Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Butler’s Column & My Comments

Chronicle columnist and Duke senior Kristin Butler has plenty to say today about the Hoax case and Durham. Here are excerpts with some JinC commentary in italics.

Butler begins:

This was a sensational week for lacrosse case followers. Among other things, Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson's highly anticipated book was released Tuesday, lacrosse players demanded that Durham pay $30 million to cover its misdeeds and former Durham DA Mike Nifong even did his 24-hour stint in the pokey. […]

As expected, Nifong's contempt trial featured a litany of "only-in-Durham" moments. My personal favorite was when [Nifong] suggested (under oath) that Crystal Mangum's young son may have contributed some of the unidentified male DNA found on swabs taken from her panties, vagina and rectum.

Also extraordinary was the testimony of local judges Ron Stephens and Marcia Morey, who both supported the disgraced DA during the sentencing phase of his trial. Stephens, who initially presided over the case in Spring 2006, praised Nifong for (of all things!) "enforc[ing] the rules" and being "a good lawyer, a real good lawyer" whose "word was his bond."

Morey, by contrast, asserted that it was acceptable for prosecutors to willfully lie to the court during a pretrial hearing-a remarkable thing for a judge (who has presumably studied the law at some point in her career) to say. Morey was later seen marching with Nifong as he entered the Durham County Detention Center to serve his sentence, where she was joined by 20 supporters carrying signs that read "We believe in your integrity and goodness." […]
Let’s excuse the 20 supporters as people with very strong beliefs formed in very mushy brains. Such people often wind up supporting the Nifongs of this world.

But what about the judges? They’re not supposed to have mushy brains. And their strong beliefs are supposed to include commitments to justice and a willingness to cleanse the court system of those who trample on innocent citizens.

Do Judges Stephens and Morey have any idea what their “hosannahs” for Nifong told thoughtful citizens about them and what “justice in Durham” must really be like?

Morey’s statements about what’s OK in her courtroom deserve attention from the NC State Bar.

Message to Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson: I hope your next book is about the Durham court system. Suggested title: “Anything Goes.”

Butler continues:
When I hear such things, I wonder how Durham officials expect us to have any confidence in this county's justice system at all.

Over the past 18 months we've seen a succession of judges, assistant district attorneys, police officers, city council members and other high-ranking officials (like City Manager Patrick Baker and Chief of Police Steve Chalmers) lining up to support or cover for Nifong.

Even newly appointed interim DA David Saacks-who is widely described as moderate and relatively untainted by the scandal-appeared on Nifong's behalf at the contempt trial.

For these highly educated, ostensibly well-respected people to defend Nifong after everything he's done-after all, the man was willing to send three young men to prison for 30 years to save his pension-is a disgrace, and one that reaffirms many Duke students' deeply held mistrust of this county's justice system.

That's why I hope settlement talks for Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and Dave Evans will encourage the reforms that city officials have neglected. It was widely reported last week that the three are seeking $30 million from the city, and I hope they get every penny.[…]
Butler’s entire column is here. I hope you read it.


shaved testicles said...

when will Butler learn how to write"

"my personal [sic] favorite"?

that 1 deserves to be in the Redundancy Hall of Fame

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Durham, I hope you understand why the effort by some to make us feel sorry for Durham is not working. I am sorry the good people of Durham will probably suffer more than the potbangers but ultimately your city may be improved and I suspect you know that. I also don't believe I ever heard so much whining from the falsely accused.

Anonymous said...

JIC, your boy KC was a big flop tonight! I counted only 119 people in the entire auditorium. They could have held this event in Houston Baker's living room. After hearing KC in person, I'm damn glad I don't have to sit through one of his classes. What a rambling wreck! Now will you suckers please climb back under your rocks? Duke has moved on, you should too.

Anonymous said...

KC was a big bust at Duke. Was that really him? Virtually no one was there, he is an inarticulate bumbling rambler, and the questions I heard seemed as though they were planted.

Anonymous said...

Looks like some of the pathetic 88 have been visiting your blog tonight. What a group of hateful people.

Anonymous said...

Even if those anonymous reviews of KC Jonhson's talk were true (which I tend to doubt), all it would mean is that he's not a good public speaker. Meanwhile, watch his book creep up into the bestseller lists.

joan foster said...

John, your comments about the judges are right on target. Here is Stephens, whose own track-record in this case needs to be scrutinized,blubbering on the stand how Nifong is "A-OK." Morey hedges on when it's okay to lie to the court. Chilling.

Are these judges so out of touch with the world outside of Durham that they cannot see what their "performances" portrayed to the rest of us? They added an exclamation point to the charge of cronyism and underscored Durham's inability to self-correct.

Durham would have been better served by their silence, but the intensity of their support for Nifong confirmed that justice is an insiders game in Durham.

Anonymous said...

joan foster: so good to see you here. Your comments are spot on.

QuadDog said...

Kristin Butler is a talented and perceptive writer.

mamalou said...

11:19 & 11:31 I'd bet that was one person who said basically the same thing at DiW and the Chronicle. I bet if we check the times, they'd all be close. A truly sad individual. Trying so hard to make it look like someone agrees with "them."

Locomotive Breath said...

11:19 PM and 11:31 PM are probably the same person known on the Chronicle comment boards as "Brodhead's Secretary". S/he has been posting screeds all summer long.

I was at KC's speech and I was at February's Duke faculty panel "Shut Up and Teach?" or SHAT. (Ahem. Think about your acronyms people.) KC was lucid and completely in command of the facts. He puts the six faculty ideologues on the SHAT panel to shame.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Re 11:19, 11:31

When in the Army in NC 44 years ago, I heard a quaint local expression that was too good to forget. I recycle it now to educate the authors of the above posts.

If brains were gasoline, those of the authors couldn't prime the carburetor of a piss-ant's motor scooter.

Whereas, Kristin Butler's columns are a wonderful reason to read the Chronicle. And when do we get a link to a video of KC's talk last night, so we can see for ourselves how 'horrible' it was?