Monday, July 26, 2010

Linwood Fights the Law

Linwood Wilson—the man specially hired to the DA’s office by Mike Nifong, and the “investigator” who then allegedly pressured witnesses to confirm to the disgraced ex-DA’s version of events—is in more trouble with the law.

Yesterday, a warrant was served on the man who once boasted that “he owned Durham (and) lawyers and judges would do anything he said.” Wilson’s case, fortunately, has been taken out of the hands of the DPD and the Durham DA’s office, which is now headed by Nifong protégé Tracey Cline. In soliciting the warrant, a Durham County Sheriff’s deputy affirmed, "I believe that it has been demonstrated that Mr. Wilson is unpredictable and may harm others.”

Wilson has been charged with cyberstalking his estranged wife, but documents released pertaining to the warrant suggested that the ex-investigator’s aberrant behavior extended to his wife's boss, who told police that he received a June 29, 2010 letter asking him, “Do you really think a small charge will stop me from getting what I want? You lock yourselves behind locked gates and doors and try to hide yourselves. You forget that while you all may hide you leave other members of your family out in the open.”

(For those following the timeline of the case, that letter was sent after a Durham judge and Wilson crony lowered Wilson’s bail, based on an ex parte phone call from the former Nifong henchman.)

According to WRAL, “Authorities seized a booklet labeled ‘Barbara Wilson portfolio,’ 21 pictures of Barbara Wilson, three cell phones, a shotgun and shotgun shells, laptop desktop computers, a mini-disc player, a .38 Special handgun, rifle rounds, VHS tapes and a digital camera.”

This, again, is the man hired by Durham County’s “minister of justice” to serve as his primary investigator.

In addition to his cyberstalking charges, Wilson is also a defendant in the lacrosse case civil suits, for which he has distinguished himself for his fantastical court filings while serving as his own attorney.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mangum & N. Buchanan

The false accuser Crystal Mangum recently gave an interview with the Tom Joyner Show. Her interviewer, Jacque Reid, wasn’t exactly hard-hitting: Reid never mentioned that AG Cooper had declared the player innocent based on a comprehensive inquiry. Instead, she reported that North Carolina authorities merely “said that they did not have enough evidence” to pursue charges.

In the interview, Mangum maintained her conspiracy theory about her recent domestic violence/arson arrest. She claimed that the “state took it upon itself to come after me” because she had falsely accused people in the past, and that once the Durham Police discovered who she was (Mangum, of course, had initially given to police a false name), they decided to blame the incident on her.

Mangum maintained that she was the “victim” in the incident. Her children, she asserted, had called 911 out of a desire to defend her (that 911 call apparently wasn’t recorded, since the 911 call that actually occurred painted a quite different tale); and that she had “bruises on my face” (which apparently did not appear in any contemporaneous photographs). The false accuser added that she couldn’t understand why anyone would consider her to be prone to violence, since she “didn’t have a prior record.” She’s apparently forgotten her guilty plea to charges stemming from an incident in which she stole a taxicab and then tried to run down a police officer.

The interview’s two most stunning lines, however, came in her discussion of the lacrosse case. First, this textbook example of a false accuser asserted, “I never falsely accused anyone.” Mangum’s approach is, apparently, that her accusations can’t be false as long as she believes them t be true.

Second, in a quite remarkable interpretation of the ethics charges against the disgraced Mike Nifong, Mangum asserted that Nifong lost his law license because defense attorneys said “I was not a credible witness.” Apparently Nifong’s withholding exculpatory evidence, lying to the court, and making unethical inflammatory statements didn’t count.

On another front, news from Durham this morning that Duke decided to tear down the house at 610 N. Buchanan.

This move reverses a 2009 decision by Duke, as reported by the Chronicle:

Executive Vice President Tallman Trask said the University contacted attorneys representing members of the 2005-2006 lacrosse team about tearing down the house to build a new residence as part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, but the request was denied.

"610 N. Buchanan remains a piece of evidence, and so it can only be removed with the consent of all the parties," Trask said in an interview with The Chronicle in February. "The lawyers all have to agree that they don't need it. I think actually we might ask them again, but their argument was you have to actually stand in that bathroom to understand how preposterous the claims were, and the pictures just don't do it justice."

In an interview with WRAL, rising Duke senior Emily Fausch probably got at the reason why Duke decided to go forward: "It's a reminder of the past that some people don't want to be reminded of.” Indeed, I can see why the Brodhead administration and its allies among the Group of 88 would seek do everything they can not to be reminded of their 2006 behavior.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Wilson & Mangum (Updated)

Two recent developments from the Wonderland that is Durham (updated below):

First, ex-DA’s investigator Linwood Wilson was issued a new fugitive arrest warrant, after the AG’s office assumed control of his stalking obscenity case. Court papers revealed that Wilson allegedly had boasted to his wife that “he owned Durham (and) lawyers and judges would do anything he said.” Little in the case to date had contradicted this claim—Wilson was released on a laughably low $1000 bond.

Wilson’s case also was removed from the purview of his cronies on the Durham bench; Guilford County District Judge Thomas Foster oversaw the hearing on the new warrant, and released Wilson on a $10,000 bond, coupled with restrictions on his movement and an order not to contact his estranged wife or her family.

Wilson’s attorney defended the justice of the original $1000 bond, and denounced prosecutors for requesting a $100,000 bond: “I just think $100,000 is outrageous for a man who has served the citizens of Durham to uphold the law," the counsel huffed.

And who is Wilson’s attorney? None other than former Nifong campaign contributor Fred Battaglia, who also was one of the last Nifong apologists. In January 2007, Battaglia fantastically suggested that Nifong could continue prosecuting the fraudulent sexual assault case—and that the State Bar should have filed ethics charges against the defense attorneys(!) for publicly rebutting Nifong’s myriad inaccurate and inflammatory statements.

Only someone who considered Nifong an ethical attorney could make the bizarre claim that Linwood Wilson—the man immediately fired as soon as Nifong left the DA’s office—“served the citizens of Durham to uphold the law.”

A curious passage, by the way, in the Herald-Sun article on Wilson’s new bond hearing. Reporter John McCann writes, “According to Wilson's wife, her husband's treatment of her worsened in 2007 after he was fired from his job in Nifong's District Attorney's Office. It has been speculated Wilson's removal had to do with his role in the case involving exotic dancer Crystal Mangum's since-discredited accusation of being sexually assaulted in 2006 by members of Duke University's lacrosse team. In particular, that he crossed swords with Nifong by raising doubts about the Mangum's credibility and suggested she take a lie-detector test, a suggestion Nifong disregarded.”

It’s true that—well after the fact—Wilson claimed he had wanted to give Mangum a lie-detector test. But no connection exists between the DA’s office firing Wilson and his having “crossed swords” with Nifong at a point in December 2006. Indeed, all evidence suggests that Wilson was fired because of his pattern of unethical behavior in attempting to prop up Nifong’s fraudulent case.

Wilson wasn’t the only unethical lacrosse case figure now on the other side of the law—he’s joined in this status as a criminal defendant by the false accuser herself, Crystal Mangum.

It would be hard to top the strange circumstances of Wilson’s case—the disgraced investigator getting his bond lowered by placing a phone call to a friend in the Durham judiciary—but Mangum was able to do so.

After a court appearance yesterday by the false accuser, her defense attorney, Clayton Jones, withdrew from the case. Jones said that Mangum had refused to follow his legal advice. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that a competent defense counsel would have allowed Mangum’s bizarre press conference, at which she suggested that Duke and the DPD were now engaged in a conspiracy to prevent her from having a fair trial.

Jones also suggested that Mangum was now taking legal counsel from a handful of pro-Nifong cranks (a group including former Nifong citizens’ committee chair Victoria Peterson) who hold up the disgraced former prosecutor as a paragon of ethics. These are also about the only people (apart, of course, from the Group of 88) who are still on record as saying something “happened” to Mangum.

Perhaps Battaglia can take Mangum’s case as well?

[Update: Jones says he will remain as Mangum's attorney of record, at least through Monday. By phone today, Jones said Mangum has not been following his legal advice. The N&O reports, "He pulled her aside after the hearing Wednesday when he saw her talking with members of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong, who say the public defender's office can't adequately represent her because they work for the state, which they say is out to punish her because of the Duke lacrosse case. '[Committee member] Sidney Harr has absolutely no clue what's going on with this case,' Jones said. 'I have told him a number of times to stay away from my office.'"]