Monday, May 05, 2014

The Independent: Durham Needs a DA with Passion, Like Nifong & Cline

Tuesday is primary day in North Carolina. The Independent, the Triangle’s alternative weekly, recently made its endorsement for the Democratic primary for DA.

The Independent hosts the columns of Hal Crowther, hailed by author William D. Cohan as “the conscience of progressive thinkers in North Carolina.” That would be the same Crowther who penned a vicious summer 2006 column featuring Peter Wood speaking disparagingly of the accused lacrosse players he had taught in his class. When the mother of one of the players, Reade Seligmann, called up Wood to ask him on what basis he had attacked her son, Wood hung up on her.

(In an intriguing item, Cohan revealed in the WYNC interview that he knew Wood when he was at Duke, explaining the book’s heroic treatment of the discredited lacrosse critic.)

Indy has quite a record on endorsements.

In the 2006 DA’s primary, the Independent urged voters to “look beyond the recent handling of one case” (including the DA’s myriad ethically improper public statements) and vote for Mike Nifong. The paper’s board praised Nifong’s “hardworking and professional manner,” and suggested that “colleagues and legal opponents alike laud his sense of fairness and justice.” (This statement came in the midst of the lacrosse case; Joe Cheshire’s first press conference calling into question Nifong’s sense of fairness and justice had occurred weeks before.) But Nifong was acceptable ideologically, and so he earned the nod.

In the fall campaign, Indy climbed back on board the Nifong bandwagon. Editors fretted at how “Nifong has a target on his back,” and then offered a bizarre recapitulation of events of the year. “Nifong and the Durham Police Department may have mishandled the case,” Indy delicately noted, and—in a Cohanesque interpretation—perhaps Nifong spoke out of turn when he “publicly condemned the defendants before completing his investigation.” But, the editors assured their readers, “the district attorney has made amends.” The nature of those “amends” was a mystery in October 2006 and remains a mystery now.

In the event, even if he was seeking to convict innocent people without any evidence, The Independent concluded that “We're sticking with the endorsement we made for the April primary: Mike Nifong.” After all, “maybe he has a few tricks up his sleeve.” Tricks, perhaps, like withholding exculpatory evidence.

Nifong was removed as district attorney amidst an ethics scandal.

In the 2008 primary, after conceding they were hoodwinked by Nifong, the editors issued a glowing endorsement of Tracey Cline. Identity politics was front and center in the selection; the editorial suggested that Cline, “as a black woman, could be an excellent role model for the young African Americans caught in the system.”

In a remarkable passage for a paper that had enabled Nifong, the editorial whitewashed Cline’s role in the lacrosse case. “She is putting to rest questions,” Indy mused, “that she was involved in Nifong's lacrosse prosecution, a concern among some critics. She told the Independent that police officers came to her asking advice about what paperwork to complete, a search warrant or a non-testimonial order, and when they had completed the paperwork, filed it with then Assistant District Attorney David Saacks, who signed it. ‘I didn't sign anything,’ Cline said. ‘All I did was advise them, which I should do on every single case. Under the same situation, any district attorney would do the same thing. The statute requires you to do that.’”

Of course, the questions extended beyond her giving an “advice” for a NTO that covered some people the police had no cause to believe even were in Durham the night of the party. The questions involved what role Cline—second chair to Nifong in the trial that William D. Cohan desperately wished had occurred—played in assisting Nifong during 2006. Cline’s Wonderland-like implication that she had never talked about the case with Nifong fooled no one—except, it seems, the Indy editors.

Cline was removed as district attorney amidst an ethics scandal.

So who has the paper endorsed in the first post-Cline election? In an editorial that didn’t mention Indy’s endorsements in either 2006 or 2008, the paper endorsed a “veteran defense attorney” named Brian Aus. What accounted for the choice? “He seems to have more passion than his opponents.”

And, by the way? According to the editors, “passion is the very quality that sunk Nifong and Cline.”

It’s good to see that for the Independent, reconsidering long-held criteria in face of contradictory evidence isn’t a useful task.


Charles Rector said...

Hal Crowther is far more of a man than you are, Prof. Johnson.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid I had a drunken uncle who made comments like that. I think he got hit in the head in

Anonymous said...


So much for the issues.

Anonymous said...

@ Charles Rector 2:23 AM

Put down the Controller and step away from the Nintendo.

You're wasting much to much time with video games.
[Clicking on your name reveals this]

Charlie, your ad hominem attacks are feeble and lack wit. Pathetic.

Did someone appoint you official 'Male Measurer' ? Are you one quarter the man that Crowther is ?

Anonymous said...

T r o l l . . A l e r t

Charles Rector has been a busy troll today.

1. He posted the 2:23 am attack, above.

2. He posted a 1 star Amazon review of "Until Proven Innocent" :
Bad Book about a Controversial Case
Until Proven Innocent is a travesty of a book. It is a prime example of a quickie book that is written with complete disregard of well known facts about this particular case.. There are other, better, books by such authors as Don Yaeger & William D. Cohan about this case that you should read instead

3. He posted a 5 star Amazon review:
The Single Best Book about the Case.
William D. Cohan has created a masterpiece of both investigative reporting & history. Of the 7 book [sic] thus far published about the case, it is the best one yet. As such it is heartily recommended.
- - - - - -

Is this really Cohan's alter ego, a paid troll, a sycophant, or a member of a mean spirited cabal ?

guiowen said...

Alternatively, he could just be someone disappointed with the outcome (in 2007) of the case. Such people are quite happy with Cohan's book.

RighteousThug said...

First Nifong, then Cline, now a "DA [candidate] that embodies [Durham's] up-tempo zeal".

It's really difficult to take the Indy's endorsements seriously.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about "Charles Rector", but I have seen a lot of pictures of Cohan, as well as KC. To paraphrase the immortal words of Will Smith in "Men in Black", KC is half the man Cohan is...

Anonymous said...

Charles Rector,

Your comment here and your Amazon review of Cohan's book are both ridiculous. Go home and inform yourself with the wealth of material about this case in the public domain, then try again.

Anonymous said...

"charles rector" read his posts they are a prime example of a truly hateful human being.

William L. Anderson said...

At least we know where North Carolina "Progressives" stand when it comes to prosecutorial misconduct: they support it unconditionally.

Since Progressives control most of the governing apparati in this country, as well as the "commanding heights" of education and the media, should we be surprised that police and prosecutorial misconduct are not considered important by our so-called leaders?

John Thacker said...

Brian Aus was endorsed by Durham's country club conservative political action committee, the Friends of Durham, but not the liberal groups, who endorsed a long time loyal Nifong and Cline assistant. Unusual for the Independent to agree with the Friends, but I think that the DA office could use a defense attorney for once.

Anonymous said...

I went to a Barnes and Noble store Monday. There were SEVEN copies of Cohan's book in the Sports section.

Trial Junkie

Anonymous said...

Is Charles Rector a Communist?