prosecutor and traffic court processor. Any crocodile tears that he now sheds are further evidence of hypocrisy, not regret.

another.anon said...

A couple of commenters had this exchange:

"Anonymous said...
9:52 said:
I had a similar reaction to her cultural defense of Vick. Would she should defend female genitalia mutilation on cultural grounds?


Exactly what I was thinking as I listened to her. It was not the wisest choice of arguments"

Sorry, folks, you're behind the curve...

PS - my copy of KC's book is on order.

no justice, no peace said...

The SMU campus bookstore (Barnes & Noble), sold their last copy to me this afternoon. It was off a shelf at the back of the store.

The employee went straight to the location and knew only one remained. He thought they would move the book to an entry display when the order was replenished.

When I mentioned to the check-out lady that I was surprised the book was not more visible, she confused it with Coach Pressler's book. She thought it had been out for some time.

KC what can your publisher do to mitigate confusion with the retailers?

The Amazon gift ordered arrived today as well.

Congratulations for your early success and all the buzz. I will encourage those gifted to pass it along to others...

Though many do not understand the depth of the problems everyone, and I mean everyone, is familiar with the Duke hoax at some level.

That's quite a legacy for Richard Brodhead.

AMac said...

KC --

You mention that the families of the three falsely accused men agreed to speak to you for the book, on condition that this material not appear on your blog.

As you understand them, what were the reasons for this proviso?

KC Johnson said...

To Amac:

Many of these discussions (along with similar discussions with def. attorneys) occurred while the case was still ongoing. So the objection wasn't to appearing on the blog per se as to the timing of the appearance.

More generally, this is also an issue of the difference between the book and the blog in style. A lot of these interviews involved personal or human interest issues--necessary points for a comprehensive chronological narrative like the book, but a bit extraneous to the focus of the blog.

Anonymous said...

Received the book from Barnes & Noble earlier today. Minor question: why didn't you include the celebrated picture of the purple "CASTRATE" banner (or, indeed, other potbanger pictures widely available on the web)? I think it would have had a big impact on readers unfamiliar with the case. Were there copyright issues?

klchitwood said...

I'm in the process of reading the book. I have religiously read the blog for the past year and eagerly anticipated the publishing of the book. I believe that the book is extremely important and a comprehensive exegesis of criminal wrongdoing by the State and moral wrongdoing by the media and academia. I am enjoying the book very much. K.C. Johnson asked for comments so here they are.

1. On pages 39 and 40 the authors discuss the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. The authors state, "many police and prosecutors comply grudgingly or not at all" with the Brady rule that mandates disclosure of exculpatory evidence to defendants in criminal cases. The authors follow that assertion with the statements that "Sometimes they hide or destroy exculpatory evidence" and “Sometimes they withhold it on the pretense that it is not really exculpatory." There are no citations for any of these allegations. I am not so naive to believe that this type of behavior doesn't exist (as evidenced by the case in Durham, it obviously does exist) however, to assert that "many police and prosecutors" exhibit this type of behavior is, in my opinion, wholly inaccurate. I have been a prosecutor for six years and I have never come across a case where a prosecutor has withheld or destroyed evidence. Likewise, I have never experienced a case where a law enforcement officer has withheld or destroyed evidence. Has a law enforcement officer exhibited that behavior in one of my cases? I don't know. I have never been there when the officer investigates the case. However, I can say that I have never discovered that an officer has lied to me. I can only say that through my experience prosecuting nearly one thousand felony cases, incidences of officers and/or prosecutors willfully violating the mandate of Brady v. Maryland are very rare to non-existent and not perpetrated by "many" as the authors suggest. As I have stated, I am not personally aware of any intentional “Brady violations” other than those reported on in the media.

2. On page 41 of the book, the authors make a more sinister claim. The authors state, "A tape recording of a witness interview would, of course, be far more reliable than any officer's notes." I have no disagreement with this statement. However, the authors then state, "That's one reason why cops and FBI agents almost never tape witness interviews." Again no citation or references are given for this assertion and it is likely that it is the authors' opinions. Based upon my experience in actually working with both federal and state law enforcement, I contend that the authors' opinions are absolutely wrong. To allege that “cops and FBI agents” (these terms are unqualified in the book and I will assume that was done intentionally) do not want a reliable record of the defendant’s statement and that it is a common reason to not tape record an interview is to indict all law enforcement officers of attempting to withhold evidence in all cases. Based upon my experience, I would contend that few, if any, officers would be motivated by such a reason. Most officers merely act as fact finders and do not want to provide the district attorney with partial or biased facts regarding a crime. An officer’s career is based upon his credibility with prosecutors and judges. Almost all officers realize this fact.

3. Lastly, on page 41, the authors opine, “An exact record of what witnesses said would often end up helping to exonerate a suspect targeted by police or prosecutor.” Hmmm, where to start? What this sentence implies is that there is an “innocent” suspect who is targeted by the police. Otherwise, the proposition that a more accurate record of a guilty defendant’s statement would help to exonerate him makes no sense. The use of the word “often” is also an interesting choice. With regard to suspects, I have seen hundreds of suspects’ statements and I cannot say that one change in procedure would “often” affect the group as a whole. The individuals all have faced different charges with the facts being different in each case. If you take the group as a whole and segregate the “innocent” suspects then, in my opinion, you are left with a very small number of individuals. (In spite of what is portrayed on television, in most criminal cases, law enforcement officers have a good idea who the perpetrated the crime.) From this small group, you can separate out the individuals who choose not to give a statement. Based upon my experience, that is at least fifty percent. From that smaller group where the facts of the crimes and the potential charges vary considerably, the authors propose that an audio recording of the statements given would “often” exonerate the suspect. There is absolutely no reliable data or evidence for this statement.

In spite of this critique, I am enjoying the book very much.