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.
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. […]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.
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." […]
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.”
When I hear such things, I wonder how Durham officials expect us to have any confidence in this county's justice system at all.Butler’s entire column is here. I hope you read it.
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.[…]