Saturday, September 29, 2007

Misc.

It was a fascinating day yesterday at Duke Law School’s “Court of Public Opinion” conference.

The most dubious presentation came from former Massachusetts prosecutor R. Michael Cassidy, currently associate dean for academic affairs at Boston College Law School. First, he challenged portions of the Disciplinary Hearing Committee’s rulings dealing with Mike Nifong’s disbarment. Some of Nifong’s pretrial statements, Cassidy suggested, were ethically proper.

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.

Other highlights:

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.

20 comments:

Debrah said...

Since KC has made the legal bizarro Cassidy a feature of this post, I will reprise the link to R. Michael Cassidy.

Debrah said...

I was talking to someone the other day about how Liberalism has morphed into something that even most Liberals wish to avoid.

Hence, the new moniker---progressive.

It would seem, however, that Michael Cassidy is still locked inside a bell jar of mid-20th century angst.

So hermetically sealed inside a world that dictates, apparently, that any minority party to an alleged crime cannot be openly discussed in realistic terms and phrases.

We must break free of this outdated 20th century cultural grotesquerie.

haskell said...

What a great conference -- reasonable, learned discourse about a number of important topics. I can think of about 89 people who could learn a lot about process from today's meeting and how controversial matters and differing opinions can be openly expressed without rancor. Seriously, I wonder if Duke has ever considered Anger Management for their faculty, just as they have probably required sensitivity training for everybody else. Maybe they could send these folks to charm school -- (just can't resist telling this story)

Two friends got together after summer vacation. The first asked, "How did your summer go?"

"Well, I went to England and had dinner with the Queen."

"Fantastic!"

"After that, we went to France on the first Express Train through the new tunnel"

"Fantastic!"

"Then we went to Rome and I had an audience with the Pope."

"Fantastic!"

"Well, enough about me, what did you do this summer?"

"I went to Charm School."

"Ha ha, what ever did you learn in Charm School?"

"I learned to say 'Fantastic" instead of "Bullshit".

tah said...

...Cassidy slightly backtracked—terming Mangum the “alleged victim.”

If he kept backtracking, he'd eventually reach the proper description: self-alleged victim

Anonymous said...

Why did Cassidy call CGM the "victim"? I think it's the sustaining self-image of many prosecutors: Great Avenger of the victim, all that. Gotta have a victim to be his/her Avenger.

People can talk all they want to about public prosecutors' duty to seek justice rather than convictions, but unless it can be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the two are different (and this case shows that it usually can't, even with a declaration of innocence), prosecutors want a conviction.

Still, it's bizarre that Cassidy defended Nifong. Naturally a fellow prosecutor would want to bend over backward to find excuses for one of his kind, but...

In one of his publications ("Character and Context: What Virtue Theory Can Teach Us About a Prosecutor's Ethical Duty to 'Seek Justice'") Cassidy argues that honesty, fairness, courage, and prudence are the primary qualities citizens have a right to expect of their public prosecutors.

Honesty. Fairness. Courage. Prudence. In the LAX travesty, Nifong demonstrated exactly none of these virtues -- and there's no way that Cassidy could imagine that he did.

mac said...

Looks like Cassidy is playing catch-up with his own past, judging by those comments. I'm not saying he Nifonged anyone, but it's very likely that "something happened" in his past that he would defend Nifong's statements (does that include the chokehold demo?)

Former prosecutor? Good thing.

And he's saying that running for office means you can railroad people for one's own benefit? That's somehow supposed to be "rule of law?"

I'd like to see Lane Williamson take this guy apart. Putz.

AF said...

His reply? "I'd call Jim Coleman."

He would make a move toward a voice of reason. If only Boardhead had chosen a voice of reason instead of the clanging of pots.

Anonymous said...

"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, obviously, took a different approach with the Group of 88 statement."
___________

Why did Brodhead "obviously" take a different approach with Group of 88 statement? Do you know whether any of the authors approached him PRIOR to publication to ask his opinion? Do you know that he then encouraged them to publish?

You obviously don't think much of Brodhead but it would be a nice change if you could show some objectivity toward him.

Anonymous said...

No comment.

KC Johnson said...

To the 7.38:

Brodhead met with a delegation of AAAS faculty on 4-3-06, three days before the ad appeared. Copies of the ad had been widely circulated through e-mail before then. It seems hard to believe that, if he didn't know f the ad before 4-3-06, Brodhead was informed of it at the meeting.

I never said--either in this post or anywhere else--that Brodhead encouraged the Group to publish the ad.

Anonymous said...

...Cassidy slightly backtracked—terming Mangum the “alleged victim.”

If he kept backtracking, he'd eventually reach the proper description: self-alleged victim

****************

I think you're being too kind, tah. IMO, the proper description would be "liar." Since we know for a fact that Mangum was not any type of "victim" (but was instead the victimizer), it is inappropriate to make any reference to her as a "victim" -- alleged or otherwise.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 7:38 said...

..."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, obviously, took a different approach with the Group of 88 statement."
___________
...Why did Brodhead "obviously" take a different approach with Group of 88 statement? Do you know whether any of the authors approached him PRIOR to publication to ask his opinion? Do you know that he then encouraged them to publish?
...You obviously don't think much of Brodhead but it would be a nice change if you could show some objectivity toward him.
::
You comments remind me of my high school debate experience with competitors who use 'presuppositions' followed by 'personal attack' with no supporting evidence.

"You obviously don't think much of Boradhead (PRESUPPOSE) and YOU could show some objectivity (PERSONAL ATTACK).

This approach is called desperation according to my debate teacher. I agree.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

Is Cassidy a Communist? Is he related to Hopalong Cassidy?

Anonymous said...

"Indeed, before an e-mail sent to a DIW reader yesterday, Brodhead never criticized the ad in any way."

Can somebody point me toward this? There's no link and there are a few hundred comments in yesterday's threads. I have skimmed over most of them, but haven't found any reference to this letter. Was it an unpublished/unposted communication?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Massachusetts is one of the states which spent huge amounts of time and money to prosecute innocent people on fabricated child-abuse charges. Cassidy comes from that prosecutorial culture. Cassidy's comments on Nifong illustrate the extent to which Massachusetts prosecutors are still in denial about the damage they have done.

Anonymous said...

Cassidy would fit in just fine in Durham. I hear that they will be looking for a new DA after David Saacks' term.

Was Cassidy floating a trial balloon?

Anonymous said...

Tah said: ...Cassidy slightly backtracked—terming Mangum the “alleged victim.”

If he kept backtracking, he'd eventually reach the proper description: self-alleged victim.
---

Mangum was the perpetrator of the original crime in this case, not a victim.

-RD

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if this is the most appropriate place to post this comment, but I was interested to read in your book that Mike Nifong chose to register with the Selective Service System (draft board) as a conscientious objector. Persons born between January 1, 1944 and December 31, 1950 were subject of the first draft lottery, which took place on December 1, 1969. How did Mike Nifong's birthday (September 14, 1950) fare?
It was drawn #1 out of a total of 366 days. http://www.landscaper.net/draft.htm#How's%20your%20%22Luck%20of%20the%20Draw%22?

Ralph Phelan said...

anonymous 10:12-

Cassidy is evidence that Nifong was not an aberration.

scott said...

Nonetheless, according to Cassidy, it was permissible for Nifong:

To comment on his reading of SANE nurse Tara Levicy’s report

Is that true even if Nifong was lying about having read it since he commented on it BEFORE it was ever released to the police?