Friday, April 27, 2012

Did Sgt. Smith Forget His Memory Pills?

The Liestoppers forum has posted the deposition transcript of Duke police first sergeant Gary Smith. Smith’s name would be known to people who followed the case very closely as the Duke employee who, in violation of FERPA, handed over the lacrosse players’ keycard information to the DPD—and then, at least according to the implied Duke version of events, initially didn’t tell anyone what he did.

Perhaps Sgt. Smith needed to take a few of Grandma’s pills before being deposed. Over the course of the session, he claimed that he could not recall:
  1. ·         Whether he had ever worked with Mark Gottlieb before the lacrosse case;
  2. ·         From whom he “heard rumors” that Gottlieb was biased against Duke students;
  3. ·         The contents of former Duke PD office Christopher Day’s report, from which Smith claimed to have initially learned about the lacrosse case;
  4. ·         Whether Officer Day considered Crystal Mangum’s allegations credible;
  5. ·         Whether Officer Day changed his initial accurate report (as he did, seemingly under pressure from higher-ups at Duke);
  6. ·         Whether the case was initially a subject of conversation in the Duke PD;
  7. ·         Whether there was, in fact, any conversation about the case in the Duke PD in the early days;
  8. ·         Whether he had ever supplied e-mails to the DPD;
  9. ·         Whether or not he supplied prior reports about the lacrosse players to the DPD;
  10. ·         Whether Gottlieb requested from him the names and contact information of the lacrosse players, or whether he supplied this information on his own initiative;
  11. ·         What role DPD captain Phyllis Cooper had in his being appointed the “sort of” (his words) lead investigator on the case (on that matter, he deemed his memory “wishy-washy”);
  12. ·         How many investigators were employed in the Duke PD at the time of the lacrosse case;
  13. ·         Whether he had any conversations with Capt. Cooper about the case;
  14. ·         Whether or not Duke had previously declined to exercise jurisdiction over alleged crimes in rental properties the university owned;
  15. ·         How he described, to his Duke superiors, the information he supplied to Sgt. Gottlieb;
  16. ·         What type of assistance he gave to Gottlieb later in March, which Gottlieb had commented on in his typed “notes” (on this point, Sgt. Smith claimed that too much time had passed for him to remember what he did with Gottlieb on what was doubtless the biggest criminal case of his career);
  17. ·         Whether DPD officers entered into the “private residence” of Duke students in Sgt. Gottlieb’s nighttime excursion into the Duke dorms, when Gottlieb was trolling for information outside the presence of the students’ counsel;
  18. ·         Whether he gave to the DPD two additional reports about the lacrosse players, as the Gottlieb notes claimed;
  19. ·         Whether he ever had a conversation with Gottlieb about what Crystal Mangum told the DPD;
  20. ·         Whether or not he had ever supplied the DPD with students’ FERPA-protected keycard information on any case other than the lacrosse case;
  21. ·         What basis he used to select the students whose FERPA-protected keycard information he voluntarily turned over to the DPD;
  22. ·         Whether he turned over Devon Sherwood’s FERPA-protected keycard information to the DPD;
  23. ·         Whether he counted how many names were on the lacrosse roster;
  24. ·         The nature of his conversations with his DukePD superiors over whether FERPA applied to the keycard information;
  25. ·         When he spoke to his DukePD superiors about whether keycard information was FERPA-protected (he said it was simply too long ago for him to remember this critical conversation);
  26. ·         Whether he referenced the lacrosse case in his conversation with DukePD superiors about whether keycard information was FERPA-protected;
  27. ·         Whether in a late-March conversation with his DukePD superiors he admitted that he had turned over the keycard information;
  28. ·         Whether he asked his DukePD associate, Sgt. Stotsenberg, not to reveal to anyone else that Smith had turned over the keycard information (Smith had already confessed his violation to Stotsenberg, who initially was the only DukePD officer to know of the keycard turn-over);
  29. ·         Whether he had ever discussed with Stotsenberg the possibility of a deposition in the lacrosse case civil suits;
  30. ·         Whether any such conversations referenced the keycard information.

Sgt. Smith also claimed not to have known at the time of the allegations that:
  1. The three captains voluntarily gave police statements;
  2.  The three captains offered to take polygraph tests;
  3. Duke owned the house that the three captains rented;
  4. What Gottlieb was thinking when Sgt. Smith informed Gottlieb that the keycard information was likely FERPA-protected;
  5. In 2007, his superiors were discussing whether he should be disciplined for turning over the FERPA-protected keycard information.

When he occasionally shook free of his memory-induced haze, Smith did make a few damaging admissions.
  1. He admitted that he wouldn’t give the DPD social security numbers of Duke students, because that’s “private” information. (Why the FERPA-protected keycard info didn’t also apply under this standard Smith did not say.)
  2.  In a question about his assisting Gottlieb during his nighttime excursion into the lacrosse players’ dorms, he suggested that he saw no problem, as a DPD officer, in helping the DPD ferret out Duke students for questioning even though he knew these students were represented by counsel. Then, however, under effective questioning, Smith admitted it would not have been “proper” for Gottlieb to have entered the students’ dorm rooms as part of his interrogation project.
  3. Smith admitted that the Duke PD didn’t follow its own procedure regarding the Gottlieb nighttime excursion; those procedures require that “all requests for interviews of students by the Durham police will be coordinated with [DukePD] Director Dean.” He offered no explanation as to why procedures weren’t followed.
  4.  He admitted that he had volunteered to supply Gottlieb with the FERPA-protected keycard information.
  5. He admitted that he made a conscious decision not to tell his DukePD superiors that he had turned over the FERPA-protected keycard information—because, he admitted, he was afraid he might get in trouble.
  6. In his e-mail to Gottlieb suggesting that he get a subpoena for the improperly turned-over keycard record, he admitted that he blind-cc’d Duke PD director Dean, which he didn’t regularly do—suggesting that the DukePD leadership was involved in the after-the-fact scheme to concoct a legal rationale to turn over the keycard information. (He said he didn’t remember who told him to blind-cc Dean.)
  7. As to whether he had an obligation to inform the Duke students whose rights he had violated about what he did, “It never occurred to me.”
  8. He had—and as of December 2011, still has—“no opinion” about the “integrity” of the Nifong-Gottlieb investigation. Wow.
  9. The “courts” found that the falsely accused players “weren’t guilty, and that is sufficient for me.” In fact, of course, the Attorney General exonerated the players, and deemed them innocent, not simply not guilty.

Nothing in the Smith deposition should give any confidence in the integrity of the DukePD.


skwilli said...

"Nothing in the Smith deposition should give any confidence in the integrity of the DukePD."

Nothing in the Smith deposition should give any confidence in the integrity of Duke University.

FIFY (fixed it for you.)

Anonymous said...

Is Smith a Communist?

Jim In San Diego said...

There is a truth, which is not cynical, because it is true: police sometimes lie.

They lie because they believe the greater good is to convict a criminal who otherwise might escape conviction; they lie to protect other policemen, including their superior; they lie to protect themselves from retribution within the police department.

But, they lie. Many times, judges pretend to believe lying policemen.

This is the experience of anyone who has ever spent a significant amount of time at court trials of all kinds.

Jurors need to have this understanding as part of their ordinary experience as they weigh the credibility of police testimony, in any case, at anytime.

Just because a policemen shows up to testify in uniform, with badge on chest, does not necessarily mean what you are hearing is the truth.

Jim Peterson

f1guyus said...

Now you know why Duke and Durham did all that legal maneuvering to delay discovery. If Sgt Smiths testimony had been taken right after the suit was filed he'd have a hell of a time "Not Remembering"

Anonymous said...

Just, Wow! This gives Sergeant Schultz a bad name.

Duke Prof

William L. Anderson said...


You used the very words I was going to write. The lack of integrity of people at that university is stunning, just stunning.

A faculty member at Duke told me that in the lacrosse case, at every turn, the administration always acted in a slimy way. As far as I am concerned, they need to empty the Allen Building and leave it to the roaches, the spiders, and the four-legged rats. At present, the rats in Allen are two-legged.

Bumper said...

Apparently Smith thinks that he will be charged with a crime, and is laying the groundwork for using a Dunning-Kruger defense.

Somewhere a village is missing its idiot. Call DukePD to make arrangements to pick him up.

Anonymous said...

If I had had anything to do with the Duke Lacrosse case, I'd want to forget it all.

Greg Toombs said...

Duke & Durham: a police state in situ.

Nine-El said...

My dad told me .... Early in life..probably as a teenager...before Dunning-Kruger...that he would like to buy me for what I am worth and sell me for what I think I am worth. He was both smart and wise. Doubt if the sentiment expressed originated with him. I've expressed it to my children and grandchildren.

Sgt Smith made some ill-advised decisions early on. Having a solid ethical framework serves one well, regardless of one's calling.

Anonymous said...

One can be charged with perjury for "not recalling" any event of significance if it is clear that the purpose is obstruction and evasion. EIther SMith is taking medication affecting his ability to recall events, or his memory is so bad that he suffers from a debilitating mental illness. Or he is just lying. Likely, he is just lying.

Every now and then, one runs across a witness who thinks he or she is outsmarting everyone by simply claiming an inability recall events. It never works.

-- Haunches

sceptical said...

The deposition reveals that the Duke Police Department considered disciplinary action against Sgt. Smith for his activities, including improperly turning over the FERPA-protected key card data to Sgt. Mark Gottlieb.

Could there have been a quid pro quo explaining Smith's "memory loss" and the destruction of some of his notes? Smith has already admitted turning over the key card data. Why is he protecting his superiors by conveniently not remembering when he told them that Gottlieb already had the data?

Anonymous said...

When asked to identify himself for the record, did Sgt Smith have to check his drivers license?

Kevin M-R

Anonymous said...

This supports a belief I have held for many years:

In the minds of the police, the entire population can be placed into one of only two categories - bad guys, and other cops.

Anonymous said...

I have confidence in the integrity of the Duke PD to write very effective parking tickets at Duke.

Anonymous said...

This is obstruction of justice, pure and simple. A few weeks downtown in the can is a better memory enhancer than any pill...

Anonymous said...

Ah, the first step into the rat hole and already droppings everywhere! MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

I can only assume that the attorneys are setting up perjury traps for Smith (and likely) others.

Anonymous said...

Shame and more shame, heaped on these people. Duke will not recover any semblance of integrity untill all those involved in this slimy fiasco are gone.
Houston Baker, the infamous foul mouthed one, referred to the LAX guys as farm animals. The way it looks to me, I'd rather be a cow than a snake.....the 88, the Allen building, the BOD.....reptiles, all.

Anonymous said...

Supreme Court takes Sgt. Gottlieb's grand jury testimony taken off the table.

Held: A witness in a grand jury proceeding is entitled to the same absolute immunity from suit under §1983 as a witness who testifies at trial.

No. 10–788. Argued November 1, 2011—Decided April 2, 2012

Anonymous said...

WRAL is running a story that Shella has quit as Mangum's attorney....probably got fed up with her antics and the infamous Dr. Harr......who inappropriately and, some would say, illegally posted PHI all over his web site. Hooray for, pal.
Who is sister gonna get for an attorney? Cline

Anonymous said...

How rare it is for miscreants like Nifong, Brodhead and the 88 to have their feet held to the fire this long.

Officials go on "administrative leave", the news dies down, and no one remembers the people that screwed things up. No one is there to keep the record straight.

I can only imagine -and savor-the deep annoyance of Duke, Broadhead, the 88 and Nifong that their deeds are not "yesterday's news."

This blog is so great. My thanks.

Anonymous said...

Below is a very good article with references to Nifong and the Duke Lacrosse case.
-The Supreme Court Again Upholds Your Right to Be Framed-

"A prosecutor ... may receive absolute immunity from suit for acts violating the Constitution in order to advance important societal values." -Elena Kagan, Solicitor General, 2009

“…Consider the example from Durham in 2006. There, District Attorney Nifong had no case against three of Duke's lacrosse players who had been falsely accused of rape. But he obtained a grand jury indictment after officers lied to the jurors (who heard 80 other cases that same day, and returned true bills of indictment for all of them).
All Nifong needed thereafter was intimidation, not a trial……”

Read morre:

(or) Article at


Greg Toombs said...

Every now and then, one runs across a witness who thinks he or she is outsmarting everyone by simply claiming an inability recall events. It never works.

-- Haunches

I recall it worked out pretty well for Hilary Clinton.

Anonymous said...

Is Duke a state school?

Anonymous said...

"Is Duke a state school?"

Duke is a private, tax-exempt charitable trust--meaning, that should its handling of its funds become questioned, the Attorney General should intervene (as with any public charity) to
determine if the trustees are abusing
their authority and misusing those funds.

(As, for example, using millions to pay for what in effect may be their own personal legal defense, in the guise of defending the school).