Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Local Coverage of Latest Suit

Let’s take a quick look at local media coverage of the suits filed yesterday in federal court, Greensboro, NC, on behalf of three Duke students and lacrosse players not indicted during the frame-up attempt.

Only WRAL/ABC Eyewitness News 11 reports on this matter which I know will interest all of you:

Sources tell Eyewitness News this is the first of two lawsuits expected to be filed on behalf of unindicted Duke Lacrosse players and their families.

Sources say a majority of the players that are represented by a law firm in Washington D.C. intend to file a lawsuit as well.
My sources tell me the same thing.

The suit News 11 mentions is the one I’ve previously mentioned; not the one filed yesterday.

News 14 Carolina has a brief story which includes:
Robert Ekstrand, who is representing Archer, McFadyen and Wilson, says the way the University and city handled the case caused the boys emotional distress, and listed that as just one of 35 reasons that they brought the lawsuit.

McFadyen was suspended from Duke a month after the party when an e-mail he wrote to other lacrosse players surfaced. In that e-mail, he talked about killing the stripper and cutting her skin off. McFadyen said the e-mail was in jest and mirrored some of the language in the movie, “American Psycho,” a movie that was popular with many of the players.
News 14 doesn’t mention Ekstrand’s filing states Duke officials who suspended McFadyen over the email’s content could have learned from any English Department member that “American Psycho” is assigned in a number of Duke courses. The other three local news organizations mentioned here don’t either.

All four news organizations also fail to report the filing states unequivocally that Duke President Richard Brodhead spoke with the press about aspects of McFayden’s case that required a privacy waiver from him; but McFadyen hadn’t signed one.

Our two local daily newspapers – the Durham Herald-Sun and the Raleigh News & Observer – give the story very different treatment.

It’s the H-S’s lead story across the front-page and above the fold; the N&O has a tag on it’s front page and runs the story on page 4 of the “B” section.

The N&O’s sure come a long way from the days when it would run on its front-page the names of Duke lacrosse players charged with carrying open beer cans.

What changed? I can't wait for the N&O to tell us.

Anne Blythe, one of the two reporters of the Mar. 24 and 25, 2006 N&O stories which did so much to poison the public’s mind against the Duke students, reports on the filing in a story which begins:
Three players not charged in the infamous Duke lacrosse case filed a lawsuit against Duke University, top administrators, fallen prosecutor Mike Nifong, the city and a long list of others. . . .

The players have listed dozens -- from such high-ranking Duke officials as President Richard Brodhead down to a public spokeswoman for the Durham police department -- as defendants in the suit.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Duke University described the lawsuit as "another unfortunate result of the misdeeds" of Nifong.

"(T)his suit is misdirected against the university. Duke University reasonably relied on the statements of a prosecutor whose path of destruction could be stopped only by the North Carolina Attorney General," David Jarmul, a Duke spokesman, said in the statement. "Duke made some mistakes when the allegations first surfaced in the spring of 2006. The cause of any harm felt by the players, however, clearly lies with parties other than Duke."

In effort to avoid putting the entire community through destructive litigation, Jarmul said in the statement, Duke offered many months ago to reimburse attorneys' fees and other out-of-pocket expenses to the unindicted players whose lives were disrupted.

"We were and remain disappointed those offers were not accepted." the statement said. "We will aggressively defend the university in this matter."

McFadyen was suspended from Duke in April 2006 after an e-mail he wrote appeared in a search warrant in the Duke lacrosse case. . . .
Most of the rest of Blythe’s story is outline summary of other suits filed in the Hoax case.

Far and away the best local reporting today comes from Ray Gronberg in the H-S. I read the entire filing yesterday and into today’s first hours. Gronberg appears to have read it as well. He provides a good overview of the filing’s content along with important background information. Here’s a sample:
The players' claims rested heavily on Ekstrand's argument that the Duke University Police Department should have taken the lead in investigating the lacrosse case because it stemmed from an incident at a Duke-owned house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.

Ekstrand noted that city and Duke officials in 2004 had signed a cooperation agreement assigning Duke police the "primary responsibility" to initiate and conclude investigations on Duke property.

The significance of that agreement is certain to be a major point of contention, as state law specifies that Durham police have jurisdiction throughout the city, including on the Duke campus and at off-campus Duke properties.

But it also set the stage for a number of new allegations, among them the claim that Duke police actually launched their own investigation of the stripper's charges soon after she made them on March 14, 2006. Duke police abandoned the probe two days later, a major setback for the players, because campus officers on the scene realized the stripper's charges were bogus, Ekstrand and his clients alleged.

They further alleged that Duke and city leaders conspired and lied to cover up the early involvement of Duke police, and that Duke officials violated federal privacy law in the course of serving up information about the players to Durham police. . . .
I'll be back with more later today.

What are your thoughts about all this?


Anonymous said...


This is turning into a mega-scandal.

There are so many lies that have been told its hard to know where to begin. If just one, just one, of the defendants agrees to cooperate, the whole house of cards collapses.

I guess we'll see.


Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Well, the more light that gets shone on the behavior of Duke staff and all the legal and police blokes who were involved, the better. Duke succeeded in buying off the three falsely accused players, thus hoping to prevent public knowlege of the full details of the University's complicit skullduggery against them.

So the 'unindicted' guys who were also damaged by said skullduggery are now playing a very useful part in bringing to justice the formerly untouchable City and University staff.

They have not been forced to accrue huge legal bills to defend against the show trial which Nifong et al had planned for the indicted three - meaning that they may be less amenable to a settlement. More discovery, please.

resistance said...

I read most of the document, up to the causes of action and claims, and , to be blunt - this is tough to read. The allegations are very disturbing. Much of the supporting material is already in the public domain, but the scope of authority and involvement of the Duke Police has not been. At times, I fought off nausea, as I read with a sick fascination.

If there is a protocol that is followed to hand jurisdiction of these cases arising on Duke owned property, and if that protocol was initiated as the complaint claims, then Duke would appear to have a problem.

This would mean two things for starters. The local press - H.S. & N&O - would appear to have followed not just the Durham municipal power structure's narrative, but also the Duke narrative. They missed a far bigger story than the one we already know they missed. Did the local press not know about the jurisdiction agreement between Duke and Durham? What were the ties between Trinity Park permanent residents, and members of the press?

Secondly, the suggestion that Duke and particularly Steele were allegedly exercising the powers of a police chief (notwithstanding Graves and Dean) means that Duke and Steele were allegedly acting under colour of law. This might place an entirely different understanding of Duke's and Steele's interests v-a-v a DoJ investigation. An argument might be made that Steele might have had a vested interest in frustrating a DoJ investigation. Given Steele's standing in the federal administration, is this a case of alleged influence peddling in a Republican administration? Would a Democratic inclined media be interested in that? I think so. Allegedly.

This stuff is so potentially explosive, that I suspect serious and credible journalists (Gibbs, Neff) are hard at work investigating the underpinning of this complaint, before writing about it. We should give them enough time to put the pieces together.

Followed your site daily, by the way, appreciate your efforts. used to really enjoy your posting to Melanie on the N&O blogs, by the way. The duck and weave was hilarious - the cat trying to cover up on linoleum...

Anonymous said...

As a supporter of the Bush administration, if it takes an allegation against Republicans to get the press interested in this, I'm all for it.

Steele is not the type of Republican I support. He's one I'd like to see thrown under the bus.

Anonymous said...

"Uglier and Dukier"

Ralph Phelan said...

When the Duke administration bought the silence of the indicted three, did they really believe they had put a lid on the whole mess?

They've got a $4,000,000,000 endowment - is legal fees and out-of-pocket expenses really all they offered to the unindicted but still screwed over when they have so much to hide?

Are they really that stupid and arrogant?


Ralph Phelan said...

My other comments, from a previous thread:

How much is the info in this complaint going to help Pressler's suit?

How much is the info in this complaint going to help the suit against Durham?

How much is the other incoming suit going to help the ones we already know about?

If this one succeeds, is it a blueprint for every other member of the team to sue on the same grounds, with most of the work already done? Even before it goes to trial, is the information in the complaint going to "tip the balance" on other contemplated lawsuits?

Is there any way you can "sell short" on a university's endowment fund?

Anonymous said...

If Duke officials had, at any time, been just a teensy-weensy bit sorry... just ONE SINCERE acknowledgment of the huge blunder... just one overture to make it right, instead of trying to just make it go away, just think how much trouble they might have saved themselves and others. I always told my kids that if they made a mistake, it was forgiveable if they 'fessed up. But if they lied, all the full force of Momma would come down on them. Because this NC Momma knows that deception is the ULTIMATE sin.

Duke has been caught in a nauseating web of deception.

How very much easier it would have been to humble themselves early... instead of now facing unrelenting humiliation.

no justice, no peace said...

Inre: Duke and "... just one overture to make it right, instead of trying to just make it go away,..."

Not only did Duke individuals NOT try to make it go away, they instead proactively gave everyone involved a stiff-arm under the chin:

1. Kim Curtis is still employed...

2. The CCI committee formation...

3. AAAs elevated to Departmental status...

4. Committee reports...

5. Promotions...

6. etc...

Not only is there no remorse, Steele, Brodhead, et al have consistently and aggressively stuck a finger in everyone's eyes.

It shall be interesting to see how they now position themselves to keep from being eaten or thrown under the bus.

Again, Robert Greene on power, “Occasionally mistakes are inevitable - the world is just too unpredictable. People of power, however, are undone not by the mistakes they make, but by the way they deal with them. Like surgeons, they must cut away the tumor with speed and finality. Excuses and apologies are much too blunt tools for his delicate operation; the powerful avoid them. By apologizing you open up all sorts of doubts about your competence, your intentions, any other mistake you may not have confessed. Excuses satisfy no one and apologies make everyone uncomfortable. The mistake does not vanish with an apology; it deepens and festers. Better to cut it off instantly, distract attention from your self, and focus attention on a convenient scapegoat before people have time to ponder your responsibility or your possible incompetence.” – The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

Greene uses the example of Cesare Borgia utilizing Remirro de Orco to very harshly rid the Romagna area of northern Italy of robbers and greedy masters so that Borgia could extend his power. Orco was quite successful however his brutality was politically incorrect. On December 22 Orco’s body, dressed lavishly, was found in the town square sans one head. It was impaled on a spike for all to see. He had become a liability to Borgia.

“The ferocity of this scene left the people at once stunned and satisfied” – Machiavelli

Anonymous said...

Brodhead and Steele must be GREENE disciples! That's what happened didn't it?

But in NC we have this cute little saying "What goes around comes around". Perhaps that B and S, being from the dignified Northeast, have not tuned in to that simple home grown observation. Nonetheless, they are about to experience it.

The Bible calls it the "Haaman Noose", when the gallows that was prepared for an innocent man became the locus of execution for his antagonist.

Justice WILL happen. Sooner or later. With or without the Feds ( although that would be the most satisfying and appropriate... if they can somehow swallow their political pride and take up the case).