Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Duke’s Trustee’s “continuing failure”

Duke University’s trustees are facing a series of lawsuits; part of the fallout from their disgraceful actions and inactions in response to events spawned by Crystal Mangum’s and Mike Nifong’s lies.

Their supporters say the trustees can’t be held responsible for what they did and didn’t do because, among other things, they didn’t know what was really going on.

President Richard Brodhead used the “Who knew?” defense in October 2006 during a 60 Minutes interview with the late Ed Bradley.

Remember Brodhead talking about what a confusing time Spring 2006 was because “the facts kept changing?

But by mid-April 2006 fair-minded, intelligent people recognized the lacrosse players were the victims of police and prosecutorial malfeasence. That was the point of Attorney Spilbor Proves Duke's Trustees Knew.

And that was the point of J. Swift’s outstanding comment on the thread of the Spilbor post.

Swift lists almost 30 Raleigh N&O stories that would have led anyone to question what the now disbarred Mike Nifong and certain Durham Police officers and their supervisors were up to.

Swift says - - -

Credible evidence strongly supports the accusation that Gottlieb and Himan obstructed justice, committed and suborned perjury, intimidated witnesses, and ignored, fabricated and withheld evidence.

The complete failure of their supervisors to [properly] oversee their actions in a highly publicized case belies the explanation that “rogue” investigators led by a “rogue” DA abused their authority. Moreover, the DPD’s failure to discipline any officers for their role in this case can be seen to have validated these actions.

Duke’s continuing failure—long after the case has ended and Duke need no longer be concerned about “interfering” in a criminal case—to criticize either Durham or the DPD and to demand an honest investigation of the DPD’s actions can at best be seen as its acceptance of potentially criminal acts in a deliberate frame of its students.

Even when “the facts [are no longer] changing” and Duke has had a full opportunity to consider its reaction, Duke has taken no action to defend its students’ rights.


Folks, if you haven’t already done so, please take a look at J. Swift’s comment and the rest of the thread here.

Thank you, J. Swift


Anonymous said...

Wait, I thought the Raleigh N&O created the hoax. Now you're telling me there are 30 stories written near the beginning that discredited it?

Looks like your "facts keep changing," John.

JWM said...

Anon @ 11:53,

In coverage between 3/24 and 3/27/2006 the N&O laid out the public part of the libeling and slandering of the lacrosse team as well as the frame-up script.

That was before Nifong began speaking publically.

The N&O's 3/25 story was delibately fraudulant. For example, it claimed to rely on a "police report" when publishing what Mangum said but it's never produced the police report, has it?

When did the N&O tell readers the information critically exculpatory for the players it now admits it withheld from the 3/25 story?

Yes, the N&O reported fact-based hoax and frame-up stories, but it did so while covering up and withholding news it had which would've damaged or outright destroyed the hoax/frame in the beginning.

After that, it's withholding news and failure to properly admit its egregious violations of journalism ethics and simple honesty sustained the frame-up.

I'll say more soon.

bill anderson said...

I agree with John. The N&O was responsible for the lies being shoved into public and being accepted. The "Dancer Recalls Details" piece was a journalistic felony, and people should have been fired for it.

(The main writer, Samiha Khanna, now is in public relations. I only hope that she does not cause more problems for her new employer.)

Later, the N&O ran some good stories, but only after Joe Neff joined the team covering the frame/hoax. Until Neff became involved, the N&O was truly horrible in its coverage, rivaling that of the NY Times and the Herald-Sun.

Jim in San Diego said...

What would have happened at Duke had the Lacrosse players been guilty as charged?

Among other things, there would have been campus-wide indoctrination programs, led by G88and their brethren, on their favorite race/gender/class themes. At a minimum, all students would have to attend. Possibly all faculty as well. The True Believers would have claimed all their prejudices were validated.

We know this because G88 members were calling for exactly this indoctrination program during the spring of 2006. That initiative went back into hibernation, but did not die, as the case imploded.

So, the players turned out to be innocent. What, then, would be an appropriate instituional response to the behavior of much of its faculty and its entire administration?

I suggest a mandatory indoctrination on Civics 101. The agenda could include the importance of the Bill of Rights.

Why do we presume innocence? What in our history persuaded us this was a good idea?

Why, in short, is the presumption of innocence not a "silly sentimentalism", as opined by(former) Duke professor Houston Baker?

The G88 and many others need to learn what happened in history when citizens did not have the right to counsel, or were not protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Why do we have an adversarial system of justice? In other justice systems, the accused has the burden of proof to prove their innocence.

So, why did we insist on passing the Bill of Rights as the first ten amendments to the pact by which we agreed to be governed?

There are too many with responsible positions over our children who do not know the answers to these questions.

Some of them do not appear to know the questions have ever been asked.

Jim Peterson

Anonymous said...

Consider President Brodhead’s apology to the lacrosse players in September 2007 in light of what was known at that time and, more importantly, what subsequent actions Duke has taken.

In his apology, Brodhead expressed his opinion that “this whole matter had to be entrusted to the criminal justice system for its resolution.” He admitted that “this episode has taught me a hard lesson about the criminal justice system and what it means to rely on it.”

He offered criticism of Nifong, but avoided criticism of other participants in the frame: “In this case, it was an officer of this system itself who presented false allegations as true, suppressed contrary evidence, and subverted the process he was sworn to uphold. Relying on the criminal justice system in this case proved to have serious limits.”

He explained his dilemma: “But for the university to strive to set the system to rights—for instance, by attacking the District Attorney—presented problems as well. For one thing, none of us can lightly speak as if the system itself is tainted because some of our own have been accused of a crime. I was also concerned that if Duke spoke out in an overly aggressive fashion, it would be perceived that a well-connected institution was improperly attempting to influence the judicial process, which could have caused the case to miscarry in a variety of ways.”

At the time Brodhead spoke these words, his dilemma had already ended. The criminal case had concluded more than four months earlier when the AG dropped all charges, opining that the players were “innocent” and that there was “no credible evidence” that the crimes for which they had been charged had even occurred. Nifong had been disbarred and found guilty of criminal contempt. Duke could no longer be accused that it “was improperly attempting to influence the judicial process.” There was no longer a judicial process to influence.

Brodhead was fully at liberty to demand an investigation—if for no other reason than to prevent a recurrence of this “fiasco” for other Duke students or other Durham residents.

Before Brodhead spoke, publicly available information from the filings in the criminal case, the AG’s report, and Nifong’s disbarment and criminal contempt hearings had already provided substantial evidence to support allegations that Nifong and Durham police officers had committed crimes as they deliberately framed three Duke students for a sexual assault they knew had never occurred. Brodhead knew that an honest investigation was needed to substantiate these charges and identify needed reforms, but he failed to make this call.

In his apology, Brodhead admitted that he failed to insist unequivocally on the need for due process: “Even with all that, Duke needed to be clear that it demanded fair treatment for its students.”

These have been shown to be idle words. In the fifteen months since Brodhead delivered his apology, Duke has taken no steps to uphold this demand for fairness.

Duke’s continuing failure to protect its students cannot be explained by uncertainty of the facts or a desire to avoid improper influence. Those excuses died no later than April 2007. Duke justifies its inaction only by pointing to the past and asking that we ignore the present. Even if one ignores the mistakes of the past, Duke’s position in the present remains indefensible.


Anonymous said...


Well said.

In my opinion, Broadhead is a poster boy for academic corruption. The interesting part of this scenerio is everyone at Duke knows what he did and didn't do. It must be like walking into a sewer having to deal with this guy.