North Carolina’s Attorney General, Roy Cooper, is almost surely about to announce the dismissal of frame-up charges Durham DA Mike Nifong, with help from certain Durham Police officers and enablement by most media, and many at Duke and in Durham, brought against three innocent young men - Collin Finnerty, David Evans and Reade Seligman.
Cooper’s dismissal will be justice delayed but at least some measure of justice after a year-long witch hunt and monumental injustices which began for the public on March 24, 2006 when the Raleigh News & Observer “broke” what it called “the Duke lacrosse rape case” with a story in which it seven times told the rest of media and readers the woman making the accusations Cooper will dismiss was “the victim.”
Later today the airwaves will be filled with “experts” explaining why Cooper did what he did. Tonight’s evening news, later the cable “shout shows,” and tomorrow’s newspapers will also explain why Cooper got involved and did what he did.
As you watch and listen to what all the experts will be telling you, keep a short checklist handy. It only need two words – surnames really – on it.
If “your expert” doesn’t mention at least one of the two on your list, click to another channel, get another newspaper or better yet, “follow the blogs.”
The two names that need to be on your list: Coleman and Johnson.
Ten months ago in June, 2006 the N&O published Duke law professor James A Coleman’s letter which began:
Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong should ask the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor for the rape case against three Duke lacrosse players and then remove himself and his office from further involvement.In that same June, 2006 Brooklyn College history professor Robert KC Johnson, who blogs at Durham-in-Wonderland, published a post, “Roy Cooper’s Silence.” Johnson said in part:
This is the only way to restore some degree of public confidence in the handling of the case. Up to now, virtually everything that Nifong has done has undermined public confidence in the case. …
Whatever the truth is, Nifong can no longer personally restore public confidence in the prosecution of this case.
Someone with professional detachment and unquestioned integrity must review the case and determine whether the evidence against the three students warrants further prosecution. That would serve the best interest of the alleged victim, the three defendants and public.
The [North Carolina] attorney general’s office includes one section, the special prosecutions division, which can handle prosecution of local cases.Ten months ago Coleman and Johnson led the way.
Cooper’s public information officer told me that the office doesn’t keep track of how many cases the special prosecutions division has handled; she gave a similar reply to a News and Observer reporter two years ago. A Lexis/Nexis search indicates that the division has tried at least a few cases since 2000. Moreover, the protocols for the attorney general acting (which aren’t available on-line) seem to have been written with this case in mind.Indeed, under the protocols, there are at least four grounds for the special prosecutions division to handle the case.(emphasis added)
Today, they deserve our admiration and thanks.
I don’t know about you but if I hear an “expert” today opining on the TV or tomorrow in print without mentioning at least one of them, it will be “click and toss aside” at JinC.