Saturday, June 16, 2007

INNOCENT: Duke Helped Nifong

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Since Wednesday, the second day of Nifong’s ethics trial, I’ve been traveling in the Northeastern part of the country. I’m now in upstate New York at a conference attended by people from all over America and parts of Europe.

Everywhere I’ve gone, the interest in Nifong’s trial has been great.

When people hear I’m from North Carolina, many bring up the trial. They wonder how Nifong could’ve “gotten away with it for so long” and why “someone didn’t stop him before now.”

I usually don’t say much because I want to draw people out and learn more of what they’re thinking.

But when I do share my thoughts, here is some what I say to people:

A major reason why Nifong got away with it for so long has to do with Duke University.

When Nifong said those things last March and April about the players being “hooligans,” ridiculed them for getting attorneys, and flat out said they must be guilty not a single Duke administrator, trustee or senior faculty member even cautioned Nifong about his remarks.

Not one!

In fact, Duke’s president kept issuing statements saying he wanted everyone to cooperate with the police.

Those statements from Duke’s president – his name is Richard Brodhead but he introduces himself as “Dick” - made Reade Seligmann and the other players look like they weren’t cooperating with police.

Brodhead issued his statements at a time when the Durham Police and our major newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer, were telling people the players weren’t cooperating.

Sure, that was all false. Brodhead and any trustee who cared to know knew that.

But ordinary citizens in Durham didn’t know that.

Most of them thought that if the President and Trustees of Duke University had no objections to what Mike Nifong was saying and doing, than what could be wrong with any of it.

Duke's Dick Brodhead went nine months before he could ever bring himself to say a single word critical of Nifong. Meanwhile, Nifong sailed on attempting to frame the players and winning two elections in the process.

And that make’s a certain kind of sense, doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t we expect a university president and its trustees to speak up if their students were being ridiculed for exercising their constitutional rights; and were being falsely accused of throwing up a "wall of silence” when they were actually providing police with more answers about their conduct than Dick Brodhead and Duke’s trustees have ever provided about theirs?

I’ve talked enough. What do you think?


Becky in Chicago :-) said...

Hey John----it's me, Becks? Remember the red leaf?? I was surfing the net and came across your blog. Funny how paths can cross after all these years. Hope this finds you doing well.

Anonymous said...

Today, I thought maybe Nifong finally realized he had done something wrong. At least I didn't think he looked like an innocent man who had just been found guilty. But after five days of hearings and all that was publicly displayed, I wondered what would have to happen for the Duke administration to finally realize how wrong they were. I'm afraid some people's sense of right and wrong is simply lacking.

Anonymous said...

The entire hearing, including specific comments in the ruling, demonstrated the NC State Bar knew their reputation, as well as the reputation of the entire NC judicial system, was on the line. They had to act or lose all credibility. If Duke's BOT doesn't understand they are in the same situation, I doubt Duke University will ever recover from this.

Anonymous said...

what can one expect from an english teacher. he is probably reading a book titled "even idiots can prove their innocence".

Anonymous said...

I believe Duke U. played a big role in making the situation much worse. In particular, opportunists looking for scapegoats for their political agenda where never censured, cautioned, or punished. The University is much to blame for making a bad situation worse. Their silence now is deafening.

Locomotive Breath said...


I would like to call your attention back to these early letters by Chemistry Professor Steven Baldwin, a hero of the hoax if there was one. Hats off to him today as being one of the good faculty.

What about Mike Pressler?
By: Steven Baldwin

Issue date: 4/17/06 Section: Letters

At the risk of arousing the wrath of the righteous, I would like to offer my impressions of Mike Pressler, recent coach of the Duke men's lacrosse team. I have known Coach Pressler and his family for at least ten years. Our children played together when they were younger and our families have done things together socially. Coach Pressler is humble, reserved, thoughtful and honest to a fault. He has great integrity.


and then this one

The administration's mismanagement of lacrosse

By: Steven Baldwin

Issue date: 10/24/06 Section: Columns

Last April I wrote to The Chronicle in support of Mike Pressler, former coach of men's lacrosse at Duke. At that time I was concerned that the decision to fire him had been premature, coming only a few weeks after the fateful Buchanan Street party, and certainly long before all of the facts were known. Now, six months later, it is quite clear that my concerns were justified.


Joe T. said...

Just to add: When Reade Seligmann thanked the people of North Carolina for the support they showed him and his family, I know he didn't mean everyone. But John in Carolina can consider himself amongst those he thanked. I thank John too. He DOES believe in "civilization."

Anonymous said...

Agreed, thank you John.

Anonymous said...

Today was a long time in coming - Nifong tried to ruin the lives and careeers of 3 innocent men and today the karmic wheel has turned and ruined his.

As you point out, Nifong was not alone in this - he had the help of enablers. Some of them will be able to withstand the fallout of having hitched their wagons to Nifong's railroad, but some may not. If I were "Dick" Brodhead I wouldn't sleep well tonight.

Mad Hatter said...

So, Nifong has recieved his just dessert! What about Crystal Mangum, several officers in the DPD, Meehan, who came across as a slithering-slimy snake-oil salesman while on the stand, Dick Broadhead, the Group of 88, and all who sought to profit from the Hoax? Nifong didn't and couldn't have done this alone. There are others who are morally repsonsible as well. More than Nifong should take the fall for this abomination. What say you all?

Anonymous said...

I'm a Duke Alumna, and am hoping and praying that the faculty members who rushed to judgment and took out the newpaper rant against three innocent men will have the GUTS to apologize. Right now, the three men look much more like persons of integrity than the Duke faculty and administration.

kbp said...

Thanks John!

I'd throw in a BUNCH of blame on the DPD whenever you can!

Loco Breath,
I thought you were hiking mountain trails.

Anonymous said...

mad hatter : I know I speak for so so many when I say, "Agreed."

Anonymous said...

John: You've nailed it. Brodhead and the rest his enabling crew were, in large part, responsible for this horrible miscarriage of justice. Were it not for KC Johnson, Liestoppers, and JiC, they would have succeeded. I hope the Duke alumni are sufficiently incensed and tell Duke to take a hike when its donation time.

Sarah said...

In many ways Duke was one of the main cheerleaders for Nifong, many of the actions they took such as suspending the season and appearing to reward some of the lacrosse team's harshest of critics served only cement the perception that the accused were guilty and that the lacrosse team were bad people.

I think the reason for this was largely down to the fact that Broadhead and many members of his administration share the world view of the faculty 88 and actively wanted the allegations to be true.

As such he, and they were part of the conspiracy, and can not avoid the censure they deserve.

RattlerGator said...

North Carolinians should still be very concerned about their State Bar.

To quote the News & Observer:
The Duke lacrosse case has twisted and turned in wild directions over the past 15 months. According to defense lawyer James P. Cooney III, the case might still be in Mike Nifong's hands if not for a fingernail and a single vote.

* * *

The single vote came nearly two weeks later, when the Grievance Committee of the N.C. State Bar took the unprecedented step of filing a complaint against Nifong for misconduct.

The complaint forced Nifong to recuse himself from the case and turn it over to the Attorney General's office.

The complaint was controversial, and the 16-member committee split evenly over whether it should be filed. Grievance Committee Chairman Jim Fox cast the deciding vote, Cooney said.

"Without that single vote," Cooney said, "this case could still be going terribly wrong."

Now that is truly astonishing. Who are the members of that committee and how could they conceivably vote against the complaint????

Anonymous said...

The word "help" just seems too strong a word. Dickhead was a dickhead and I don't like the administration's response but I don't think they conspired with Knifong either. The least that the administration can do at this point is pay the students' legal bills.

Anonymous said...

Broadhead took as much time as it took Mangum to have little "Baby Duke."

fmfnavydoc said...


I posted that following over in DIW, thought that I should also post it here...

Greg Jefferies brought this up yesterday - is the state AG for the DOJ going to look at the actions of the other members of the Durham DA's office? I would find it hard to believe that nobody else in that office didn't know what Nifong was doing.

Nifong's replacement - should an outsider be brought in to take over, or will someone in the office or Nifong's opponent in the election be selected to replace him?

Any word if the Duke Board of Trustees will be looking into the University's actions during the last 15 months?

John - Bravo Zulu (good job) on your work on this blog and you efforts over the last week...this is, as Winston Churchill once said, "is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning".

Stephen said...

From a fellow duke alum. JiC, you did a super job of boiling down the primary problem with Duke's official conduct. Those in positions of authority and responsibility have not only an obligation to be truthful, but just as much an obligation to speak out against "fantastic lies" they know to be such. To allow the non-cooperation myth to be perpetuated, and the derogation by the DA of the players for hiring legal counsel to go unanswered, were both very serious lapses in judgment.

Anonymous said...

John --

Thanks for your work. How can further pressure be applied against Brodhead and the others in the administration who enabled Nifong? Is there a petition circulating calling for the Board to act or Brodhead to resign?

another Duke alum

Anonymous said...

Can anyone supply the names of the committee members and how they voted?

Anonymous said...

One poster over at DiW had the temerity to say that Brodhead did "what he had to" in suspending the students and aborting the Lax season. Is it possible that, even today, there are seemingly intelligent people who can't grasp what happened? I am stunned that a fellow human could be so willfully ignorant. Tahnks John for all you've done and continue to do. On the phase two: the civil and criminal cases.

Anonymous said...

Don't know the names of the other two, but the chairman was Lane Williamson. The voting was unanimous.

Ralph Phelan said...

"I'm a Duke Alumna, and am hoping and praying that the faculty members who rushed to judgment and took out the newpaper rant against three innocent men will have the GUTS to apologize. "

If they haven't, I hope you keep that in mind the next time you get a fundraising call.