This week’s Chronicle featured an excellent column from Jared Mueller, demanding the resignations of City Manager Patrick Baker and (perpetually absent) Police Chief Steve Chalmers. “The lacrosse case,” Mueller noted, “has drawn national attention to the ineptitude of Baker and Chalmers, but Durhamites have suffered under them for years.”
Mueller is savage—if accurate—in his description of Baker: “He dissembles; he shirks responsibility for his numerous failures; and on occasion has been caught in a bald-faced lie.” And he correctly sees Chalmers as a figure who has “spent the twilight of his career taking it easy, disappearing from the office for stretches at a time and delegating his duties to Deputy Chief Ron Hodge.”
Chalmers, of course, is the figure most responsible for keeping on the job Sgt. Mark Gottlieb, who Mueller cleverly describes as “the sort of guy who I imagine goes home at night, pops in ‘Cool Hand Luke’ and roots for the guards. In the fall of 2005 and winter of 2006, Gottlieb threatened to deport several Duke students for minor alcohol offenses, including one who was an American citizen. In that same period, he let a guy with a concealed weapon off with a ticket.”
Using the DPD’s own statistics, Mueller makes the case for Chalmers’ immediate dismissal:
Who would want to tangle with
’s drug cartels when you can make a career of throwing 115-pound college girls in jail for giving a 20-year-old a beer? Thanks for keeping us safe from the real criminals, Mark! The worst part: Chalmers confirmed to the N&O that it was DPD policy to arrest Duke students—and tie up Durham ’s overburdened justice system—for violations that they would only cite non-students for. Durham
How did the results pay off? The number of violent crimes rose 35 percent (from 678 to 916) from the first half of 2005 to the first six months of 2006, immediately after the DPD’s in loco parentis policy took force. What do you say to a police chief who sacrifices the safety of his constituents in order to arrest college students at parties? Chalmers chose pacifying the affluent residents of
Trinity Parkover protecting ’s most vulnerable citizens. He deserves unemployment and harsh condemnation. Durham
Hodge, it turns out, is one of five finalists in the search to replace Chalmers. That the DPD could even consider hiring an inside candidate after the lacrosse fiasco and the Baker/Chalmers cover-up is beyond me.
WRAL reports that the would-be chiefs will participate in a public forum on June 3. A candidate who knows basic rules of ethics and due process would make a good choice.
The new chief might also want to instruct his or her officers on why they shouldn’t file fraudulent affidavits. Required reading would be an excellent Liestoppers post, which explains why the March 23 non-testimonial was based upon what appears to be a fraudulent summary of the investigative data from Officer Ben Himan.
The source? Ironically, the Baker/Chalmers report, which—no doubt inadvertently—provided “additional reasons to believe that the “evidence” offered in support of the Fake Names Theory was either transparently false or blatantly manufactured.”
In his section of the report, Chalmers admitted what Kim Roberts had confirmed in her March 22, 2006 statement to police: Dan Flannery never used a first-name alias (and, ignored by Chalmers, showed Roberts his ID when she asked). Yet in the March 23 NTO, Himan and Assistant District Attorney David Saacks claimed that Flannery used the name “Adam” at the party. Their evidence for this assertion? None.
As Liestoppers tartly concludes,
It is unclear whether the discrepancy is an indication that the Durham Police Department is having difficulty keeping their stories straight or simply an honest mistake on the part of Himan, Saacks, and/or Chalmers. Alternatively, the discrepancy might indicate that Crystal Mangum attached three fake names (“Adam”..”Matt”..”Dan Flanagan”) to Flannery sometime after the first four lineup attempts on March 16, 2006, and the next two lineup attempts on March 21, 2006, and well before Linwood Wilson produced her December 21, 2006, statement that Dave Evans was “Adam”... “Matt”.. and “Brett.”The Liestoppers post also reminds readers of another false claim of the March 23 NTO—that the lacrosse players had claimed that they played other sports, or that they were graduate students: “Himan’s handwritten notes from the interview indicate that Ms. Roberts specifically stated ‘lacrosse team’ and offer no indication that a baseball team, a track team, or any other team was mentioned by Roberts.”
Baker also came under criticism this week from Cash Michaels, whose column asked, “Do Mayor Bill Bell and the Durham City Council have any confidence left in City Manager Patrick Baker, especially after a series of damaging fiascos, the latest being the Duke lacrosse case?”
Michaels terms the City Council’s reception to the Baker/Chalmers report “icy cold,” and notes that Baker’s report evaded the question of whether Mike Nifong directed the police investigation, “in an obvious attempt to blur the issue out of fear of probable litigation.”
The column has several interesting quotes from Jim Coleman. “From all appearances,” he correctly observed, “Nifong took over complete control of the case. The police did nothing to indicate they were operating independently of Nifong.”
Coleman also dismissed the report’s attempt to blame on defense attorneys the authorities’ decision to charge three people without probable cause. “If [Nifong] personally was not interested in anything the defense had, no purpose would have been served by going to the police. A reasonable expectation would have been that the police would have used anything given to them (that the DA refused to see) to try to undermine the alibi or to manipulate the accuser’s statement to take into account the evidence. We saw that with the [police intimidation of the] taxi driver, with Sgt. Gottlieb’s typed ex post facto notes, and later with the December 2006 interview of the accuser by the DA’s investigator.”
A fascinating article in last week’s National Law Journal explicates the “Nifong effect,” or what one
Reporter Tresa Baldas discovered that “prosecutors across the country are seeing fallout from the Duke case, as defense attorneys use it to discredit other criminal cases and paint them as overzealous prosecutors with something to prove.”
Yin notes that when the case first broke, he believed that the players “had probably committed the act,” and that he certainly “did not have an instinctive bias to take the side of the white, supposedly privileged players. That's why following the case and the apparently outrageous steps that Nifong took in leading the investigation and prosecuting/persecuting the players is so angering. When there is evidence of such massive abuse of authority for what seems like pure personal/political gain (the book argues that Nifong made a spectacle out of the case so that he could win election as DA and thereby keep his job, since his main opponent was the second Assistant DA, Freda Black, whom he fired when he was appointed DA by the governor), it's impossible not to be angry.”
Yin especially praises the book for providing “a nice look into former lacrosse coach Mike Pressler’s side of the story . . . [someone who] had nothing to do with the stripper party, and yet, he was—according to Pressler—forced to resign from the institution that he’d spent 16 years at. I didn’t fully appreciate the injustice to Pressler before, and the book does that well.”
The book is scheduled for release on June 12; in addition to summarizing some of the book’s strengths and weaknesses, Yin’s post offers some thoughtful commentary (with which I agree) on the differences in approach between books and blogs.
On Friday, the Houston Rockets fired coach Jeff Van Gundy. The stated reason: in four seasons at the helm, he had failed to take the team past the first round of the playoffs.
But could another reason have existed for the move? Perhaps team owner Les Alexander wanted to punish Van Gundy for setting in motion a chain of events that revealed Yao Ming as “the most profound threat to American empire.”
No word yet on whether the originator of this claim—Group of 88 stalwart Grant Farred—is scurrying the old quotes of Rick Adelman, the frontrunner to succeed Van Gundy, to determine whether Adelman, too, has inadvertently exposed the threats to the American empire.
I attended yesterday's Delbarton-Chaminade lacrosse game, won in overtime by Delbarton, 8-7, before a boisterous crowd. Delbarton and Chaminade have been models of how an academic institution should handle a situation when a former student is subjected to charges from a "rogue prosecutor." Both schools stood by their students without sacrificing any of their ideals.
As for the game itself: I was struck by the exceedingly high quality of assistant coaching for both teams.
In this week’s Durham News, Matt Dees previews Monday’s City Council meeting, which figures to address a number of issues of import.
Will the city commission an independent study of the police department’s handling of the Duke lacrosse case?
Will Chief Steven Chalmers, who has yet to speak publicly about the case, be called to answer questions from City Council members?
Will the council formally call for District Attorney Mike Nifong to resign?
The council agenda is filled with dozens of other items as well; it’s anyone’s guess whether the body will exercise its legitimate oversight powers on the police question.
Finally, ABC-11’s Tamara Gibbs is reporting that Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans will attend Mike Nifong’s ethics trial (scheduled for June 12); State Bar prosecutors will decide, Jim Cooney stated, whether Seligmann will testify.
Indeed, apart from Crystal Mangum, it’s entirely possible many of the other key figures in the case—most notably Gottlieb and DA “investigator” Linwood Wilson—will testify. I will be in