Sunday, June 14, 2009

Nifong & Circumstantial Evidence & "He Knew. No Question"

(First posted 6/8/09)

Sunday I posted Why Nifong Knew About The Case Before Mar. 23.

That post was the first of a two post response to Liestoppers Meeting blogger sceptical’s request that I explain why I’m certain Raleigh News & Observer investigative reporter Joe Neff’s Apr. 2007 Nifong copier “discovery” story reporting Mike Nifong didn’t learn about the Duke lacrosse (DL) case until the afternoon of Mar. 23, 2006 is false.

In the second post I’ll explain why I’m certain Nifong learned of the DL false accuser Crystal Mangum’s charges on Mar. 14, 2006, the same day she made them; and not on Mar. 23 as Neff and the N&O reported and as Nifong subsequently testified in June 2007 at his State Bar trial which led to his disbarment.

Before reading further, please read Why Nifong Knew About The Case Before Mar. 23
and the posts to which it links if you've not already done so.

Moving on - - -

Skeptical, commenting in response to the Nifong Knew post, correctly noted [excerpt]:

John, you make a strong case that Nifong knew about the lacrosse party incident before March 23, but your argument is largely circumstantial, based on what was in the papers and being discussed in Durham at the time.

I look forward to your second post in which I hope you will show specific information that Nifong knew about the incident before the copy machine story.
I want to respond to sceptical’s excerpted comment before publishing my second post explaining why I’m certain Nifong knew of the case on Mar. 14.

Sceptical's right; my first post relies heavily on circumstantial evidence and the conclusion we can reach from such evidence that Nifong knew about the case before Mar. 23.

The circumstantial evidence I relied on is indisputable.

For example, no one disputes the Raleigh N&O published two stories on the case before the 23rd and The Chronicle published one.

Circumstantial evidence is often viewed as less reliable than direct eyewitness statements and testimony under oath.

But eyewitness statements and even direct testimony under oath often turn out to be flat out false, something we've seen repeatedly in the DL case, while circumstantial evidence has often led us to the truth.

That's why in our justice system we're asked to weigh both circumstantial and direct evidence; and that's why in criminal cases circumstantial evidence can by itself be sufficient for conviction or a verdict of "not guilty."

I want to share with you two other items:

First, this Anon comment from the Nifong Knew thread -

During the late 1990's I was the Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor in a small county in Washington State.

Every morning upon arrival at work, I checked with the jail to see who had been booked in the last 24 hours and checked with my counterparts in law enforcement about active investigations. My boss, the Elected Prosecutor, was briefed on everything before noon.

Nifong knew about this investigation within two days of the allegations! I'd bet my house on it.

Moreover, considering he was running for office, he would have been even more involved in the day-to-day activities because of the danger of something politically harmful blowing up during the election. He knew. No question.

Second, this from The Chronicle's web site - - -

With a circulation of about 15,000 and distribution throughout the University, Health System and parts of Durham, The Chronicle has a print readership of about 30,000. The Chronicle Online, established in 1995, gets an average of more than 70,000 hits every day.

Folks, even if we allow that in March 2006 TC had a run of say 10,000 with circulation of 20,000 and say 40,000 hits a day online, don't you find it impossible to believe that with TC's story reporting the rape allegations and Dean Wasilick quoted and Sgt. Gottlieb referenced as reporting the residents in the house were cooperating - - -

and with everything else I mentioned in Nifong Knew plus more some of you could have mentioned - - -

that somehow Mike Nifong didn't know before Mar. 23 and if his wife, Cy Gurney knew, she didn't tell Mike?

Anon has it right: "He knew. No question."


Anonymous said...

Sure, much of the evidence of Nifong's perfidy is circumstantial, but it is quite convincing when considering its volume plus the sleazy nature of Nifong and much of the courtroom crowd in Durham. When dealing with someone who is a proven liar and a manipulator, it is wise to assume guilt rather than granting the presumption of innocence. This is not contrary to our traditions--it is plain common sense. As a wise supreme court justice once said "...the U.S. Constitution is not a suicide pact...." Legal niceties might give leftists a warm, fuzzy feeling, but it makes my skin crawl.
We are pressured every day to grant extraordinary rights to people the sole aim of whose lives is to end ours. I cannot fathom, for example, how anyone but a loon could presume that the Islamofascists who slit Danny Pearl's throat while being videotaped deserve the protections of the U.S. Constitution. And I take serious issue with those, like our esteemed president, who think if we make nice, the terrorists will kill us last (a hat-tip to Sir Winston). In short, how can we tell if Nifong is lying? If his lips are moving.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...


The case you lay out makes perfect sense. No politician involved in a race wants any surprises. Given that Nifong was not a shoe-in in the primary election, the very last thing that he would have wanted was for some clase to appear that could be exploited by his opponents. Any political wife worth her salts would also be on the lookout to make sure that there would be nothing that could possibly sabotage her husband's election chances. Given that Cy Gurney was well connected politically and socially in Durham, this is even more the case. Keep in mind, Nifong was running to increase his pension and this was after he had promised the governor that he had no intentions of seeking the seat (this was his contention when he was appointed). Therefore, there would be those who felt that he had gone back on his promise and would be out to "get him" should the occasion arise so he and his wife would be sensitive to anything that might give fodder to his opponents that he, as a former traffic lawyer, was "not up to the job". Also, and I do not think that this is a point to be disregarded, he (and Cy) were in the election for the money that his position would bring in terms of a retirement payout. He still had a son to put through college and probably, anted to make sure that he and Cy would have a comfortable existence their remaining days.
Any able administrator, as the anon poster to your column pointed out, would come into the office and ask what has happened overnight. To think that one would not do so rather beggars description of any person in authority. That you had a black woman stating that she had been gang raped by three white boys and that they were athletes and students at Duke University which costs boucoup bucks to attend would have shot off fireworks to even the most dimwitted. Given that Nifong needed the black vote to win the primary, this case could be a minepit if he was not careful. If he ignored it, he did so at his own peril. Therefore, it would take careful handling - this explains why, when things began to go south, he took over control of it publicly.
Nifong's hubris in all of this is what is so striking. I am currently reading R.B.Parrish's book - what strikes one, and makes one's blood pressure rise and boil all over again is the arrogance of the man which he seemingly infected all those around him.

sceptical said...

While what cks and several commenters is plausible, let me play devil's advocate.

Since the frame-up was exposed, everyone's mantra has been "Blame Nifong." If Nifong was involved earlier than March 24, why haven't all the other actors from Durham PD, Durham administration, and Duke made that claim, which would lessen their own culpability?

Certainly everyone else among the defendants in the civil suits has every reason to attribute the frame-up events to Nifong, and to have him involved as early as possible.

Why haven't theu done so?

Anonymous said...


There has been no need for anyone to "turn" on Nifong yet. My guess is that if and when discovery proceeds, there will be a number of people who will "suddenly have a refreshing" of their memories.

Though I think Linwood Wilson will be loyal to the end (he has to be one of the most bumbling of people in this whole affair), I do not think that Himan will want to take the rap - if for no other reason, financially he would not be able to maintain the payment of pawyers fees (I also think that Gottlieb will cave for the same reason). But as of right now, they have nothing to gain from being truthful.

JWM said...

Dear TH,

As so often in the past, I agree with what you say, especially when you place such stress on Nifong's chronic lying.

Dear cks,

I have a confession to make to you and everyone else reading this:

I never disagree with people who say what I've said "makes perfect sense."

Dear sceptical,

We should all acknowledge you are making your remarks as a devil's advocate.

You are serving thoughtful people by asking questions that force consideration of alternatives to what I've said.

I plan to respond this evening with some comments on the main page which I hope will add to the useful discussion now going on here.

Dear cks responding to sceptical,

You make some excellent points.

To the three of you, thank you for your comments.


inmyhumbleopinion said...

I wonder what Jackie Brown has to say about when Nifong learned of the Duke lacrosse team party?

On March 27, a Durham police investigator, Angela Ashby, drove to the State Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Raleigh and hand-delivered the DNA evidence...


...On the same day, Nifong started a media offensive....


A vacation surprise

Jackie Brown was at her vacation home on North Topsail Beach in late March when Nifong called, she said in an interview. Brown, a political insider who worked many election campaigns in Durham, had agreed to run his campaign.

Nifong told Brown he was going to be on the news, something with Duke lacrosse.

Brown was surprised: "I said, 'Hold it, do you have any idea what this could do to your campaign, good or bad?' He said no."

Brown told Nifong to keep quiet until they figured out how it would affect the election. She hung up the phone and turned on the television. As Brown channel surfed that evening, she saw her candidate on local news. She watched him on Fox News, her favorite network, and another national show. Brown tried calling Nifong on his cell phone and at his office, but he wasn't answering.


Brown said Wednesday that during the primary campaign, she found that Nifong had no political instincts and had to be told to shake as many hands as he could at a party. For campaign material, he favored a photo of his family by the Eno River over one of him behind a desk with a flag looking like a prosecutor, she said.

"He was the most naive candidate I have ever encountered," Brown said. "He knew nothing about politics."

Brown said when Nifong began giving interviews to scores of reporters during the last week of March, she never thought he was motivated by a desire to win political favor.

"I went to him when he was doing the media -- 'Mike, you need to stop this. You don't know the impact either way this is going to have,' " Brown said. "He was simply caught up in the moment."