Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A few items of note:

1.) Jamie Gorelick and her Washington law firm, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, have withdrawn from representing Duke, after garnering millions in fees from Duke or its insurers.

All things considered, this development is probably a victory for the unindicted lacrosse players. Several people I know worked for the 9/11 Commission, and I teach US diplomatic history, so I followed the affair quite closely, and was consistently impressed with Gorelick. While her civil case filings weren't intellectually compelling, that had more to do with the difficulties of her client than her legal acumen.

Gorelick's oddly-timed departure also triggered an odd public accounting. In a response to a request from the H-S, the university's spokesman declined to explain what happened. But Gorelick herself gave a statement to American Lawyer. It reported, "Several motions filed on behalf of defendants Duke University and Duke University Health System Inc. have successfully narrowed the focus of the case to the point it makes sense for the two North Carolina firms that have been part of the defense team to assume control of the matter, says Wilmer public policy and strategy chair Jamie Gorelick."

The significant "narrowing" occurred with the court's accepting Gorelick's argument that the Duke student bulletin and faculty handbook aren't worth the paper on which they're printed, and in no way should be construed as legally binding on the university. But the university is still on the hook, of course, for myriad other matters (FERPA, the escapades of Tara Levicy, a failure to supervise its employees).

The combination of Duke's non-response to the withdrawal and Gorelick's bizarre talking-point response has to raise a few eyebrows.

2.) One very minor case mystery--the identity of the father of false accuser Crystal Mangum's two children--has been revealed. He's Richard Ramseier, who has petitioned a Durham court for custody of the children. The judge not unreasonably quizzed Ramseier on where he's been for the last decade. (The father said he was in the Navy and then had spent some time in California, where he had some financial problems.)

Given that Mangum is currently in jail for a murder charge, it's hard to imagine that a court could find her the fitter parent. But, then again, this is the Durham justice system we're talking about.

3.) U.S. Rep. David Price--Durham's congressman, a former Duke poli-sci prof, and the man who pointedly refused to criticize Mike Nifong at the height of Nifong's misdeeds--will receive the 2011 John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, awarded by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Joining Price on the dais is none other than Richard Brodhead, who will deliver the Caldwell Lecture in the Humanities.

4.) I barely followed the Casey Anthony trial, but based on Ms. Grace's past work, wholly endorse this judgment from Frank Bruni on Nancy Grace: "She doesn’t serve the cause of victims with such histrionics. She serves the cause of Nancy Grace. And she succeeds only in trivializing everything — and getting ratings. A record 5.2 million viewers turned to HLN on the judgment day. Apparently many of us share her appetite for gross caricatures of good and evil, and come out of this as graceless as she."

5.) Finally, a couple of long-term correspondents passed along to me news of Yao Ming's likely retirement. I'm sure that former Group of 88 extremist and current Cornell lightning rod Grant Farred is puzzled by the lack of attention paid to Yao's departure. After all, as Farred noted, Yao represented "the most profound threat to American empire.” Perhaps we'll soon see Pres. Obama and the House Republicans squabbling over which side deserves credit for ridding the nation of such a profound threat.


Anonymous said...

Love your dry wit, KIC! Ming, the profound threat to American empire" from Farred. How appropriate and funny on this day when humor in the news in hard to find. I am reminded of my favorite childhood movie serial, Flash Gordon. Remember the bad guy? None other than Ming the Merciless, the evil ruler of the planet Mongo!
The inner circle at circle squeezes in, tighter and tighter these days. One wonders.....

Anonymous said...

Is Gorelick a Communist?

jim2 said...

This case seems on point for the LAX case.

Here is the lead:

GRAND FORKS, N.D., July 15, 2011—In a stark demonstration of the failure of campus judicial procedures, the University of North Dakota (UND) has found a student guilty of sexual assault despite the fact that local police refused to charge him with a crime and instead charged his accuser for lying about the incident.

Quasimodo said...

I wonder if a student could sue a university for permitting or encouraging an atmosphere in which false accusations can flourish (by, for example, not punishing
those who make them)?

jim2 said...

In followup to my comment on the UND case above, here is an update:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which Silverglate co-founded, urged University of North Dakota President Robert O. Kelley to re-examine Warner's case in light of this evidence. Six weeks after the Department of Education letter went out, FIRE received a reply from the school's general counsel, who said that she did not perceive any "substantial new information" and that in any case the proceeding that led to Warner's three-year suspension "was not a legal process but an educational one."

So, suspension for 3-years and the reputation damage was "an educational process." I wonder why Duke did not use that instead of settling with the 3 students?


Anonymous said...

KC: Kudos for another hard-punching piece of commentary.

Quasimodo: Good question. Undoubtedly he or she could file a lawsuit. The big question is, could they win? Do we as a nation hold universities responsible for the actions of those in their employ or their students?

Going by the judge's rulings in this case, the prospects seem iffy.

Gus W.

Jungle Jim said...

KC, I'm not so impressed with Jamie Gorelick as you are. Her accomplishments include:

1. As deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, set up the 'wall' between the FBI and intelligence agencies that allowed Mohammed Atta and the other 18 al Qaeda terrorists to operate undetected while they planned the 9/11 hijackings.

2. Even though sha had no prior training nor experience in finance, she was appointed vice-chairman of Fannie Mae from 1997 to 2003, earned over $26 million while causing it to invest in questionable mortgages and engage in fraudulent accounting. It has cost the US taxpayers hundreds of billions to bail out Fannie Mae and led to a massive recession which we have yet to climb out of.

The above incidences have led some to refer to her as the 'Mistress of Disaster'.