Monday, September 29, 2008

September Events in the Case

September was a light month legally; here are the case-related highlights:

As the new chairman of its African-American Studies Department, Duke has hired a professor best-known for his anti-Israel screeds and as an apparatchik focused on enforcing campus political correctness.

Declining to bow to reality, Duke professor Tim Tyson stands by everything he said about the case. Could the anti-lacrosse extremist have been unaware that his most embarrassing statements were caught on tape?

New “scholarship” on the case: Kansas professor Barbara Barnett, who received her M.A. degree from the Group of 88-topheavy Duke English Department, posits that the rate of violent crime on college campuses is around 2.5 times higher than the rate of sexual assault, murder, armed robbery, and assault combined(!!) in Detroit, the U.S. city with the highest murder rate. This assertion paves the way for her thesis: that Duke’s response to the case was overly favorable to the lacrosse players—and that Duke needed to show more sympathy for Crystal Mangum.

Speaking of the false accuser, another month has passed, and her promised Mangum Opus has yet to appear.

Eleven Group members—highlighted by none other than Wahneema Lubiano—suddenly discover civil liberties, not by admitting their errors in the lacrosse case, but by signing a statement wildly claiming that a prosecution against a New York “Muslim American” for allegedly aiding Al Qaeda “threatens the First Amendment rights of others.”

In July, in naming Duke Board of Trustees chairman Bob Steel as its new CEO, Wachovia declared that “he is an ideal choice for this time of turmoil.” This morning, the bank was acquired by Citigroup—at a firesale price of $1/share. [Update: It seems as if Steel's bet on Wachovia worked out no better than his misguided approach to the lacrosse case. Reports Bloomberg, Steel "bought 1 million shares of Wachovia stock for about $16 million two weeks after arriving at the company. Steel wasn't available for comment."

The Liestoppers discussion forum has a comprehensive summary of the Moez Elmostafa civil suit.

The Erick Daniels case provides more insight into the corrupt world of Durham criminal justice—and into N&O columnist Barry Saunders’ willingness to use any issue to assault the lacrosse players’ character.

The civil suits have thus far cost the city of Durham more than $750,000. Perhaps the city is reconsidering its refusal to enter into good-faith negotiations about a settlement?

Meanwhile, in a letter to the Herald-Sun, Ed Rickards reports that Duke's legal bills skyrocketed from $4.32 million in the 2004-2005 academic year to $10.2 million in the 2006-2007 academic year. Rickards adds, "Heavy litigation did not set in until after this. Duke added lawyers like Jamie Gorelick of Washington, whose firm typically bills $800 an hour for partners' time. There is no certainty that the hoax led to these increased legal costs, because Duke will not help interpret the numbers. But I can identify no other reason. Across the full spectrum of the university, the denial of information is a hallmark of the Brodhead years, and it is disintegrating the ability of students, alumni and faculty to effectively monitor and participate in university governance."

And Mike Nifong’s guitars will go up for auction.


bill anderson said...

Great post, K.C.! I was laughing all the way through.

By the way, will Steel donate his golden parachute to Duke to help pay all the legal bills that his actions helped to bring about?

Debrah said...

"This morning, the bank (Wachovia) was acquired by Citigroup—at a firesale price of $1/share. No word yet on the amount of Steel’s golden parachute."

And Steel was supposed to be such a godsend.

A friend of mine who is in the business world heaped high praise on Wachovia back when Steel first took the job.

Seems he's been about as effective there as he was at Duke during the Lacrosse Hoax.

Anonymous said...

K.C., love your DIW and this must be a slow month for us. Can't wait for the civil trial to get started!By the way, what's Gottlieb, Hinman, Lin Wilson and Tara Levicy are doing now?

bobo1949 said...

So how many millions of dollars is Steel's short tenure as chairman of Wachovia worth? What ever he is paid will be too much! Unfortunately, right now Citibank isn't that hot of an investment either.

Anonymous said...

How long was Steel at Wachovia? Did the bank and its board even have time to approve a resolution on his employment agreement?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping up with all the case related news, Professor Johnson.
Many of us look very forward to reading your blog.


Mike Lee said...

What a difference a couple of years make huh? God bless you KC....I only wish I could have had you as a Professor when I was in college.

No justice, no peace said...

I posted the following on 7/10 regarding Bob Steel being hired as Wachovia CEO. On the one hand it becomes easy to discount my comments as ill-informed and not grounded with all of the facts at hand.*

One the other hand character does count. Given a choice, most would prefer someone with a clear and consistent moral foundation making the tough decisions in time of crisis.

Throwing innocent citizens to the PC wolves is a disqualifier, and yet Bob Steel was hired.

"One other thought. Besides Mr. Steel's Duke legacy, he also leave a moral hazard issue with his actions while at Treasury.

Opening the discount window to non-financial institutions is a big deal.

Moving away from the capitalist foundations of allowed failure, regeneration, and creative destruction will exacerbate our current financial market meltdown.

I've always respected Lanty Smith's judgement and intellect, but now there will be a footnote.

It seems to me Wachovia, and other financial institutions, need leadership that can bring them out of the wildnerness. Bob Steel has a very recent history of leading institutions into the wilderness.

A very odd and disappointing choice.

7/10/08 10:41 AM"

* The Ray Nagin defense of inaction during/after Hurricane Katrina.

Unfortunately for us, we must also deal with commercial paper, commerical real estate, and all of the other non-MBS issues.

Anonymous said...

I bid $1 for Nifong's guitars.

Signed: Mortimer and Randolph Duke

Anonymous said...

2:44 -
Gottlieb - "retired"
Himan - police officer in Pennsylvania
Levicy - nurse in New Hampshire
Lin Wilson - serving as his own legal representation in the civil suits; no longer employed by the DA's office

bobo1949 said...

to 3:29PM Sept 29, 2008
Citigroup Rescues Wachovia's Bank Unit as Stock Spirals Down

By David Mildenberg
"Steel's Tenure

The transaction is a blow to Wachovia Chief Executive Officer Robert Steel, 57, who was recruited from the Treasury department in July to rebuild the lender's credibility with investors. He bought 1 million shares of Wachovia stock for about $16 million two weeks after arriving at the company.

Steel wasn't available for comment beyond a prepared statement in which he called Citigroup ``a strong partner to preserve the stability and quality of our banking franchise.'' A call to Lanty Smith, chairman of Wachovia's board of directors, wasn't immediately returned.

``This is a compelling deal,'' said Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, 51, on a conference call with analysts and investors. ``This is one of those rare high-return acquisitions in which we have contained the risks.''

Greg Toombs said...

“Muslim American”

That makes me a "Christian American." No, instead it should be "Protestant American." Better yet would be "Presbyterian American." That's about right.

In victim politics, it never pays as well to self-identify as one of a larger victim group.

Unless they achieve class-action status, of course.

Anonymous said...

KC -- I was at Duke recently, and was amazed that TO THIS DAY Duke leadership blames the lacrosse players for all their troubles. They take responsibility for nothing and passionately believe that (1) they did nothing wrong and (2) these students brought it upon themselves. My sense is that Gorelick has convinced them she will destroy the students in court, by humiliating them and their parents in public. More disturbing is the glib way in which they spread awful gossip about the kids (e.g, wait until it comes out at trial how awful these kids really were, like it would make a bit of difference). THis case is going to trial because Duke is convinced they can pulverize the students and their families in the media. (Heckuva an attitude to have about your own students!)

Nothing will change at Duke until Brodhead and Steel are gone. They are in so far over their heads it's ridiculous, and theoir schoolboy arrogance is going to get the school killed.

Anonymous said...

You all probably know this, but Jim Cramer put Robert Steel, whom Jim Cramer calls a friend, at the top of his Wall of Shame today. Apparently, Jim Cramer invited Mr. Steel to appear on the show...which he did. Mr. Steel told the audience there was nothing to worry about at Wachovia. (For Mr. Steel's sake let's hope there is something in what he told the public that distinguishes his comments from those reassuring comments made by Mr. Ken Lay some years back about Enron. Jeanine Pirro stated on the air tonight with way too big a smile that the Federal prosecutors are just looking for prosecution opportunities). From checking the balance sheet/accounting records, Mr. Cramer also could find nothing to worry about at Wachovia either, which he told his audience.

Today, as Mr. Cramer added Mr. Steel to his Wall of Shame, Mr. Cramer apologized repeatedly to his audience for not being more skeptical when he had Mr. Steel on the show. I did not hear Mr. Steel's comments and they may be problematic, but many people are thirsty for revenge after this financial debacle. We should all be alert for shaky cases pursued
to further political agendas and avenge the public's need for accountability/scapegoats.

Is Mr. Steel really still at Treasury? What on earth is he doing there? How could these two positions not have created a conflict of interest for him over the past several weeks? Perhaps he recused himself from making decisions in one of these positions.


Anonymous said...

Is Steel a Communist?

Debrah said...

Can Durham officials do anything right?

The place seems to be going down the tubes.


Justice gone missing

Sep 30, 2008

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines "abscond" as "to depart secretly and hide oneself."

So "absconder" is a good word to describe the 831 convicts in Durham who have reportedly ditched their probation and are, according to the N.C. Department of Justice, "actively avoiding supervision."

We're dealing with lawbreakers here, so it's no big surprise that a certain percentage refuse to play by the rules of probation, which include regular visits with a probation officer and other court-ordered mandates such as drug testing and counseling.

What's unfortunate is that in Durham, the 831 absconders amount to about 20 percent of all 4,161 cases monitored by the Durham probation office. According to 2006 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice, only 9 percent of convicts nationwide absconded from probation -- less than half the Durham rate.

By deliberately losing themselves, absconders ignore a court's orders and make a mockery of the justice system. And if probation becomes a joke, it removes an important alternative to prison from a judge's sentencing options. We need the probation system to work, because prisons and jails are already full.

And criminals who disappear can reemerge in horrible ways. Laurence Lovette Jr., charged in the murders of both UNC student body president Eve Carson and Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato, was on probation. So was Demario Atwater, also charged in Carson's murder. Officials concede their supervision was lax, to say the least.

Durham County Commissioners Chairwoman Ellen Reckhow and City Councilman Howard Clement are co-chairs of the Durham Crime Cabinet. They argue that the absconder figures show that Durham deserves a big chunk of the $2.5 million set aside by the General Assembly to improve the state's probation system.

We can't argue with that, but we would add that the figures also call for a thorough analysis of probation department operations. Why is the department carrying more than a dozen open positions? Why haven't officials identified and prioritized the most dangerous cases? Let's be sure the probation department is doing everything it can to efficiently manage its caseload and bring absconders back into the fold.

Anonymous said...

For the rest us great unwashed:

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.


SYLLABICATION: ap·pa·ra·tchik
NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. ap·pa·ra·tchiks or ap·pa·ra·tchi·ki (-ch-k)
1. A member of a Communist apparat. 2. An unquestioningly loyal subordinate, especially of a political leader or organization.
ETYMOLOGY: Russian, from apparat, apparat. See apparat.

Debrah said...

"I only wish I could have had you as a Professor when I was in college."

As do I.

skwilli said...

Wanna bet the parachute is quite golden? There is probably a cabinet position in the works for Mr. Steele in the next government. Jamie Gorelick will have just enough time to screw up Duke more before leaving for her post at the Justice Dept.

bill anderson said...

To 10:10,

Great post. That has been the mantra from day one: it was THEIR fault! THEY deserved what they got!

How does Duke explain Tara Levicy? How does Duke explain its attorneys lying in court about FERPA? Please, please, I hope they don't insist that those dastardly lacrosse players and their families DROVE Levicy to commit felonies.

Debrah said...

Liestoppers has a most fabulous photo of KC in their latest post.

I suppose it's from the appearance at Duke last fall.

It's a great photo, although I like his hair longer the way it is now.


unbekannte said...

I really wonder if Barry Saunders would have given a D--n about Erick Daniels had the Duke Lacrosse case not imploded.

Barry Saunders reminds me of the Biblical comparison between someone with a log in his eye and someone with a splinter. When the Duke case exploded, it drove great big chunks of wood into Barry Saunders eyes, into a lot of eyes. Barry Saunders will not seek treatment for the chunks of wood in his eyes, let alone admit they are there. To do so, he would have to admit he was grossly and stupidly wrong. He hopes, by claiming the Duke Lacrosse players have splinters, the chunks of wood will somehow disappear. If the wood does not disappear, well, that is the Lacrosse players' fault.

Maybe Saunders should be pitied.

Debrah said...

As predicted, "reharmonizer" just can't let go.

I can empathize with his inability to let go of the addictive KC; however, if he wants to be a successful detractor, he'll have to work on his message as well as his skills.

Anonymous said...

BTW, O'Reilly nailed Steel yesterday too. He all but called these guys crooks and asked the FBI and others to investigate them. Maybe Steel's chickens have finally come home to roost.

Anonymous said...

KC, There is a final little note from the Duke Chronicle to close out the month in splendid Klan of 88 style: The Board of Trustees of Duke University has decided that the media will not be welcome at their meetings. See the article on the September 30 issue of the Duke Chronicle by Chelsea Alison: "Board of Trustees closed door on media access."

The opening sentence reads: "The Board of Trustees has taken a critical eye to its practices the past year, and the conclusions of an internal evaluation will result in fewer people taking a close look at them."

Yep, "Nothing to see along...and we'll make sure there is nothing to see here." As a private university, Duke's board can close the doors most of the time. But it raises an interesting point to me as a taxpayer: "Should we be sending federal money (our tax dollars) to a place with with known ethical problems and even worse accountability?" Looks like a bad investment to me. Rather like Wachovia stock.

Orson Buggeigh

Anonymous said...

From the Charlotte Business Journal:

"In October 2006, Steel became Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance. In that role, he was the principal adviser to the U.S. Treasury secretary on matters of domestic matters. He also led the department’s activities with respect to the domestic financial system, fiscal policy and operations, governmental assets and liabilities, and related economic and financial matters."

Hmmmm...thought you would find the above most interesting.

It is clear from further reading that Mr. Steel left Treasury to accept this job at Wachovia, so, no, he is no longer part of Mr. Paulson's team, but it sure looks like Mr. Steel bears at least some responsibility for the unbelievable financial situation in which we find ourselves.

Apparently a gigantic portfolio of Option Arm loans brought down Wachovia, which had to post an $8 billion dollar (!!!) loss after Mr. Steel took over the company in July of this year. Wachovia had acquired the risky loans before Mr. Steel took over the helm.


Jungle Jim said...

Does Elmostafa have a cause of action against the City of Durham or against Nifong or Gottlieb?