In an expected move, Crystal Mangum will not be re-tried on the most serious arson charge that she faced. What message the jury’s original majority-acquittal vote sends to Durham is anyone’s guess.
In another unsurprising move, a new (albeit minor) demonstration of the continuing vise the Group of 88 and their allies exercise over Duke. The issue is the five-year review process for Blair Sheppard, dean of the Duke business school.
It would be hard to come up with an area of the academy further away from the Group’s race/class/gender vision than the business school. Yet the six-person review committee includes two Group members—Paula McClain (the political science professor who said she wouldn’t publicly call for Mike Nifong to respect due process in his treatment of Duke students) and Cathy Davidson (she of the fact-challenged, “revisionist” interpretation of spring 2006 events at Duke). A third member of the committee is the “vice provost for faculty diversity.” The administrator’s purview, of course, does not include pedagogical or intellectual diversity.
Does anyone want to bet against the proposition that the McClain committee will recommend the business school adopting new measures for certain types of “diversity”?
An item at least tangentially related to the civil suit. Ames et al v. County of Harford, Maryland et al is a lawsuit by various anti-abortion rights activists against police and municipal officials in Maryland. As in the lacrosse civil suits, the Maryland police and municipalities filed motions to dismiss the case, citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which they (like the Duke/Durham defendants) contended should shield them before discovery could commence.
In May, a district court judge dismissed the motion; and a Fourth Circuit appeals court panel has just upheld the decision, thereby allowing the suit to continue. Two passages from the district court decision that should resonate to anyone who followed the lacrosse case:
“The Court finds that the qualified immunity issue cannot be resolved at the current time because of the fact-dependent nature of the required inquiry and the undeveloped status of the record.” The Maryland case can’t hold a candle to the lacrosse case in this regard, given the reams of e-mails likely available from the Duke and Durham defendants.
And, as to the standard that the court should use, in cases like the lacrosse case and the Maryland case where claims of civil rights violations are involved: “Where, as here, the Defendants seek to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ civil rights complaint, this court ‘must be especially solicitous of the wrongs alleged’ and ‘must not dismiss the claim unless it appears to a certainty that the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any legal theory which might plausibly be suggested by the facts alleged.’” [emphasis in original]