I recently posted Attorney Spilbor Knew; So Did Duke
It contains a link and excerpts from attorney Jonna Spilbor’s Findlaw column published Apr. 14, 2006.
That was four days after the public learned the first round of DNA test results in the Duke Hoax case were all negative, and three days before then DA Mike Nifong secured the first two of three indictments of Duke students he knew were innocent.
Spilbor laid out the reasons why Nifong needed to drop the case. She also noted some of his conduct that would later lead the NC State Bar to disbar him. You can read her column here.
Since by mid-April Spilbor was one of a number of attorneys not connected with the case saying such things; and since Duke and its, President Richard Brodhead, had accesss to many outstanding attorneys yet never said anything critical of Nifong until late December 2006, I said things would get “uglier and Dukier” once we learned why Brodhead and Duke went silently along with Nifong all those months.
Among comments on the post was the following:
KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor are very critical of Brodhead in their book, but they don't go so far as to say that he wanted the charges to be true, no facts reported in the book would sustain a reasonable suspicion that he wanted that.The commentor is right that Johnson and Taylor never say Brodhead wanted the charges to be true. And neither have I. Ever.
I was an early and persistent critic of Nifong & co. in the TalkLeft blog's discussion forum, but I don't agree with those who say that Brodhead should have publicly rebuked Nifong or opined that the defendants were innocent early on.
It would have been imprudent and unseemly for him to issue a public pronouncement on the merits of the case back in April or May 2006, for instance, when it wasn't clear what incriminating evidence Nifong might have and before the trial judge had ruled on any defense motions.
It would have been widely perceived as an attempt to exert undue influence and would have exacerbated the strain in town-gown relations.
And like just about all Brodhead critics, I don’t think he should have proclaimed the players innocent “early on.” As a matter of fact, I can’t recall ever criticizing Brodhead for failing to declare the players innocent.
But there is much Brodhead could and should have done out of simple decency, respect for his office and in pursuit of justice.
Brodhead spoke at a Durham Chamber of Commerce meeting less than a week after Spilbor’s column appeared; and three weeks after Nifong began publicly ridiculing the students for obtaining lawyers, asking why they would need lawyers if they were innocent and refused to meet with defense attorneys seeking to provide him with evidence they said was exculpatory for the students.
Brodhead knew all that.
He could have said to the Chamber members and to the media reporting his remarks something like:
”I continue to urge everyone with information about the crimes alleged to cooperate with the investigation. Duke has been doing that and will continue to cooperate with DA Nifong and Durham’s Police Department.Instead of something like that, WRAL reported:
If the crimes alleged occurred, those who committed them should be punished to the full extent of the law.
I think all of you will agree with what I’ve said, just as I’m sure you’ll agree that suspects should not have been ridiculed for exercising their constitutional right to counsel – a right all of us want for ourselves.
I must also tell you I’m concerned by press reports that Mr. Nifong says he won’t meet with defense attorneys to look at evidence they say they have of their clients' innocence.
As those of you in this room who are attorneys know, the law requires him to look at that evidence."
"This has been such a difficult issue for our campus and throughout the community," Duke University President Richard Brodhead said during the Centennial Durham Chamber of Commerce meeting on Thursday. . . .Is it any wonder Brodhead and his Chronicle and Group of 88 supporters keep telling us not to “look back” but to MoveOn.Duke?
"If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn't do it, whatever they did is bad enough," he said.
Does anyone doubt that as we learn more about how the witch hunt and the attempted frame-up played out things will get “uglier and Dukier?”
Does anyone doubt that as we learn more about the on-going cover-up of the Hoax travesties and conspiracies things will get “uglier and Dukier?”