It was a fascinating day yesterday at
The most dubious presentation came from former
According to Cassidy, district attorneys in the midst of an election campaign have considerable latitude, based on the First Amendment. He cited Minnesota Republican Party v. White—but this decision appeared to have little to do with Nifong’s behavior. White held that states could not prohibit judicial candidates from expressing their opinions about issues that might come before them on a court. Nifong, however, was accused of making prejudicial statements about a specific criminal case in which his office had publicly identified suspects.
Nonetheless, according to Cassidy, it was permissible for Nifong:
To make comments that expressed certainity a crime occurred;
To comment on his reading of SANE nurse Tara Levicy’s report
To inform Newsweek (after all three indictments had occurred) that no “’facts’” had emerged that had caused him to change his initial opinion, which was expressed on March 27, 2006.
At the ethics proceedings, even Nifong’s attorney conceded that the latter comment probably was improper.
Cassidy revealed his bias a bit later in his talk, when he announced that AG Cooper's declaration of innocence was disrespectful to “victim.” Several people in the audience, correctly, called out that there was no “victim.” Cassidy slightly backtracked—terming Mangum the “alleged victim.” He made sure not to mention her name.
Duke Law dean David Levi saying that if 70+ of his faculty had wanted to sign a denunciatory statement about their students, he would have done what he could to dsiscourage them from acting. President Richard Brodhead, it seems, took a different approach with the Group of 88 statement.*
Michael Tigar noted that lawyers who play soundbite journalism inevitably lose—even though, sometime, defense attorneys have to develop a relationship with the media.
During the Friendly roundtable, Dean Levi, playing the role of chancellor, was asked what he would have done upon learning from police of an investigation of sexual assault against one of his school's students.
His reply? "I'd call Jim Coleman."
*--modified to prevent overstatement. Brodhead met with AAAS faculty on 4-3-06; copies to the Group's ad had circulated via email before that time. It seems very hard to believe that the topic of the ad did not come up at the meeting. Given Brodhead's defense of the ad's themes in his 4-5 and 4-18 statements; and his vigorous defense of the ad three times in winter and spring 2007, it also seems very hard to believe that he offered the kind of objection to the ad provided by Levi. Indeed, before an e-mail sent to a DIW reader yesterday, Brodhead never criticized the ad in any way.