Sunday, August 06, 2006

Duke lacrosse: A "first take" on Joe Neff 's N&O story

In today’s Raleigh News & Observer, reporter Joe Neff provides a lengthy, well-organized story, “Duke lacrosse files show gaps in DA’s case,” that’s a “must read” account of: 1) some of the many stories the accuser told; 2) the actions of some, but by no means all, Durham police officers who violated procedures and undoubtedly their oaths in order to “produce” evidence and cooperate in a frame-up; and 3) DA Mike Nifong’s “Stop at Nothing” campaign to secure indictments of any three lacrosse players by any means, legal or otherwise.

In a few days I’ll say something more organized about Neff’s story, but for now a few “first-take” thoughts:

While a lot of Neff’s story will be “news” to N&O readers, most, if not all, of it is familiar stuff to people who read blogs such as KC Johnson, La Shawn Barber, Johnsville News, Betsy Newmark, Friends of Duke University, and Renew America. But it’s important to have this kind of story out before a larger segment of the public.

Many readers will say something about “finally having the story.” No, we don’t. There is much more to come. Almost all of it will help the players and hurt Nifong and those in the police force, media, the community, and Duke University who enabled him and, in some cases, continue doing so.

Example: Neff makes only a passing reference to Nifong’s refusal to meet with defense attorneys in order to view and discuss exculpatory evidence. If you’re shocked now by what you’ve learned about Nifong, wait until you read the letters attorneys wrote him offering to meet and present exculpatory evidence.

For anyone who still hasn’t connected the dots, Neff makes it real easy to go from (1) the accuser’s “difficulty” describing her “gang-rapists;” to (2) Nifong and the police’s need to fish for DNA from all 46 lacrosse players when they were saying only 3 committed the rapes; to (3) their need to keep trying again and again for some kind of visual ID; to (4) Nifong and the police’s finally concluding that they would have to violate their own ID procedures; to (5) Nifong and the police setting up an ID procedure in which, in the words of Duke Law Professor James Coleman: “Any three students would do; there could be no wrong choice.”

If anyone can go from 1 to 5 and then not be able to read “FRAME UP,” I’m betting that person is a member of Duke’s faculty Group of 88 or just like “the 88.”

Neff’s story will make it much harder for the “we’re only getting fragments from the defense attorneys” choir to sing its song. What’s most damning in Neff’s story comes from police records, Nifong’s statements and the many and varied accuser and “second dancer” accounts of the events of the night of Mar. 13/14.

Neff doesn’t quote a single defense attorney in his more than 3,700 word story.

The story will help build public pressure for the replacement of Nifong ASAP and at least a review of the indictments by an ethical prosecutor; although I think most of the public will soon come to feel the indictments should be thrown out entirely.

I doubt many North Carolinians, regardless of race, will finish the story and seriously ask themselves: “Why isn’t the state ACLU speaking up about this?” or “How can the NAACP stay silent in the face of injustices like this?”

That most people don’t expect either organization to be part of an important fight to undue police and prosecutorial injustice suggests the irrelevancy of both organizations to the achievement of the lofty goals they constantly proclaim.

However, many people finishing the story will be asking questions about Duke: “How come more professors at Duke’s Law School aren’t speaking out about this stuff? They’ve got to know it’s wrong.” and “Why doesn’t Brodhead do something for these kids indicted? He made that apology to the other dancer. Why not speak up for his students?”

One reason I’m sure N&O readers will ask such questions is that I get asked questions like that everyday here in Durham by people who know I’m a Duke alum.

A PLEA TO PRESIDENT BRODHEAD AND THE FACULTY: Don’t let Duke slide the way the ACLU and NAACP have. Speak up for justice. In the face of obvious investigative and legal travesties you no more need to “wait for the trial” now than you did during the 60s when students were unfairly arrested and charged.

Join with the growing numbers of people who are demanding Nifong’s replacement with an ethical prosecutor and the review of indictments that are products of travesties.

“I really want to wait for the trial” is a shriveling fig leaf as Neff’s story today makes clear.


Sundayjack said...

I almost couldn't believe my eyes this morning. Four-plus months of demonizing too late; but still refreshing to see. It would now be nice to see N&O follow by leading the charge for a special prosecutor.

I thought Neff's description of the photo id procedures was particularly telling, and only confirmed my thoughts about how that's the battleground for pre-trial dismissal.

Anonymous said...

I am a rape survivor. I can't see why one city has so many corrupt people in higher office. It's to late for Nifong to go to the Attorney General and ask for help. My Thoughts NIFONG DROP THE CASE BEFORE YOU LOOK LIKE THE D.A. IN N.Y. 10+ YEARS AGO. I forget her name bur her initials are T.B., and Jessi Jackson go home and close your checkbook. Your making all Real rape victim's look like liars.

Anonymous said...

I think you should include LieStoppers in your list of blogs. They are relatively new, but they appear to be right on top of things. Their latest post on Neff's article is excellent.

straightarrow said...

If I may John, I will post an amalgam of three separate comments made by me way back on April 09, 2006. There are other comments as accurate throughout the history of this travesty, but I have permission from the author to use mine.:)

The below amalgam is in response to your item and other comments, so they might appear a little disjointed, however I think they will show that this fraud Nifong is committing never had the appearance of legs of legitimacy upon which to travel to trial.

This was obvious early on. Only those seeking to profit from racial unrest were interested in pushing this. Which is a subject for another post sometime. Herewith the amalgam of comments:

"The truth about DNA testing is that it has freed more accused AND convicted than it has manage to convict.

It has long been touted as the definitive answer to identities of subjects.

The lacrosse team is available to be DNA tested, the evidence has been sent to a lab for testing. If they find no match, but had evidence to test and access to the suspects, that means they have the wrong suspects.

That as they say is elementary, dear Watson.

Sounds to me like the prosecutor is alerting the alleged victim that he doesn't believe in the strength of the case and forewarning her that she may have to testify falsely against the accused if they both are to reap the benefits.

They obviously had evidence or they couldn't have sent it to the lab. I would think that seeking a conviction against suspects the evidence might clear would be a crime in and of itself. His warning to the alleged victim would appear to be conspiracy to commit a crime. Conspiracies can happen in public if disguised as something else.

We don't know that the evidence will exonerate the suspects. It may well incriminate them. But surely conspiracy to commit a crime if it does not, is a crime of its own.

I think a lot more questions should be asked of a prosecutor that says he could pursue a conviction against the evidence.
yep, AC, hence my comment about a conspiracy to commit a crime so that both accuser and prosecutor can enjoy the benefits.

Also, explains my comment in another thread reminiscent of Tawana Brawley.

We'll know more when all the evidence is made available. Which is why it strikes me as amiss that plans are already being laid for proceeding if the evidence is exculpatory. Something stinks here.
Do not get me wrong. If the evidence indicates guilt on the part of the accused, if they are ever identified,they should be punished mightily.

However, so should this prosecutor. He is not relieved of responsibility for an immoral and illegal plot to "pursue charges" if the evidence clears them.

So even though it is still possible that the evidence will indict the accused, that possible fact only constitutes good fortune for the prosecutor and in no way diminishes his guilt for planning to commit both an immoral wrong and a legal trespass and the abuse of power of his office."

Michael Gaynor said...

Mr. Nifong has nothing. The Duke Three are innocent. Their accuser and prosecutor/persecutor are not.

Mr. Neff's article in The News & Observer is a sign that the worst is over for the Duke Three and the time is coming from their accuser and Mr. Nifong to experience agony.

The North Carolina Democrat establishment has to cut its losses. Mr. Nifong, don't expect continued protection from the big bosses. The abomination gag order was your last gift. In the future, it will be short shrift. You can't justify what you did, so, of you, they must be rid. To Durham's Diabolical Duo (yes, Crystal and Mike, that means the two of you!), the day of reckoning will come by Fall. The most you can hope to do is stall. At the Duke Three, you shamelessly took your shot. Succeed, it did not.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michael Gaynor. Some evidence to "indict the accused" is not going to magically appear out of thin air.

J said...

Very good write up about the article John.

The author alludes to a 'civil conspiracy"

He also shows the case to have the line-ups, DNA tests and possible all evidence siezed in the warrants thrown out. He also really ( but softly) puts Nifong on the hotseat.

This is a good chance for the N&O to redeem itself.

Theres more to come.



Anonymous said...

How the mighty to fall when hypocracy is exposed:

The North Carolina Democratic Party - it has been a one party state long enough. (with Jessie Helms out of the picture, reasonable people will register as Republicans)
Duke Univerisity leadership - I cry to say that and pray that a new voice arises to represent the school.

Great article, and it is never too late as long as the indictments stand.

Anonymous said...


I posted a follow up on Stevenson on your August 02 posting entitled "Duke lacrosse: I ask reporter & editor, "Was that a fake story?"

The post is at 10:13 August 06, 2006.

JVJ said...

“I really want to wait for the trial”

Having recently gone through a civil trial where the verdict went completely against the evidence and the truth, I know first hand how unpredictable a jury can be. To face a jury against a DA as unethical and corrupt as Nifong appears to be would scare me to death, even if I’d had dinner with the jury during the time of the alleged attack. For the people still saying that this needs to run its course through a trial, they do not realize how tenuous that can be for innocent defendants, especially with a DA that is politically motivated. The people of Durham need to step up in November and make sure that Nifong will never have the chance to further this injustice.

USMC Pilot said...

There will be no justice here, even if the case is dismissed. The coach has still lost his job, the young mens lives have been seriously damaged, the parents have been hit with some very healthy legal fees, the false accuser will drift away, and the asshole in the pin stripped suite will get re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Great article. I hope you continue
to pursue the injustice that has
been done here. I have no
connection to Duke or lacrosse, but
have followed this case from day one. Ironically, Mr. Nifong has
done an equal injustice to the Afro-American community in Durham.
They are being insulted by his
support of a woman who insults
the intelligence and integrity
of those who do not need his
disingenuous efforts which are
only for himself in the end.
The young men who have been so
falsely accused should join forces
with their upstanding citizens in
the Afro-American community against
the attack that they have both
suffered by this pathetic looser-
Mike Nifong. Our society is so
much better than falling to the
level of his ignorance.Keep up the
good work - I hope your writing
receives many accolades. Good investigative journalism is such
a dying art. Bravo!!

Anonymous said...

Good article John. Keep up the good work.