Monday, September 03, 2007

I was wrong about Judge Stephens

Last May I posted “Why I admire the Duke lacrosse judge.”

I told readers I’d testified a number times as an expert witness in Judge Ron Stephens’ court and knew him slightly outside of court from chance meetings at social and youth sports events. I said why I thought he was a fine judge.

He had, of course, by that time made some decisions many of you believed then as now were wrong. Signing the request for the NTO, setting bail at $400,000 per individual, and refusing Kirk Osborn’s request that the then impending trial of Reade Seligmann by moved up are some that come to mind.

I was aware of them. I was also aware that attorneys I respect said each of Stephens’ decisions could be argued to be reasonable and consistent with customary judicial practice.

That said, I’m responsible for what I thought then and think now.

I’ve come to realize I was wrong about Judge Stephens’ ability to be an impartial judge in the Hoax case. Even allowing for some pro-prosecutor bias that’s common among judges, Stephens over time revealed himself to be so biased in Nifong’s favor that he should have recused himself from the case early on. And I should have realized that.

If I could call that May 2006 post back, I would. The best I can do now is put an “UPDATE” following the title and a few sentences at the head, linking to this post.

In the next few weeks I may post in more detail abut how I got it wrong on Stephens, but this is not the time for that.

This is the time to say I apologize to any of you I misled.

It’s also the time to say “thank you” to many of you whose informed comments here and at other forums last May and since have helped me realize my error.



Anonymous said...


We count on you to be honest. You haven't let us down.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Ignore the trolls that will show up.

Anonymous said...

That's one difference between you and the group of 88. The ability to see an error.
They got everything wrong and yet they still stonewall reality.

Anonymous said...

The Duke professors don't believe they got everything wrong. They believe in the metanarrative.
Don't let facts get in the way. It's all about ideology and power. Duke should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, John. Please stay on this story.

Anonymous said...

So you were misled.

It happens.

I don't need an apology.

I'd love those details.

The public should know more about the pro-Nifong judge who sat of the late Kirk Osborn's motion to remove Nifong and released the McFadyen email and was Nifong's boss and character witness.

Mike Gaynor

bill anderson said...

I think that Ronald Stephens left no doubt at Nifong's recent hearing that when it comes to the law, he prefers bravado and lies to the truth. From what I have been told about Nifong, he ALWAYS has been a bully in the courthouse, and was a mediocre lawyer to boot.

Yes, he got convictions, but given the pro-prosecution bias at criminal trials (and given that most people on trial really are guilty), even a trained monkey could win convictions in that atmosphere. The word on Nifong was that he was sloppy, predictable, but he got away with bullying defense attorneys and was able to force guilty pleas on them regardless of the merits of the case.

That Stephens would defend Nifong means that he also defends this way of dispensing "justice." He is a prime example of what is wrong in this country today.

Debrah said...

Ron Stephens embarrassed himself with his grotesque testimonial to Nifong.

I thought I would have to get out some violins.

It was just pathetic......most notably his "thumbs up" comment.

BTW, Mikey could be seen removing his glasses and wiping his eyes after Stephens' performance.

Quite stomach-turning fare.

Anonymous said...

Did Gaynor ever catch any of those ambulances he's been chasing?

kbp said...


The man, being in the position he is, evidently has fooled the vast majority ALL the time.

First impressions are not always correct.

Most of us were fooled by Himan for quite some time. I credit Tony at LS for doing a great job of pointing out what all Himan had done early in the case.