Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Responding to Readers’ Comments – 6-28-06

(Readers’ Note: Comments at JinC are growing. Some raise issues I should post on but can’t because of lack of time. So I’m going to post brief responses here to part or all of reader comments that I might otherwise post on. I'm going to try this for a week or so and see how it works.

Reader comments are indented. My responses follow. JinC)

Regarding newspaper reporting errors and bias, a reader asks:

Doesn't the reader have some responsibility? They paid for the information and willingly read it.
If you and I sue the N&O for libel, and we win damages, are you saying we should pay ourselves?
Presumably the reader understands that everything that appears in a newspaper -- including dozens of advertisements -- isn't the gospel truth.
Very true, but what does that have to do with the Raleigh N&O or any other newspaper’s responsibility to make a genuine effort to tell us the truth?
If no charges have been filed and no guilty verdict reached, a reasonable person can assume anyone called a "victim" in a newspaper is technically an alleged victim.
Why would a reasonable person assume that? If I falsely accuse you of mugging me, should “reasonable” people assume I’m an “alleged victim?”

What would be next? Me on Oprah weeping and telling the audience that “I discuss in the book, Oprah, my shock and hurt when I first learned defense attorneys were questioning my credibility?”

Calling the accuser "the victim," or even "the alleged victim," isn't fair to the accused no matter how many times the McClatchy Company's Raleigh N&O does it, or tells you it's Ok and they're proud of their Duke lacrosse "reporting."

Moving on.

Here, folks, is a reader asking a question that a lot of people in Durham and elsewhere are asking:
Are the city of Durham, the Durham police department, the city manager, the police investigators, the Raleigh newspaper, et al possibly headed for civil and libel action?
Reader, your question involves so many individuals and organizations that it’s impossible to provide a categorical answer.

But, read on.

Regarding the City of Durham and Durham police, take a look my post, Talking with Regulars – 6-26-06. Scan to the part where I report on what attorney Alex Charns, representing one of the unindicted Duke lacrosse players, has written Durham City Manager Patrick Baker and Police Chief Steve Chalmers concerning the CrimeStoppers posters/flyers. Charns explicitly raised with Baker and Chalmers the matter of libel relating to certain actions by certain Durham police.

For those not familiar with Charns, he’s one of North Carolina’s most respected attorneys litigating in the area of police malfeasance. He’s won a number of large judgments and settled a number of claims against the City of Durham and its Police Department.

If you don’t believe that, ask City Manager Baker now or Police Chief Chalmers as soon as someone finds him.

Chief Chalmers hasn’t been seen in public for months, although we’re told he’s following the Duke lacrosse case just as closely as the rest of us.

No kidding. Our police chief (Full disclosure: I’m a Durham resident.) really hasn’t been seen in public in months but, Durham being Durham, who’s concerned or surprised?

Not the City Council, that’s for sure. Maybe the council members know Chalmers will be back from Argentina any day now, bringing with him Amelia Earhart and Glenn Miller.

But how does that help the rest of us here in Durham, most especially the players and their families?

I should continue responding but this is getting long, so I’ll end now and pick up in a day or two where I’m leaving off.



Anonymous said...

Re; Alex Charns
I would like to know more about the judgments/settlements against the Durham PD. Is this information publicly available?

Anonymous said...

Once again, John in Carolina sets the pace on Duke lacrosse coverage and commentary. Many interested readers have been disappointed in the "news coverage" provided by North Carolina newspapers. We're particularly interested in:
1. Is there any legal way to deal with an out-of-control prosecutor? And what about the role of Judge Stephens?
2. What about the damage to all Duke lacrosse players, including those in the poster who haven't been indicted?
3. What's the real story on the Durham police chief?
4. How exactly did Nifong originally get appointed to his position?
5. What about the lead investigator? Was Niman his name? What's his background? Are any private investigators looking into this?

Anonymous said...

On second thought, his name was Himan, not Niman.