Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Duke’s Suffocation of Due Process

Our nation’s founders would have liked The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). But leftist university professors and administrators foisting speech codes on college students and in other ways restricting the students' rights get apoplectic at the mention of FIRE.

So right there , we have two good strong reasons to appreciate FIRE.

Now, here’s a third: FIRE staffer Robert Shibley’s just published article, Duke’s Slow Suffocation of Due Process.

It begins - - -

As a Duke alumnus twice over (undergraduate and law), I watched with horror the events that unfolded in the infamous Duke Lacrosse/Mike Nifong case.

While the prime "bad actors" in the case were clearly (now disbarred) former prosecutor Nifong and the false accuser, Crystal Mangum, Duke's disregard for and even attacks on its students' rights to due process in the case also gave me plenty of reasons to tell Duke that they won't be getting a donation from me next time they call. (Incidentally, just about every aspect of the case has been ably documented by Professor KC Johnson in both his Durham-in-Wonderland blog and his book with the National Journal's Stuart Taylor, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case.)

One major upshot of the fiasco, however, would seem to be Duke students' increased awareness of the crucial importance of due process and fair procedure, both in the law and on campus. And unfortunately, it looks as though Duke has been headed in the wrong direction on these issues for a number of years.

In a series of columns in Duke's Chronicle student newspaper last fall, student Elliott Wolf does yeoman's work in tracing the evolution (perhaps devolution would be a better word) of Duke's judicial code over the last decade or so.

Amazingly, despite the fact that while I was at Duke, the student judicial board was widely considered a total joke and a kangaroo court, it turns out that I attended Duke during what was, comparatively speaking, a golden age of justice and fair procedures.

In the first column of his "Dude, Where're My Rights?" series, Wolf describes Duke's elimination of probable cause requirements, the right to remain silent, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to a public hearing.

The second column reveals Duke's switch from excluding illegally obtained evidence to being perfectly willing to include it, along with its cooperation with the Durham Police Department (another bad actor in the lacrosse debacle and another legendarily incompetent institution during my time there) in punishing Duke students more harshly than other Durham residents for identical or even less severe offenses.

The final column discusses Duke's justification for these changes and actionsapparently the usual academic mumbo-jumbo about "teachable moments" that is regularly used to justify any number of absurd faculty and administrative abuses.

Sure, everyone needs to learn that life isn't fair, but the last place a student should learn that is through what is supposed to be a system of "justice."

Wolf has posted annotated versions of these columns, along with source documents, on his own Duke webpage at

Those interested in the decline of due process on campus would be well-served to take a look. …

The rest of Shipley’s article’s here.

Give it a look, especially if you’ve been following the Duke Hoax, frame-up attempt and the on-going cover-up.

Message to Robert Shibley: Thank you for a very informative and important article. Have you considered writing an op-ed for The Chronicle?

Message to JinC Readers: This is the first example I’ve seen of Shibley’s writing about Duke matters. I plan to encourage him to continue to do so. If he does, I’ll be sure to call his work to your attention.

Hat tip: Friends of Duke University


Ryan.Paige said...

It's interesting to me that in the Duke Chronicle columns referenced in this article, Duke Director of Judicial Affairs claimed that the University had a contractual relationship with students and that they agree upon matriculation that the University will abide by University policies, whatever they may be.

And then they rush into court last week to say that the University has no contractual relationship with students that requires them to abide by University policies.

It also seems somehow wrong that a University would abandon due process in order to provide "teachable moments" while at the same time steadfastly refusing to learn from its own mistakes.

Perhaps the rules of law that protect Duke University in its current lawsuit should not apply. It would certainly help make for a more pronounced teachable moment if the same standards of due process and legal precedent and protections that Duke routinely abandons when dealing with its students were also abandoned in this lawsuit.