"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Yesterday NC AG Roy Cooper released the Summary of Conclusions, which documents why the charges that framed Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann were dropped and why he declared the three are innocent.
Duke reacted with the following statement from John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations:
“Attorney General Cooper’s Summary of Conclusions that was released today documents the absence of any credible evidence that would justify any conclusion in this case other than the one Mr. Cooper announced a few weeks ago -- that David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are innocent of all charges brought against them last spring by District Attorney Nifong. We welcome this report as we welcomed the Attorney General’s announcement on April 11.I know we all welcome Duke’s agreement with the NC Attorney General’s conclusion that “David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are innocent of all charges brought against them last spring by District Attorney Nifong.”
“We now await the N.C. State Bar’s review of the charges against Mr. Nifong for his conduct in this case.”
It’s especially welcome after all those months during which President Richard (“Whatever they did was bad enough”) Brodhead said nothing critical of Nifong and insisted a trial was the proper place for Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann to, as Brodhead put it, “prove their innocence.”
Duke’s statement is simple and seems straightforward. But I have some thoughts and questions about one part of it. It’s this sentence:
“We now await the N.C. State Bar’s review of the charges against Mr. Nifong for his conduct in this case.”Since January Brodhead has been telling alums and everyone else: “I’m one of Nifong’s biggest critics.” Duke’s “ We now await …” sentence fits nicely with Brodhead’s demand the Nifong account for his actions.
What else does it do?
For one thing, it says Duke awaits the Bar’s “review” of the charges against Nifong.
Now the whole sentence was no doubt constructed carefully, as it should have been. But I wonder if the word “review” wasn’t chosen with particular care.
I really wonder if Duke didn’t consciously chose “review” in preference to words such as “outcome” or “resolution.”
The “outcome” or “resolution” of any Bar decision could take years if Nifong appeals the Bar's decision, expected by most legal experts to be disbarment.
The Bar’s “review” should be completed in a matter of months.
With “review” Duke isn’t locking itself into the kind of stupid and indefensible position Brodhead placed the University in when he announced there was nothing he could do about the plight of Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann except await for the outcome of the trial Nifong was planning.
Proofs of just how stupid and indefensible Brodhead and Duke’s “can’t do anything” position was include:
1) Duke law professor James Coleman’s call in June, 2006 that Nifong recuse himself;
2) the public outcry against Nifong’s injustice that led Beth Brewer to launch an election fight last November that almost unseated Nifong;
3) the outrage and pressure from millions of citizens across America which helped force Nifong to recuse himself in January, 2007, thus setting in motion a special prosecutor’s review of the frame-up that led to the April 11 finding of "innocent."
“Stupid” and “indefensible” are very strong words to use in regard to a person or university’s actions but in the case of Brodhead and Duke’s abysmal failings when faced with the Hoax and frame-up, those words are measured and justified.
I was glad to see the word “review” in Duke’s most recent statement. I hope it signifies Brodhead and Duke are now more ready and willing to act in the interests of Duke students and justice. That’s long overdue.
So is a strong, clear call from Duke for Nifong’s resignation.
If Brodhead and his "senior team" don’t understand why Duke should do that, I hope they’ll review two documents: 1) the December, 2006 testimony of Dr. Brian Meehan regarding how he and Nifong agreed to withhold exculpatory DNA evidence; and 2) the Summary of Conclusions Attorney General Roy Cooper released yesterday.