"Until Proven Innocent/Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case" [is] a devastating indictment of the culture, on campus and off, that supported Nifong during his handling of the case and enabled his election last November, even when fair-minded people recognized his wrongful prosecution.
There's no need to repeat the familiar violations of legal procedures and professional ethics that led to Nifong's disbarment and brief jail sentence for contempt of court.
More revealing to readers will be the authors' accounting of what the Durham council doesn't want the public to know about police officers' complicity. It explains why the city is apparently so willing to negotiate with attorneys for Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty who are threatening a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
Taylor and Johnson detail Nifong's successful effort to win political backing among Durham's black leaders, a motivating factor for the DA to charge after indictments even without credible evidence to justify the allegations.
Even more alarming, as documented by the authors, was the behavior of radical Duke faculty members, mostly drawn from race, gender and class studies programs, for whom accusations that privileged white, male athletes raped a poor black woman confirmed preconceived notions about power, exploitation and injustice. Instead of sifting facts from lies or allowing due process, they joined the chorus of condemnation and hatred, from which Nifong drew moral validation. Duke President Richard Brodhead and his lieutenants weren't much better, in Taylor and Johnson's view.
There are good guys in their book, as well: Duke Law Professor James Coleman, an African American and expert in legal ethics and innocence issues, who spoke out early for truth; the N.C. State Bar, which effectively knocked Nifong off the case; N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who ultimately declared the defendants innocent and the charges a fabrication; the defense attorneys, whose extraordinary efforts uncovered critical evidence Nifong tried to hide; and Evans, Seligmann, Finnerty, their coaches, teammates and families, who endured a terrible ordeal with perseverance and dignity.
"Until Proven Innocent" should be on reading lists at Duke and throughout Durham, but it may be the last thing people there want to talk about.
Read the entire column here.