Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Kevin Finnerty Letter

A powerful letter by Kevin Finnerty, in the most recent Metro:

Finnerty Family Remembers Article on Duke Lacrosse Case

To writer Sharon Swanson:

I hope this note finds you and your family doing well. We sure are. Easter has just passed, and I must say, we enjoyed a very warm family holiday, completely different from just a year ago.

As we approach the first year anniversary of Roy Cooper’s “Innocent” speech on April 11, my mind just cannot steer clear of the events of that day. I subsequently have realized it was rather courageous of Attorney General Roy Cooper to announce the three young men as “innocent” of all charges within the politically sensitive environment in which we live. Courageous, even though it was totally truthful.

I would like to reiterate for all interested parties that might have any doubt that “the truth does set you free!” I have also just re-read your article for Metro magazine (January 2007) after spending one short day with us, and I have to tell you, I believe you captured the spirit of the moment within our family at that time. Doing so while on such a relatively short visit to our home, speaks volumes of your perceptiveness, as well as to your abilities as an author. - I really just wanted to let you know how much I truly appreciated your taking the time to travel and meet with us at that day, and how important your heartfelt article was for all of the Finnertys at that time. (Especially my wife Mary Ellen!)

It was not only sensitive, but it too was courageous in that it ran directly in the face of the “media madness” that was running amuck with District Attorney Nifong’s bogus, election-driven assertions.

One year later, as I re-read it, I enjoy it all the more, and it actually made me cry, once again.

Thought you’d like to know,

Kevin Finnerty

New York


Anonymous said...

It is hard not to cry when reading Ms. Swanson's interview. It underscores the importance of the litigation currently before the court. The fact that a police department, a prosecutor, a college, a medical center and a lab could all conspire to wreak havoc and nearly ruin the lives of a group of people over what?....the desire to right some ancient wrong? gain better retirement benefits for a public employee? push athe PC agenda of a group of professors? who knows what else? This is not what the soldiers over the years have fought to preserve.

Debrah said...

Nice letter.

Kevin Finnerty was always my favorite lacrosse Dad.

Ms. Swanson was at Duke the evening Stuart spoke and she was telling him--during the informal gathering we had outside in the lobby before the actual program began--about her visit to the Finnerty household.

She's a mother and obviously could strongly identify with MaryEllen Finnerty. I think she said she went to visit them for a follow-up article because the first one she wrote was very critical of the lacrosse team and she got a phone call from the Finnerty's about it.

Nice ending.

Anonymous said...

I still find ignorant people that believe something happened that night. So it is still very important that this fiasco be be criminally investigaged and litigated in civil court - so these morons can see the truth. Keep the coverage coming.

W. R. Chambers said...

Kevin's letter is an eloquent reminder of the power of the press, and of the importance of reporters being as accurate and thoughtful as possible, two adjectives not necessarily consistent with "banging out a story," "grabbing eyeballs," rushing a "scoop" into print or giving vent to one's pre-conceived notions in the guise of reporting.

Carolyn said...

I would have given anything to have had a family like the Finnerty's. But thank God Collin did.

Anonymous said...

The Finnertys once again show their 'class'.

It did make me wonder how many other reporters, professors, administrators, etc. the Finnertys reached out to and were summarily slapped down.

Debrah said...


Lawyers ask judge to lift stay on Nifong

By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
Apr 10, 2008

DURHAM -- Lawyers for three former Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape have asked a federal bankruptcy judge to lift a stay that bars them from pursuing a lawsuit against former District Attorney Mike Nifong.

The filing on behalf of David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann contends that Nifong's January bankruptcy declaration was a ruse to avoid having to answer for his misconduct.

It was "a tactic to change forum, avoid a jury trial and obtain [debt relief] that would free him to avoid responsibility and even profit from his wrongdoing by, for example, signing a lucrative book deal without ever being required to compensate the three innocent men he wronged," the players' attorneys said.

The filing also stressed that the N.C. State Bar disciplinary panel that disbarred Nifong last summer found that his ethical violations stemmed from a "dishonest or selfish motive."

Panel members believed he played up a stripper's false rape allegations in the spring of 2006 to win an election.

Tuesday's filing was the latest in a series of maneuvers that began when Nifong opted to file bankruptcy rather than answer the civil-rights lawsuit the three players filed against him and an array of city officials.

Nifong has claimed he's facing $180.3 million in potential debts. The figure assumes that a court might award damages of $30 million each to Evans, Finnerty, Seligmann, and $30 million more apiece to three other players who have sued him.

The former prosecutor claims to have almost nothing in assets, save for a couple of guitars worth a combined $2,300.

The players and their attorneys said in Tuesday's filing that they want to target any liability insurance that covers Nifong, and any "assets he acquires post-bankruptcy" -- like a book deal.

They also indicated that they are likely to pursue a case against him no matter what the bankruptcy judge decides. If he doesn't lift the stay on the previous lawsuit, they can go after him in bankruptcy court.

Lifting the stay would simplify things for everyone, they contend.

If the stay remains, Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann "will be required to prosecute two duplicative proceedings involving the same facts, witnesses, documents and issues in two different forums, a gross waste of private and judicial resources."

Nifong too "would be subject to duplicative depositions, document requests and trial testimony," they noted.

They acknowledged that the former DA's lawyer, James Craven, has already said Nifong won't voluntarily agree to have the stay lifted.

Debrah said...

Really pathetic.

H-S editorial:

Judge hits a nerve on warrant backlog

Apr 10, 2008

By the reaction from city and county officials, you could tell Judge Elaine Bushfan had hit a sensitive nerve.

At a meeting of the Joint City/County Committee on Tuesday, Bushfan, the chief district court judge, asked about an estimated backlog of 50,000 unserved arrest warrants. It's not a new issue, Bushfan said, and she expressed frustration that next to nothing has been done about it. And she wasn't shy about naming names.

City Manager Patrick Baker and County Manager Mike Ruffin haven't cooperated on solving the problem, she said.

The matter has been brought to their attention several times in the past few years, but the managers have shown "an inability to go beyond their current conversation," she said.

The reaction from Ruffin and Baker seemed to reinforce the point.

Ruffin said the bulk of warrants come from the city, but that the Durham Police Department isn't doing its part to serve them. Baker denied that, decried the finger-pointing and left the meeting minutes later.

Consider that each of the 50,000 warrants represents a crime for which no one has been held accountable. To be sure, many are minor offenses, and many are old. Officials estimate that 37,000 warrants are low-level misdemeanors over five years old.

Purging them from the system seems an obvious solution, and, in fact, an agreement to do so was reached some time ago, Baker said. That just makes it harder to understand why it hasn't been done yet.

The other side of the issue is that not all of the warrants are minor. And there's no way warrants for serious crimes should be sitting on a shelf gathering dust.

As is often the case with the Durham court system, one of the underlying problems is resources. The Police Department, Sheriff's Office, judges and magistrates all generate warrants, so many that they overwhelm the system.

Baker and Ruffin can't solve that problem, but that's no excuse. They could be doing a lot more to reduce the backlog.

We appreciate Bushfan for her outspoken, persistent advocacy on this issue. We need local leaders who will speak the truth, even if it is at times uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Just a glimpse into the very real and very intense pain suffered by this family and I am certain, by all the families. Considering there has been NO accountability outside of the wrist slap of Nifong, the civil suits MUST go to trial.

Anonymous said...

"we need local leaders who will speak the truth..."

What we really need are leaders period. That would be a start.

Anonymous said...

Seems like no one in NC's judicial or law enforcement community is concerned about justice. No one is concerned that a number of organizations conspired to wrongfully and illegally frame and convict Colin, David and Reade. Not even the US Attorney or the Dept of Justice.

It's really unfortunate that the only way they can get justice is through a costly legal civil battle. NC's justice system is so corrupt that I'm afraid they will never see justice.

In this case like others in Durham, it's all "just bidness". Follow the money because there are all kinds of back room deals that will affect the final outcome.

Anonymous said...

I don't consider loss of a thirty year job and lawyer license a wrist slap. Nifong has lost it all and only he knows why he perputrated this event.

mac said...

Very perceptive article by Ms. Swanson....

Written in January 2007. That was about the time that Nurse Levity was on the umpteenth draft of her version of events, and when Gottlieb and company were still trying to figure out a way to make the poo stick to the wall.

January 2007:
Wendy Murphy and Nancy Grace were still writing evil things in the sky on their brooms for all of OZ to see and fear: Collin was the Scarecrow; how could anyone think he was a short, plump and viscious rapist?

I'm glad to hear the the Finnerty family is doing better; it's time.

It's also time for Duke and Durham to pay their dues. And for the mechanisms of the Hoaxers to be revealed.

Debrah said...

I'm posting this letter from the H-S today because I find it so compelling.

Rarely do I think about this "gender thing" which this guy raises......but when you give the topic some thought, it just might have some validity.

It's always been a stereotype that white women have been in the catbird's seat of society as far as being taken care of and being held up as the standard of beauty.

There have been numerous articles and books written on the subject which discuss the idea that women of other races and ethnicities are overlooked.

IMO, that is ancient history.

But as I said, I am dispassionate about the subject. I still believe that women can do pretty much as they want if they have the goods.

It should be mentioned that so many black women complain about their "hard times". I just don't see that as reality.

What I see is that some have been given such a smooth ride for so long that the least obstacle can elicit outrage and the sense of entitlement always surfaces.

We really must begin demanding a dialogue that is honest in this country.

So many wouldn't know what it would be like to actually work for something and get somewhere on their own merits.

I am still troubled by Obama's lack of respect for his late mother and his still-living grandmother.

Has chasing an identity in the black community and marrying a very Afro-centric woman demanded that he minimize the importance of the very woman from whose womb he came?

This really bothers me.

I am reminded of something the actress Peggy Lipton said in an interview years ago when she was still married to musician Quincy Jones.

She said that she wanted to instill a sense of heritage and history in her daughters.....the significance of their entire heritage.....but she lamented that the "black side" always took over and drowned out everything else.

A lamentation. Not a sense of pride.

I feel that this perhaps happened to Obama as a young man.

The insularity and the selfishness and the sometimes ignorance of some in the black community can be repulsive.

No room is left for an open and objective conversation.

Lastly, contrary to what Sir Elton John would have us believe, Hillary Clinton is not behind in the polls because of "misogyny".

She is trailing Obama because countless voters simply do not like her, personally.

The fact that she might wear a skirt on occasion has nothing to do with it.

Southerners are best at handling race matters

Hillary Clinton is taking a hard lesson from Barack Obama's mom -- white women don't matter.

Obama is black and race trumps gender.

But then we look at Obama through the lens of modern feminism: Obama's mother was white. Mothers have the power of abortion, therefore Obama is white.

That's a little harsh but liberalism can be harsh when it crashes into itself. Chris Matthews asked Obama, "What's it like being a black guy with a white mom?" Matthews sounds like a white kid who missed the integration years in the public schools, not mean, just ignorant and isolated. Matthews is the new "Southern man."

It was always up to the northern states to rescue Hillary from Obama like Rhett Butler was supposed to rescue Scarlett from Sherman. To put a modern twist on an old story, the last vestiges of white power reside in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, the same band that beat back the South at Gettysburg. Truth be known, the South is much more comfortable with the idea of a mulatto running for president. It's an old fashioned word but then the South has been dealing with these matters longer. The South can talk about race.

Obama was born a mulatto in 1960. He was born into a racist country that was not ready to accept him. But he was also born at a time when abortion was illegal and taboo, which gave him a greater chance to survive. Hillary represents the white woman who could have chosen abortion. Obama represents the melting pot that occurred because abortion was illegal.

Alan Culton
April 11, 2008

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic, but there's a very funny review of Houston Baker's latest literary oeuvre at

halides1 said...


I told Sharon that Stuart Taylor was coming to Duke and encouraged her to attend his talk. I was glad I did, because she is an impressive and discerning person. I asked about the first article that she wrote about the case, which was neither favorable nor unfavorable to the Duke players. It struck me as a bit of a risk that Mary Ellen Finnerty would invite her to write an article about her family. I believe that Sharon said that Mary Ellen had read other articles of hers (possibly given to her by local readers), and that was how the article came about. Does anyone know whether she wrote about Stuart's lecture? I found it extremely valuable in changing some of my opinions about the case.

Chris Halkides

Debrah said...

TO halides1--

Well, I suppose she was glad that you told her about Stuart being at Duke.

He answered a lot of questions and did so without a sugar coat.

I was sitting directly across from Stuart in the lobby when everyone was just chatting with him and getting books signed.

Ms. Swanson approached him and I heard some of what she was saying and asked her if she would speak louder so that everyone could hear instead of it being just an exchange with Stuart.

She was telling him about the visit with the Finnertys.

I didn't really know her before then. I had only seen one of her columns in the N&O prior to the one she did with Mary Ellen.

The N&O puts her column--when she has one--in the Life section which makes it more of an entertainment and fuzzy venue.

I didn't see anything that she wrote about Stuart's visit; however, I could have missed it.

The Finnertys had nothing to hide and were perhaps relieved to be able to get their personal story out there in the public....even if it was just a small article.

And yes, Ms. Swanson seems to be a sensitive and empathetic person and a fine writer.

Good thing you reminded her to go back in November.

Debrah said...

TO anonymous (8:23 PM)--

I posted that link inside The Diva World.

That is so hilarious.