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 Jamie Gorelick and her Washington law firm, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, have withdrawn from representing Duke, after garnering millions in fees from Duke or its insurers.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