Since I installed a site counter on August 28, this blog has surpassed 110,000 unique visitors, with over 200,000 page views. Though concentrated in
In recent weeks, as the comments have increased, both in quantity as well as quality, I thought it might be useful to answer some of the questions raised.
Q: Would it be more effective at this point to try to engage the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department, the Civil Rights Commission? What about the
Q: Do you think that Nifong himself has violated laws? Will he have his own day in court? And should the judges who enabled him be impeached?
A: The answers to these two sets of questions are related. There is overwhelming evidence already on the record that Nifong has behaved in an unethical fashion; if this case doesn’t end with the State Bar revoking his license for ethical misconduct, the group’s ethics committee should dissolve itself.
Whether he has violated any laws, however, could be resolved (if at all) only by federal intervention. Such an inquiry would obtain access, for instance, to Nifong’s e-mails, and would also be able to question figures in the case (Invs. B.W. Himan and Michele Soucie would be the likeliest candidates here) who maintain some shreds of integrity.
Grounds for possible federal involvement include the remarkable decision of a district attorney ordering police to violate their own procedures, to the apparent policy of the Durham Police to treat Duke students differently as a class.
Federal involvement in such matters, however, is rare, and as of now, we’ve seen no sign of activity from either the FBI or the
Q: Regarding the Gottlieb notes: Was Gottlieb the keyboardist, or did someone else (e.g. a unit secretary) do the typing? What is the date on page 33 (or page 1)? Are there reasons to believe that this date is, or isn't, correct?
A: Virtually the only reporter to treat the Gottlieb notes as credible is Duff Wilson of the New York Times. But, as we know from the Judith Miller affair, the Times regularly views as credible even the most incredible government documents—if doing so conforms to the reporter’s preconceived notions.
Of the three possible explanations that exist regarding the Gottlieb report’s origins, none reflect well on the sergeant’s competence or integrity. Start with the fact that
We know that 13 pages of the report—the runup to and transcript of the 4-4 lineup—were produced contemporaneously; these 13 pages went to the defense in late April, in the first batch of discovery. If Gottlieb’s notes dealing with dates before 3/31-4/4 (a date span that includes his alleged conversation with the SANE nurse on March 21 and his alleged transcript of the accuser’s March 16 descriptions) were also produced contemporaneously, the Open Discovery Law required turning them over in the original discovery file.
The other option, of course, is that Gottlieb had contemporaneous handwritten notes and only typed up the material from those notes in July. But, apart from one afternoon in April (on an issue almost irrelevant to the case), Gottlieb produced no handwritten notes.
The possibilities, then:
- Gottlieb typed the report from “memory” in July—highly dubious from the standpoints of ethics and good law enforcement practice, but not illegal.
- Gottlieb, very unusually for police officers, typed the report contemporaneously, without using handwritten notes—and if so appears to have violated the Open Discovery Law by withholding these notes from the defense for several months.
- Gottlieb typed the report from his handwritten notes in July—and if so unequivocally violated the Open Discovery Law by refusing to turn over his handwritten notes to the defense.
Q: Regarding the alumni “talking points”: Apparently, these talking points were developed for alumni who are interviewing applicants in case they are asked these questions during their interviews. Is that true Mr. Johnson? Is there a reason why you did not mention that fact? Is there a reason why you misled your readers into thinking it “directed at” alumni in general?
A: The Duke Alumni association website, not a website confined to alumni who interview students, hosts the “talking points” link. The “talking points” text contains no references that the document was intended solely or even primarily for alumni who interview students. Perhaps this questioner, who didn’t leave a name, had access to inside information available only to Duke administrators.
If this alleged inside information is true, Duke’s conduct in this matter raises even graver concerns. In effect—if this informant is correct—the Duke administration authorized release of information intended to deceive future students with the claim that, despite overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary, it’s improper for professors and academic leaders to speak out against procedural improprieties in criminal justice cases.
Q: Regarding the “right to a speedy trial,” . . . you’re the historian: why did NC never grant such rights?
A: In the colonial and post-Revolutionary period,
Ironically, the “case management system”—appropriately derided by virtually every outside commentator on this case for having made a bad situation worse—was hailed at the time of its adoption (1997) as an improvement over its predecessor. Then state chief justice Burley Mitchell described the program as a “phenomenal achievement.”
Q: When will Gov. Easley be held accountable? He appointed Nifong and has refused to speak out or suggest a special prosecutor. Does Easley have future political ambitions?
A: I have no answer to this excellent question. Last weekend’s AP story quoted Easley’s press secretary saying that the governor would make no moves to remove Nifong from the case. It seems to me that local and national media should be repeatedly pressing Easley, with questions such as:
- What criteria did you use to select Nifong?
- Has Nifong’s behavior hurt efforts to persuade businesses to relocate in
? North Carolina
- Have you learned anything from this experience to improve the quality of your future appointments?
As for Easley’s future ambitions, he remains in office through 2008, when he is term-limited. Senator Elizabeth Dole’s Senate seat comes up that year; while Easley is unlikely to challenge her, he could run if she retires. He was been widely rumored as a possible challenger for Republican senator Richard Burr in 2010.
Should he stand for office again in
Q: It is obvious from the one-sided nature of your comments on this website that you have become a mouthpiece for the LAX team parents.
A: Well, that’s not really a question, but I’ll answer it anyway. I’m a professor, not a journalist—but because media coverage of this case has been so spotty, sometimes I have to try to find things out myself. When relevant, I ask questions of some lacrosse parents: sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t. I do the same, with the same results, of John Burness at Duke and of
I teach at a college with a 4-3 workload; have a
Q: Regarding the overlap between Duke professors who signed a statement demanding divestment from
A: The short answer: they’re, appropriately, accountable to themselves. But academic freedom doesn’t restrain students, parents, alumni, or trustees from exercising their own rights to freedom of speech and publicly condemning the irresponsible actions of professors.
In this instance, it seems to me that Board of Trustees chairman Robert Steel long ago should have publicly taken to task the Duke arts and sciences faculty, asking what it says about campus culture that so many Duke arts and sciences professors appear to have been intimidated into silence by the Group of 88. But, alas, Steel has refused to lean against the spirit of the moment and urge the faculty to again embrace its traditional role as champions of due process.
Thank you for your questions; I’ll continue this feature as long as readers continue asking questions on the blog.
Is there a source to have your blog published in print for the Durham area, and if so, would you allow such free of charge for the duration of this case?
Excellent questions, excellent answers. It's amazing that you have time to do this in your "spare" time. You are quickly becoming a blogging legend, up there with InstaPundit, Mickey Kaus of kausfiles, the incomparable Michael Barone. What an op-ed lineup this would make for a newspaper: you, Barone, Kaus, Betsy Newmark of Betsy's page, the Duke law professor, James Coleman, and the novelist, Roger Simon. Someone should start a real Internet newspaper.
A commenter on the talkleft forum posted this:
Two AA columnists are now calling for an end to the case :
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
I've said this before, but it's worth saying again: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should be in Durham, N.C., today, promising civil disobedience until the charges are dropped and prosecutor Mike Nifong resigns.
Speaking out in support of the wealthy Duke players enhances our credibility when we claim that someone poor and black is being treated unfairly. Poor people need that credibility because they can't afford to make bail, let alone a team of high-priced attorneys.
By remaining silent about this obvious miscarriage of justice, black leadership looks as racist and cowardly as it paints white people who ignore obvious mistreatment of blacks.
Standing up for Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans would be standing up against injustice, and what we're learning is that injustice recognizes opportunity more than color. In America, there is more opportunity for injustice to visit poor people of color. Their best defense is standing against all injustice, regardless of race.
Two new questions, just to splash some dirt on our new secular saint.
Why did Slate call you KC Roberts? Are you hiding a relationship to or with Kim?
Why are you complaining about your 4-3 workload? Are you trying for sympathy like _KC_ Holloway?
Troll alert. Trying to waste your time and divert your attention.
You are free to have an opinion, but what will eventually matter is the trial...unless you are trying your best to avoid a trial!!!!!
You are free to have an opinion, but what will eventually matter is the trial...unless you are trying your best to avoid a trial!!!!!
Yes, that is EXACTLY what people here and elsewhere are trying to do. There is NO evidence for a trial and why on earth should you go through that?
You know what? I think you, Anon 3:21 AM, murdered my mother. Let's ignore the fact that she is still alive for a second. Since I am accusing you, I think we should go to trial and have a jury decide. A jury that I know well and are potentially sympathetic to my cause. You wouldn't mind going through that along with all the costs, would you?
It appears with more publicity for KC, comes more stupidity from the readership. Or simply more trolling.
I have no idea who the troll might be, but it seems that he (or she) is an ally of Bob Ashley, who once again has repeated the "go to trial" mantra.
I agree wholeheartedly that this thing DOES NOT belong in a trial. If there is a criminal trial, people like Mike Nifong and Mark Gottlieb should be in the dock.
William L. Anderson
Don't know if such a source exists. But yes, I would certainly allow the blog to be published free of charge. (I write for free on the blog.)
To the 1.53am:
I wasn't complaining about my workload (I like to teach!)--just pointing out that even if I had the inclination, which I don't, I lack the free time to serve as anyone's mouthpiece.
As to the tie-in with Kim--yes, my "hidden agenda" (on which one or two pro-administration commenters have spent much time speculating) has finally been exposed . . .
Excellent questions. Superb answers. Thank you KC.
Thank you for your extraordinary work on this case, Professor Johnson. I'd like to add one point about Mr. Nifong's possible criminal exposure. It seems to me that this is or could readily become a strong case for possible criminal liability under the federal civil rights laws, 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242. I'm sure that federal authorities are not interested in pursuing such an investigation until all state and local avenues for providing accountability are exhausted (that is, the election, Bar grievance proceedings, and Judge Smith's courtroom). However, if Mr. Nifong is reelected and seeks to move this case toward trial, I think that the federal government will take an interest, and will monitor any trial closely.
Surely if African American athletes were being railroaded on dubious criminal charges in order to curry favor with a caucasian electorate, the feds would intervene. Mr. Nifong's express racial appeals before the primary election establish a strong case that the defendants here were deprived of their civil rights on account of race.
Ultimately, I do not think the federal government would be able to justify sitting out this case merely because these defendants are white. But obviously it would be preferable if those in Durham and North Carolina with authority to hold Mr. Nifong accountable for his conduct would stand up and do so.
Professor Johnson, with all due respect, I believe that the mouthpiece criticism is accurate and that your response to that criticism is pretty weak. The fact that you have a very busy schedule and that you talk to many different people in the course of preparing your articles does not mean that you are not serving as a mouthpiece for the LAX team parents.
Does anyone know if any (or all) of the three defendants have contemplated a private civil rights action?
In what sense should someone be criticized for being a "mouthpiece" for a point of view that can stand up on its own and is highly relevant to an important issue?
KC is hardly alone in his perceptions of this case, he just works harder and writes better on it than the rest of us. And when the object of that effort is the undoing of a great wrong, would not you rather join the effort than pick nits?
I didn't know you could file a private civil rights action. Is this possible?
A scholar goes to where the facts lead. Prof. Johnson started this inquiry early on when many of the facts were unknown. He analyzed them and subsequent disclosures and came to the conclusion that the charges are bogus. This is not being a "mouthpiece." He is a true scholar and excellent writer.
11:56 AM, there are a couple of reasons why I regard Professor Johnson as a mouthpiece for the LAX team parents. First, in all of the articles he has written about this case, I am not aware of a single article in which he has taken the LAX players to task for holding the party and engaging in the other irresponsible behaviors that represent the starting point of this mess. Instead, he heaps criticism on others while giving the LAX players a pass, a biased and one-sided view of events which the LAX team parents would obviously find quite appealing.
Second, I think that his incessant pounding on Brodhead and the Duke Administration is not really based on an objective analysis of the case but is instead based upon a desire to push forward an agenda adopted by the LAX team parents. I believe that the LAX team parents are mad at Brodhead for canceling the LAX season, for refusing to meet with them when they thought they were entitled to a meeting, and for not speaking out more aggressively on behalf of their kids. I believe that they have decided to seek revenge by posting anonymous negative comments about Brodhead on this website, and I believe that Professor Johnson has decided to assist them in this effort because he has become friendly with some of the LAX team families during the course of working on this website.
Consistent with this, Professor Johnson on more than one occasion has distorted the facts in order to fit the agenda. For example, in one lengthy article, he put forth the idea that Brodhead and the Duke Administration were trying to airbrush the pictures of the LAX players from the Duke athletic department website because they had become politically inconvenient. He took this position and published the article based upon conversations with the LAX team parents and without ever giving Duke a chance to respond. This position was later shown to be wrong, but the article had already been rushed into print, much like some of the articles published by the MSM in the early days of the LAX case.
In another article, Professor Johnson alleged that Brodhead and the Duke Administration were engaged in an illegal effort to deprive Duke students of the right to vote because they had not allowed DSED to conduct a voter registration event at a football game. The supposed reason for this was that Brodhead and the Duke Administration want Nifong to win the election so that he can follow through on prosecuting the LAX players for rape. I know this sounds bizarre, but you have to bear in mind that when you log on to this website, you are entering a parallel universe. In any event, the idea that Duke has engaged in an illegal effort to deprive its students of the right to vote is obviously just complete nonsense, and the allegation was totally ignored by the Department of Justice when one of the people posting on this website brought it to their attention.
Finally, Professor Johnson has prominently featured on his website comments received from LAX team parents which have sought to portray Brodhead in an unfavorable light by distorting his statements, and when the distortions were brought to his attention, he has simply ignored them. The most notable example of this was the comment provided by the LAX team parent who used selective quotation to distort the statement issued by Brodhead on March 25 and which was posted on this website on September 15.
As you can see, Professor Johnson is not just providing objective analysis of the LAX case or trying to undo a great wrong. He has gone far beyond that by embracing a biased and one-sided view of the case and by assisting the LAX team parents in their vendetta against Brodhead. For all of these reasons, I regard Professor Johnson as a mouthpiece for the LAX team parents. Sorry for the extraordinary length of this post.
A very long post that does nothing to strengthen the mouthpiece argument. The central issue in this blog has been and continues to be the incredible (and quite scary) abuse of prosecutorial power by Nifong. The side issues about the administration, the faculty, the conduct of the students (reprehensible, by the way, but not illegal beyond misdemeanor underage alcohol concerns), and the Trustees are just that: side issues. They are interesting in their intersection and the creation of this situation, but the story is about a case that will go down in American legal history as one of the great miscarriages of justice.
Professor Johnson is a mouthpiece for history, and he interjects his own opinion and concerns about the side issues, as all bloggers do. But to dismiss his analysis of the legal issues involved under claim of being a mouthpiece for the LAX parents is willfully and purposefully engaging in the backward logic that has created and continues this kangaroo court. Spend a little time looking at the topic, and stop focusing on the peripherals. The LAX parents, and even these three players and the AV, are not the focus anymore. The validity of and confidence in our legal system, which underpins society and separates chaos and order, are now at stake. And that really isn't hyperbole, though it sounds like it.
2:13 PM, actually I have spent quite a bit of time perusing this website and many other sources of information about the LAX case, and I do not at all dismiss Professor Johnson’s analysis of the legal issues. I believe the LAX players are innocent of the charges that have been made against them, and I believe that the DA has engaged in a massive breach of legal ethics and should be disbarred. However, I disagree with most of the criticism of President Brodhead and the Duke Administration which I see on this website, and I think that Professor Johnson shows a serious lack of balance and in fact is pushing an LAX team parent agenda when he pounds away on Brodhead while ignoring the key role that the LAX players have played in creating this mess. It is unfortunate that this website has had the effect of polarizing those who believe the LAX players are innocent by dividing them into those who support Brodhead and those who are critical of him.
By the way, if you can read my prior post and conclude that it does nothing to strengthen the mouthpiece argument, maybe you should read it again, unless you are an LAX team parent or a friend of one of the LAX team parents, in which case you obviously will never concede that Professor Johnson is acting as a mouthpiece.
If police performed a thorough investigation, if the District Attorney followed Federal guidelines in line up procedures, if local papers published everything they learned regarding both dancers and Duke University had shown any restraint and support rather than rushing to judgment and throwing their student/athletes under the bus, there would be no need for bloggers to step up to the plate and point out the obvious innocence of the three lacrosse players.
How shameful, the very people who make their living through taxes and tution completely failed in their duties to the students and the public they are paid to represent and it is up to unpaid bloggers to do their work for them.
Given your day job, I would love to if you can shed some light onto exactly what the role of the board of trustees (and the Chairman of the BOT) is, and what their limitations are. I have served as chair of a board of education, which may be very different from the board of trustees. However, in our state, board of education members are responsible for making policy--not for implementing it. And each board of ed member, including the chair, has no individual power--they can only act as a group. While the board of ed as a group evaluates the superintendent, the chair of the board of ed could never reprimand a teacher (or the superintendent) for actions he thought were wrong. Do members of boards of trustees have the power to reprimand or discipline professors and the president of the university? Is it appropriate for the Chair of the BOT to take a public stand on the actions of the university relative to the discipline or status of an individual student? Since so many have criticized not only Brodhead but also Bob Steel, I'd love to know exactly what their authority and responsibility is in this situation.
1:31pm: oh so cruel kc! in a case of such import and serious civil liberty abuses - is it not a bit curious that our friend "anon" consistently whines and complains about the alleged "duke lax parents" conspiracy? because, as we all know, THAT is the central key to understanding this case.
now, who actually has the "agenda"? someone who spends the vast majority of his time investigating the criminal allegations, issues and concerns of the rape or someone who hides behind a curtain of anonymity and discusses ONLY the situation regarding president broadhead and the duke administration? hmmmm.
as it is silly for kc to waste anymore of his time on this blunderbuss, allow me to add a few points which this person seems to constantly disregard:
(1) “First, in all of the articles he has written about this case, I am not aware of a single article in which he has taken the LAX players to task for holding the party and engaging in the other irresponsible behaviors that represent the starting point of this mess.”
Taken the lax players to task? Why? For what point? That is NOT the point of this blog, and, oh, yes, blogs have points. At no point does kc have to get on a stump and make sure he hits all of the politically correct bases to please everyone. There was underage drinking…bad. I am sure none of us have done that, right? There were two strippers…bad. Anyone been to a bachelor party or a strip club? Look no one condones these types of actions, and i feel confident that kc would not either (including any racial slurs, etc.). So get off your pompous high horse and come down to earth.
(2) “Second, I think that his incessant pounding on Brodhead and the Duke Administration is not really based on an objective analysis of the case but is instead based upon a desire to push forward an agenda adopted by the LAX team parents. I believe that the LAX team parents are mad at Brodhead for canceling the LAX season, for refusing to meet with them when they thought they were entitled to a meeting, and for not speaking out more aggressively on behalf of their kids.”
Funny – not much here is incorrect – except for your tone. Do i think the lax players parents are mad? Absolutely. And should be: for canceling the lax season, for not meeting with them, for not being honest with them about his intentions, for not being more outspoken in his support for their sons AND in his questioning of tactics and actions against the players and duke students in general. Yes. Whether a nice man or not, broadhead has done little to create support for duke in the alumni community. If you dismiss this as insignificant, you are dead wrong. In fact, that is one of the largest jobs broadhead has – raising money.
(3) “Professor Johnson on more than one occasion has distorted the facts in order to fit the agenda. For example, in one lengthy article, he put forth the idea that Brodhead and the Duke Administration were trying to airbrush the pictures of the LAX players from the Duke athletic department website”
WRONG. Good try. What he found out was the truth – as many on this site and others have attested to. The fact that administrators also read the blogs and corrected (mostly) the website does nothing to discredit him. But it must make you feel better, i guess.
(4) “In another article, Professor Johnson alleged that Brodhead and the Duke Administration were engaged in an illegal effort to deprive Duke students of the right to vote because they had not allowed DSED to conduct a voter registration event at a football game. …In any event, the idea that Duke has engaged in an illegal effort to deprive its students of the right to vote is obviously just complete nonsense, and the allegation was totally ignored by the Department of Justice when one of the people posting on this website brought it to their attention.”
It is you who distort here…not unusual. In fact, as has been reported from multiple sources, the group did get permission, but the duke administration actually yanked the permit just prior to the game. The idea that this is illegal is not “nonsense” but is most likely not going to be acted upon by any officials. I do love your choice of words, however, “totally ignored”…wow – you must really have inside information. Instead of simply not taking action for whatever (good or bad) reason, they actually TOTALLY IGNORED it! Wow. No matter that the government often takes months to begin to act…but that doesn’t fit into your little agenda here.
(5) “Finally, Professor Johnson has prominently featured on his website comments received from LAX team parents which have sought to portray Brodhead in an unfavorable light by distorting his statements, and when the distortions were brought to his attention, he has simply ignored them.”
And finally – you have shown you’re behind once more. Here is the true problem…stop ganging up on my beloved broadhead! Unfair! Foul! Bad bloggers!
Please. He is a big boy. He understands how to cultivate support and build fiscal resources. He has come out strongly for a cause of two for his school before, remember? There are no distortions, the quotes speak for themselves. At best, the president is mildly trying to play the pc position of wheedling his way through Shakespeare quotes and smug legal phrases, ignoring his earlier tone of projecting guilt. At worse, he is another example of how the faculty and administration of some of america’s elite schools are becoming dominated by politically correct, revisionists concerned only with image in academia and status with their peers.
Anon – you have got a huge chip on your shoulder to continue this ridiculously tangential discussion any further. the agenda YOU are pursuing is simply sad and pitiful. Get the bigger picture, accept reality and contribute to the real discussion.
Very well written post and enjoyed reading it. I have a question for you that I wish you could address. Who stands to benefit most from keeping this trial on schedule and "alive"? Aside from the Kifong get-out-the-vote reasons, who are the real decision makers here who stand to benefit from having this continue? I list some possibilities: publicists with book deals, politicians on the "right" with constituencies to keep, tv lawyers, etc. My humble opinion would be that shortly the leftist feminist groups are smelling a dead fish and will want to distance themselves from it. So if it continues, who gains?
3:59 PM, I am amazed at your ability to be arrogant, condescending, and sophomoric all at the same time. Instead of responding to each and every one of the points set forth in your insipid post, I will just get right to the bottom line. I will be happy to stop posting positive comments about President Brodhead and the Duke Administration as soon as Professor Johnson and the members of his audience stop posting negative comments about them.
Positive comments about Brodhead and administration? What positive can be possibly said about Brodhead? He looked like a total weasel on 60 Minutes. It was pitiful to watch him squirm.
i am glad other people are seeing kc for what he is: an unobjective mouthpiece for the duke parents. i will also add that he is an ignorant yankee who knows nothing about durham but who is trying to dictate to us what to do about our justice system. newsflash: we have a lower crime rate down here than you have in ny so we must be doing something right. kc, maybe you need to investigate why the crime rate is still so high in ny, especially where you work in brooklyn and stop obsessing over this duke case.
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