Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Litigation Matters

[Update, Friday, 1.34pm: According to WTVD-11, the latest Mangum lawyer has withdrawn from her case, citing a conflict of interest. Note, by the way, the radically different (and more accurate) way WTVD summarizes the case than that offered by the comically biased Herald-Sun. Two mentions that the Mangum allegations were false, and no bizarre insinuation that charges were dismissed because of national media coverage.]

[Update, Tues., 4.04pm: Mark Anthony "thugniggaintellectual" Neal brings news that Group of 88 leader Wahneema Lubiano--or, in his words, the "brilliant" Wahneema Lubiano--now has a twitter account.]

A few updates on litigation matters.

The City of Durham has filed its response with the Supreme Court, urging the Court not to hear the appeal filed by attorneys for the falsely accused players. The basic argument was the same that the city adopted (successfully) before the 4th Circuit—that as long as Durham police officers didn’t withhold information from Mike Nifong, and as long as a grand jury came back with an indictment, even if that indictment was based on (in the case of Sgt. Gottlieb) inaccurate testimony about Crystal Mangum’s myriad stories, it doesn’t violate the Constitution for a city to: (1) allow an elected prosecutor to supervise an ongoing, pre-indictment police investigation; (2) then have its police officers work with that elected prosecutor to manufacture evidence implicating innocent people in a crime that never occurred. As long as the police didn’t lie and the grand jury indicted, according to Durham, there was nothing actionable in how the city behaved.

The City of Durham: civil liberties capital of America.

On matters related to civil liberties, I have a piece up at Minding the Campus on the remarkable (and deeply disturbing) reaction of UNC administrators to the recently-passed law boosting accused students' legal rights. (Jane Stancill also obtained some jaw-dropping quotes at the N&O.) As often is the case, defenders of the academic status quo essentially prove the critics' case.

The false accuser, meanwhile, was back in the news—the Herald-Sun reports that her latest attorney, Scott Holmes, is seeking to recuse himself from the case, citing a conflict of interest. The precise nature of that conflict was left very murky by Holmes; he pointed to a colleague whose client was in an “adverse position” to Mangum.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the H-S article came in its description of Mangum’s role in the lacrosse case: “Mangum is the woman who accused Duke lacrosse players of raping her after they hired her to strip at their party. After national media coverage about the case, the charges against the lacrosse players were dismissed.”

A casual reader wouldn’t know: (a) that the lacrosse players were declared innocent, and Mangum’s allegations were false; and (b) that the declaration resulted not from “national media coverage” but from an attorney general’s investigation.

At least the distinguishing of the “national media,” while ignoring the excellent work of the N&O and the Chronicle, makes clear that the Herald-Sun‘s coverage played no role in bringing about the exoneration.

Speaking of Mangum, John Tucker from the Independent did a long article on the false accuser’s stoutest defender, Justice for Nifong Committee chairperson (and, at this point, sole member?) Sidney Harr. (The cover art, oddly, portrays Harr as a superman carrying Lady Justice.) While Harr is one of the strangest people to appear in the case, I doubt that before this article appeared anyone realized just how strange Harr actually is. To quote from Tucker’s piece, which brought to the fore a host of previously unknown items about Harr, at least in the Triangle:
Despite Harr’s reputation as a public gadfly and Nifong’s biggest supporter, most people know little about the man and his motivations. It is not well-known that after going broke in California, he bounced around with his wife, leaving a trail of sensational lawsuits marked by paranoia. Between 1985 and 1997, Harr was a party to at least 27 lawsuits in California, Arizona and Ohio. He sought hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for civil rights violations, employment discrimination and fraud.
“He confidently moved from city to city wrecking people’s lives and careers,” said Dwight James, a physician who runs a practice in Porterville, Calif.

It might be suggested that a man who spent years “wrecking people’s lives and careers” is exactly the sort of character Mike Nifong deserves as chairperson of his exoneration committee.

Tucker also managed to obtain a rare comment from the long-silent Wahneema Lubiano, architect of the Group of 88 proclamation—which falsely claimed official endorsement from five academic departments—that something “happened” to Crystal Mangum. To the best of my knowledge, Lubiano’s last interview with a mainstream journalist about anything related to the case was a highly sympathetic one from ESPN, after which reporter John Pessah nonetheless concluded, with extraordinarily vivid imagery, that his subject, Lubiano, “knew some would see the [Group of 88] ad as a stake through the collective heart of the lacrosse team—but drove the stake anyway.

Tucker chatted with Lubiano about “issues such as race, class and privilege—ideas never fully reckoned with during the lacrosse chaos.” Not really: it’s hard to argue that these issues—addressed non-stop by the Duke faculty—were never fully reckoned with in the lacrosse case, unless the argument is that those who so badly misjudged the case were never held accountable.

In any event, according to Tucker, here’s the new Lubiano take on the person whose version of events she once uncritically accepted:
Mangum symbolizes a host of uncomfortable ideas, like mental illness and social order, according to Wahneema Lubiano, the associate chairwoman of Duke University’s Department of African & African American Studies. “And frankly we should be uncomfortable,” she said, “but the discomfort should take a different form than collectively rolling our eyes.”
I’d agree with Lubiano that we should be uncomfortable—uncomfortable about Duke faculty members who disregarded their obligations under the Faculty Handbook and then refused to take responsibility for their actions. (By the way: during the case itself, neither Lubiano nor any other member of the Group of 88 ever publicly suggested, or even hinted at, the fact that Mangum was mentally ill.)

Finally, an odd item from the article:
As is his longstanding media policy, Nifong declined to comment for this story. He and Harr have met only a handful of times, but there are parallels between them. Both men tried to take on Duke University, and lost. Both were rebuked by the State Bar. Both declared bankruptcy. Both staked their identities on fighting injustice.
As portrayed by Tucker, Harr comes across as delusional, an almost sad character: it’s entirely possible that he sees himself as a champion of justice, and that he actually believes that Richard Brodhead’s Duke was actually part of a conspiracy to victimize, rather than lionize, Crystal Mangum.

But Nifong—a man who broke myriad ethics rules and tried to manufacture evidence to imprison innocent people, all in an effort to advance his political career—cannot possibly be portrayed as someone who staked his identity on “fighting injustice.” Moreover, Nifong never took on “Duke University.” He took on Duke students, a big difference. Duke University, by contrast, was one of his biggest allies. It employed his star witness (former SANE-nurse-in-training Tara Levicy). Its president repeatedly took actions that communicated to the world a belief in the players’ likely guilt (such as cancelling the Georgetown game while the players were on the field, or publicly remarking that whatever Seligmann and Finnerty did was “bad enough). And, of course, for the critical first weeks of the case, the public voice of Duke’s faculty was the rush-to-judgment sentiment of Wahneema Lubiano and her 87 pedagogical allies.

I nonetheless hope people read the Tucker piece. In a case filled with bizarre characters, Harr might well be the most bizarre—which is saying something.


Anonymous said...

While I write this Professor Allen's letter detailing ten embarrassing episodes from campuses in NC is being read on a nationaly syndicated radio show. I write to suggest that "false" should be "falsely" in the first paragraph and the word "make" should be "mask" in hte seventh paragraph.

Chase Howard said...

Thanks for sharing this. I had a friend who was in a civil suit, so since we live in California, I told him to contact our local Los Angeles law firm that I worked with in the past. The delivered results for me and I know that they will do the same for my friend. You're always going to get a set of colorful characters no matter what courtroom you're in.

ian said...

Any update on what Tara Levicy is doing these days? It would be good to know if there is a geographic area to avoid, particularly if one is a college male.

William L. Anderson said...

Yet more garbage from the Academic Left. Perhaps the main reason that people like Lubiano and other hardcore leftists take refuge in academe is that in any other sector of society (except politics -- and the Academic Left and politics are joined at the hip), their viewpoints would be recognized as delusional.

For the most part, the attempt by the Independent and Duke's faculty to try to resurrect the lacrosse story as one in which Nifong was "searching for justice" is just one more indictment of the intellectual and political climate of Durham and Duke University. Apparently, the people there are proud of being delusional.

Anonymous said...

No, they are desperate to try to fool the public into not thinking the lacrosse case was a political, race-baiting campaign event which it was. They are probably betting on their ability to charge others with delusion if they speak the truth of what the lacrosse case truly was, since now it is more about them not looking the political lying monkeys that they are.

Anonymous said...

Duke's involvement in the lacrosse case was never about justice.

Anonymous said...

Evil monkeys.

Not those furry little lemurs Duke is so proud of.

Evil devil monkeys.

Anonymous said...

It is odd that former Governor Purdue is currently working/studying at Duke.

She says she was so burnt out by NC politics that she needed a new outlook.

However, Duke is NC politics as far as Purdue was concerned, so why is she working/studying politics at Duke?

Also, what happened to the person from the public policy / journalism (?) department that broke into the governor's mansion when Purdue held office claiming that he was drunk and hated Christmas (because he apparently trashed the Christmas tree or something)?

THAT was/is NC politics.

jim2 said...

ian -

On Tara Levicy:


Alan Charles Kors said...

As always, thank you KC, for keeping a searchlight on these dark sides of public and academic life. One no longer can distinguish between parody and the real thing in the case itself, in the legal system, in the dishonesty of the media, and in what sadly passes for intellectual and moral life in Duke's faculty and in Duke's administration.

Albert Ross said...

Doubtless La Lubiano will list her tweets as "publications" on her C.V.

In fact she'll probably mention her "forthcoming" tweets too.

Anonymous said...


Can you comment further on the Duke Lacrosse Team's settlement with Duke in terms of what was agreed to by Duke and by the students respectively?

How do you view the civil case so far, in terms of what the results to date mean for justice for any if they deal in any way with Durham? Is it just Durham, or the entire state of NC that holds the same opinions as Durham that were determined in this case so far, what were they specifically, and do they have a bearing on the involvement with any state employee in NC, the USA, or just Durham?

Thank you if you have the time and knowledge to answer these questions here. It might be pertinent to know these things for many (all?).

Are those decisions final, or can they be appealed?

ian said...


Thanks. Tara Thomas, aka Tara Levicy Thomas, is now a nurse practitioner, with "a particular interest in women's health" and railroading men. I wonder if her male patients know.