Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Durham Suit Costs (Post 1)

The last few days here in Durham people have been talking about how expensive suits can.

In case you’re not sure what I’m talking about, there’s a story in today’s Raleigh N&O that does a good job of presenting a few basic facts and issues. Just remember, it’s only a starting point.

There’s a lot we don’t yet know regarding a series of events that played out over many months and very likely involved crimes which the malefactors are trying now to cover-up. And there’s a lot most of us don’t know about what’s involved in bringing a civil suit of the type we’re talking about. I posted here a link to an outline of the basic procedures involved. But it’s only an outline, albeit I’m told a reliable one, of what is a complex area of law. (As I look back on what I just wrote, I’m thinking, “What area of law isn’t complex?”)

Bearing in mind the above cautions, I want to present extracts of some commentary on the suits by others. Later today I’ll post on today’s N&O editorial concerning the suits. Later this evening I’ll post again regarding the suits.

Now some others’ commentary --

Blogger Jon Ham (Right Angles), a Durham resident, made a well-reasoned, concise case for why a suit settlement should be steep. Ham’s post includes this description of a noxious news column the N&O’s Barry Saunders wrote:

Barry Saunders … called the players “little darlings,” referred to their 15 months in hell as an “inconvenience,” threatened physical violence if the city were to pay the players, and played a not-so-subtle race card by suggesting that the players’ travails made them miss the season finale of “Friends,” a TV show that irked some blacks who thought it, like “Seinfeld,” was too white.
Saunders’ column drew a response from blogger Joan Foster (Liestoppers) which included this:
There has been no accountability, no self-correction, no cleaning of the cesspool too many of you locals contentedly swim in. Why was it you never stood up to the sleaze, Barry? Was it inbred apathy, fear of reprisal, or, as Mike Nifong saw it, a golden opportunity for self-advancement? In any event, you just let it be.

But that's about to change. Sorry you didn't have the grit or the gumption to do it on your own.

No, Barry, this is a line in the sand for all those folks... poor, black, brown, and otherwise... who couldn't stand up to the bullies in blue; the wolves in white shirt and council pin; the back-slapping boys in black robes and their favorite, duly-elected district attorney, Mike Nifong. This is FOR THEM. This is to put a stake in the heart of the shameful, sickening abuse of power that dominates the smug and the powerful in your town.

Let them be deposed.

Better yet...let them be EXPOSED.Fully, completely, and finally exposed.
Folks, that’s “writing with fire.” God bless you, Joan.

Blogger Baldo (Liestoppers) writing at the LS Forum offered his fellow Durhamites some reality therapy:
What some in Durham don't want to face is that while Nifong was lying & indicting, when Gottlieb & Himan were "investigating", while Stephens was signing that NTO, while Clayton was arresting Elmo, while Baker was pretending CGM didn't change her stories, while Addison was putting out false & inflammatory information and a press release saying CGM was raped & sodomized, while senior Police management were approving the 4 April line-up, and while Nifong, Gottlieb, and Himan were hiding exculpatory DNA evidence from the Grand Jury they were all representing you, the citizens of Durham!

Did I see anyone protesting on the steps of the Courthouse except the Duke Lacrosse Community while this Travesty was happening? What I saw were local press and pompous leaders cheer-leading Nifong!... And yes I saw Nifong win TWO ELECTIONS

You the citizens of Durham are the ones who will pay.
Nice going, Baldo. You spoke the truth.


Anonymous said...

Most litigants feel that if there is adequate redress for their differences outside of court, they will not sue. Here, Durham has made, at best, a half-hearted attempt at redress by forming the Wichard Commission. By letting the commission drag its feet, by hamstringing the commission by filling it with quotas, and people with an agenda, Durham missed its last best chance to avoid a suit. Now, Durham having failed to do an adequate investigation, it will have one done for it by some expensive and very skilled lawyers. It did not have to be this way.

Walt in Durham

Anonymous said...

In my email to Mr. Saunders I specifically stated, "I am absolutely convinced there are good people in Durham" (in spite of what has happened, in spite of what he said), I love it when I'm right. But then anytime you refuse to judge any group by some of its members, you're going to be right.

Anonymous said...

If someone would have taken my kid and threatened him or her with
basically death in prison for something he or she didn't do, I would go
after that SOB with every ounce of my being. I would take NO quarter.
I would show absolutely no mercy to the evildoer or those who enabled
him. That is what the Duke lacrosse parents are doing by hiring top
lawyers and threatening a suit against Durham -- and it is justified.
I'm sure your politicians will hide behind a "those greedy Duke boys"
slogan as they run for office. But if they had allowed what happened
to the lacrosse kids to be done to MY kid, they would be running from

Anonymous said...

5:16 is -- cmf!

Jim in San Diego said...

It is difficult for ordinary people to understand litigation. It is immensely costly. Judgments sometimes are for big numbers.

Durham, as are other communities, is ultimately responsible for the behavior of its public officials. Whether this is right or wrong, or fair or not, that is the way it is.

In Los Angeles a cottage industry has arisen around suing the L.A. police department for various abuses. As a result, many very unattractive felons and, some would say, their equally unattractive lawyers, have won very large sums of money. Paying such settlements is now a significant budget item in the L.A. annual budget.

Now, is this good, or bad? As a result of the financial pain, there have been positive steps taken by the L.A.P.D. to reduce police abuses. Education and discipline have at least somewhat reduced the beatings and other mistreatment of L.A. citizens.

A cynic might say it has primarily made the P.D. more careful to make sure no one was videotaping the abuse. Nevertheless, the primary beneficiaries of improved police behavior have been minorities.

Fast forward to Durham, N.C. The single most amazing result of the Duke fiasco from here is the absence of any obvious corrective action by those involved (guilty?) in the fiasco. This includes police, City Council, the DA's office, and the local press.

The Federal Civil Rights Act which, ironically, the Duke victims appear to be preparing to use in Durham, was specifically drafted to deal with communities like Durham. That is, communities which consciously and intentionally violate individual civil rights with no apparent expectation that anyone will do anything about it.

The Civil Rights laws have teeth. Some of the teeth include paying for the plaintiff's legal fees, and possible injunctions to force change in Durham, whether residents like it or not.

This is something that residents have brought on themselves.

Anonymous said...

Although the Lax 3 owe nobody anything, I sincerely hope they do us the honor of putting Durham into bankruptcy. The ass-clowns that run Durham will learn *nothing* until they are held to account for this travesty. They have already proven to the world they are incapable of "self-help," thus, litigation must pave the way for reform. Bend over and grab your ankles Durham taxpayers--and you can thank yourselves and your "leaders" for it.