Thursday, October 19, 2006

On Coleman: Chronicle 2 - N&O 0

For many 60 Minutes’ viewers, the most riveting and shocking portions of last Sunday's Duke Hoax episode were those during which Professor James Coleman explained how Durham DA Mike Nifong and Durham Police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb violated the Durham Police Department’s own line-up ID procedures and how Ninfong pandered to "the community."

From 60’s transcript:

[Ed Bradley speaking first]: [Coleman] says this line-up broke one basic principle: there were no “filler” photos, no pictures of people not connected to the case.

The accuser only saw photos of lacrosse players who police told her were at the party.

"If she’s told all of these people who were considered suspects were at the party, so you pick three and we’ll indict those three," Coleman says.

"So she can’t make a mistake," Bradley remarks.

"Can’t make a mistake," Coleman replies.

Professor Coleman says the line-up ordered by the D.A. for the Duke lacrosse case violated local, state and federal guidelines.
Most sensible American's watching and listening to Coleman realized he was describing the frame-up of three Duke students by a DA pandering "to the community."

I thought readers whould be interested to learn how Duke's student newspaper, The Chronicle, reported the Coleman portions of the episode, especially if I compared The Chronicle's reporting with that of the area's major newspaper, The Raleigh News & Observer, whose Duke Hoax coverage one veteren journalist says "violated every bedrock principle of ethical journalism."

I compared two news stories Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published the day following the episode (Oct. 16) to the Raleigh News & Observer's 60 Minutes news story reported the same day.

As a "fair and accurate measure" of how the papers did, I compared their reporting to the Coleman portions of CBS 60’s transcript which you’ll find at the end of this post along with a link to the full transcript.

How did the two newspapers do?

Neither of them reported most of what Coleman said.

But those portions of what he said which the Chronicle reported were accurate. What the N&O reported was not accurate as this post, "The N&O's false report on Coleman," reveals.

One Chronicle story noted the photo ID ordered by Nifong “violated local, state and federal guidelines.” The other Chronicle story reported Coleman said Nifong “pandered to the community.” So between the two stories the Chronicle got some of each of Coleman's principal points.

The N&O, which still editorially supports Nifong, told readers nothing about the ID violations or Nifong’s pandering.

I scored it:
CHRONICLE 2 – N&O 0
If you'd like to do your own scoring, there follows in 1,2, 3 and 4 order the portions of the three news stories reporting on Coleman, and then the Coleman portions of 60’s transcript.

From The Chronicle’s “Campus Tunes In To 60 Minutes:”
Bradley also interviewed Duke law professor James Coleman, who decried the line-up used to bring charges against the three players.

Coleman, who chaired a University committee last Spring that investigated the lacrosse program, has been involved in establishing the North Carolina standards for line-up procedures.

"[Nifong] pandered to the community by saying, 'I'm going to go out there and defend your interests in seeing that these hooligans who committed the crimes are going to be prosecuted,'" he said. "I think in this case, it appears that this prosecutor has set out to develop whatever evidence he could to convict people he already concluded were guilty."

From The Chronicle’s second Oct. 16 news story, “Lacrosse team, Duke respond as indicted players tell story on national TV:”
Duke law professor James Coleman told Bradley that Nifong had committed prosecutorial misconduct.

"This prosecutor has set out to develop whatever evidence he could to convict people he already decided were guilty," Coleman explained.

From the Raleigh N&O’s Oct. 16 story, “Suspects, dancer contradict accuser:”
During the segment, James Coleman, a Duke University law professor, said he thought Nifong had committed prosecutorial misconduct by speaking out before charges were filed.

"If this case resulted in a conviction, I think there would be a basis to have the conviction thrown out based on misconduct," Coleman said.
From CBS 60 Minutes’ transcript of Sunday night’s Duke lacrosse episode:

[Ed Bradley speaking:] 60 Minutes asked James Coleman, a prominent law professor at Duke University Law School who helped establish guidelines in North Carolina designed to protect against false identifications in police line-ups.

He says this line-up broke one basic principle: there were no “filler” photos, no pictures of people not connected to the case. The accuser only saw photos of lacrosse players who police told her were at the party.

"If she’s told all of these people who were considered suspects were at the party, so you pick three and we’ll indict those three," Coleman says.

"So she can’t make a mistake," Bradley remarks.

"Can’t make a mistake," Coleman replies.

Professor Coleman says the line-up ordered by the D.A. for the Duke lacrosse case violated local, state and federal guidelines. The D.A. has been quoted as saying that will be up to a judge to decide.

Asked why a district attorney would order a line-up that breaks virtually every rule in the book, Coleman says, "Well that's a good question for the D.A. But I assume that, you know after his initial performance, in this case, he needed to indict at least three players. And charge them with what he said was a rape that had occurred." […]

Brodhead formed a commission to investigate the behavior of the lacrosse team over the past five years, and he appointed Professor James Coleman to head it.

Coleman found that while many of the players drank alcohol excessively, they had no history of violent or racist behavior. Professor Coleman believes that the three indicted players are victims in this case – victims of an overzealous prosecutor who pandered to the black community in the middle of an election campaign.

"I think that he pandered to the community by saying 'I'm gonna go out there and defend your interests in seeing that these hooligans who committed the crime are prosecuted. I'm not gonna let their fathers, with all of their money, buy you know big-time lawyers and get them off. I'm doing this for you.' You know, what are you to conclude about a prosecutor who says to you, 'I'll do whatever it takes to get this set of defendants?' What does it say about what he's willing to do to get poor black defendants," Coleman asks.

Asked if he thinks the D.A. committed prosecutorial misconduct, Coleman says, "Yes, I mean I think that’s the whole point. And if this case resulted in a conviction, I think there would be a basis to have the conviction overturned based on his conduct. I think in this case, it appears that this prosecutor has set out to develop whatever evidence he could to convict people he already concluded were guilty." […]

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