Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Legal Filings

In perhaps the least surprising legal development of the case, a unanimous three-judge panel from the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's judgment that DNA Security had cause to fire former lab director Brian Meehan.

The court's description of Meehan's activity was blunt. Though his lab's tests indicated not one but two vital findings: "(1) there was no match between any of the specimens provided by the lacrosse players and the alleged victim; and (2) the alleged victim had recent sexual contact with multiple men who were not among the specimens provided," Meehan's "report obscured findings that exculpated the charged players." By using "opaque" language "instead of explicitly stating both conclusions," Meehan produced a report that "obscured the actual test results"--not even mentioning the critical second finding, and mixing in the first finding with additional irrelevant details.

The appeals court found that Meehan had no grounds to dispute his dismissal for just cause, given that he had, under oath, "explicitly stated that he knowingly violated his company's protocol and procedures." Meehan's dubious conduct, in turn, directly harmed his company's bottom line, since "DSI's business model depended on the reliability of the scientific research and its reports used by courts or law enforcement personnel for determining the probable guilt or likely innocence of those being tested." The contract between DSI and Meehan stated that the lab director could be fired for misconduct, and Meehan's behavior fit the bill: "Plaintiff's misconduct involves intentionally obscuring evidence and submitting an incomplete report in a court of law when clear explanation of the test results would have exculpated individuals wrongly charged."

The opinion also quotes at length from Brad Bannon's brutal examination of Meehan at the Dec. 15, 2006 hearing, and includes the following classic Meehan rationalization of his report: "I don't have a legal justification for it or a reason, okay."


In a partial setback to the three falsely accused players, Judge Beaty declined to certify their appeal of one aspect of his March ruling, namely his finding that as the City could not have delegated its policymaking authority to Nifong, the claims against Nifong in his “official capacity” are claims against the State (forbidden by the 11th amendment), not the City, and therefore "the City cannot be liable under § 1983 for 'official capacity' claims against Defendant Nifong or for alleged conduct by Nifong as a 'policymaker.’" In other words, Beaty found in a bit of torturous reasoning, Nifong had no lawful authority to take over personal command of the police investigation, and even though the city allowed him to do so, no legal claims can be filed against the city for its improper behavior.

Yet Beaty's ruling was something of a mixed bag on this point. He noted that: (1) the players would have an opportunity to appeal this aspect of his decision after the trial; (2) civil rights claims against the city continue to go forward on other grounds; and (3) perhaps most importantly, repeating an item from his March ruling, "the City is still responsible for its own policies that result in Constitutional violations by City employees, even if the City employees were acting in coordination with or at the direction of Nifong." In other words: unless the city can establish that its police officers refused to follow Nifong's unconstitutional orders (which, at least in the case of Sgt. Gottlieb, clearly was not the case), Durham is still on the hook.


Beaty's ruling also took note of a lengthy filing by Durham to the 4th Circuit, in which the "defendants have attempted to raise additional issues on appeal, beyond the limited denial of qualified immunity." (In a debatable ruling in June, Beaty delayed discovery for the city defendants while this appeal goes forward.) That filing, as reported in the H-S, featured little more than the city's fantastical interpretation of the case, in which city officials did nothing much wrong and the case was handled pretty well.

Also, in the only-in-Durham world: the head of Durham's Department of Social Services director was fired, in part--according to the H-S--because she did not vigorously contest a judge's decision to award temporary custody of two of false accuser/accused murderer Crystal Mangum's children to their biological father.



PH said...

I'm confused--she was supposed to protest the kids being taken from Crystal, or she was supposed to protest because the Dad appears to be equally unfit?

Anonymous said...


durham's herald sun cut 1/3 news staff

Quasimodo said...

The court's opinion:

"Although the test results exonerate the lacrosse players, subsequent to the State's receipt of the 12 May 2006 Report, three of the 46 lacrosse players ...(collectively “the charged players”), were indicted by the State for first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense, and kidnapping."

"The 12 May 2006 Report prepared by Plaintiff obscured the findings of Plaintiff's analysis——that none of the tested lacrosse players' DNA matched the DNA from the specimens found on their accuser."

How long can Judge Beaty continue to disagree with the State Bar's conclusion of FACTS, the Appeals Court, the NC Attorney General, and just about everyone else--that the lax case was an egregious attempt to frame innocent persons for a crime which never happened, and which grossly violated the civil rights of the plaintiffs
in the civil suits?

How long can he pretend not to be aware of all the FACTS which have been ESTABLISHED through the legal process?

(Maybe it's time for Nifong to have another bankruptcy proceeding?)

skwilli said...

If things continue at this rate, our grandchildren will be the lawyers visiting nursing homes in order to garner more interviews with the principals. I realize that things move a little slower south of Mason and Dixon's Line, but this is ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

I'm honestly curious--what's the over/under on Brodhead still being Duke's President when he is finally forced to submit to his deposition?

Anonymous said...

Golly, gee whiz, I personally would have thought that one of the G88 would just jump right up and offer to provide a home for Mangum's kids......or, at the very least, the 88 would put on some kind of concert...."Crystal-Aid"...to raise money for supporting the children. The silence from the 88 and all their liberal pot-banging pals is deafening, isn't it!!!

Anonymous said...

Is Meehan a Communist?

Jim in the boro said...

A new rape lawsuit against Duke; a study in contrasts:


The Hounds of TASSers'ville said...

More legal filings:


It would appeart that Moneta may get his day in court after all...

We wonder which Dean was the one that "advised" Rouse. Since there may be some bait and switch, our bones are bet on Wasiolek.

Posted by Hound No. 2
The Hounds of TASSers'ville

Anonymous said...

Latest on Crystal: