Saturday, June 23, 2007

INNOCENT: H-S Not Wrong In This Case (Post 2)

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Recently the Durham Herald Sun published a letter you’ll find in this post: "INNOCENT:A Zany & Dangerous Letter."

The post fisks a good part of the letter. On its thread at least one commenter took issue with what I’d done, and there were a few who took issue with the H-S for publishing the letter in the first place. There was a lot more commentary, too. And all of the comments were civil and serious.

I responded on the thread and also in a separate post dealing with the issue of whether the H-S should have published the letter in the first place. You can read that post and comment thread here: "INNOCENT: H-S Not Wrong In This Case."

As with the first post, the comments were civil and informed.

I wanted to say more but was traveling. So now I’ll add a few thoughts and folks familiar with the two posts and threads can respond.

On the matter of whether a community should publish letters expressing dangerous and zany ideas, in most circumstances I’ve no problem with that so long as the newspaper provides counter letters and, with its editorials and solid news reporting, provides its own counter.

On the matter of whether a community newspaper should publish statements that are extreme and false (nothing wrong with being extreme and right. Once those who argued there were things called germs that caused disease were extreme), again I’d hold to let the extreme and false statements appear in community newspapers so long as there are the counters I mentioned about.

(Anticipating the troll who’ll show up saying, “In that case, why do you delete comments?” we must remember that blogs are private affairs and don’t seek extra protections and financial subsidies from the government in exchange for what they do. And BTW – I’ll delete that troll comment when it appears.)

Now two final points:

First, here are two sentences from the letter:

”I do think this case should have gone to trial so all the facts could come out.”


“Our legal system must protect those who are falsely accused, but not by quickly dismissing the claims of women.”
The first sentence is manifestly false. Actual evidence is often suppressed at trials while Nifong-type “manufactured evidence” often becomes part of the record.

The second sentence is zany because in the case the letter writer is talking about, we know the woman’s manifestly bogus claims were taken so seriously, they were used to indict three obviously innocent young men who only escaped long jail terms because they were able to mount a defense that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Those sentences and other like them in that letter should scare us; and not just because of their falseness and zaniness. They should scare us because so many people believe them!

I’d love to think only an extreme element of Durham’s population believes everything would have come out at the trial. But that’s not the case. Many thousands of people here believe that.

The letter writer was no more extreme than the professional journalists KC Johnson cites today in his post here.

We have a lot of work to do in our communities and in this country to help people learn that the justice system is not supposed to be about enforcing their prejudices but securing fair treatment for all, even when that means questioning what a woman says or standing up for white males.

My last point is a repeat: Those first two threads were terrific. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Your turn


To Wayne Fontes and Liestoppers forum humorists

Thanks for the heads up.

I love the parody which JinC folks can view here.

And BTW - in that article your "working on" - doesn’t Jason Bissey say something about how if he had called Sgt. Gottlieb and Inv. Himan sooner, Nifong's Bar trial "might never have happened?"

I'm rushing now, but will say more later.

Any plans for another "article" tomorrow reporting on the potbangers' "CASTRATE" rally?

Keep up the great work.

John in Carolina.

INNOCENT: McClancy for Duke Prez?

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007


This is a great blog story with a surprise happy ending.

Back on Dec. 5, 2006 Duke's Dick Brodhead, the University's President, had still not said a single public word critical of Mike Nifong.

Brodhead would only do that a few weeks later after DNA expert Brian Meehan had admitted in open court he'd conspired with Nifong to hide exculpatory DNA evidence. At that point Brodhead calculated it was best for him to join those who'd been criticizing Nifong for the past nine months.

On Dec. 5, with both Brodhead's refusal to criticize Nifong and his whinny "It was a very confusing time" excuse in mind, I published " What McClancy Told the N&O."

I'd like you to read it. Then I'll share with you a happy ending to the McClancy post.

Dec. 5, 2006 - "What McClancy Told the N&O"

On April 2 the Raleigh News & Observer published its infamous “Vigilante” poster photo containing the names and face photos of 43 white Duke lacrosse players. We did not know then the DNA results would be negative; and we were many weeks away from learning about the rigged identification procedure in which, as Duke Law professor James Coleman said, “there could be no wrong answers.”

So on April 3 when N&O reader John McClancy left a comment at 17:43 on this post thread at the N&O’s Editors’ Blog he knew nothing about the DNA results or the identification travesty.

With that in mind, let’s look at some what McClancy said Apr. 3 to the N&O’s executive editor for news, Melanie Sill:

Instead of focusing on the facts, your paper trades in classic yellow journalist, pandering to sensationalism to sell newspapers regardless of the cost of another’s reputation or safety.

The only thing that is clear is that the woman had sex. It has not been established who she had sex with or under what conditions, or that it even occurred at the party at all.

Yet the News and Observer, both through your columnists and bias (sic) reporting, continues to inflame the community. The players are castigated and defamed merely for exercising their constitutional rights to follow their attorneys’ wise council.

As a journalist, would you treat exercising the first amendment with the same contempt?

Refusing to comment, especially to a reporter, is not an admission of guilt or even of knowledge of a crime: it is simply good sense! Or do you really expect them to trust the balanced reporting of the News and Observer? […]

After Duke wisely removed the players’ photographs from the website for their own safety, the News and Observer published them so that anyone not getting to the website in time would still have names and faces.

Most, if not all, of these young men may not have been involved in any way, but the News and Observer has lead the way in making them all targets in an emotionally charged and racially divided community.

It may be that this woman’s story is the absolute truth. Even so, the perpetrators deserve their day in court. And those who may be completely innocent deserve to be able to go on with their lives without fear of becoming the victim of a reprisal because of your need to sell newspapers.
Duke University’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, has said last March and April were a “very confusing” time.

N&O reader John McClancy doesn't sound very confused, does he?

I hope McClancy sees this.

What a wonderful piece of citizen journalism! If President Brodhead had spoken last spring with as much common sense, insistence on fairness for his students and respect for their students constitutional rights, the witch hunt and attempted frame-up would not have gone as far as they did.

I wanted McClancy to know that justice seekers appreciated his wise and decent words.

But I heard nothing from him and the post dropped out of my active memory.

Then last evening into my "IN" box came:

Well, I finally have seen it. Thanks for the kudos.

But geez, who knew?

For the first two weeks, Nifong pulled one the screwdest political move I had ever seen. If he had shut up then, he would have been governor for sure. As it is....

John McClancy
"All's Well That Ends Well"

It was wonderful hearing from you, Mr. McClancy.

And have you ever thought of a career change and perhaps serving as .......?

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jun 22, 2007

(One of a series of weekend posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Let’s end the week with another account of Churchill under enemy fire and lucky to escape with his life.

It’s mid-April 1900. Churchill has been taking part in the Boer War as both a serving officer and a war correspondent for the Morning Post, a most unusual arrangement Churchill obtained through family influence and over the objections of the senior officers in the field.

In Churchill: Wanted Dead or Alive his granddaughter, Celia Sandys, recounts an incident in which Churchill, accompanying a troop of mounted scouts, found himself in a trap (WSC’s words from his Morning Post account of the incident are in quotation marks):

Then the Scouts were forced to dismount, some hundred yards from the hilltop, to cut a wire fence barring their way.

The delay was fatal to their venture and very nearly fatal for the Morning Post’s correspondent.

The heads of a dozen Boers appeared above the rocks, “grim, hairy and terrible.” There were obviously many more behind them.

“‘Too late,’ McNeill called, ‘back to the other kopje [hill]. Gallop!’

Then the musketry crashed out, and the ‘swish’ and ‘whir’ of bullets filled the air. I put my foot in the stirrup. The horse terrified at the firing, plunged wildly.”

When Churchill tried to spring into the saddle it slipped and his horse, breaking away, galloped after the fast-disappearing Scouts: “I was alone, dismounted, within the closest range, within the closest range, and a mile at least from cover of nay kind”

For the second time in South Africa, Churchill had to run for his life from Boer riflemen.

Then a lone rider appeared ahead of him. From his cap badge he was a member of Montmorency’s Scouts, “a tall man, with a skull and crossbones badge, and on a pale horse. Death in Revelation, but life to me.”

Churchill called for a stirrup and when to his surprise the man stopped, mounted behind him.
Together they made it to safety. Had they not we might notice in an encyclopedia entry for Lord Randolph Churchill a line noting his eldest son, Winston, then age 25, was killed during the Boer War.

Please look tomorrow, Sunday, for a post concerning JinC “editors.” I’ll mention a series comment made earlier this week regarding Churchill’s use of a Mauser pistol at Omdurman.

Have a restful weekend


INNOCENT: Grandparent speaks up for DPD

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

The Durham Herald Sun recently published a letter by Durham Police Corporal David Addison in which Addison expressed his upset about what’s happened since the public got an idea of what went on in Durham during the Duke Hoax.

It’s now certain that members of “the Nifong/DPD Duke lacrosse investigative team” repeatedly and deliberately made false statements to the public, created bogus “evidence,” suppressed exculpatory evidence, and arrested and charged with multiple felonies three young men Nifong and some DPD officers knew were innocent.

Now, none of that bothers Leftists or many “victims’ advocates,” “Durham progressives,” Duke faculty Group of 88 types, and ACLU and NAACP members.

But it sure does bother decent Durham citizens who cherish justice and constitutional rights.

And those citizens have gotten things so “stirred up” here in Durham that the Mayor and City Council have gone and commissioned a panel to investigate what the DPD officers on the “Nifong/DPD investigative team” and their supervisors did as their part of – let’s call it what it was – an attempted frame-up.

Addison doesn’t like the idea of an investigative panel one bit. And who can blame him?

If you’d been DPD spokesperson late last March and you’d given false information to the media and public, and sent out the text of a false Durham CrimeStoppers Wanted poster, would you want a panel asking questions about what you did?

Wouldn’t you all be especially upset when you learned the panel was headed by a very respected former law school dean and former NC Supreme Court Justice?

So we can all understand why Addison would want to write a letter and tell people he was upset about what the panel might do to DPD, can’t we?

None of us would expect Addison to admit he's really concerned about himself: that he doesn’t want to answer questions the panel will certainly ask him.

Questions such as: “Corporal Addison, how did you determine a “brutal rape” had been committed; and did any of your superiors ever tell you to correct that false statement?”

And what about this question: "Whose idea was it, Corporal Addison, to put all that false information in the text of the CrimeStoppers' Wanted poster?"

You can read Addison’s letter here and more about him and the fallout from his letter here, here and here. Those latter two posts contain four excellent letters the H-S published in response to Addison’s.

I received offline the letter below which I’m guessing the H-S didn’t print because it had already published the other four letters. I’m publishing it here with the writer’s consent. It’s from a member of the Duke lacrosse family whose grandson was a member of the 2006 team.

I think it's remarkeable letter. I'll be interested to read what you think.

To the editor:

Durham Police Corporal David Addison’s outrageous accusation that Durham city leaders are making slanderous and vicious attacks on the Durham Police Department is nothing more than Addison’s attempt to hide behind DPD so people won’t question what he did last spring.

As DPD spokesman on the Duke Lacrosse case, Cpl. Addison’s statements were printed and broadcast by hundreds of news organizations between March 24-28, 2006.

With absolute certainty Addison claimed one victim was “brutally raped.” He said all members of the lacrosse team had refused to cooperate with DPD. He told Durham citizens and the world there was really, really strong physical evidence of the crime.

All of that was false!

On March 28, 2006, as CrimeStoppers liaison, Addison widely distributed by email to DPD substations and to the media the unqualified and false claims that the victim was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed at a party hosted by the Duke Lacrosse Team.

Later, the Special Prosecutors in the NC Attorney General’s office found the claims of a “brutal rape” made by the now disgraced Mike Nifong and DPD spokesperson Addison were completely false.

Addison's statements and actions leave some DPD members suspect and the many decent DPD law enforcement officers unfairly tainted by association.

College students in Durham, their families, and everyone else in Durham are entitled to know they will not be framed by a small gang in the DPD.

Durham citizens are entitled to know that officers who go outside the law will be identified and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Honest law officers have nothing to fear from a truthful investigation. Rogue cops do!

The City Council’s approach is essential to restoring trust in the Durham Police Department.

G. Holman King
Granbury, Texas

The writer is a proud Duke Lacrosse grandparent.

The Churchill Series – June 21, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Readers Note: If you did not see the comment following yesterday’s series post recounting how Churchill’s use during the Battle of Omdurman of a Mauser pistol rather than a sword saved his life, I urge you to take a look at the comment. I plan to mention the comment in a post this weekend concerning all the informed and very helpful “editors” I have. In the post I want to refute that silly and self-serving claim many in MSM make that “bloggers don’t have editors.”

In the meantime, thank you to the commenter/”editor;” and here’s a link that says more about the Mauser model Churchill used.


Be careful, folks. This one is off the top of my head.

It’s all but a miracle Churchill ever lived to become Britain’s wartime leader.

Put aside the terrorist groups that over the decades plotted to assassinate him. Disregard if you wish the time he was almost killed in 1931 when he was hit be an auto in New York City.

Just consider how often between 1895 and 1917 he was in close combat under small arms, mortar and artillery fire in at least five wars.

He first came under fire in Cuba where in 1895, as a recent graduate of Sandhurst, he’d gone to observe the fighting between Cuban rebels and Spain, which then controlled Cuba.

In the late 1890s he took part in the savage fighting in what was then Northwest India and is now Afghanistan.

In 1898, he was part of the British force that retook the Sudan in The River War. He engaged in hand-to-hand combat during the fighting there.

Shortly thereafter, Churchill took part in the Boer War in which he was repeatedly shot at. In one engagement, a trooper riding beside and just a few feet behind him was shot dead. In another engagement, his brother Jack was wounded while fighting literally at his side. And in a third engagement, Churchill had a horse shot out from under him.

Those are just a few of the many “close calls” Churchill had during the Boer War.

He had many other "close calls" during WWI when he served in the trenches, including one instance when he left his dugout to report to a rear echelon superior office. Within about 10 minutes of his leaving the dugout it was hit directly by a German artillery shell. I believe there were either one or two soldiers in the dugout who were, of course, killed.

Five wars on four continents! And all that before WW II!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

INNOCENT: Duke's "baggage" problems

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Chronicle columnist Kirsten Butler is delighted Nifong’s leaving the DA’s office. She’s glad Duke’s reached a settlement with David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmannn and their families. She also wants to see Duke come together.

But in response to President Richard Brodhead’s latest pronouncement that we all need to “move forward,” Butler calls attention to important matters that have people asking why Brodhead doesn’t deal with certain “baggage” before he demands once again that “the Duke community move forward.” Here’s some of what Butler says today:

Among other things, mystery still surrounds Brodhead's decision to appoint Chauncey Nartey, Trinity '07, to the Campus Culture Initiative and take him on tour for the "A Duke Conversation" series.

As we now know, Nartey sent former head lacrosse coach Mike Pressler an e-mail message asking "What if Janet Lynn were next" during the early days of the scandal, which Pressler (appropriately) interpreted as a threat against his daughter.

Yet when asked about the inexplicable decision to reward Nartey's behavior with student leadership positions, Brodhead offered no explanation.

Similarly, the same senior administrators who termed Pressler's "resignation" (the coach was forced to quit) "highly appropriate" last spring now laud Pressler's "excellent" coaching skills and thank him for doing "a great job building the Duke men's lacrosse program." No attempt has been made to reconcile these statements, nor to apologize for the coach's forced departure.

Consider also that because it is Duke's normal policy to keep the terms of financial settlements "private," we cannot know how much it cost the University to protect faculty members and administrators against legal action.

We don't know where that money is coming from or even whether the settlement itself is fair to Duke or its former students.

Moreover, it's hard to see how this administrative secrecy is compatible with Duke's mission as an educational community; such policies make it impossible for students, faculty and alumni to comment intelligently on University affairs.

If other world-class institutions routinely make this information public without injury (on the same day the Duke settlements were announced The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the University of Wisconsin at Madison paid $135,000 to settle a claim with a former administrator), Duke can surely do the same.

Administrators have yet to provide a compelling reason why they choose not to, or how their choices benefit anyone outside of the Allen Building. . . .

Will Duke … combat … and work actively to stop the Durham Police Department's systematic violation of students' rights? Or will it continue to invite more scandals?
There are many other important matters which Brodhead and Board Chair Robert Steel have refused to explain.

Why, for example, did Brodhead refuse to meet with the lacrosse parents last March 25 when they were on campus and their sons had just been ordered to submit to police DNA testing and photographing because they had been identified as suspects in a gang-rape investigation?

Why did Brodhead and Steel not meet with the parents for another 11 months?

Why has Duke failed to deny repeated reports Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek told the lacrosse players not to inform their parents they were suspects in a police investigation?

Why did Brodhead refuse to say anything critical of the “activists” on campus who within sight of his office windows distributed and posted on Duke buildings copies of the notorious “Vigilante” poster which targeted and endangered white male lacrosse players?

Why does anyone think Duke can “come together” and “move forward” before we have full, honest explanations for the matters Butler discusses in her column and the kind of questions I’ve just asked?

You can read Butler’s column here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jun. 20, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Yesterday’s series post included a link to a few details concerning the Battle of Omdurman in which on September 2, 1898 Churchill took part in the last major cavalry charge of the British army. The British victory at Omdurman over the Dervish army secured the upper Nile (now Sudan) for Queen Victoria’s Empire.

I said yesterday I’d post today on how an accident in India saved Churchill’s life at Omdurman. Here how that came about.

Regulars to this series will recall that when Churchill first arrived in India he was stepping off a small landing boat and preparing to mount steps that would take him up the side of a quay when the boat started drifting away from the steps. Churchill grabbed for a rope ring to avoid falling into the water. He was thereby able to mount the steps but in the process sustained a serious muscle tear at the place where his arm and shoulder joined. The tear left Churchill with a life-long limited rotation in his right arm and shoulder.

Now he tells us what he did in consideration of his shoulder problem and how it saved his life. From My Early Life:

I had always decided that if I were involved in hand-to-hand fighting, I must use a pistol and not a sword. I had purchased in London a Mauser automatic pistol, then the newest and the latest design. I had practiced carefully with this during our march and journey up the river. This then was the weapon with which I determined to fight. . . .(pg. 189)
Now in the midst of the battle Churchill finds himself separated from his troop and surrounded by Dervish fighters. He’s mounted and the Dervishes are on foot. One gets close beside his and intends to swing for Churchill’s leg and cut his hamstring muscle so he’ll be unable to control his horse:
… I saw the gleam of his curved sword as he drew it back for a ham-stringing cut. I had room and time enough to turn my pony out of his reach, and leaning over on the off side I fired two shots into him at three yards.

As I straightened myself in the saddle, I saw before me another figure with uplifted sword. I raised my pistol and fired. So close were we that the pistol itself actually struck him. Man and sword disappeared below and behind me. (pg. 191)
Churchill was twenty-three at the time of the battle. He lived on another sixty-seven years, in time becoming the last surviving British officer to have participated in the famous cavalry charge at Omdurman.

INNOCENT: The N&O’s “Duke deal” story

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

On the front-page of today’s Raleigh News & Observer we see the headlines:

Duke deal shields faculty
Some spoke out after rape claims
Under reporters Anne Blythe and Eric Ferreri bylines with reporters Benjamin Niolet and Joseph Neff listed as contributors, the story begins:
Duke University's settlement with exonerated lacrosse players gives legal protection to faculty members, some of whom have been under siege for speaking out in the wake of the gang-rape allegations.

Neither side would disclose the terms of the agreement, announced Monday, but Duke's faculty chairman, Paul Haagen, informed professors that one provision is that all faculty members have been released from liability related to the lacrosse case.

That news sparked another round of vitriolic messages from e-mailers and bloggers still exercised over a student newspaper ad signed in the spring of 2006 by 88 Duke professors, who decried a campus culture of racism and sexism.

As Duke shut the door on lawsuits by the players in the lacrosse case, the Durham County sheriff on Tuesday slammed shut District Attorney Mike Nifong's access to the courthouse where he has worked 29 years. Orlando Hudson, the county's chief resident Superior Court judge, entered an order suspending Nifong with pay.
The N&O story is really two stories lumped together: the Duke settlement and matters related to it, and Nifong’s immediate legal and related difficulties.

I’m going to ignore the portions of the story dealing with Nifong and focus only on the N&O’s reporting of the “Duke deal” which reeks of a pro-Group of 88 bias and is, I believe, sloppy with at least one very important fact.

The N&O’s pro Group of 88 bias is obvious in the headlines:
Duke deal shields faculty
Some spoke out after rape claims
But Duke isn’t paying out money to exempt Professors Steve Baldwin, James Coleman and Michael Gustafson and Coaches Kerstin Kimel and Mike Krzyzewski for “speak[ing] out after rape claims.”

Duke’s paying out for statements and actions by certain faculty, including some Group of 88 members, which many legal theorists believe were potentially libelous.

There’s no problem with Duke faculty speaking out about "rape claims." We all know that.

But you can’t libel people, even if they are white male Duke students.

A less biased and more accurate headline would have been:
Duke settlement protects faculty from liability claims
Now let’s look at this paragraph:
That news sparked another round of vitriolic messages from e-mailers and bloggers still exercised over a student newspaper ad signed in the spring of 2006 by 88 Duke professors, who decried a campus culture of racism and sexism
Here we go again, folks.

The messages are “vitriolic?” Blythe, Ferreri, Niolet and Neff don’t say how they determined that. They don’t even say whether they read any or all of the massages.

Mightn’t some of the messages have been informed, fair-minded and properly critical?

And who are these latest e-mailers? Are they anything like the overwhelmingly civil, informed and caring e-mailers (a few haters and trolls mixed in) I’ve been hearing from the last fifteen months?

Does the N&O know whether these latest "e-mailers and bloggers" are the kind of people who were and remain concerned by statements and actions of certain faculty?

Does the N&O know whether the people writing "vitriolic" message are concerned by the same or similar statements and actions I'll bet the University Counsel and Trustees had in mind when they agreed to what was almost certainly a very hefty financial settlement?

Following the subhead - Duke's reasoning - the story continues:
Duke, too, is struggling to restore its image, and that, legal experts say, is one reason the university would settle such a case.
Another reason was to avoid the potential liability that Haagen assures his faculty colleagues they no longer bear.

The N&O, with four reporters working the story, failed to provide readers with even one example of a statement or action by a Duke faculty member that Haagen, a law professor, could tell readers Duke had in mind when it paid out to spare certain faculty from libel suits and itself from the odium of employing such faculty.

And if Haagen had been reluctant to cite examples, it wouldn’t have been hard for one of the four reporters to locate attorneys who have followed the case, and could have cited statements and actions by certain faculty that were potentially libelous.

But that’s not the kind of reporting you’d expect in a strongly pro Group of 88 story, is it?

There are other examples of bias further along in the story, but I’ve made my point.

Now let’s look at the reporters’ sloppy treatment of at least one very important fact.

To do that let’s look again at the story’s first two paragraphs:
Duke University's settlement with exonerated lacrosse players gives legal protection to faculty members, some of whom have been under siege for speaking out in the wake of the gang-rape allegations.

Neither side would disclose the terms of the agreement, announced Monday, but Duke's faculty chairman, Paul Haagen, informed professors that one provision is that all faculty members have been released from liability related to the lacrosse case.
The agreement announced Monday, we’ve previously been told, involved the three members of the Duke lacrosse team who were indicted as part of an attempted frame-up and their families.

There has been no report that Monday’s agreement also involved any of the other forty-four team members or their families.

If they were not involved in Monday’s settlement, what’s to stop one, some or all of the forty-four from bringing a libel action against one or some Duke faculty, and possibly Duke?

If the forty-four were somehow included in Monday’s settlement, the story doesn’t report that.

If the other team members were not involved in Monday’s settlement, than what the N&O should have reported is that faculty members have been released from liability related to the lacrosse case by David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and their families, but not by the other forty-four members of the team or their families.

I’ll send lead reporter Anne Blythe a link to this post and request she at least clarify the matter of just who released Duke faculty from liability.

I'll offer to post her response in full.

Here's another link to the N&O story.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Churchill Series – Jun, 19, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

The Encylopedia Britannica’s entry for the Battle of Omdurman begins:

(Sept. 2, 1898), decisive military engagement in which Anglo-Egyptian forces, under Major General Sir Herbert Kitchener (later Lord Kitchener), defeated the forces of the Mahdist leader 'Abd Allah and thereby won Sudanese territory that the Mahdists had dominated since 1881.
As many of you know, Churchill was part of the British military force that journeyed up the Nile and met the Mahdi’s army at Omdurman.

Churchill, a combat-experienced cavalry officer, volunteered to join Kitchener’s force which was short of officers who’d led men in battle. But Kitchener initially objected to the War Office’s assigning Churchill to his command, in part because in newspaper articles Churchill had been critical of his superior officers.

When Churchill finally succeeded overcoming Kitchener’s objections, he left London immediately for Egypt, but arrived after most of Kitchener’s force had already started up the Nile.

Churchill continues the story in My Early Life:
All was excitement and hustle at Abassiyeh Barracks. Two squadrons of the 21st Lancers had already started up the Nile. The other two were to leave the next morning.

Altogether seven additional officers from other cavalry regiments had been attached to the 21st to bring them up to full war-strength. These officers were distributed in command of troops about the various squadrons.

A troop had been reserved for me in one of the leading squadrons. But the delay and uncertainty about my coming had given this to another. Second-Lieutenant Robert Grenfell had succeeded in obtaining this vacancy. He had gone off in the highest spirits.

At the base everyone believed that we should be too late for the battle. Perhaps the first two squadrons might get up in time, but no one could tell. “Fancy how lucky I am,” wrote Grenfell to his family. “Here I have got the troop that would have been Winston’s, and we are to be the first to start.”

Chance is unceasingly at work in our lives, but we cannot always see its working sharply and clearly defined. As it turned out, this troop was practically cut to pieces in the charge . . . and its brave young leader was killed. (pg. 167-168)
Churchill caught up with Kitchener’s main force in time to take part in the battle at Omdurman. I’ll say more tomorrow about Churchill’s involvement in it, including how his life was spared because of an accident – that happened in India.

INNOCENT: Thanks again, Beth Brewer

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
The AP reports today:

A judge suspended District Attorney Mike Nifong effective immediately Tuesday after learning the prosecutor disbarred for his handling of the Duke lacrosse rape case intended to stay in office for another month.

The sheriff immediately stripped Nifong of his badge and the keys to his office.

There is probable cause to believe that Nifong "has engaged in willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which brings the office into disrepute," Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson wrote in his order.

Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill went to Nifong's house with a deputy to serve the order Tuesday morning.
We have a Durham citizen, Beth Brewer, to thank for Judge Hudson’s immediate suspension of Mike Nifong as Durham DA.

Back in early February of this year, Beth filed an affidavit in Durham County Superior Court asking the court to exercise its authority to remove DA Mike Nifong from the office it was evident he’d abused and disgraced.

Judge Hudson could have acted then but he declined to do so until today.

It’s too bad Hudson delayed for four months but at least he did the right thing today in finally acting on Beth’s affidavit.

You can read in this JinC post, That Affidavit Got Results, what I said at the time Beth filed her affidavit.

And over at Liestoppers where Beth has blogged and which supported and publicized her efforts, you can read this post which provides background and current reporting on today’s events.

If you are just learning about Beth Brewer and the very important role she played in helping bring this day of justice in Durham about, please read this JinC post, Thank you, Beth Brewer , which details the work she did to try to unseat Nifong in last fall’s general election.

I’ve said, “Thank you, Beth Brewer," before and I’m very happy to say, “Thanks again, Beth Brewer.”

All of us in Durham who value justice owe Beth Brewer our deepest thanks.

Thank you, Beth Brewer

Blogging resumes late Tuesday


I'm traveling most of today.

Blogging will resume about 9 PM Eastern Jun, 19.

I hope you're back then.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Gaza: are you surprised?

Twenty-two months after Israel pulled out of Gaza, pundit John Podhoretz isn’t surprised by what's happening there now.

Excerpts from his most recent column:

Someone asked Benjamin Franklin what America got out of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. His reply: "A republic - if you can keep it."

So it was with Gaza in August 2005. The Palestinians got a "homeland, if you can keep it."

What they got instead was hell on earth.

What they got was two brutally murderous gangs, Fatah and Hamas, competing for power by throwing people off the roofs of buildings and slaughtering rivals in front of their wives and children.

What they got was Tony Soprano (Fatah) vs. Phil Leotardo (Hamas). Only this time, Tony got his head smashed in by the SUV.

This isn't a civil war - it's a gang war.

And thousands of Palestinian bystanders are going to get shot while these two gangs go to the mattresses.

Ah, the joys of self-rule.

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister who conceived the disengagement plan, had a brilliant insight: Why not let them have it? They want it? It's theirs.

After all, over the course of Israel's 38 years of occupation, fewer than 10,000 Jews actually sought to live in Gaza - and their settlements required tens of thousands of other Israelis to risk their lives protecting them.

The Palestinians spent decades professing their detestation of Israeli occupation and demanding self-rule . . . so Israel gave them their heart's desire.

Gaza is Judenrein - emptied of all Jews, just as Hitler dreamed Germany would be. No Jews live in Gaza. No Jews patrol Gaza. It's Jew-Free-by-the-Sea, with a charming Mediterranean coast worth billions of dollars in tourism and trade.

So what's the problem?

The problem is that the Jews weren't the problem.

The problem is that the Palestinians are the problem: They are drenched in an ideology of blood and murder and suicide.
(emphasis mine)

A new nation must be brought into being, nurtured and built. But Palestinian political culture is a culture of destruction.

And a culture of destruction is, inevitably, a culture of self-destruction.
Podhoretz column is here.

I think he’s right on the money.

What about you?

Hat tip: Betsy’s Page

INNOCENT: H- S not wrong in this case

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007

Today I posted in response to a letter that appeared in the Durham Herald Sun. You can read my post, which contains the letter in full, here.

The first comment the post drew was this from an Anon:

[Letter writer] Schlegel shouldn't be faulted for having bizarre thoughts; after all, she had some pretty serious trauma fighting cancer. She is probably more to be pitied for having trouble grasping reality.

The Hurled Scum was absolutely dead wrong in publishing the poor woman's letter, exposing her aberratiions (sic) for all to see. I liken it to pointing and laughing at someone having a grand mal seizure. At this juncture, what is gained by publishing the ravings of someone who is obviously trouobled (sic)? Hurled Scum does it again!! What a rag!!!
I read the comment a few times trying to decide whether it was a troll's comment that simply deserved deletion.

I've decided to treat the comment as being a genuine expression of belief by a person whose conscious intentions are well-meant.

That said, I take very strong exception to just about everything the commenter says.

To label Ms. Schlegel's statements as bizarre and attribute them to her cancer without detailed clinical knowledge of her condition is presumptuous in the extreme.

It also ignores some very salient facts including the following:

1) Ten of millions of cancer survivors are thoughtful, skilled, intelligent and able citizens who are as free, if not more free, of bizarre thoughts than the average citizen.

2) Everything Schlegel said in her letter has been said by people paid to write news reports, columns and editorial for our largest circulation newspapers; and to host and comment on our cable channels.

Most of those people are not cancer survivors. They are just people like Schlegal who've embraced zany and dangerous ideas.

3) There was nothing I read in Schlegel's letter that I haven't heard again and again from people here in Durham I've know for ten, twenty and thirty plus years. And most of them are people who've never had cancer.

I could say more but I hope I've made my points: lots of people who've never had cancer say what Schlegel said; there's no reason to believe she said what she said because of her cancer; and her opinions are ones many, including many in media and in Durham, share.

Therefore, in publishing her letter, the Herald Sun, was giving voice to one segment of community opinion.

That was a reasonable thing for a newspaper to do even as I disagree with just about everything in Schlegel's letter.

Again, you can read her letter here.

INNOCENT: A Zany & Dangerous Letter

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
In today’s Durham Herald Sun there’s a letter in which almost every sentence contains an assertion that is zany, dangerous or both.

Usually I ignore such letters but this one really deserves a fisking.

From Judy Schlegel of Durham, the letter runs under the head: Don't call her a liar

As a woman, I remain very disturbed at the way the events of the lacrosse case are being played out.

[ Just what it is that disturbs you, Ms. Schlegel? That the young men who were the victims of an attempted frame-up have been declared innocent by NC’s Attorney General? That the State Bar’s panel that tried Nifong affirmed the AG’s finding of innocence? ]

Would the accused be treated like sweet, innocent victims if they were not super rich?

[ Their families are not "super rich" but if their families hadn’t the resources to hire expensive defense attorneys, the frame-up might well have worked.

In that case, you and people like you would be very satisfied that David Evens, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann would be going to jail for most or all of the rest of their lives.

Ms. Schlegel, people like you are dangerous. No one should support the actions of rogue prosecutors like Mike Nifong who corrupt justice by framing innocent citizens.

If America ever gets enough people like you and Nifong, the country will be well on its way to becoming a police state.

Are we going back to the days when the victim of a sexual assault must defend herself?

[ Sexual assault is a terrible wrong. Women, men and children shouldn’t have to defend themselves from sexual assault. People who perpetrate sexual assaults should be subject to legal punishment just as robbers, muggers, and people who falsely accuse others of crimes should be subject to legal punishments.

But in a courtroom someone who’s claimed to be a victim of a sexual assault has to be ready to help defend and prove what they've charged because in America people accused of crimes have the rights to confront and challenge their accusers at trial.

And wouldn't you want those rights for yourself, Ms. Schlegel, if a woman accused you of sexually assaulting her?

You wouldn't want people saying, "We shouldn't challange the word of the woman accusing Judy Schlegel of sexual assault," would you?

In granting you and all others in America those rights, we're not “going back” to any “days,” at least not any days since America adopted the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Many want to label the accuser a liar.

[ That’s because so much of what she said is manifestly false. ]

Even Attorney General Roy Cooper did not do that. He said she really believed what she was saying.

[ AG Cooper said those on his staff who worked closely with Crystal Mangum think she may actually believe the contradictory and unbelievable stories she told them.

In order to be a liar, you need to not only make a false statement, but to deliberately make it with the intent of deceiving.

Cooper was saying, in effect, Mangum was delusional (he did not actually use the word “delusional”); and therefore may very well have believed her statements that were manifestly false.

There must be a reason for her belief.

[ There may be, Ms. Schlegel. Mangum may even have more than one reason for what you call “her belief.”

But that doesn’t mean her belief(s) is credible and deserving of our belief any more than your assertions, which I don't doubt you sincerely and ardently believe, are credible and merit fair-minded people's respect.

Also as much as I respect AG Cooper, I haven’t ruled out in my mind that Mangum knows in her mind that she made up a lot of what she said.

I haven’t even ruled out that she counted on people like you to buy into her lies and to support a frame-up and her subsequent efforts to bring suits for damages against the real victims of her hoax who she, like you, apparently believed were "super rich."

I simply don’t know.

I do think this case should have gone to trial so all the facts could come out.

[ Ms. Schlegel, please! “All the facts” don’t come out at trials. You know that.

Sometimes judges rule that certain facts are inadmissible at trials. At other trials we know prosecutors have not only withheld facts, but have offered as “facts” fraudulent “evidence” which has helped send innocent people to prison.

When you speak about wanting a trial this is what I think you really mean: "I wanted a trial so badly. I was really looking forward to those three being convicted. Now DA Nifong will never have a chance to do that. It's all so sad."

I’d like to fisk the rest of your letter but I’m out of time.

A few closing comments:

You begin your letter with “As a woman…”

I’ve heard many men say the very same things you say. So what does your being a woman have to do with the noxious statements you made in your letter?

I think what you say doesn’t have so much to do with gender as it does with the way your mind works just as when I hear women and men make sensible and informed statements I think those statements have less to do with gender than with intelligence, logical reasoning ability and fair-mindedness which many members of both genders frequently manifest.

And we can all thank God for that.

Finally, I was sorry to read you had a few years ago what sounds like a very rough time with cancer. I’m glad things are better now. I hope the road ahead is smooth and long.


Folks, the rest of Ms. Schlegel’s letter follows.

Much has been made of the fact that the accuser changed her story several times. I am not surprised. Two years ago I was hospitalized and very ill. It was so traumatic that two weeks later, I was giving different stories to different people especially with regards to timing. Today I still cannot remember exact details, but I know a lot of what happened particularly the very stressful parts. I would think that being hospitalized for cancer is less traumatic than being sexually assaulted, and so I would expect that the accuser would not have every detail straight. That should not stop us from getting to the truth that we can.

If the City Council wants to spend taxpayers' money investigating the handling of this case, then they must look at this side also. Our legal system must protect those who are falsely accused, but not by quickly dismissing the claims of women.

June 18, 2007

Sunday, June 17, 2007

INNOCENT: A gutsy and wise Duke Prof

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Locomotive Breath, a Duke alum and citizen journalist, commented last evening to remind us of the gutsy and wise service Professor of Chemistry Steven Baldwin rendered Duke University as the Hoax’s criminal injustices played out on campus and elsewhere last spring.

Below is a copy of a letter Baldwin wrote which The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, published last April 17.

You may recall that was the same day a Durham Grand Jury indicted Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann; and the day before they were arrested before dawn in their dorm rooms, handcuffed and taken to the Durham County jail.

It was also only a few weeks after Duke’s faculty Group of 88 said “something happened” on the night of March 13/14 and thanked those who hadn’t waited.

Those who hadn’t waited included those who rallied at the edge of East Campus under a large “CASTRATE” banner, those who shouted threats at the Duke students who played on the lacrosse team, and the "activists" who distributed the notorious “Vigilante” posters on West Campus.

In that “hang ‘em” atmosphere even Duke’s Dick Brodhead, the University’s President, with all the prestige and power of his office, decided it was best for him to say nothing in support of the players or their Coach, Mike Pressler, whose resignation had been forced despite his 19 years of honorable service to Duke.

But Steve Baldwin spoke out.

Baldwin’s letter follows, after which you’ll see a link to an op-ed he wrote this past fall. Like the letter, Baldwin’s op-ed is a “don’t miss” unless you’re a Brodhead/Group of 88 fan.

For any of you who are Brodhead/Group of 88 fans, just be patient. Duke Trustee Chair Robert Steel will soon send you and all of us another of his “everything is just fine and we're lucky to have Dick at Duke” emails.

Now Baldwin’s April 17, 2006 letter to The Chronicle:

At the risk of arousing the wrath of the righteous, I would like to offer my impressions of Mike Pressler, recent coach of the Duke men's lacrosse team.

I have known Coach Pressler and his family for at least ten years. Our children played together when they were younger and our families have done things together socially. Coach Pressler is humble, reserved, thoughtful and honest to a fault. He has great integrity.

On the occasions when Mike and I would discuss lacrosse and an upcoming recruiting class, his comments invariably focused on the personal qualities of the young men and how excited he was to have those families join the Duke family. He was always more interested in his team members as people than as lacrosse players.

Like any coach whose value is measured by wins and losses, Mike wanted to win. But he wanted to win the right way, with players who were students first and athletes second-players who would be a credit to Duke University.

There is no question that bad things happened at the lacrosse party the night of March 13. At the very least, there was underage drinking and insensitive verbal abuse. At the worst, acts were committed that were truly horrible and that would demand the severest consequences for those involved.

Of course, four weeks after the fact, we still don't know what did or did not happen that night, and whether or not the acts of which the lacrosse team members are accused actually occurred.

I am troubled by the lack of support for Coach Pressler from the athletic department. He was hung out to dry by an athletics administration that neither understood the issues nor appreciated Mike Pressler the man.

Long before we learn the truth about what happened that night, and long before we learn the conclusions and recommendations of the several committees formed by President Brodhead to address the situation, the athletic department convulsed and threw the baby out with the bath water.

For Mike Pressler to offer his resignation was "appropriate."

For Athletic Director Joe Alleva to accept the resignation was wrong. Mike Pressler deserves better; so does Duke.

Steven Baldwin

Professor, Dept. of Chemistry


Steve Baldwin's op-ed is here. Please read it. See if you don't agree it's a "don't miss."