Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Duke Does the Right Thing

For the second time in as many weeks, the Duke administration has taken a powerful step toward bringing this disastrous affair to a close. This afternoon, on behalf of President Brodhead, Vice President of Student Affairs Larry Moneta formally invited Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann to return for the spring term.

The symbolism of this move cannot be missed: with the decision, the Duke administration is formally saying that the presumption of innocence no longer can be ignored and strongly implying--through its deeds--that no one in the upper levels at Duke any longer believes in the credibility of Mike Nifong's allegations. Coupled with Brodhead's repeated demands that Nifong recuse himself, this act signals a dramatic, and welcome, shift by the administration on the case, and a statement that from here on out, Brodhead will stand on behalf of due process.

The Seligmann family replied with a gracious statement, taking care to thank "the outpouring of support that we have received from Duke alumni," looking forward to the time when Reade can resume his normal life as a full-time student, and noting, correctly, that "by now it should be plain to any person who has any objectivity that the charges against Reade are transparently false."


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Anonymous said...

I didn’t mean my identity as “Duke Prof” to be a mystery. I just assumed from the other postings that people were not giving their names. My name is Jim Salzman and I am a professor of environmental policy. I just recently learned about this blog and posted for the first time to share the thoughts of someone watching this from the inside.

I haven’t followed the ins and outs of this case closely enough to comment intelligently on many of the specific points raised in the posts (I should note in passing, though, that I was unaware that the administration had ever interfered with the students’ right to counsel. I had been under the impression that the students were advised to get counsel.)

I must confess that I’ve been quite disturbed to read in many of these postings the assumption that the so-called Group of 88 speaks for anyone other than themselves or, by implication, that the Duke faculty and campus are a place rife with political correctness. I could be wrong, but this does not correspond at all with my daily experiences here. Indeed, my sense is that there has been a great deal of outrage throughout the faculty (certainly everyone I speak with) as evidence of Nifong’s misdeeds and the miscarriage of justice have been exposed. The posts seem to be assuming that the faculty who have been most outspoken on this issue represent most of the faculty. My experience has suggested the opposite, and I am confident that Colin and Reade would be warmly welcomed should they choose to return this semester.

The question this begs, of course, is whether there should have been more loud voices providing a counter perspective at an earlier point, and I expect a lot of people, not only at Duke, but in Durham, in the media, and in politics are now asking themselves that very question.


Hey said...

JS: Thanks for clarifying, glad to see that you've picked up some new information.

As to your question... I don't think any of us are wondering whether all y'all of the silent majority should have spoken up. We can guarantee that you should have spoken out, ideally within days of the Gang of 88.

Signed open letters by nearly 100 faculty are rather weighty things, especially in light of Brodhead's early statements. If they don't speak for Duke, you should be saying so, loudly. But you have to deal with these wonderful people at the faculty club, and it just isn't done. I understand, making one's self a target for the pot bangers is not a great idea. You'll be harrassed, threatened, persecuted, and receive no support from the Administration who for the most part supports the radicals. Welcome to life as a student, especially as a white male student, and definitively life as a LAX player.

Yes the most outrageous things done by Duke were the discouragement of private lawyers and trying to stop them talking to their parents before talking to the police. That violates everything that the University is supposed to be doing, but unsurprising for a Faculty and Administration that is ideologically opposed to its own students and has a pattern of aiding and abetting a system of separate and unequal justice for Duke students in Durham.

This is also part of a pattern of Brodhead's behaviour. Just ask him about the murder at Yale, and what he did to that poor Adjunct, helping an actual criminal to get away with murder. Read more of the backstory here and at Liestoppers and see why there's the rage.

Anonymous said...

Incoming Duke students will be given a reading assignment.

Ryan Lombardi
Chair, Book Selection Committee
Duke Summer Reading Program

They welcome suggestions.

Anonymous said...

To Jim Salzman:

The problem is that these 88 clowns were allowed to inflame a situation that should have been a big nothing – just a silly false accusation by a drunken whore. The 88 basically incited a lynch mob mentality. They supported that mentality in later statements – all to “get those rich white boys”. The 88 were successful in their quest.

Nobody at Duke took any action to thwart these 88 idiots. The administration pandered to the mob. If Duke, and its faculty, had taken some actions in the early going, these kids lives might not have been hurt. There were no grounds for indictment of anybody.

Here’s what’s going to happen to these kids in the future. They’ll apply for a job. The company will run a background check. The kid will get a letter stating that the company has found a more suitable person for the position but will keep their resume on file should another opening come up. That opening will never appear. The fact that they were exonerated will mean little.

It gets worse. The higher up on the corporate rung you go, the more careful companies become. Companies are very shy about giving prominent jobs to people with any skeletons in the closet. So these kids who, it appears, did absolutely nothing get to pay for that nothing for the rest of their lives. Duke, via its employees, was complicit in that.

In all this time only one Duke faculty person, J. Coleman, has stood up for the kids. That says a lot. I says that the rest of the supposed “moderate” faculty are a bunch a scared pansies – at best.

AMac said...

Hey & Johnboy --

None of us outsiders know what the pros and cons are for ethical Duke faculty considering speaking publically on the rape hoax. We can speculate, but it's most useful to hear what Prof. Salzman has to say on the subject.

AMac said...

Prof. Salzman 1:52pm --

Thanks for returning to comment again; signing them makes your comments quite significant.

For many of us outsiders--and for the proprietor of this blog--one of the ugliest aspects of this hoax has been the response of the Duke faculty to the framing and railroading of the three Duke students.

The actions of the Hard Left started early and have been emphatic and consistent, headlined by the "Social Disaster" statement endorsed and bankrolled by the Group of 88 (circa 60 of them were full-time faculty at the time of signing). As documented at this blog, "Liestoppers", "Friends of Duke University", and elsewhere, the declamations of these Hard-Leftists continued throughout 2006. See, for instance, Prof. Houston Baker's poison-pen email from earlier this week. The themes of these campaigners have been:

-- Indifference to Due Process
-- Indifference to prosecutorial misconduct
-- Indifference to evidence
-- Delight in the misfortune of the "loutish" three accused men
-- Firmly-held belief that these men are rapists
-- Asserting that, absent rape, "what they did is bad enough"

In contrast, the voices of those faculty at Duke who view matters from perspectives based on Due Process, Rights of the Accused, facts, and the importance of ethical conduct -- they have been largely absent over the past nine months.

The one shining exception is your Law School colleague, James Coleman.

Prior to mid-December, the roster of tenure-track faculty willing to stand publically for the Due Process rights of the accused was limited to Prof. Coleman, one Chemistry prof, and one School of Engineering professor (I have a slow connection and can't readily search and cite; I may have omitted one or two names).

Naturally, questions arise:

-- Why the rush to judge by Duke's Hard Left? Why have they stuck to their discredited positions?

-- Why has the Center-Left been so silent? The Center? The Right?

-- Is the paucity of pro-due process, fact-based comment a symptom of larger problems at Duke? Has the Left shut down dialog with threats or intimidation? Have the decent professors been indifferent to the students' plight, or uninformed as to the facts of the hoax?

If your stance on these matters is fairly typical of others in your department and at the law school, I hope that your recent review of posts and comments on these blogs is a cause for alarm. In the face of the "faculty potbangers," your (collective) silence has been taken by many to signify your (plural) tacit agreement or acquiescence with the Hard Left's loudly-proclaimed position.

The past nine months have seen Duke's reputation suffer. Some (like me) do fault the conduct of the lacrosse captains in hiring strippers in the first place. But the gravest damage to Duke has resulted from the aggregate performance of Duke's faculty in seeming to abandon the principle of Justice, and seeming to acquiesce in throwing your own students to the wolves.

This disrepute is cumulative, and continues to accumulate to this day.

I am sorry if, at this late date, I am the bearer of this bad news.

Anonymous said...


Okay. I'm not a NC attorney, but NC does have a very good Appeals web page for this purpose:


False accusations of crime or offenses involving moral turpitude are actionable as slander per se. Penner v. Elliott, 225 N.C. 33, 34, 33 S.E.2d 124, 125 (1945).

North Carolina law recognizes three classes of libel:
(1) publications obviously defamatory which are called libel per se; (2) publications susceptible of two interpretations one of which is defamatory and the other not; and (3) publications not obviously defamatory but when considered with innuendo, colloquium, and explanatory circumstances become libelous, which are termed libels per quod.
Renwick, 310 N.C. at 316, 312 S.E.2d at 408 (quoting Arnold v. Sharpe, 296 N.C. 533, 537, 251 S.E.2d 452, 455 (1979)). “To be actionable, a defamatory statement must be false and must be communicated to a person or persons other than the person defamed.” Andrews, 109 N.C. App. at 274, 426 S.E.2d at 432.

Respondeat Superior:

Generally, liability of a principal for the torts of his agent may arise in three situations: (1) when the agent's act is expressly authorized by the principal; (2) when the agent's act is ratified by the principal; or (3) when the agent's act is committed within the scope of his employment and in furtherance of the principal's business. Hogan v. Forsyth Country Club Co., 79 N.C. App. 483, 491, 340 S.E.2d 116, 121, disc. review denied, 317 N.C. 334, 346 S.E.2d 140 (1986).

Please let me know if you have any further questions.


Richard said...

As the saying goes, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. This organized showing of support for the Lacrosse players by the faculty is welcome and very much needed. The players are still charged with very serious crimes and need all the support they can get.

The question that everyone should be asking is where is the support from the law school faculty. Except for Professor Coleman the law school has been essentially silent. If any faculty department should be vigorously protesting this denial of justice it is they.

Hey said...

Amac: I fully understand why the faculty didn't want to come forward. They were likely under orders or advisement not to comment, especially after the gang of 88. They faced the wrath of the administration as well as the wrath of the gang and the potbangers. It's a crappy place to be, unless you're already there and nothing they can do can make it worse.

I'm free to do and say things because I know I'll never get support or approval from these types. Strident, successful, conservative, male... I'm an evil oppressor and am not going to be in academia no matter what.

However, piling on now isn't courageous. It should have happened long ago, once this case truly smelled and we saw how badly the LAX team was being treated. Just a plea for due process and wait and see what comes out, rather than calling the entire team racist rapists, would have been helpful.

The DA has had his co-conspirators admit in open court how they worked to hide evidence, against black letter law of the duties of a prosecutor, as well as having to admit that he has repeatedly lied in court and in the press. Condemning him now isn't exactly rocket science. Asking for calm and condemning him for poisoning the well with his statements in the spring would have been courageous and helpful. Now we're just seeing people getting on the right side of history, like all of those French resistance "members" who joined up the day before Paris fell. Gee thanks boys, but I think we could have done it anyways.

Anonymous said...

4:34 - Its easy to say the same thing would have happened at other schools. we do not know that. We do know it happened at DUKE. Same people should keep themselves and their kids away from Durham. For $42,000.00 there are a lot of choices out there. Until there are massive firing of the 88 and Brodhead, the school has shown no inclination to change itself.

Anonymous said...

There is no question the team made a bad choice - everyone agrees with that. The next to worst choices was drinking alcohol and allowing black strippers in the house. At least, a few were smart enough to take pictures.

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