The good news is, yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security called me in for an interview, and I was finally awarded my citizenship. I am very happy as it has been a very long wait . . . I called my family back home and they too are very happy for this news.
He thanked the Liestoppers posters "once again for all of your kindness and support."
Congratulations to Mr. Elmostafa. Hopefully he will be able to sponsor his family so that they too will be able to enjoy the fruits of American citizenship. This country needs more citizens like Mr. Elmostafa.
What remarkable irony that this underprivileged, black immigrant, not yet a citizen, is recognized nationwide as a genuine hero.
His heroism? Doing what was right to protect Duke University students from injustice.
Mr. Elmostafa acted in the face of a threat not only of criminal prosecution, but to his application for citizenship. A criminal conviction might well have torpedoed that application. A genuine hero, who had much to lose, but did the right thing.
The source of the threatened injustice? Basically, privileged citizens, both white and black, occupying positions of responsibility in the Community of Durham and on the faculty and administration of Duke University.
The irony is to be savored. And, Mr. Elmostafa is to be thanked.
The post does not make it clear, but it is my understanding that he was sworn in yesterday, so he is an American citizen now. Welcome American hero Moez Elmostafa!
Congratulations Mr Elmostafa! You deserve your American citizenship. I wish those in Durham and at Duke who tried to railroad the lacross players had even a tiny bit of your character. I'm proud of how you stood for truth, even when it could have backfired on you!
Good news, indeed. Great to know that Elmostafa came through OK
Good for him!!! He is a true hero and will be a great American citizen.
good for him. I have a feeling he is not going to vote for the party of Al Sharpton and Mike Nifong.
That is great news! We need more Elmos! I wish him the greatest successes in his life.
Hooray! That is wonderful news. Congratulations, and welcome home.
Nifong's specter shadows DA race brought on by his downfall
By John Stevenson : The Herald-Sun
Apr 13, 2008
DURHAM -- As the start of early voting approaches on Thursday, Durham residents are faced with what is said to be the largest and most diverse field of district attorney candidates ever.
Two men are in the running: Mitchell Garrell and Keith Bishop. Two women, Freda Black and Tracey Cline, also want the job of top prosecutor.
Racially, the choices are equally broad.
Bishop and Cline are black; Garrell and Black are white.
All are Democrats.
It is an election that wasn't supposed to happen.
Were it not for the Duke lacrosse scandal that toppled former District Attorney Mike Nifong from power, there would be no race for the chief prosecutor's chair this year. Nifong, who was elected in 2006, would have remained on the job until 2010 if he hadn't gotten three lacrosse athletes indicted on false charges of sexually attacking an exotic dancer at an off-campus party.
Nifong lost his law license and his job over the incident, giving voters the wide array of options they now have.
His downfall threw a major kink into the voting process.
Normally, district attorneys are elected to four-year terms. But the person chosen this year will serve only until 2010, when Nifong's tenure would have ended had he remained in office. Another election will take place then.
A 40 percent rule governs the district attorney race. If someone doesn't get at least that much of the vote on the first go-round, the top two contenders will compete in a June runoff.
Voters may begin casting early ballots on Thursday. The primary election is set for May 6.
Freda Black is 47?
She looks older than that!
Black touts extensive experience
Apr 13, 2008
Law School: Campbell University, 1985
Employment: Private practice. Former assistant DA
DURHAM -- Freda Black takes pride in the fact that she is the only one of four district attorney candidates who has prosecuted capital murder cases from start to finish.
In fact, she put three Durham killers on death row: Isaac Jackson Stroud, Donald John Scanlon and Todd Charles Boggess.
Only Stroud is still there. Scanlon and Boggess got out of their death penalties as a result of subsequent appellate action.
"It is the law," Black said of capital punishment. "It is a law that was passed by the Legislature and that must be followed when appropriate. However, I do believe it should be reserved for the most heinous crimes and crimes in which there is no doubt the defendant was the perpetrator."
Black also is proud of her role in gaining a 2003 homicide conviction against novelist Michael Peterson, who is serving a sentence of life without parole for fatally beating his wife, Nortel Networks executive Kathleen Peterson.
Black said the nationally televised trial gave her a "shining reputation" that was widespread.
A graduate of law school at Campbell University, Black worked as chief assistant public defender in Robeson County before coming to Durham as an assistant prosecutor in 1991.
She was fired in 2005 by former District Attorney Mike Nifong, who eventually lost his own job and his law license for getting three young men falsely indicted in the now-ended Duke lacrosse scandal.
"I believe it's all due to jealousy," Black said in an interview, referring to her dismissal by Nifong.
According to Black, the purported jealousy began years ago when she was given a parking space in the courthouse basement and Nifong didn't have one.
Now in private practice, Black went on to run unsuccessfully against Nifong in the 2006 Democratic primary election for district attorney, before the lacrosse debacle toppled Nifong's career.
Black said she "sat on the sidelines" as the lacrosse incident unfolded and was "ecstatic" she had nothing to do with it.
"A case of that sort should have been investigated by the Police Department and not by Mr. Nifong," she added. "Everything went wrong right from the beginning as far as I'm concerned. I think it was primarily Nifong. ... I think it got past him and he didn't know what to do. It was a runaway train."
According to Black, the District Attorney's Office is still in a Nifong-induced tailspin and needs new leadership to set it straight.
"He was a nitpicker," she said of her former boss. "You can get time [in jail] for driving while your license is revoked and get probation for killing somebody. Obviously, [Nifong's policies] all need to be examined and re-examined."
Black criticized one of her opponents in this year's election, Chief Assistant District Attorney Tracey Cline, for allegedly drafting certain paperwork that helped Nifong get the lacrosse case rolling.
"That is well documented," said Black. "How could anyone vote for a person who helped start the lacrosse nightmare?"
The way Black sees it, Durham prosecutors are more concerned about winning cases than seeking justice.
With that in mind, she said the highlight of her career was not one of the many convictions she obtained. Rather, it was getting Raymond Lee Parker out of prison recently after he served 28 years for armed robbery.
Black, in her role as a private defense attorney, argued successfully that Parker's 1980 sentence of life imprisonment was too harsh for current legal guidelines.
"That's the fair part of me that makes me uniquely qualified" to be district attorney, said Black.
However, Black has come under fire in some quarters for a 2005 murder trial against Kendrick Earl Daye that she lost.
Critics said Black, then an assistant prosecutor, did not do her duty when she failed to fight a judicial ruling not to tell jurors about an earlier homicide conviction against Daye.
But according to Black, the previous conviction wasn't automatically admissible as evidence because it was more than 10 years old.
"I was trying to be fair to the defendant," Black said last week. "It shows I am a fair-minded prosecutor. A prosecutor shouldn't be working to convict at all costs. The right decision isn't always the most popular one, but I stand by my decision in that case."
John Stevenson and Dan Way contributed reporting to candidate profiles.
Bishop confident in diverse work history
Apr 13, 2008
Law school: N.C. Central University, 1992
Employment: Private practice
DURHAM -- The way Keith Bishop sees it, his three opponents in this year's district attorney race have "a myopic view of criminal work" -- a view colored by years of duty as assistant prosecutors.
Bishop, on the other hand, has been in private practice since graduating from law school at N.C. Central University in 1992.
But don't suggest he lacks the experience needed to be Durham's top prosecutor.
Bishop might bristle.
He contends that a diverse work history "absolutely" makes him the best person to be district attorney, since he has handled more than 17,000 cases ranging from criminal to civil and domestic to corporate matters.
In addition, he once prosecuted local child-support cases as a volunteer private attorney, sending more than one deadbeat dad to jail.
"None of the others brings that kind of experience to the table," Bishop said in an interview last week.
He promised to make several important changes if elected.
For one thing, he and his staff would more closely monitor police in serious cases, making sure evidence was collected properly, Bishop said.
"Right now there is a disconnect between law enforcement and the DA's office," he said. "Officers sometimes need advice. That advice must come from the DA's office."
When evidence isn't properly gathered, prosecutors may be left without a case, Bishop added.
"I'm not picking a fight with the Police Department," he said. "I am not making a blank accusation that they do shoddy work. But the DA must have evidence that is admissible at trials."
Bishop would even send assistant prosecutors to major crimes scenes as "field assistants," giving them experience that might prove valuable later.
"It wouldn't cost an additional dime, and it would allow the assistants to go into court fully up to speed on their cases," said Bishop.
More attention to crime victims and their families also is on Bishop's top-priority list.
"You have to let victims be informed at every stage of the case," he said. "That doesn't mean they should have input into how you handle the case. It just means they have a right to know. It's part of their healing process. It also would give victims the satisfaction of knowing you are taking their cases seriously."
Bishop knows whereof he speaks.
His brother, 23 at the time, was killed in an apparently random shooting in New York 18 years ago.
The gunman was never caught.
"Every few years we would get a call from the authorities," said Bishop. "They would tell us they thought they had the person who shot my brother. Then we wouldn't hear anything for another year. It always turned out to be the wrong person. I doubt we'll ever hear anything again."
In Bishop's opinion, two of his opponents in this year's election -- assistant prosecutors Tracey Cline and Mitchell Garrell -- failed the public by not calling down former District Attorney Mike Nifong before he got three Duke lacrosse players indicted on false sex-offense charges two years ago.
"This thing was happening right around them," Bishop said. "They were right there. If they thought things were going wrong, they had a duty to report it. They didn't. They seem to have a secret code. It is part of their office culture. They said they had their own cases to handle. Good, bad or indifferent, they looked the other way. As a result, we were put in an embarrassing mess."
John Stevenson and Dan Way contributed reporting to candidate profiles.
Garrell: 'Unusual' perspective stands out
Apr 13, 2008
Law school: UNC, 1991
Employment: Assistant DA
DURHAM -- At 52, Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Garrell is the oldest of four candidates running for election as Durham's top prosecutor this year.
Nor is that the only thing that sets him apart.
Garrell also has a perspective on the death penalty that distinguishes him from most people in his line of work. He opposes it.
"Is that an unusual position for a prosecutor?" Garrell asked rhetorically in an interview last week.
"Yes," he answered.
Brought up as a Southern Baptist and now an Episcopalian, Garrell said his anti-capital-punishment stance is based largely on religion.
"It's not something that came up lately," he said. "It's something I've been consistent about for years. I have been opposed [to the death penalty] since the age of 16. It is based on a religious belief that we shouldn't be in the business of killing people. I'm not saying the state doesn't have the right or the authority to do it. But evolving standards of jurisprudence would seem to make it cruel and unusual punishment."
Garrell said he resented an opponent's recent insinuation that his rejection of capital punishment is a ploy to gain political advantage.
"That's a lie," he said. "It is blatantly false."
Garrell has never prosecuted a death-penalty case during 13 years in the Durham District Attorney's Office, but he stood by his record in other murder cases, specifically citing convictions he obtained against Robert James Petrick and Todd Charles Boggess, who was sentenced to death in 1997 but did not face the death penalty in the 2007 retrial prosecuted by Garrell.
Petrick suffocated his wife, Durham Symphony Orchestra cellist Janine Sutphen, and dumped her body in Falls Lake. Boggess fatally beat a Wilmington honor student in the woods of northern Durham County.
"I am proud of those cases," said Garrell. "After all, I am running for district attorney and not public defender. No one takes a back seat to me in seeking to convict people I think should be convicted. I don't think any observer of the courthouse would dispute that."
Garrell bristled at the suggestion, made by at least one of his opponents, that he and other assistant prosecutors failed the public by not calling down former District Attorney Mike Nifong before he got three Duke lacrosse players indicted on false sex-offense charges two years ago.
"If Mike was guilty, why was everybody else up there guilty?" Garrell asked rhetorically.
"All I know about that case is what I read in the newspapers," he added. "Did I have a duty to look at the case file? I didn't think so. I felt my duty and my oath of office required me to prosecute my own cases, some of which were homicides."
Garrell acknowledged that he and his colleagues could have resigned in protest over the lacrosse scandal, which ultimately cost Nifong his job and his law license.
"But what would have happened if everybody in the office had quit?" Garrell asked. "What would that have done for justice in Durham County?"
At the same time, Garrell criticized Assistant District Attorney Tracey Cline -- one of his opponents in this year's election -- for allegedly taking an active role in the lacrosse case by preparing certain paperwork for Nifong.
"People may choose whether or not to believe that," Garrell said. "But she was a member of the inner circle. The logical inference is that Ms. Cline did play a role in that case."
On the same topic, Garrell criticized Nifong for not sitting down with lacrosse defense lawyers when they made overtures to him, attempting to point out that he had no evidence.
"I've never refused to meet with a defense attorney who wanted to talk about a case," Garrell said. "I'm all ears. They may tell me something I need to know. That's one thing I would have done differently than Mike [Nifong] did."
John Stevenson and Dan Way contributed reporting to candidate profiles.
Be careful of all those reptiles in Durham.
Congratulations, Mr Elmostafa!
The Diva just left this over at the N&O's Editors' Blog.
04/13/08 at 13:04
John Drescher says:
("I know, I know – some of you don’t think The N&O’s news pages are independent, even though a mountain of evidence shows otherwise"...)
The Diva replies:
Then I implore you, Vaden, Ford, Quarles, and all the editors to explain to me what made you so scared back in the year 2006? And orgasmically excited at the same time?
How could you wake up in the morning and go to your offices and not feel a sense of shame and embarrassment?
What caused such a lapse that any Triangle resident who is not in the back pocket of the dangerously obese Rev. Barber of the obsolete and disreputable NCNAACP and others of his ilk could recognize right away as very dishonest reporting and editorializing?
What prompted the huge exposé on the 1898 Wilmington riots in the year 2006? Such uncanny planning from your newspaper. Painfully gratuitous.
Not exactly an anniversary as say, the year 1998, or the year 2008, would have been.
Did you ever feel squeamish at the thought of Timothy Tyson after that? A hunk of banality and tired tales still on the "bacon 'n grits" circuit of his preacher Daddy after all these years. It was a sight to see such a creep standing around on Buchanan Blvd. under "castrate" signs.
Did you guys feel a desperate need to strike while the iron was hot and trigger-ready for some more "race business" that year?
When---very early on for most objective observers---it became clear that the lacrosse case was nothing more than a Hoax, did the N&O editors feel a need to "keep hope alive" and stir the pot on the backs of three falsely accused young men with this Wilmington coverage?
Do any of you with sons ever feel a tinge of shame?
Anything to say....ever....in your defense?
Or is that the problem?
None of you believes you did anything wrong?
Elmostafa is a hero, to be sure. Shame on us that all it takes to be a hero these days is to tell the truth.
What a damned shame that so-many native born Americans showed so little class, whilst Mr. Elmostafa showed so much!
Elmostafa for DA.
Elmostafa did more than just tell the truth: he told the truth when the authorities made it clear they wanted him to lie.
I don't understand why Mr. Elmostafa believes that it wasn't payback from the Sitty of Duhhh that his cab company had the rug pulled out from under it, and lost its ability to operate. He probably has so much honor and integrity that he can't imagine anyone being that petty and vindictive.
I wish to offer a good-news/bad-news greeting to this hero, to Mr. Elmostafa:
"Welcome to America!"
Bob Herbert, of all people, offers what I believe to be a plausible take on the latest Obama dust-up.
And I think as all the frenzied Obama detractors wallow in delight over his recent faux pas, you might want to entertain this viewpoint.
Some Perspective on "Bitter"
On the N&O's Editors' Blog, some guy left a very comprehensive comment about the issue of Gov. Easley erasing emails and the N&O now suing the governor's office.
His comment and the Diva reply:
04/15/08 at 09:43
"It would be interesting to know if press organizations would expect their own internal discussions and editorial evaluation of (potential) news stories to be fully on the record in addition to the actual news stories themselves as they ultimately appear in print editions of newspapers....."
The Diva says:
What a gem of a question......and one that needs to be answered.
Ironic-to the max that the N&O will not answer questions put to its editors with any frequency and with any transparency regarding hot-button issues.
It's always a tap dance.
Apr 15, 2008
DURHAM -- When Victoria Peterson looks at county government, she sees room for improvement. A lot of room.
"I just don't think we have the right people in office," said Peterson, a county commission candidate. "Many years ago, those individuals were fine."
Now, however, Peterson -- a community activist who runs a nonprofit organization called Triangle Citizens Rebuilding Community -- looks at Durham and sees a place where thousands of people are involved in the criminal justice system annually, where public housing has become a dumping ground, and where members of the county commission and the crime cabinet miss meetings, sleep through meetings or don't understand the subjects with which they're dealing.
She blames many of Durham's problems on the neglect of its youth.
"Put our young folks to work," Peterson said. "Bring our young folks to the table and make them feel part of the community."
One approach Peterson would take to doing that is vocational education. She'd like to open vocational centers that would teach such fields as nursing, automobile repair and construction, among others.
The vocational centers should not be run by the school system, Peterson said, calling for the county commissioners to take responsibility for workforce development.
Peterson cites health care and construction as two fields that will need plenty of new workers in coming years.
The candidate, who says that her 6-year-old nonprofit is fully funded by private donations, wants to persuade donors to pay for converting unused county facilities into vocational training centers.
Peterson hopes to run such county government efforts without raising taxes. She opposes putting either a sales tax or a land-transfer tax before voters.
The candidate wants to cap taxes for residents when they become senior citizens. Peterson would also give seniors the chance to work themselves out of making tax payments altogether by performing volunteer work.
Other programs that Peterson wants to implement target younger people. She'd like crumbling local houses fixed up and given to young people. The program would pay for itself by attracting new workers, Peterson believes.
She also wants free training and assistance for homeowners who stay in Durham.
Although Peterson hasn't shied away from controversy in the past, she was circumspect when questioned about two potential hot-button topics.
The candidate would not comment on potential future fellow county commissioners. And she said that while she does not regret her role in the Duke lacrosse case -- Peterson vocally supported former District Attorney Mike Nifong's since-discredited prosecution -- it is not a county issue and she does not want to discuss it in the context of her primary campaign.
Peterson has been critical of departing Commissioner Lewis Cheek, who missed several board meetings during an alcoholism relapse and bout with depression. She wants to institute an attendance policy.
The candidate unsuccessfully campaigned for City Council seats in the past three elections.
Hearing set today on lacrosse lawsuit
By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
Apr 15, 2008
DURHAM -- Enough time has passed that current and former Duke lacrosse players shouldn't have any need to counter adverse publicity that came their way in connection with an exotic dancer's false allegation of rape, city officials contend.
That argument came as the city government's lawyers were firing the last shot in the "battle of the briefs" leading up to a hearing today that will focus on whether 38 members of Duke's 2005-06 men's lacrosse team are doing too much to publicize their civil-rights lawsuit.
The N.C. State Bar allows lawyers to comment publicly on cases when they think it necessary to counter publicity initiated by other parties.
But because the criminal investigation of the exotic dancer's charges ended almost a year ago, the players and their attorneys aren't due any relief from ethical rules against out-of-court comment on pending cases, the city's legal team contends.
Moreover, city lawyers argue, Durham's government shouldn't have to contend with the possibility of a biased jury pool when it was a state official, former District Attorney Mike Nifong, who initiated much of the publicity against the players in 2006.
The players' lawsuit -- one of three stemming from the exotic dancer's false charges -- targets the city government, Duke University and a number of officials in the Durham Police Department and the campus administration.
It contends that the defendants proceeded against the players without regard for the truth and that they whipped up public opinion against the team with a series of misleading or defamatory public statements.
But the city and Duke hope to persuade U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. to rule that the players' legal team violated ethical rules by using a Web site, news conference and news release to publicize the filing of their case.
The attempt to mobilize public opinion has continued on the Web site, http://www.dukelawsuit.com, through the posting of "incendiary statements" like a claim that the defendants have filed a "gag motion," the city's filing says.
Regulators from the State Bar, the city's lawyers added, have also specified that the rule against pre-trial publicity "contains no exception" treating civil cases differently than criminal cases.
But a 1998 ethics opinion from the Bar specified that out of court statements in civil cases "are generally not as strictly scrutinized as those regarding criminal proceedings."
Today's hearing is scheduled for the afternoon and will occur in Winston-Salem. Beaty will preside and hear oral argument from both sides.
Allow Lopez to lead
I guffawed out loud in the shower to read that City Councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden was concerned that her cronies on the DATA Advisory Board weren't consulted prior to Police Chief Jose Lopez doing what he was hired to do, and that's be Durham's real first police chief in 20 years.
Here's a newsflash for City Council: You can only govern with the consent of the governed and we in Durham just aren't gonna take it any more. The council's cronyism is responsible for the cesspool Durham has become. To wit, Patrick Baker is no good to be city manager, so the council thinks he's gonna be a good city attorney? Perhaps the female assistant attorneys would like a chance to compete.
Our police chief and our police officers are gonna get us out of the mess you created. Leave Chief Lopez alone, or me and my cronies will dust off our picket signs and take to the streets. That's a promise you can count on.
April 15, 2008
Check out the paragraph I put in bold print.
Wonder which Trinity Park urchin called the cops this time. This smacks of petty and vengeful adult behavior.
A welcome transformation
Apr 15, 2008
Sometimes, relatively small gestures can leverage large results.
That seems to be the case with Duke University's decision two years ago to purchase 10 rental properties near its East Campus.
The properties were widely, if perhaps a bit too harshly, seen as "party houses" because the students who rented them were prone to too much late-night raucous revelry. Understandably, the patience of the surrounding families in had worn thin, to say the least, and the result was recurring friction that was souring Duke's relationship with the community.
So Duke stepped in to take the property off the rental market. Most of the homes have now been sold to individuals or families who, as Duke intended, are renovating them as single-family homes.
On Sunday, some new owners opened their works in progress to show the scope of the transformation.
The homes, many of them decades old, were an important part of Durham's heritage, so the process has also had the laudatory effect of preserving structures that might have deteriorated to the point of demolition had they continued as student rentals.
Neighbor Donna Dagavarian captured both effects on the "hard-hat tour" Sunday afternoon.
"We used to have lots of complaints about parties, naked students and people urinating in public," she told reporter John Stevenson. "Now, we don't have that anymore."
"If somebody didn't buy these houses and renovate them, they would be lost," she added. "That would have been tragic."
Ironically, just days before the tour, Durham police responded to complaints of a loud party at 1026 W. Trinity Ave., in the same area near East Campus. Eventually, 20 current or former Duke students were arrested on charges that included under-age drinking and resisting officers.
The incident was a reminder that students' partying can still be a neighborhood problem. But our sense is that such conflicts have subsided substantially this year, and the transformation of those "party houses" to neighborhood gems has had the intended results.
Summed up resident Dan Jewell on Sunday: "The change from then to now is fantastic."
Fed judge KO's Duke, city's lacrosse plea
By Ray Gronberg : The Herald-Sun
Apr 16, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM -- A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from Duke University and Durham's government for sanctions against the legal team that's representing 38 members of the 2005-06 Duke men's lacrosse team.
U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. held that the Web site, news release and news conference the players and their attorneys used to publicize the filing of the case in February didn't run afoul of ethical guidelines intended to assure a fair trial.
Beaty stressed that under the law, Duke and Durham had to show the statements made on behalf of the players had a substantial likelihood of prejudicing jurors.
The lead attorney for the players, Charles Cooper, said prejudice isn't likely, given that a trial in the federal civil-rights lawsuit is likely a year and a half away.
Beaty also noted that he and lawyers for both sides would also have a chance, when the trial begins, to question potential jurors and screen out any who've formed an opinion about the case.
However, the judge did caution lawyers for both sides to watch what they say.
He also told the legal team for the players that they're responsible for the content of the Web site their publicist has established, www.dukelawsuit.com, including anything the site links to.
Beaty also said that as the case unfolds, he'll consider any requests from the two sides for protective orders that would forbid the release of specific information before trial.
Congratulations Mr. Elmostafa, my fellow American. I too am a naturalized citizen and I love this country. Until we go to Paradise, we will face evil-doers. Thank goodness there are more good people (like you) here than evil ones. I would not live anywhere else in the world.
He was a patriot before he was granted citizenship. I tip my hat to this wonderful man.
Congrats to Mr. Elmostafa. It really is an amazing story of decency and honesty and bravery. It makes me very proud to be an American and welcome someone so fantastic as a fellow citizen.
Thank you for all you did to help the innocent.
Post a Comment