Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Baum Letter and a Durham Trial

The Herald-Sun recently published a revealing letter from Duke student Dan Baum that powerfully explains the need for a change in venue.

On the Duke website, Baum says (in language that could have been written by the African-American Studies Program) that he seeks “to create a safe space for engaging and thought-provoking discussions on issues ranging from identity and diversity to human relations in general.”

In his H-S letter, meanwhile, Baum contended with that Nifong’s re-election, the D.A’s “initial handling of the case is in the past and . . . therefore, there’s no need to continue this heated debate about things that won’t change.” Imagine such a response regarding the situation in the early 1960s Deep South—the local sheriff trampling on the rights of African-Americans had just been re-elected in a racially polarized election, so “therefore, there’s no need to continue this heated debate about things that won’t change.”

I mention Baum’s statements only to establish that he seems not at all sympathetic to the players targeted by Nifong. Nor does he seem particularly troubled by the issues of prosecutorial misconduct or “separate-but-equal“ justice that have marred Nifong’s approach to Duke students. In light of these beliefs, the rest of Baum’s letter is especially significant:

Unfortunately, I think there’s so little faith in our legal system that whatever happens in court, a substantial portion of our community will leave angry. If a guilty verdict is handed down, wearers of “Innocent” wristbands will be up in arms about the bias of members of the Durham community against Duke. If the court finds them innocent, cries that they bought their way out of trouble will follow from others.

As a Duke student who has had the privilege of discussing this matter with my classmates, students from NCCU and Durham residents, I’ve found that most people have made up their minds about whether or not a rape occurred. [emphasis added] Most do not see a verdict changing their minds either. So once this decision comes down, in the face of the inflammatory media [led by the Herald-Sun?], our community will still have serious healing and reconciling left to do . . . a verdict is not going to solve anything.

Baum’s letter raises three points.

1.) As well intentioned as he sounds, it is naïve to believe that “serious healing and reconciling” can occur as long as a segment of the community maintains that Nifong’s “initial handling of the case is in the past” need not be discussed. A similar caution would apply to those on the Duke campus, such as the CCI, who are desperate to avoid any discussion about the faculty’s initial rush-to-judgment.

As a counter, consider the various truth and reconciliation commissions established in the 1990s—from post-apartheid South Africa to post-civil war El Salvador. All operated under the premise that reconciliation could not occur without exposing and documenting the truths of past misconduct, even if the perpetrators of these injustices were not punished for their actions.

In short, there can be no “healing” or “reconciliation” in Durham until all sides—most especially Nifong’s enablers among the city’s political, legal, and media elite, as well as Duke’s faculty—acknowledge his misconduct.

2.) Baum’s call for looking ahead to the post-trial situation reinforces a message offered several months ago by USC law professor Susan Estrich. “Of this,” Estrich wrote, “you can be sure: No good will come of it. Trials do not tend to be healing experiences. Sides dig in. Things get more contentious, not less. Tempers are bound to flare.”

Estrich’s warning—made in August—seems prophetic now. In this case, the prosecutor has no evidence that a crime even occurred, much less that the three players he targeted committed a crime. As Sunday’s N&O revealed, Nifong is facing dozens of ethics complaints; while the Disciplinary Hearings Committee should not take into account the results of a trial in judging whether Nifong violated the bar’s ethics rules, it’s unrealistic to expect that a trial’s outcome would have no bearing on the DHC’s actions.

So, as a matter of personal survival if nothing else, Nifong’s only realistic strategy is to intensify his race-baiting demagoguery, seeking to exploit and intensify what he has termed Durham’s “underlying divisions.” During the campaign, Nifong previewed his opening argument: “The future of Durham’s in the balance” with any verdict.

In short, whatever tensions Baum and others detect now are likely to be infinitely worse after a Nifong-orchestrated show trial.

3.) Baum’s letter makes an overpowering case for a change of venue. By his own description, Baum feels comfortable moving between Duke, NCCU, and among Durham residents. He clearly has spoken to numerous people about the case. His findings? “Most people have made up their minds about whether or not a rape occurred.”

This discovery should surprise no one. After all, Nifong’s handling of the lacrosse case was the only issue at play in both the primary and the general election. The 51 percent of Durham voters who cast ballots against Nifong (for either Lewis Cheek or write-in spoiler Steve Monks) effectively said that they didn’t believe a word their “minister of justice” said about the case.

On the other side:

  • Several months ago, most dramatically at the NCCU forum, a segment of the Durham “community” demanded that indictments occur—regardless of whether the players were innocent—in the name of justice.
  • With their votes in November, 49 percent of the Durham “community” demanded that a trial occur—regardless of whether the players were innocent—in the name of justice.
  • Is there any reason to believe that these same people will not demand that a conviction occur—regardless of whether the players were innocent—in the name of justice?

Baum appears to have encountered few who would answer that question in an encouraging fashion.

The two principal arguments against a change of venue, meanwhile, seem quite weak. The first, presented by NCCU professor and NAACP case monitor Irving Joyner, revolves around the racial dynamics of the potential jury pool. In a June interview with Sports Illustrated, Joyner stated that the district attorney “still has a viable shot at victory before a jury in Durham.” I e-mailed Joyner to ask why he specified a “Durham” jury as giving Nifong a chance of victory; he replied, candidly, “A Durham jury may see things differently than would an Orange or Wake County jury because the Durham jury will probably have more African-Americans on it than would be involved in most other counties in North Carolina.” Joyner added, “This case originated in Durham and should be tried here.”

This viewpoint clashes with the traditional approach of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which has supported changes of venue in racially charged trials; and also, as a late September article by Cash Michaels pointed out, contradicts a previous high-profile case in North Carolina. In short, the fact that Nifong would have little chance of prevailing in a trial outside of Durham is not a compelling argument against change of venue. The issue revolves around the constitutional rights of the defendant, not the prosecutor or the accuser.

The other argument also came from the state NAACP (which, reversing 70 years of its traditional positions on criminal justice issues, has functioned in this case as an arm of the prosecution). As summarized by Michaels, “Joyner was one of many who blasted the defense for releasing so much dirt about the accuser’s troubled past that he felt they wanted to effectively taint the Durham pool themselves to force a probable change of venue.”

It is undeniably true that much damaging information has come out about the accuser. But the vast majority of this information came from the media, not the defense. In the spring, the AP broke the story of the accuser’s previous unsubstantiated allegation of a three-man gang rape. In October, 60 Minutes revealed that the accuser was pole dancing in a limber fashion at the same time she told the UNC Hospital that she was in such great pain that she required prescription drugs. In November, the N&O reported that four days after the alleged attack, the accuser reportedly told the security manager of the strip club at which she worked, “I’m going to get paid by the white boys.” There would seem to be few, if any grounds, for punishing the defense for damaging information about the accuser that the media has uncovered.

The state NAACP’s Al McSurely claimed, without citing evidence, that the defense “would want a change of venue whether Nifong said anything or not.” But, of course, Nifong did say things, over and over again, in violation of Rule 3.8(f) of the state bar’s ethics code. The conclusions of the Baum letter illuminate why one consequence of those statements should be a change of venue.


Anonymous said...

Amazing. And disgusting.

Anonymous said...

What an assemblage we find in Durham. Cowardly university administrators, ridiculously naive students, corrupt government officials, a class envying minority that is really not a minority in that city, and faculty members who drive potential students away with their frightening agendas. How can ANYONE with an analytical brain think there can be a fair trial in the Bull City? Despite Professor Joyner's ramblings from his position at a fourth tier law school, it cannot possibly happen.

Anonymous said...

Judge Smith needs to do the right thing. Then the venue would be a moot point.

Anonymous said...

It's been said before, but it is crystal clear what's going on:

A large number of black Americans, especially those in Durham, know these three are absolutely innocent yet they demand this horrible injustice continue as part of some sadistic attempt at payback for historical injustices. "Now white people will know how we feel", etc.

I honestly don't see how they can look themselves in the mirror, but then again, these are the same people that enthusiastically supported OJ Simpson.

I don't think this case will go to trial, but if it does there is little doubt that the black version of a lynch mob is going to convict no matter what they hear in court.

The Dude said...

When are the motions to be heard in court? I heard there is something in December but not sure what it is specifically! Does anyone have a link to Gottlieb's 33 page statement? I would love to see it but anything related seems to be cut out. Take the warrant he filed. The paper stops after a few paragraphs and doesn't go into any circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Baum's letter is bizarre. Nifong's actions are subject to pending motions that, if there was a conviction, would then be subject to appeal. How could you separate the actions from the trial.

On a logical level, the actions are the cause of the trial. Obviously, the identifications produced the indictments and, according to generally accepted identification analysis, tainted identifications make further identification unreliable. So, forgetting about what happened before is not forgetting really, but endorsing.


Anonymous said...

Baum is a fool. He worries about "so little faith in our legal system" and yet fails to realize that all of the bad acts he wants to sweep under the rug as having happened in the past are WHY people have no faith in the legal system. Verdicts like OJ, prosecutions like the one Nifong is carrying out - THESE are the reasons the legal system has lost the confidence of the people.

The issue in this case is not the glaringly obvious false accusations, as terrible as that has been for those three young men. In the micro the case against the players is the issue, but the activities of a runaway prosecutor are far more damaging in the macro. If Nifong is not properly rebuked for his actions, Baum will see a significant drop in confidence in the legal system, even from this already low point.

Anonymous said...

I think your statement that what Dan Baum says about himself on the Duke website could have been written by the African American Studies Department is unfair. I gather that your objective is to paint him as left-wing extremist. However, his statement could also have been written by someone who has a sincere desire to promote better relations among the races, which would be a very admirable thing and would not make him an extremist at all.

Anonymous said...

When Baum grows up and gets off his parents' payroll and gets his butt kicked around out in the real world for a few years, then he can make some credible statements on this topic. In the meantime, he needs to keep his nose in the books and study like hell to get high grades so he can get a job--because he is not going to get hired based on his 'street smarts' or his ability to complete an interview.

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments posted on this site are really odd. Professor Johnson quotes from a letter by a student at Duke, and nothing in the letter really strikes me as objectionable, except for the suggestion that we should forget about the misdeeds of Nifong because they are water over the damn, though the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions that KC refers to might even agree with this point. His other major point is that he has talked to a lot of people and they seem to have made their minds up about the case, which is not surprising given the amount of publicity the case has received. In response, the peanut gallery on this website comes up with comments like "amazing and disgusting", "Baum is a fool", and "Baum's letter is bizarre." To me, it sounds like most of the bizarre and disgusting fools are in the audience.

Anonymous said...

To 9:40

Other than what you deem to be his objectionable point, you find nothing in his letter objectionable? The objection is to the objectionable point. So, is it wrong to object to the objectionable point, or just wrong to object using language you do not like. And if the objections to the objectionable point are strong enough to render the balance of the letter unimportant, can the objections to the objectionable point be raised strongly, or does one have to use your language.

thanks for your clear thinking.

AMac said...

Great points, anon 9:32am and 9:40am. I agree wholeheartedly.

I deduce that you are both feminists living in Durham. As you know, most men are very resentful that so few people now laugh at "crazy lady driver" wisecracks. To partly redress this communally-felt injustice, I am thus filing a police complaint naming you as the drunk drivers who totalled my car last week.

I live hundreds of miles from Durham, so perhaps you both have alibis. In addition, my car isn't damaged; I drove it this morning.

But Dan Baum and you write as though community-relations issues are more important than matters of due process and of fact in criminal justice proceedings. So I expect the same standards to be applied here. Please be understanding when the DPD serves my complaints against you.

AMac said...

anon 9:32am and anon 9:40am --

There's a relevant post at the Liestoppers web-log about the consequences of wielding the criminal justice system to address community grievances at the expense of considering individuals' likely guilt or innocence in particular cases.

A quote: "The fact that the lacrosse players have produced evidence showing their actual innocence is irrelevant. It isn’t a question of guilt or innocence. 'It’s a question of who gets privilege.' [Now as in these 1995 rape cases,] The presumption of innocence that applies to all defendants is used to trivialize the actual innocence of those falsely accused."

In reference to my 10:00am comment, I hope you will not be so churlish as to instruct your (high-priced) lawyers to protest your own innocence when my drunk-driving case against you comes to trial.

Anonymous said...

The Baum letter, comments of Professor Joyner and Cash Michaels, and others, lead me to believe that if a change of venue is not granted, that the defendants may waive their right to a jury trial. Normally the defense wants a jury trial, because they need only convince one juror, while the prosecution must convince all. But everything is backwards in this case. Nifong needs only to convince one juror to provide himself with a defense in civil suits and misconduct proceedings.--Buddy

Anonymous said...

9:40, I wrote that Baum is a fool. In what way did I engage in over-the-top criticism? He IS a fool, and for precisely the reason I stated: he decries a weakened belief in the judicial system while simultaneously calling for Nifong's actions to date to be swept under the rug. Absolutely contradictory concepts. He cannot see the illogic in his own writing and thoughts, and he has displayed his illogical thoughts on a very public platform.

For that, I call him a fool. Should I congratulate him for making foolish statements instead?

Anonymous said...

10:57 Anon:

A poster here ('Durham Lawyer, I think) informed us that this isn't an alternative in NC criminal cases.

...that the defendants may waive their right to a jury trial.


A bit OT to this entry, but JiC wrote about a letter-to-the-editor of the H-S today, by one Graham Hayes Marlette. In that letter, Mr. Marlette said:

"There is a law professor at Brooklyn College who is teaching a course about prosecutorial misconduct and the miscarriage of justice based entirely on the facts of the Duke lacrosse case."

Does Brooklyn Law really have a class such as this now?

Anonymous said...

what the baum letter really highlights:

i believe he is spot on pointing out that most people have already made up their minds (comments on this blog reinforce that)

remember, it's not just the 3 on trial. also awaiting judgment:

the group and affirmative-action contingent
police dept

these people have a real stake in getting these boys convicted, make no mistake my friends

i disagree with the posters who argue that the black community wants a payback verdict: sorry boys, i think it's much worse: cognitively deficient populations are easily led and are superstitious--read any criminology textbook for the "explanations"

as it stands right now, this case is not about the law, rape, or blah blah blah: it's about jury demographics

let's get the feds and the bar in here before it's too late

jim clyne

Anonymous said...

What better evidence could I possibly have asked for other than the comments by 9:57 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:46 AM, and 11:18 AM to prove the truth of my statment that most of the bizarre and disgusting, and I might add extremist, fools on this website are in the audience. Quod est demonstratum.

Anonymous said...

One of the issues that college students such as Baum have is that they are unable to comprehend the difficulty of ascertaining the truth through court proceedings. If you are raised on a diet of law and order and other shows that reveal the ending, you are unprepared for the messiness, the uncertainty and the loose ends of a real investigation. There may not be anybody (unless the defendants have a videotape) to show every minute of what happened that night in perfect detail. In any case, even the most clear cut, certain matters are unclear.

Even in the some of the most clear cut cases, fingerprints, dna etc. some things are still unknown, factual issues still unclear.

Why is the this important? It is important because the procedure, the very procedure that Baum wants to push aside or forget, shapes the reality of the courtroom. You can't know what happened, often, with poor procedure. This is different, because the procedure has not impacted the defense evidence, but it has "created" prosecution evidence.

Anonymous said...

KC: We all know the 3 indicted players were falsely accused, no rape occurred. They and their families have been trashed by the pro-Nifongers. Yet Crystal who started all of this gets to continue her life hooking and dancing unscathed by the travesty she perpetuated. Why has there been no pressure on Crystal to tell the truth. No one has even spoken to this person, who has made these complaints, yet she gets away with anonymity. She is a flat our liar and has destroyed 3 familites and countless other people with her lies. I know if pressure was put on her to tell the truth she would crack. (thats if she is not already on crack)

Anonymous said...

In response to concerns regarding a letter that shrugs off willful violations of constitutional rights and the recommendations of the innocence project, a poster says

What better evidence could I possibly have asked for other than the comments by 9:57 AM, 10:00 AM, 10:46 AM, and 11:18 AM to prove the truth of my statment that most of the bizarre and disgusting, and I might add extremist, fools on this website are in the audience. Quod est demonstratum

So, support for the constitution and the bi-partisan innocence project is "bizarre" and "disgusting." No logic, just name calling

AMac said...

anon 12:07pm --

Being the subject of your anonymous and content-free insults (bizarre, disgusting, extremist, fools, QED) leaves me, strangely, unmoved.

A few questions to you:

--Do you think that there is credible evidence that the alleged victim was gang-raped the evening of March 13th? If so, what is it?

--Do you think there is credible evidence suggesting that the accused men committed felony rape? If so, what is it?

--Are there circumstances under which felony charges should go to trial in the absence of credible evidence that a crime was committed, or that the accused committed it? If so, what are they?

If you choose to answer instead of movin' on, you'll be the first Nifong/Group of 88 supporter to do so. I'd be interested to read your thoughts on these subjects.

Anonymous said...

The name calling began with the 1:18 AM, 8:10 AM, and especially the 8:40 AM commenters. I simply turned their own words back on them.

Anonymous said...

To 12:37 PM:

There is a big difference between supporting the constitution and calling someone a fool or calling his statement amazing and disgusting just because you happen to disagree with him. The use of this kind of language shows that the persons making those comments are not engaged in rational discourse but are really a bunch of extremists who use extreme language to attack anyone who says anything about this case that runs contrary to their own views.

Anonymous said...

The problem is if the judge dismisses as he should in essence he would be saying the DA in Durham is corrupt, the DPD are corrupt, the Governor and Attorney General did not do their jobs, Duke 88 and Duke University have a major lawsuit, the city of Durham has a major lawsuit etc. This judge better know that the political heavy weights that the families, friends and supporterss of the Duke 3 are high up in Washington. If this case is not dismissed on 12/15 this judge can expect to lose his job. The state government may tolerate this racially driven persecutuion but the Federal Government won't. They are giving this judge the benefit of the doubt to do his job base on law and not on racial tensions in his district. Law demands this case be dismissed. Expect some Federal Agents in town Durham they will be waiting in the wings watching very closely.

Anonymous said...

To Amac,

The answers to your questions are no, no, and no. And in answer to your unasked fourth question, I do not think we should sweep the prosecutorial misconduct of Nifong under the rug on the theory that it is water over the dam. However, just because someone expresses this point of view, a point of view which as I say might very well be accepted by organizations like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in South Africa by Nelson Mandella to help heal the divisions among blacks and whites in that country and to which KC refers in his post, does not mean that he is a fool or that his comments are disgusting.

Anonymous said...

re 12:27:

u ask why there is no pressure on crystal the predator to tell the truth--GREAT QUESTION!

i'll answer it to the best of my ability:

1. in our legal system rape accusers have what amounts to carte blanche: hey babe, dig this: the legal system in America doesn't even acknowledge that the 3 were horribly injured by precious--there's no law to describe what she has viciously done to these three students--so what happens even if she's caught in a lie (which is rare): she's convicted of filing a FALSE POLICE REPORT--the law doesn't give a damn about the 3--there's little reason for precious predators to worry about getting prosecuted: it rarely happens--we need to create new laws that make what precious did to be a sui generis crime category

2. rape shield laws: see comments above

3. feckless prosecutors

4. political correctness

5. feckless politicians: do you think hillary will support a "male rape" law--let's call it "Precious's Law"?

all of the above need to be addressed

let's have some creativity on this site

jim clyne

AMac said...

Baum-Supporting Anonymous (BSA) 12:37pm, 12:49pm, 12:56pm --

First, thank you for your succinct 12:56pm response (no, no, no, and no) to my questions of 12:40pm. (Parenthetically, this is not a stance that a Nifong/G-of-88 apologist can take.)

Second, using a pseudonym would make it much easier for readers to follow your arguments from comment to comment--that is what you want, yes?

Third, at 12:07pm you pointedly labeled my 10:00am and 10:40am posts as proof of the bizarre, disgusting, extremist, and foolish nature of those who comment here. At 12:44pm you described your flaming policy as "simply turn[ing] their own words back on them." Please cite the words of mine that you referenced. Note that by using a consistent pseudonym, I've made your work much easier. Feel free to search the comments threads of other posts as well. For now, I'll characterize your debating style as lying somewhere between careless and uncivil.

Which is too bad, because your 12:56pm comment on the compromises that Reconciliation Commissions have been forced to make is interesting. (If Baum agreed fully with your stance (no, no, no, and no), it's too bad he didn't make an effort to inform his H-S readers of that.)

Anonymous said...


You are correct. I should not have included your 10:00 AM and 10:46 AM posts in my comment as you did not call Baum a fool, nor did you characterize his relatively innocent comments as bizarre or disgusting. My apologies. On the other hand, you should not accuse me of lying until I have had a chance to respond to your last comment, and I notice that you have not directed any criticism toward the people who made the fool, bizarre, and disgusting comments.

AMac said...

BSA 1:47pm --

> My apologies.


> you should not accuse me of lying until I have had a chance to respond to your last comment.

I have not done so. I characterized your debating style "as lying somewhere between careless and uncivil."

> you have not directed any criticism toward the people who made the fool, bizarre, and disgusting comments.

Correct. Two reasons.

(1) I thought that Baum's letter was premised on his belief that the three accused are guilty, and/or that they deserve to go to trial. I've made my thoughts about that stance plain; again, you can search this blog if you are curious. At 12:56pm, you pointed out that that need not be the case, and made the useful Reconciliation Commission analogy. So Baum's screed may have been naive or incomplete, rather than foolish or ominous.

(2) It is neither useful nor my job to criticize others' intemperate language. The netiquette consensus on trolls is to ignore them rather than inflame and derail by participating in flame wars. Thanks (again...) to my consistent use of a single pseudonym, readers can seek out what I've written here about gratuitous insults. Though why any would particularly care, I couldn't say.

AMac said...

To be clear, anon 11:18am's explanation of why he called Baum "a fool" is not trollish behavior, in my opinion. Anon supplied the reasoning behind his conclusion. This isn't Your Mama talk. Baum, were he reading this thread, could profitably attempt to rebut anon's points. He could even start by offering his answers to the questions I posed at 12:40pm.

Anonymous said...

Using AMACs BSA moniker for you, I will identify again that I am the egregious poster who called, and still calls, Baum a fool.

BSA, you have a problem with my stating an opinion that Baum is a fool. Let me expand on my response to you:

You consider this name calling. I believe Baum has written an opinion that is, on it's face, illogical and poorly written. He takes contradictory stances within his own piece. He puts this piece of ill-considered thought out into a public forum by submitting it to a newspaper, and in so doing discredits himself and the institution that we both (likely) will share as an alma mater someday. He has acted in a foolish manner by speaking without thinking. As my father used to say to me when I spoke irrationally, "Be sure your brain is engaged before putting your mouth into gear." Baum has not done so.

I, on the other hand, have done so in my posts on this matter. I am not blithely attacking Baum as a fool without considering the word.

I am not calling him a liar. I am not saying his entire text is without merit. I am not saying he or his letter are disgusting. I AM saying he is foolish (hence he is a fool) for claiming that the actions of Nifong should be treated as water under the bridge while also, very correctly, pointing out that the lack of confidence in our judicial system is a major problem, in this case and beyond.

This is a foolish and ill-considered stance, and as such a dangerous stance. To attempt in any way to whitewash the actions of Nifong would be the second-most damaging outcome of this case going forward. The most damaging would be a guilty verdict based on massively tainted evidence (what little can be construed in the most generous forum) and procedure.

Baum puts forth a head-in-the-sand concept of community healing by ignoring the problems that are inherent in the District Attorney's office and blindly hoping this doesn't happen again. That is a foolish notion.

I have called Baum one "name" only, and that is a fool. And it's entirely appropriate and not in the least bit ill-considered, inappropriate, or unfounded.

Finally, you claim to be turning my words against me. How have you done so? Let me turn your words against your current argument with me - you say in your original 9:40 AM post that you find objectionable the only issue that I find foolish by Baum. Namely, you state "nothing in the letter really strikes me as objectionable, except for the suggestion that we should forget about the misdeeds of Nifong because they are water over the damn."

Precisely. And I find it more than just objectionable given that we are not in a post-Nifong era, such as Truth and Reconcilliation councils that you reference are held in. You do not have a T&R in a current Apartheid state. First you end Apartheid, then you have T&R. Sweeping the problems under the rug while the problems still exist is more than objectionable - it's foolish.

Anonymous said...

One thing that stood out the most was that the Nifong want nothing short of a conviction, regardless of the evidence. Makes me recall the LA riots "No Justice, No, Peace". Now it is happening in Durham, "No Conviction, No Peace".

Anonymous said...

baum's naive, not a "fool" mr flamethrower

choose your adjectives more carefully or i'll copy edit your prose

jim clyne

Anonymous said...

to AMAC (and other BDs-Baum Detractors)
You say "I thought that Baum's letter was premised on his belief that the three accused are guilty, and/or that they deserve to go to trial." I see nothing in his letter to support that assumption. I think he is simply saying that, whatever the verdict, there will be a group of very unhappy people. This is no doubt true, and his point that we should be thinking about that now is a very good one. It's my impression that almost all Duke students believe that no rape occurred, and,unless he states clearly in his letter that he thinks they are guilty (which he WOULD state if he believed it) there is no reason to think he is different from the majority.

a different "BSA"

Anonymous said...

To me, it seems like Baum thinks the most important thing in this case is it's effect on the community. Nifong has taken a similar position, telling us all that Durham is hanging in the balance and that is the reason the case needs to go to trial.

I couldn't disagree more with this. The most important thing in this case is the innocence of the accused and the way the law and procedures that are supposed to protect people were abused to bring charges against them. I agree with KC that until this is addressed, there is unlikely to be any "healing". In fact, the longer this hoax goes on, the worse things are going to get.

kcjohnson9 said...

One issue on the T&R Commissions (which were used extensively in Latin America):

These commissions didn't punish misconduct--but they did officially acknowledge it. That's the problem with Baum's proposal for sweeping Nifong's misconduct under the rug.

But the key aspect of his letter is his strong evidentiary statement in favor of a change of venue.

Anonymous said...

To 12:54...

I would like to believe this, as this would be the right thing to do..

But the Feds are afraid to touch this one. Too many Dems in power in DC that can cause problems if someone messes with their party. No, these guys are hunkering down until this blows over.

AMac said...

Different BSA 3:18pm --

You assume that Baum believes that no rape occurred. Re-reading the letter, I don't see support for that position. To the contrary. By eliding this central question, I think Baum implies that reasonable people disagree on the matter.

If "reasonable people disagree" on whether or not there is credible evidence that a rape occurred, and whether or not there is probable cause to charge the three men--it follows that D.A. Nifong could well be acting ethically by bringing the case to trial.

Where does Baum suggest that this is not so, and that Nifong's is not, arguably, prosecuting a valid case?

As KC pointed out supra, TRCs didn't start by entertaining one side's argument that "the abuses that happened, didn't really happen."

This reader doesn't know what Baum was thinking, only what he did--and didn't--write about.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that you can write negative things about the NAACP, but when people defend a black female that alleges she was violently raped, the post is removed? The NAACP was formed to look out for the civil rights of African Americans. If you want to pick on someone pick on the ACLU, where are they? Indicted people are not all guilty, but in this case I believe they are.

Anonymous said...

amac--you made my point--none of us knows what Baum's opinion of the case is--he didn't state it. It seems to me that those who believe the boys are guilty are so adament (probably because there is no evidence to support their belief, so they are relying purely on emotion) that they make their position known. But we're both wrong to assume we know, and to draw any conclusions about his take on the case or his desire for a trial. He simply is expressing a concern about the aftermath--a legitimate concern. That also doesn't mean he thinks nothing else is important (like Nifong's unethical actions.) It could simply mean that he doesn't have anything new to offer that hasn't already been said.

Anonymous said...

The only aftermath Baum seems to be concerned about is the community reaction.

What if three innocent people go to prison for thirty years? What about their aftermath? Baum doesn't seem very concerned about that at all. In fact, he encourages everyone to just forget about any procedural misconduct or violation of civil rights since it is all in the past. All in the past?!? You've got to be kidding. Using Baum's logic, the Innocence Project is totally irrelevant. Those people were all convicted in the past. If Baum were in charge, Gell would still be on death row. So what if the prosecutors didn't read the whole file or engaged in misconduct? That's all in the past.......

Anonymous said...

Chicago writes:


The NAACP was actually formed to ADVANCE African Americans. Not to look out for them. They make it very clear they want special treatment and in this case they do not want justice, they want revenge. In case you didn't know, NAACP stands for National Association for the ADVANCEMENT of Colored People.

Anonymous said...

You must realize that the NAACP, is supported and supports the causes and civil rights of people of color. That is why they are supporting a black female rape victim.

AMac said...

anon 4:34pm --

Baum worries about the serious healing and reconciling that will need to be done after the case is resolved, because he's found that most people have made up their minds about whether or not a rape occurred. He's Listening. And he's unable or unwilling to point out that the facts of the case are unambiguous and point in one direction only.

We could embrace healing and seek a compromise between your position (unethical Nifong, accused men innocent) and that of anon 4:33pm, who believes the accused men are guilty (and presumably that Nifong's misconduct is trifling).

Perhaps we can compromise by agreeing that the three somewhat-guilty men should serve fifteen years in prison instead of thirty? Maybe you can bargain anon 3:33pm down to a ten-year sentence? Or shorter still, if the three will plead to a lesser felony. Good luck!

This seems to be the sort of nonjudgmental compromise that Baum would be open to. If so, he is naive, foolish, or stealth-hard-left.

Nobody should be charged for a rape that, plainly, never occurred. If Baum agrees that this is the basis for reconciliaton--why didn't he say so?

Anonymous said...

To 4:33
Have you read the accusers written statement to the police? Can you tell us how that could have happened without any of the players leaving any sweat, skin flakes, or bodily fluids?
By the way, as soon as Nifong found out about the fatal DNA results, he basically stopped the investigation. He dd not want the cops and him to find out anything else about that night. Why do you think that is true?
Without Nifongs gross misconduct there would not be outrage in Durham. At least not about that party. Because that young black woman was not harmed in any way. Or at any rate, not harmed in a fashion that involved the players physically touching her. They may or may not have taken back some of the money they had paid her, but I would have done that myself, under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

I think people are giving very young college students too much credit for their opinions.
I know I was an idiot and all my friends were idiots at that age.
I doubt this guy Baum is any different.

Anonymous said...

hman, like Nifong says we are going to get a conviction the old fashion way. Let the victim tell her story, then let a jury decide.

Anonymous said...

Geting a conviction "the old-fashioned way" or any other way, requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. None of this "victim's" many tales of woe come even close to meeting that standard.

AMac said...

anon 5:33pm --

The use of the legal system in the past to oppress out-of-favor groups in the past was bad. It was bad because the members of the group that I favor were on the receiving end. Notions of justice and equality under the law are meaningless--though my group would take advantage of those sentiments, and the useful idiots who believed them, when it came in handy to do so.

So today, when the legal system is used to railroad members of a different out-of-favor group, I don't see a problem. It's fine because members of my group generally don't like the group that's now being hung out to dry. Ideas such as justice and equality under the law are as immaterial today as they were in the unhappy past. Besides, turnabout is fair play.

Do I have that about right?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the old fashion way is the woman tells her story. The guys tell their story and the jury decides who is telling the truth. So let's let a Durham Jury decide who is telling the truth, they will be the best judges of the truth sayer.

AMac said...

anon 6:02pm --

Yep, old fashioned alright. 75 years in the past takes us to the era of Stalin's show trials and the Jim Crow South.

Hey, I don't play lacrosse--works for me, too!

Anonymous said...

Three rich guys vs a poor female mother of 2, Navy Veteran and an honor student in college. I certainly hope a Durham jury will come to the correct decision. I think they will.

Anonymous said...

To 6:22 et. al....The fact that you describe this case as "three rich guys vs a poor female mother of 2, Navy Veteran and an honor student in college" says all we need to know about your bias. This case should be about the evidence--which includes the AV's testimony and the testimony of the accused. Your kind of bias (and similar bias on the part of some of those who believe no rape occurred) is the stuff that sets race relations back a century. To move forward we all need to stop pitting one race against another--it takes both sides to make this country better.

Anonymous said...

What do you want them convicted of? Being rich? Is that now a crime?

Anonymous said...

To 6:02
There is something else that matters in a trial called "evidence" You may not have heard of it before but the courts have.
By the way, do you know how many men thru the years have been sent away for a rape they did not commit purely on the basis of who told the best story on the witness stand? And that DNA evidence later on cleared? Often, the state ends up paying lots of money in those cases. The unique thing about this case is that those guys have been exonerated that way even before trial.
I really don't see why anyone would want to go backwards in this regard when modern, much more reliable evidences sources happen to be available in a case.

Anonymous said...

sad to say, but this case is about multiculturalism and affirmative action

the low iq populations vehemently argue for the "inclusion" of inferior authors like toni morrison--they'll also vehemently argue for the 3's conviction

after all boys and girls, it's whitey's fault, don't you know?

Anonymous said...

6:34, In case you didn't notice no race was mentioned, you mentioned it. It was rich against the poor. The poor just happens to be a Navy Veteran, hononably discharged, a mother of 2 and an honor student, trying to improve her life.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Yolanda is trying to engage in some sophistry. The "old fashioned way" was the way that the Scottsboro Boys were convicted. From what Yolanda is saying, the verdict against the SB was correct.

The reason that in the past that all we had was personal testimony was that the science of forensics was quite primitive. If there had been DNA back then, the "old fashioned way" would have been use of DNA along with testimony.

Yolanda, have you gone to the Innocents Projects page and contacted those people and told them that the use of DNA is immoral and should not be permitted in a court of law? You see the pictures of a number of black males on there? They were convicted "the old fashioned way," except that they did not do it. That is why we use DNA testing.

What you are saying is that all DNA should be ignored, since it often does not lead to the political outcomes you desire. If DNA is not proper in the Duke case, then it cannot be proper in any case.

By the way, was Darryl Hunt justly convicted? He also went to prison, convicted by the "old fashioned way." However, it was DNA that ultimately led to his being released. Are you prepared to say that he still should be in prison?

Anonymous said...

6:22 - Ah!!! I see. And here all this time I thought a guilty or not guilty verdict was supposed to be based on evidence. But that's not it at all. It is based on the wealth of the defendants versus the wealth of the accuser.

Why do we need the courts or a trial at all? I don't forsee anyone's net worth fluctuating substantially in the near future. So let's just have the decision right now.

Anonymous said...

The false accuser is no honor student-- the alleged honor society to which she supposedly belongs is a fake front to sucker ignorant people. She is just the sort of person who should not have children-- obviously she cannot successfully take care of herself--she is a falling down drunk, mentally ill, drug abusing prostitute who stays out all hours while others-- not the fathers-- raise her children. By the way, she was Dishonorably discharged from the Navy. Your disinformation campaign won't work here-- save it for the underclass who get their news from neighborhood rumor and from the Durham Herald Sun. sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

Bill, "The old fashion way" was not my idea or suggestion, it was Mike Nifongs, the elected DA of Durham County, NC. I am just saying that he intends to put the victim on the stand and let a Durham County Jury decide who is telling the truth. Just a victim vs the accused. Goes to the jury they decide on guilty or not guilty.

Anonymous said...

If these three innocent young men a wrongfuly convicted. Than every man in america better fear. All a guilty verdict will do is allow all females to go out and make up any story they want and that is fine with a lot of females and I am not one of them.

Mr. Baum's Letter is nothing but an attempt to suck up to the city of Durham. The people of Durham has shown the rest of the country just how backwards they are. No matter how this comes out the people of Durham will not be happy, they all think that corruption is just great and that civil right don't matter for all people.

The NAACP has lost everything they have ever stood for and the ACLU is no better.

This country has just gone back 50+ years in race relations and every other way possible.


Anonymous said...

You are right. Nifong did not get the DNA results he wanted, so he declared: "Let's change the rules."

Well, guess what, Yolanda? If you change the rules here and get away with it, precendent tells us that you must change the rules everywhere. Again, if you hold to Nifong's new standard, then you also must hold to the following:

1. If DNA is not permitted as exculpatory evidence, then it cannot be considered as evidence AGAINST someone who has committed rape.

2. The Innocents Project will have to be shut down, and innocent people will languish and die in prison.

You see, when you latch onto a person like Nifong who only wants to win, and turns what is supposed to be a court of law into a prosecutor's plaything, then you have abandoned law altogether. Now, young marxists like yourself might not be familiar with Nikolai Bukharin, but he was the legal theorist for what were called the Bolsheviks.

To put it in basic terms, Bukharin called for a pure political standard of justice, just as you and Nifong are doing now. However, in the end, Bukharin at some point became more useful to Stalin and the marxist "cause" by being shot in the back of the head in Lubyanka Prison. He protested his innocence, but his very theories convicted him.

Likewise, if you continue to side with Nifong and his cutting of corners, his lying, his changing of the rules, and his abuse of the law, then ultimately you must realize that it will not be the rich or politically-well connected people who will suffer; it will be those people who have no platform, no forum.

Again, I would urge you to go to the Innocents Project web page, look at those pictures of men wrongfully convicted, and then tell the rest of us that they belong in prison. By demanding that all scientific evidence be abandoned and we go solely by the word of the accuser, that is what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you stated that Nifong is lying, do you have inside facts, that no one else know about? He is an officer of the court, he is presenting to the judge the fact of the case as he knows them. Nifong is just doing his job and going after three men that have been indicted for rape.

Anonymous said...

Nifong lied about there being no test for drugs, that was picked up by court TV at the second court date and now he has a negitive drug test. So he lied right from the start.

AMac said...

I've followed online discussions on a number of subjects: the invasion of Iraq, Social Security funding, theories of urban policing, treatment of Guantanamao detainees, global warming, the minimum wage, and art-museum reviews, to name a few. In all these cases, there are spirited debates. With a few clicks, it's routine to find informed and intelligent advocates of diverse points of view. People with contrasting points of view will argue positions with one another, supporting their varied insights and beliefs in every imaginable manner.

What a marketplace of ideas!

The Duke Lacrosse Rape Case is unique in this regard.

In a couple months of reading, commenting, and occasional blogging, I have yet to read a single comment or blog post that ably--or even adequately--defends the positions taken by Michael Nifong, Bob Ashley, and the Group of 88.

Not one.

By comparison with every other public debate I've followed, this is astonishing. Eighty-eight Duke academics, many tenured, signed their Listening Statement in the Spring. None have disavowed it, and other faculty and student have joined them in condemning the lacrosse team.

Nine months later: nearly 100 intellectuals, thousands of Durham voters, and who-knows-how-many hard-left sympathizers--and not a single essay that cogently lays out the case that a felony may have been committed, or that prosecution may be warranted.

Instead, this thread offers an example of Nifong supporters who are unfamiliar with the Enlightenment, who disregard the English Common Law concepts that underlie our legal system, who won't make logical arguments, and who never link to documents that would support their arguments.

Can anyone point to an excellent (or even passable) pro-prosecution essay or article that would weigh against what I've just claimed? Has any Nifong supporter gone on record with straight answers to questions such as those I posed earlier in this thread, at 12:40pm?

The one-sidedness of this debate is amazing, and chilling.

Anonymous said...

Your argument seems to come down to "Nifong must have something because he is the DA and DAs are not supposed to just lie about this." Isn't that about right?
A lot of us here have been convinced for a long time that is exactly what happened. But here is the deal, if you finally saw that this was true, that Nifong knew all along that no rape occurred, what would you say then? Would that bother you, given that the accused are white?
Because if you really do not care, at all, whether Nifong is lying or not then we all need to talk about that, it seems to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this thread, so I have one question: Early on a poster asked an important question about how the prostitute can be coerced to justify her lies at this stage. Only 1 person bothered to venture an answer. Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

8:08 - You're kidding right? The question isn't what has Nifong lied about. The question is what HASN'T Nifong lied about. I mean, he's lied about the team not cooperating - the three captains were interviewed at length by police with no attorneys present. He's lied about condoms being used - the accuser said her attackers didn't use condoms. He lied about having "read" the medical report - it hadn't even been printed out at the time he was claiming he read it.

I'd go on and on but it's too depressing. All I know is that if someone writes a book about all Nifong's lies and misconduct in this case it will require de-forestation of North America to produce enough paper to print a volume of that size.

Anonymous said...

hman, DA's don't make up evidence or lie they are "officer of the court". Do you have any proof that Nifong is lying or are is that a personal opinion. Where did he lie?

Anonymous said...

Yolanda, it was Nifong who indicted the Duke 3 (or sought indictment). He is not going after people who already were indicted; he is the source of the indictment.

By the way, please do not tell me that DAs don't lie in court. If you believe that, you don't know what happens in courts these days. The issue often is not if the DA is lying, but rather a question of when he is NOT lying.

Anonymous said...

8:47 that book is already being written and as to 8:53 Nifong lied about there being no test for drugs, he lied to judge Stephens and to Titus and now there is one.

Anonymous said...

to add to my last post court tv and fox news covered the hearings until judge Smith cut off the rest of america. They have his lies on tape

Anonymous said...

Bill, according to your last comment all DA's are lying in court, or simply not telling the truth. Can you give me one example, where DA Nifong is lying. He is an honorable man who has been serving the resident of Durham for over 25 years. His credibility is impeccable

Anonymous said...


Chicago writes:

I suspect you are baiting. Several lies have been listed in detail about Nifong. To name a few, he lied about the choke hold the FA was in on national tv, he lied about the drug test on national tv, he lied about the players not cooperating, he lied about a lot more too.

Additionally, it does not matter how long he has served Durham. For example, a person could have a clean record for 40 years and go off the deep end one day and commit a murder. At that point, it makes no difference how the person spent the previous 40 years, they are going to jail.

Anonymous said...


Using the term "Duke 3" instead of Reade, Collin, and Dave seems like it dehumanizes them. They are just a number. The "Scottsboro boys" was an injustice too, but does anyone remember their names? The mob would rather lynch someone with no name, ie strangers from up north.

Anonymous said...

I did not say that ALL DAs lie, but there is a huge amount of lying in court. I am putting up a link to a series that Bill Moushey did eight years ago:

Now, this deals only with the federal system, but the Open Discovery Law of North Carolina came about because of lies told by prosecutors in the Alan Gell case.

I have a friend here who is a local prosecutor, and he is a straight up person, but he tells me that there is a lot of lying that goes on in the system. However, I figure Yolanda knows that, but she wants innocent people convicted because of their race and financial status. To a marxist, those two things alone confer guilt. Nothing else is needed.

Anonymous said...

If an "officer of the court" personally assured you that if you just came down to the station and gave a DNA sample and if it did not match anything you were in the clear, then you did and nothing matched then the DA indicts you anyway - how would feel, Yolanda? Would that have felt like a lie?

Anonymous said...

I agree with KC's argument that the defense should ask for a change of venue. However, it would be interesting to know the results of the polling undertaken by the defense concerning the case and whether a fair trial is possible.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the agenda truely is for those continuing to advocate for a trial. It seems harder and harder to find anyone who still believes a rape actually occured. If you are a member of a group of people who feel their lives have been negatively impacted by people in a higher socio-economic bracket (like the accused represent), how will a false conviction measurably improve your life?


Anonymous said...

I believe he's lying when he says that he believes her....

He lied when he said that DNA would immediately identify the innocent, as lead investigator he either didn't know his own case or the evidence his investigative team had uncovered or he misled the public about the use of condoms, date rape drugs, who made the 9-1-1 call, the wall of silence, the AV's injuries and other medical evidence.

He lied to Victoria Peterson at the NCCU forum when said the accuser's family informed her that she had ID'd her 3 attackers - Nifong told VP that her information was not correct. The forum was on 4/11 -- the accuser had chosen 3 from the line up on 4/4. I've always wondered what VP thinks about him lying to her.

I'm sure I've missed some of his lies (or blatant attempts to 'mislead' the public)....

Anonymous said...

My post at 11:48 was directed to the poster at 9:18....

I'll also add that Nifong has only been the DA for Durham County for 18 months. I've not seen his performance as DA (the only performance that really counts in this case) as honorable, serving the residents of Durham or impeccablly credible.

I believe if one were to look closely at the recent indictment of someone in the case of the shooting of 4 young AA men at an apartment near Duke's campus (the only other case Nifong has chosen to personally handle) -- that one might find the timing of the indictment "interesting"... the accused had been in prison and a suspect since April, ballistics testing was initiated in June or July -- yet the indictment, low and behold, happened just prior to the election. Hmmmm, fair to the families of those young men, impeccable credibility??? Not in my book.

Anonymous said...

response to amac's questions:

1. is there credible evidence of gang rape? definitely, there were bruises all over her body, she was disoriented, and there was trauma to her vagina. however, to support your argument, i wouldn't refer to three vicious rapists as a gang

2. evidence of felony rape? rape is by definition a felony, amac. misdemeanor rape? give me a break!

I don't think the prosecution will have any trouble proving that the vicious homo basher, collin finnerty, was the ringleader: that is why the honor student was able to describe him so well: he was the "conductor" of that horrible erotic symphony

The brilliant Mike Nifong will vindicate all--the 88...EVERYONE!

god bless you michael nifong, and god bless America

An Outraged Citizen

Anonymous said...

Outraged Citizen rules--what a brilliant analysis!

Mike Nifong, a graduate of arguably the best law school on Earth, will have a glorious triumph over the brats' overpriced lawyers. Go, Mike, go!

Anonymous said...

7:37 and 7:43

NO DNA= NO Rape by any lacrosse player

Maybe her "boyfriend" raped her?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Outraged Citizen, she described him so well initially when she said all her alleged attackers were "chubby" or "heavy set"--that describes the tall, lanky Finnerty to a "T"--and anyone who has read any of the details of the DC case knows the absurdity of labeling him a "vicious homo basher" based on that incident--not attractive behavior, for sure, but not especially vicious (among other things, Finnerty did not actually hit anyone) and not really "homo bashing" either, as the complainant was, by his own claim, not homosexual and even the prosecution said in court that it was not a hate crime (and there is, in fact, some question about which side started the name calling).

On another note--6:38 PM, with friends like you, the Duke defendants probably don't need many enemies (although, unfortunately, they seem to have some). Your racist rants about "low IQ" (and your gratuitous dis of Toni Morrison, who is actually an excellent writer by any standard, whether or not you care for her style or subject matter) only encourage those who are inclined to conclude that the accused "must" be guilty racist rapists because they are well-off and white. In the end, as many other commenters have ably noted, true justice will be served only if we can focus on the actual evidence, or lack of it, against three individuals, not on rich versus poor, town versus gown, black versus white, jocks versus intellectuals, conservatives versus liberals, or any of the other broad culture wars that seem to find their way onto these boards.

Anonymous said...

8:50 am,

Re: 6:38 pm poster...

Your racist rants about "low IQ" (and your gratuitous dis of Toni Morrison, who is actually an excellent writer by any standard, whether or not you care for her style or subject matter) only encourage those who are inclined to conclude that the accused "must" be guilty racist rapists because they are well-off and white. In the end, as many other commenters have ably noted, true justice will be served only if we can focus on the actual evidence, or lack of it, against three individuals, not on rich versus poor, town versus gown, black versus white, jocks versus intellectuals, conservatives versus liberals, or any of the other broad culture wars that seem to find their way onto these boards.

There have been a couple of posters who basically said the same thing you did and that is not to say anything "racist" for fear that it may smear the defendants. This is ridiculous for a couple of reasons. The first is that the truth is the truth and if things are insensitive, too bad for the people that are so sensitive it hurts them. Multiculturalism is a failure and this case is glaring example of it. Tiptoeing around a topic is not the way to solve it.

The second is that of all cases, this is one of the only ones I can remember that has evidence that actually PROVES the defendants INNOCENCE. Yet we still have trolls like the above baiting people and demanding a trial. You will not change these sick people's minds. They enjoy misery and want company.

This case is about race and power. Get used to it and act accordingly. Pretending that it is anything but that is stupid.

Anonymous said...

7:37 AM 'Outraged Citizen':

Your assertions in italics:

1. is there credible evidence of gang rape? definitely,

- there were bruises all over her body - not according to the report of the medical exam. She also had a history of falling down / passing out in public, and having to be carried out of her strip club. Pix of her dancing before the alleged crime do show some bruises / scrapes that were there before the alleged incident.

- she was disoriented - she drank a lot, and abused flexiril along w/ alcohol. The tox screen done a few weeks later (via hair follicle, so it shows prior usage) showed that she had not had a 'date-rape' drug.

- and there was trauma to her vagina. - again, not according to the medical exam / SANE report. Nifong mischaracterized that report, which he hadn't even seen yet. The report did not say that there was any trauma or evidence of rape.

AMac said...

Outraged Citizen,

Thanks for taking the time to respond to the questions I posed. You're the first.

Given the sensible rejoinder by GPrestonian 4:51pm, do you have links to any sources that back up your assertions?

Sorry I was unclear in discussing "felony rape," it's a fairly common description of the crime. Try Google searching the phrase and you'll see.

As a hypothetical, in your case, I'd be interested in your answer to the third question, which was:

--Are there circumstances under which felony charges should go to trial in the absence of credible evidence that a crime was committed, or that the accused committed it? If so, what are they?