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[K.C. Johnson (guest-blogging), September 17, 2007 at 9:42am] Trackbacks
Nifong Before Lacrosse

The basic tale of Mike Nifong -- the disbarred, disgraced, jailed-for-a-day former Durham DA who may yet face a felony prosecution -- is widely known. But news reports have barely begun to plumb the depths of what may be the worst prosecutorial misconduct ever exposed while it was happening.

Desperate to win an election against a strong white candidate in a county about evenly divided between whites and blacks, Nifong (also white) seized on a patently incredible, constantly changing rape allegation against Duke lacrosse players. It was made in March 2006 by a deeply disturbed African-American stripper named Crystal Mangum. Using the case to inflame racial discord, the DA rode the black vote to victory.

The problem was that that the rape claim was a transparent fraud. And in hindsight, Nifong's conduct seems bizarrely self-destructive. What kind of man would try to send three innocent young men to prison for 30 years to win an election? How could a career prosecutor not previously known as a nut or a rogue go so bad, so fast? How could he have thought he would get away with it?

Stuart Taylor and I (who jointly wrote this post, and one later today) have found widespread curiosity about these questions, especially among lawyers, while working on our new book, Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. So this first post in a week of guest-blogging focuses on Nifong's background, character, and the months of escalating misconduct that have brought him down. Subsequent posts will examine the misconduct (as we see it) of dozens of Duke professors, many journalists, the Duke administration, and the Durham law enforcement establishment.

A North Carolina native, Nifong was an undistinguished student at the state university in Chapel Hill, where he acquired an intense dislike both for Duke students and for lacrosse players, and its law school, from which he graduated in 1978. His first and only job as a lawyer was as an assistant DA in Durham. The competent, if undistinguished, prosecutor tried around 300 felony cases and rose in seniority amid high turnover.

Nifong had a reputation as a tough, sometimes bullying prosecutor. He was known for throwing screaming, obscenity-laden fits at people he thought he could push around. But he was not known as a zealot or as unethical. After a medical leave in the late 1990s, Nifong moved to a sleepy job in traffic court.

Then Governor Mike Easley named Nifong interim DA in April 2005, after elevating his elected predecessor, Jim Hardin, to the bench. Easley later said that Nifong had pledged not to seek election in 2006 for a full four-year term. If so, Nifong violated the pledge. He declared his candidacy a few months later, apparently because his pension was at stake.

His pension? Yes: In his first day as DA, Nifong had fired a longtime rival, Freda Black. She quickly made clear her intent to run in 2006. Well-known from her work in a high-profile murder trial, Black soon became the front-runner. Nifong knew that Black would fire him, as he had fired her, the first chance she got. His concern, he told his initial campaign manager, Jackie Brown, was not that he cared about being DA; he needed another three years in the Durham DA's office for his pension to fully vest. Nifong proved an inept candidate. By mid-March, 2006, he was way behind Black and out of money. Even after lending his campaign $30,000 of his own modest savings, he still seemed doomed to defeat.

Enter Crystal Mangum and her fantastic claim of being brutally gang-raped, beaten, kicked, and strangled by three white, out-of-state, supposedly rich Duke lacrosse players. For Nifong, this was a lifeline. And he would define his career by his subsequent actions.

J. F. Thomas (mail):
The only difference between this case and thousands of others tried every year in this country is that the victims of the prosecutorial misconduct were rich white kids. Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now and that the case would have never received any press attention at all, except for local press attention decrying the black thugs who raped the poor white girl who was trying to work her way through college.

Of course that would be a vast improvement over the situation fifty years ago in Durham, where a black man simply looking at a white woman the wrong way was a potential death sentence.
9.17.2007 10:54am
anon678:
While I have no doubts that Nifong deserves this sort of treatment, is it really the case that he was an "undistinguished" student? I am not so sure. Of course, Nifong could have been fibbing in his bio, but this discrepancy leads me to believe that some of the other elements of this story may not be accurate.
9.17.2007 10:57am
GustavLauben:
FYI: Nifong shows up in the great documentary "The Stair Case."
9.17.2007 10:59am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Good job on the Duke LAX/Nifong case. Been to your site a number of times to keep up on what was going on there.

Your suggestion that Nifong ran defensively in 2006 echoes how a fraternity brother of mine found himself in politics. In his case, the DA was retiring and the friend, an attorney in the DA's office, knew he would be fired if another attorney there won, so he ran against his enemy in the DA's office, won, but was spared firing his opponent because the opponent resigned first.

So, I must ask those of you who have worked in this environment, why is it so vicious? In the private sector, I wouldn't have fired most of the attorneys I have worked with if I got promoted, and most of them wouldn't (IMHO) have fired me if they had gotten promoted.
9.17.2007 11:00am
DDG:
Very well written post!
9.17.2007 11:08am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now and that the case would have never received any press attention at all, except for local press attention decrying the black thugs who raped the poor white girl who was trying to work her way through college.
If Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys, they'd never have been arrested at all, since Nifong couldn't have exploited their arrests to help his political career, given the complete lack of credibility of Mangum from day one.
9.17.2007 11:17am
taney71:

The only difference between this case and thousands of others tried every year in this country is that the victims of the prosecutorial misconduct were rich white kids.


From what I know of the case (at least heard) is that these kids where not rich. I believe two of the families were upper middle class, but the other family would be considered middle to lower middle class. Is that information correct? I just would like to know.
9.17.2007 11:21am
Ken Arromdee:
Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now and that the case would have never received any press attention at all

There's another Duke rape case. The accused rapist was Michael Jermaine Burch, and black. The accuser was white. That should be enough for you to Google it. There hasn't been much nationwide press attention, but then, he hasn't had dozens of professors take out an ad telling him to turn himself in, Nifong isn't using him as a political football, and in general the fact that the guy is black and his accuser is white means that the forces of political correctness that went after accused white rapists left this guy alone.
9.17.2007 11:21am
KC Johnson (mail) (www):
To the 9.57:

In law school, Nifong wasn't on law review and did not get the Order of the Coif, UNC's top law student honor. Upon graduation, he applied for jobs in the DA's offices in several cities and was turned down.

Our comments about his academic performance were also based on on and off the record discussions with several of Nifong's law school classmates. (Nifong, obviously, did not release his records to us.)

To the 9.54:

"Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now?"

I doubt very much they would "be doing serious time right now." Nifong would have had no political rationale to have taken such a case, nor would the Durham police have had any particular rationale to have kept such a case alive without any evidence. The book discusses five recent cases in which white women--with, except for one case, scant or no evidence--had made rape charges against black or Hispanic college athletes. None of these cases became media firestorms; and in all but one (a Richmond case where the complainant was at least credible) no charges were pursued.
9.17.2007 11:25am
Nifonged:
"The only difference between this case and thousands of others tried every year in this country is that the victims of the prosecutorial misconduct were rich white kids."

Well I'd argue that the difference is that a large part of the media and academia helped enable the hoax and made it a national story, and we were able to see the hoax from the beginning. Most victims of prosecutorial misconduct aren't "lucky" enough to have their prosecutor so emboldened as to commit repeated violations publicly for us all to see.

" Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now and that the case would have never received any press attention at all, except for local press attention decrying the black thugs who raped the poor white girl who was trying to work her way through college. "

Do you think if that were the case that the prosecutor would state publicly that he didn't want "Durham to be known as a city where black thugs rape poor, white college girls"? Even you're not politically blinded to believe that.

The fact is these guys didn't get off, and Nifong likewise isn't being punished, because they are rich and white. The fact is they were prosecuted EXACTLY BECAUSE they were rich and white, and the prosecution was allowed to go on for over a year EXACTLY BECAUSE they were rich and white as the narrative of rich, white defendants over a poor, black girl was just too good of a story for hypocritical "liberals."

And months later people like J.F. Thomas are willfully blind to this, who needs facts when the facts are counter to your own politics? BTW, do people even realize that since the lacrosse rape hoax there's been another alleged rape at Duke where the races are reversed? Notice the different treatment by the media and the Duke faculty?
9.17.2007 11:25am
Law Student:
If he was an undistinguished student how did he end up going to Duke Law after UNC-Chapel Hill? Seems like a little biased journalism on your part. I wouldn't really call anyone who gets into a top 20 law school an undistinguished student.
9.17.2007 11:26am
ejo:
when I read a post like JF's, I can only think how sorry I am that JF was not the person wrongfully accused who has a family that has to mortgage their future away to pay for attorneys. What twists someone's mind to the degree that they take some sort of pleasure out of these three getting abused to the extent they were?
9.17.2007 11:27am
Guest101:
Professor Johnson,

I took anon678's objection to be that Nifong's bio suggests that, having graduated Phi Beta Kappa, he cannot accurately be called an "undistinguished" student in undergrad, not in law school. That seems a fair point.
9.17.2007 11:36am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
There's another Duke rape case. The accused rapist was Michael Jermaine Burch, and black.

If you don't think that the criminal justice system in this country is still biased against poor, minority defendants and there aren't reams of data to support that contention, then there is nothing I can do or any statistics I can point to that will convince you otherwise.

That this case is so unusual in its facts and circumstances and that it got so much media attention actually supports, rather than undermines my point. Upper middle class white kids (calling them rich was probably stretching it) just aren't being railroaded by overzealous prosecutors all over the country. When it does happen, the Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs, and K.C. Johnsons of the world jump all over it like it proof of a justice system and PC gone amuck. If they really are concerned about miscarriages of justice, then they should pick any city they want in the south and check out the case files of the public defenders office, I'm sure they will find dozens, if not hundreds of cases, where people were convicted on evidence much flimsier than Nifong had.
9.17.2007 11:39am
The Drill SGT:
KC,

Great work on DiW. I may have English issues, but I find the pronoun reference in the bold section to be ambiguous. Is the Law school referenced with enmity UNC or Duke. The world wonders :)



A North Carolina native, Nifong was an undistinguished student at the state university in Chapel Hill, where he acquired an intense dislike both for Duke students and for lacrosse players, and its law school, from which he graduated in 1978. His first and only job as a lawyer was as an assistant DA in Durham.
9.17.2007 11:40am
Brett Bellmore:

How could a career prosecutor not previously known as a nut or a rogue go so bad, so fast?


Just speculating, but after his past conduct has been gone over with a magnifying glass, the key word may turn out to be, "not previously known".
9.17.2007 11:45am
Nifonged:
"If you don't think that the criminal justice system in this country is still biased against poor, minority defendants and there aren't reams of data to support that contention, then there is nothing I can do or any statistics I can point to that will convince you otherwise. "

So in other words, when presented with instances, facts and evidence (particulary that completely refute the initial post) Thomas just ignores it and sticks to the party line.

"That this case is so unusual in its facts and circumstances and that it got so much media attention actually supports, rather than undermines my point."

No it doesn't, the media attention was initially OVERWHELMING NEGATIVE towards the defendants. How many times does Newsweek, the NYT and other media outlets overtly villainize black defendants when there is so much evidence to the contrary? Certainly not in Georgia where Jimmy Carter and the NYT have bent over backwards defending a young black man.
9.17.2007 11:48am
loki13 (mail):

when I read a post like JF's, I can only think how sorry I am that JF was not the person wrongfully accused who has a family that has to mortgage their future away to pay for attorneys. What twists someone's mind to the degree that they take some sort of pleasure out of these three getting abused to the extent they were?


I think you missed the entire point of his post. JF was not commenting that this wasn't unfair. Simply that many, many more unfair things happy on a daily basis that manage not to arouse the wrath of the populace. It would seem that individuals such as yourself can imagine the horror (the horror!) of some run amok prosecutor forcing you to mortgage your house.

But you overlook the daily injustice that is our criminal justice system. Whether it be 'walking while black' (pretext searches for drugs) or the unfortunate crime of 'being black' (being a black visitor to a southern town when a white woman gets killed, where the only evidence is an eyewitness who identifies the assailant as a white men, until an 8 hour ride with the police followed by a standup- as opposed to a lineup*)...

well, that couldn't happen to you, right? Nifong is an aberration, so we can pillory him and get back to business as usual.

If this is "the worst prosecutorial misconduct ever exposed while it was happening" it is because we aren't looking very hard. Or, because we don't want to look. Prosecutorial misconduct? I am shocked there is prosecutorial misconduct in our system!

*Final result: 1st degree murder by jury.
10-2 vote for the DP.
9.17.2007 11:50am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
when I read a post like JF's, I can only think how sorry I am that JF was not the person wrongfully accused who has a family that has to mortgage their future away to pay for attorneys. What twists someone's mind to the degree that they take some sort of pleasure out of these three getting abused to the extent they were?

I take no pleasure at prosecutorial misconduct or pursuing cases for political purposes. In no way do I defend Nifong's actions.

What does disgust me is the raving right wing media taking this case as an indictment of the justice system, the media, as somehow biased against poor little spoiled white kids. The criminal justice system in this country is seriously deficient. But the vast majority of innocent people who suffer because of its deficiencies are not privileged middle and upper class white kids.
9.17.2007 11:51am
The Drill SGT:
Agreeing with Brett, I seem to recall from your previous essays on Nifong that he did plea deals with a high percentage of defendants and took few to trial. Given that both Nifong and the Durham legal establishment (Judge Marcia Morey's sworn testimony that DA's needed to be more accurate in their trial statements and less so in pre-trial courtroom statements) seem to set a low standard for court statements prior to trial. One wonders what fibs Nifong told to get those pleas. The world wonders.
9.17.2007 11:52am
HLSbertarian (mail):

Great work on DiW. I may have English issues, but I find the pronoun reference in the bold section to be ambiguous. Is the Law school referenced with enmity UNC or Duke. The world wonders :)


A North Carolina native, Nifong was an undistinguished student at the state university in Chapel Hill, where he acquired an intense dislike both for Duke students and for lacrosse players, and its law school, from which he graduated in 1978. His first and only job as a lawyer was as an assistant DA in Durham.



"Duke" isn't a noun in the sentence, so "its" can only refer to UNC-Chapel Hill. The world can stop wondering now.
9.17.2007 11:53am
Anon1234:
Drill SGT (and others left wondering by Prof. Johnson's phrasing): Nifong graduated from UNC School of Law, not Duke. He graduated in 1978 according to his onetime bio at http://www.mikenifong.com
9.17.2007 11:55am
neurodoc:
KC Johnson:...Nifong was an undistinguished student at the state university in Chapel Hill, where he acquired an intense dislike both for Duke students and for lacrosse players...
Is there support for that statement? NC and Duke are certainly intense rivals, but it is mostly about basketball. Rabid sports fans may profess intense dislike for rival schools (Texas A&M vs UT), but how often does that sort of silliness translate into real animus that might be acted upon? And why as an NC undergrad or law student would Nifong have developed an antipathy for Duke lacrosse players in particular? This does lend "color" to the story, but I wonder if it is really the case. If Nifong was merely a season ticket holder or frequent attendee at UNC - Duke athletic contests, one who yelled stupid things loudly, I wouldn't see that as very compelling evidence for a strong pre-existing bias on Nifong's part.

(Nifong is a UNC/UNC, not UNC/Duke alum, isn't he, if that matters here?)
9.17.2007 11:55am
Nifonged:
"What does disgust me is the raving right wing media taking this case as an indictment of the justice system, the media, as somehow biased against poor little spoiled white kids."

Did you read the NYT's coverage on the case. Selena Roberts' columns. Duff Wilson's articles? The raving right wing media more or less sat this case out. The raving mainstream media practically crucified these guys BECAUSE they were rich and white.

Do you just ignore facts and reality when its counter to your political beliefs? Stop digging your hole.
9.17.2007 11:57am
James Lindgren (mail):
KC,

Welcome to the VC. You did all of us who are interested in American universities and American justice a great service by taking on this case. Your blogging on the Duke rape hoax is one of the most impressive bodies of sustained journalism I've ever seen and represents one of the great successes of the blogosphere so far.

If you needed any justification for your blogging efforts and for co-writing your book, JF Thomas in his comment above unwittingly gave it to you. Many people who think they know something about the case, especially academics, still cling tenaciously to a version of the race/gender/class meta-narrative, even after the basis for it has been exploded. If the racial and class aspects of the Duke hoax had been reversed, it is extraordinarily unlikely that any charges would have been brought, as you (and several VC commenters) have made clear. Nonetheless, if in another case prosecutors were to try to frame another group of young men for a serious crime that didn't happen (an injustice that does rarely occur), it is true that the defendants with better lawyers would be more likely to be acquitted.

Jim Lindgren
9.17.2007 11:57am
neurodoc:
The pension aspect is a fascinating one. If there had been no vesting issue and the pension benefits were portable, then this might not have happened?

Because we are a highly mobile society, one in which few people stay with one employer throughout their entire working lives, I do think pension benefits should vest quickly and they should always be portable. Nifong may serve as an illustrative, though quirky or singular, example of why they should vest quickly and be portable.
9.17.2007 12:01pm
Bombast:
According to Nifong's online biography

A life-long resident of North Carolina, District Attorney Mike Nifong was born in Wilmington, where he graduated from New Hanover High School. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a Herbert W. Jackson scholarship, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with an A.B. degree in Political Science in 1971.

Although he had decided on an eventual career in law while still in high school, Nifong worked for his first year after graduation from UNC as a teacher of mathematics and boys' physical education in Southport. This was followed by a three-year stint as a social worker with the New Hanover County Department of Social Services in Wilmington before he finally enrolled in the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1975.

9.17.2007 12:02pm
DCraig:
"So, I must ask those of you who have worked in this environment, why is it so vicious? In the private sector, I wouldn't have fired most of the attorneys I have worked with if I got promoted, and most of them wouldn't (IMHO) have fired me if they had gotten promoted."

Usually, in politically responsive environments, political appointees will get rid of people they feel to be barriers to their potential to be politically responsive to the people whom appointed them. It is my understanding that in the private sector the issue of responsiveness is not viewed with the same importance.
9.17.2007 12:02pm
AntonK (mail):
Poor J.F. Thomas, head full of zombie.

"A mind is a terrible thing to waste.:
9.17.2007 12:12pm
neurodoc:
When our now lawyer older daughter was a small child, she would at times try to mediate disputes, stepping in to say to the conflicting parties, "You both get a birthday." (In her 5-year-old mind, birthdays seemed like a great thing and everyone should calm down if they had one coming.) To JF Thomas and those contesting him, I would say, "You all get birthdays."

What JFT says about less privileged members of our society not infrequently getting screwed unfairly when prosecuted for crimes is undoubtedly true; what others are saying about the Nifong outrage in the instant case of the Duke lacrosse players is clearly true too. And both the Left and the Right do jump on those cases which best support their respective viewpoints. This Duke lacrosse case, though, incriminates (convicts?) some who are not the usual suspects in criminal cases, that is the Leftist academic claque who jumped on this with both feet, showing little or no concern for the facts of the matter.

(Speaking of the academics involved, Duke's prez Brodhead deserves special commendation as a spineless enabler of that Leftist claque. He proved himself before the Duke lacrosse came along.)
9.17.2007 12:16pm
Toby:
Venal petty corruption eventually corrupts the practitioner absolutely. Ask any traffic lawyer in 3 counties why traffic cases in Durham took an extra hundred dollars to deal with than the same lawyer's cases in other counties. After this ask yourself why the DA Nifong announced that all traffic agreements would have to come to him for aproval.

If you really know the lawyer well, ask if they ever used the once-a-year oportunity to donate to Nifongs favorite charity, youth baseball, for a case settlement...

The guy has been rotten for years.

Given my sense that his specialty was petty venality, I don't think he anticipated that the case would go so far. I think that he though he would send it to the Grnad Jury before the primary, and fail to get an indictment after the primary. The Grand Jury was unusually attentive and delivered, IIRC, the indictment a week earlier than expected. Clearly over his head, he ran with it and kept digging himself a deeper hole. The adulation he received from the academics may have encourged him to keep going.

The lacrosse team were actually better Duke citizens than most. When the Athletic Department asked for some support for Duke's hapless football team, exactly one group agreed to show up en masse for every game - the LAX team.

The assumption that Duke and Carolina are only rivals in Basketball is incorrect. Although both programs have been on hard times recently, either can ill up a stadium for their annual football game. Recently it might be the only game with many more than the LAX team in attendance. The football series history includes years when one team was nationally prominent, and the other stank up the place. When the final game of the season arrived, the down-and-out team pulled itself together to knock the other out of a bowl. THis has happened both ways. That sort of dynamic only happens in serious rivalries. In all sports, these two love to beat each other. What makes Basketball special, is that they are likely to be two top-10 teams meeting three times a year...
9.17.2007 12:16pm
Ric McNally (mail):
Of interest is the involvement of Cy and that relationship. How does the evidence seem to support the notion that he was in the past and has been significantly influenced in his career decisions by her? Does the "$30,000" include money he in his Disciplinary Hearing indicated were "loaned" without his knowledge by her (and what are those ramifications)? Does Judge Morey's rather strange testimony and jail house support indicate a similar relationship?
9.17.2007 12:21pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I don't know how good Nifong was as an attorney or as a prosecutor. Few of us do (K.C. might). But I find it the height of conceit to suggest that because he wasn't in the top 10% of his class, he wasn't a good prosecutor. The sad reality is that 90% of any school's graduating class are not in the top 10% - unless Lake Wobegon has opened up a law school.

The other thing to keep in mind is that to a very great extent, the type of mind and personality that will get you on law review or the Order of the Coif is not the type of mind and personality that will make you a top notch litigator, esp. for normal criminal trials. Now, when you get into very complex cases, appellate work, etc., being at the top of your class can be advantageous. It really comes down to what is more important in a case, handling the complexity of a case and understanding complex legal issues, or being good with judges, juries, and evidence and being able to think well on their feet. The former is likely to do better in the six month anti-trust or patent infringement case, but the later is likely to do better in a DAs office.

Note, I am not defending Nifong here, but rather the 90% of any law school's graduates who aren't considered distinguished by the august posters here.
9.17.2007 12:22pm
neurodoc:
Gee, Phi Beta Kappa (if true, of course) would seem to be pretty strong rebuttal to "an undistinguished student at the state university."

Toby: The football series history includes years when one team was nationally prominent...
In what years did either NC or Duke have "nationally prominent" football teams? (For basketball the question would have to be turned around, "In what years did either NC or Duke not have 'nationally prominent' basketball teams?"

Any reason for Nifong to have a special hard on for Duke lacrosse? And does anyone think that a sports rivalry would be much a motivation for a prosecutor to pursue a bogus rape prosecution, risking his career to do so? (Yes, I understand that Nifong didn't anticipate what this would bring him in the end. I am just questioning the significance of a I-hate-Duke sentiment, even if present.)
9.17.2007 12:28pm
neurodoc:
Note, I am not defending Nifong here, but rather the 90% of any law school's graduates who aren't considered distinguished by the august posters here.
I expect the late senator from Nebraska Roman Hruska concurred.

(BTW, why couldn't all the children of Lake Woebegone be "above average"? The average could be for all children in America and it is possible that the children of LW could all outperform that national average, couldn't they?)

(And how about that old wisdom about the A, B, C, and D students in law school, with the C students later making the most money working for those D students, while the A and B ones go on to be law school professors, judges, etc.)
9.17.2007 12:38pm
Dave N (mail):
Neurodoc,

In most states, a governmental employee vests in the Public Employee Retirement System (usually referred to as PERS) after a five-year period--and the pension is fully transferable as long as the employee works for a state, county, or local governmental entitity within that state.

If a person serves less than five years, the pension does not vest but the employee gets any PERS contributions he made which can be rolled into an IRA.

Since Nifong worked in the DA office from 1979 upward, then it is fairly clear that he has 27 years in the North Carolina PERS.

However, two common components in PERS programs may have prompted Nifong to run for election:

1) Most PERS are defined benefit programs--and the salary is based on the average of the last 3 years. The standard calculation is a loadstar percentage (typically 2.5% or so) multiplied by number of years of service multiplied by the average of the best 3 years salary. Thus a higher paycheck as District Attorney might have been a motivator when he was considering pension options.

2) Many PERS programs have a cap. That is, if a person has 30 years of service the average salary might increase but the retiree won't get a higher percentage of their annual pay in retirement.

The PERS programs that have a cap typically also have a tradeoff--that a person can retire at any if they have 30 years of service.

What this means is that had Nifong served his full term, he could have retired just after his 60th birthday.

On the other hand, if he only had 27 years of service, he might have had to wait until he was older (62 or 65) before collecting his pension.

I know this Post was long, but I hope my explanation helps you understand state retirement systems.
9.17.2007 12:38pm
ejo:
who cares if he was distinguished or undistinguished in terms of his education-he was an immoral person, with one's class rank not of much relevance. We can discuss all sorts of high ranking lawyers with sound educations and distinguished careers who are, at their core, no good (Sandy Berger? Scooter Libby?). But, back to JF for some cheap points, the media and people like JF drool over cases like this one as it is both unusual in terms of the race of the offenders/victims and fulfills their "evil white man" dreams. why else would "distinguished" faculty members and the national press jump on the bandwagon?
9.17.2007 12:38pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I do agree with J.F. that the criminal justice system is not fair. Innocent people go to prison all the time figuring that the deal they get from the DA is better than their chances against winning on all counts of a indictment where the charges have been piled high and deep - which the DAs do for just this reason. It all revolves around prosecutorial discretion, which is a necessity in handling the volume of cases that DAs and courts invariably have to handle.

And it isn't really a question of discrimination against the poor, but rather, against the 90% of us who aren't rich. The guy who is probably the top criminal defense atty. in my area taught my criminal law class, and even back then, he was requiring a $100k retainer up front to defend a 1st degree murder case. I am sure that it has probably doubled by now. He cautioned us that the biggest problem with criminal defense work was getting paid. The type of criminal defense that can overcome the average prosecution isn't cheap, even for much of the middle class. Remember, prosecutors have most of the advantages on their side, ranging from the stacking of charges through free investigators.

I really don't know the answer, except maybe cutting back on the War on Drugs in order to reduce the volume pressure on DAs and court systems.

But the place where I differ from J.F. is that I don't believe that this is racial in most jurisdictions, or not directly racial, but rather socio-economic. It just happens that there is a link between race and socio-economic status in our society.
9.17.2007 12:41pm
byomtov (mail):
What kind of man would try to send three innocent young men to prison for 30 years to win an election? How could a career prosecutor not previously known as a nut or a rogue go so bad, so fast? How could he have thought he would get away with it?

I don't find these questions quite as puzzling as the authors seem to, nor do I think the issues are unique to the Duke case, or even exceptionally rare. I doubt "political correctness" had much to do with Nifong's actions. He was motivated by politics, not race or ideology.

Prosecutors' incentive is to prosecute. They don't get re-elected by dropping cases, and too many are unable to admit that they were wrong regardless of the evidence that comes up later. Look at the resistance to admitting DNA evidence, and even the insistence, by some prosecutors, on the guilt of defendants exonerated by DNA.

This is not universal, of course, but I think it is a mistake to regard Nifong as a rarity.
9.17.2007 12:50pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
JF drool over cases like this one as it is both unusual in terms of the race of the offenders/victims and fulfills their "evil white man" dreams.

I certainly didn't drool over this case. I barely followed it. Some of the traditionally liberal MSM shows (e.g., the much maligned 60 minutes) were among the first to present the students' stories in a truly "fair and balanced" way. Nancy Grace, hardly a soft on crime liberal and a former prosecutor herself, was probably the most vocal in her condemnation of the lacrosse players from the beginning. I still don't think she has apologized for her despicable statements about the case.

One of the most prominent people who kept this issue
9.17.2007 12:56pm
aznfg (mail):
I would like to comment further on the issues of "why are we paying attention to this case and not to ones involving poor minority defendants?" My perspective comes from a person who is a mother of a 16 year old lacrosse-playing son who is being recruited at a national level (Duke is in the mix) and as a lawyer who has worked in a public defense setting for 20 years. I'm appalled at the behavior of Mike Nifong, Durham PD, Duke University and members of the "progressive community". I even sent a small contribution to the defense fund.

You can't ignore violations of due process against one part of the population because they are better able to defend themselves. The violations will not stop. I've never seen a prosecutor who would refuse to hear evidence from a PD that a client was not present at the crime and they have documentation. These defendants were targets because of their race and class. They had the ability to resist this but at a great and unecessary cost. You can't excuse this becasue you don't like the defendants .
9.17.2007 1:29pm
Carolina:

But I find it the height of conceit to suggest that because he wasn't in the top 10% of his class, he wasn't a good prosecutor.


K.C. didn't write he wasn't good. He wrote he was "competent, if undistinguished."
9.17.2007 1:41pm
Nodoc:
J.F. Thomas says about the case:

<i>"I barely followed it."

Apparently.
9.17.2007 1:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
You can't excuse this becasue you don't like the defendants .

I never did excuse any such thing. Frankly, I have no personal opinion of the defendants.

I've never seen a prosecutor who would refuse to hear evidence from a PD that a client was not present at the crime and they have documentation.

Do you work in an urban setting?

These defendants were targets because of their race and class.

This statement is probably true. But my point is that defendants are targeted because of their race and class every day in this country. The MSM barely bats an eye and rightwing legal experts certainly don't complain much.

Look at the Gina, Louisiana, case. Those six young men were certainly targeted because of their race, yet the same people who have raised such a fuss about Nifong have had almost nothing to say about the prosecutor in that case, or even supported him. I will grant you that some of the same black leaders who unfairly criticized the Duke defendants have indeed rushed to the defense of the Gina defendants who were charged with attempted murder for an incident that was nothing more than a schoolyard brawl.
9.17.2007 1:54pm
ejo:
one barely follows it but relishes what happened to the actual victims in the matters ie. the Duke lacrosse players. that says a lot.
9.17.2007 1:55pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
That's Jena, LA
9.17.2007 1:58pm
Yale:
Professor KC Johnson,

In your post, you stated that " Nifong was an undistinguished student at the state university in Chapel Hill, . . . ."

In the comments, anon678 took issue with your claim, giving a link to Nifong's bio, which indicated that Nifong graduated Phi Betta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an A.B. degree in Political Science. Moreover, he was a recipient of the Herbert W. Jackson scholarship. This is decisive evidence that your claim about Nifong's undergraduate record being indistinguished is false.

You then responded to anon678 by stating that

"In law school, Nifong wasn't on law review and did not get the Order of the Coif, UNC's top law student honor. Upon graduation, he applied for jobs in the DA's offices in several cities and was turned down.

Our comments about his academic performance were also based on on and off the record discussions with several of Nifong's law school classmates. (Nifong, obviously, did not release his records to us.)"

Professor Johnson, the part of your post that anon678 was refuting was your claim that Nifong was an "undistinguished student at the state university in Chapel Hill, . . . ."

Your response that Nifong was undistinguished in law school, even if it were true, is not relevant to whether or not he was an undistinguished student in undergrad.

Anon678 decisively proved that your claim about Nifong's undergraduate record being undistinguished was completely false. For you to not acknowledge your error and instead try to shift the topic to his law school record indicates that you underestimate the intelligence of the readers of this blog.

Moreover, since you have gotten such an easily verifiable fact completely wrong and refuse to retract it when corrected, it leads me to wonder what other factual errors your book contains.

I'm no defender of Nifong: his conduct in the Duke case warrants prison, in my opinion.
However, that doesn't give license to anyone, let alone a historian, to maintain such an obvious falsehood about him.
9.17.2007 2:01pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I don't relish what happened to the Duke Lacrosse players. What I am concerned about is that the only time Fox news cares about when people are targeted because of their race and class is when they are white and middle class. It gives the false impression that white middle class college students are targeted and harassed by the justice system (and that attractive white women and children are being snatched from every street corner and tropical island).
9.17.2007 2:04pm
Siona Sthrunch (mail):
Readers may be interested to know that K.C. Johnson began blogging about the prosecution of the Duke lacrosse players long before their innocence was widely accepted. His blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, became an influential flashpoint for defending the players.

By contrast, the Duke faculty were completely silent in defense of the players, until much, much later. Even the law school faculty at Duke (with the exception of Prof. Coleman) did not utter a peep in defense of the players despite the obviously unconstitutional procedures to which they were subjected.

Thus, K.C. Johnson is not just another critic of the prosecution of the players: he stood by his view when it was risky to do so. And although K.C. is not an attorney, I think he does have something to teach attorneys.
9.17.2007 2:05pm
Bob Montgomery:
Just a note...
Moreover, he was a recipient of the Herbert W. Jackson scholarship. This is decisive evidence that your claim about Nifong's undergraduate record being indistinguished is false.

This scholarship shows that he was an excellent high school student, it says nothing about his studies in college.

The Phi Beta Kappa item is more persuasive, though.
9.17.2007 2:15pm
KC Johnson (mail) (www):
A quick answer to a few of the questions:

1) Nifong went to UNC Law School; sorry for the (understandable) confusion. It was poor wording on our part. During the campaign, he claimed to have turned down a scholarship to attend Duke, but there was never any independent verification of this assertion.

2) The pension issue. The NC public employees' pension system vests after 30 years; Nifong had 27 at the time of his bid for DA. After 30 years, employees can retire and get their full pension at age 55. Otherwise, they have to wait to age 62.

3.) Nifong as prosecutor. This, too, was a clarity issue: the point here is that Nifong was such a mediocre law student that, upon graduation from a first-rate law school, he couldn't get a paying job as an ADA anyplace he applied in North Carolina.

His overall record as a prosecutor was competent. He was assigned to around 300 felony cases, though how much this resulted from seniority or how much resulted from talent isn't clear. (Different defense attorneys to whom I spoke gave different answers.) Here's a review of Nifong's career from the Raleigh paper.

4) Corroboration questions. The book has more than 1000 sourcenotes, available here.
9.17.2007 2:29pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
he acquired an intense dislike both for Duke students and for lacrosse players

How do you acquire a dislike for lacrosse players?

(I understand that lacrosse is growing in popularity, but I never understood there to be a jock mentality among lacrosse players like there is in the football team or hockey or rugby, nor the testosterone issues of wrestlers, power lifters and heavy crew, nor the snob issues of golf or racquet sports, nor the stereotype popularity of soccer [or little league for us old farts.])

By the way, defendant Finnerty lost out on his diversion program for an earlier simple assault in a Washington case. I blogged about that here. Now that they've been cleared, did he get it back? (He had been required to "stay out of trouble" -- does getting falsely accused and pilloried by the faculty of your college count as "getting into trouble"?)
9.17.2007 2:29pm
GetReal (mail):

What I am concerned about is that the only time Fox news cares about when people are targeted because of their race and class is when they are white and middle class.

Yes, Fox was at fault! This incident was handled much better by the New York Times.
9.17.2007 2:55pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
nor the stereotype popularity of soccer

Huh? The only comment I have ever heard about soccer is "so many people play it so they don't have to watch it."
9.17.2007 3:01pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I've never heard of lacrosse Moms.

(Outside of the US, it's not just a stereotype.)
9.17.2007 3:13pm
Dan Weber (www):

Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now[?]

If you could somehow keep everything the going the same way, then of course they would be in jail.

While Nifong's sins are obvious in retrospect, they were not so going into this. Catching the prosecution in their conspiracy to withhold evidence is what broke the case open, and that only happened because of a few lucky circumstances happening all at the same time, one of them involving an expensive defense lawyer doing crunch time on DNA evidence. It was definitely not inevitable that this case would end up dismissed.

Furthermore, commentors about "poor spoiled white kids" are obviously missing what two of these "kids" themselves have said: they fully acknowledge that their parents' ability to spend significant resources defending them were critical to their defense. Remember, the three lacrosse players that were charged were essentially picked at random (from the white players). If the accuser had picked out three middle-class students, they probably couldn't have helped themselves.

I can understand the umbrage that some people feel about "you guys only care about the victims because they're white," but if you have the decency and self-respect to get over yourself, then instead of trying to act like the outrage over this mis-prosecution is misplaced, call upon it the next time someone of a color you tolerate is falsely accused. Say "we have another rogue prosecutor here" when a DA goes after a poor black person. Say "remember Nifong? Prosectors can and do make stuff up for personal gain."

What you definitely should not do is say "well, I don't care this time because of the victim's race/class." You should say "I care this time, regardless of the victim's race/class."
9.17.2007 3:13pm
Smokey:
J.F. Thomas:
''I certainly didn't drool over this case. I barely followed it... Nancy Grace, hardly a soft on crime liberal and a former prosecutor herself, was probably the most vocal in her condemnation of the lacrosse players from the beginning. I still don't think she has apologized for her despicable statements about the case.''
The use of 'Nancy Grace' is a classic red herring argument. Ms Grace, unsavory though she may be, was never in a position to railroad innocent citizens. But Nifong was, and did.
9.17.2007 3:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
What you definitely should not do is say "well, I don't care this time because of the victim's race/class." You should say "I care this time, regardless of the victim's race/class."

Sorry, I do care about prosecutorial misconduct regardless of the victim's race/class. You are getting overly sensitive because I am accusing you of caring about prosecutorial misconduct only because of the victim's race/class.
9.17.2007 3:19pm
mike in houston (mail):
JFT says

It gives the false impression that white middle class college students are targeted and harassed by the justice system

I would suggest he examine the rate of harrassment of Duke students by the Durham PD as compared to the general population. I would assume that the DPD's prior documented actions will be part of the LAX players federal suit against the city, if it goes to trial.
9.17.2007 3:20pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Like I said, there hasn't been a peep about the Jena, LA case on this site.
9.17.2007 3:22pm
doubled (mail):


How come nobody mentions that the whole lacrosse team's season was suspended, in no small part due to the 88 profs who signed a public letter condemning the lot of them? Why do they(the 88) get off scot free of controversy?

The Iowa Hawkeye's had a basketball player convicted of rape and didn't lose their season.
9.17.2007 3:24pm
Dan Weber (www):

When it does happen, the Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs, and K.C. Johnsons of the world jump all over it


Right, KC Johnson is just like the other two people because... wait, what?

Oh, it must be the way Sean and Rush support Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
9.17.2007 3:25pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I would suggest he examine the rate of harrassment of Duke students by the Durham PD as compared to the general population.

Oh gee, local cops don't like smart ass college students and hassle them. What a revelation! Petty harrassment by the police, which being a former college student at a major college in a relatively small town I am all too famaliar with, is not the same as being arrested and charged with crimes.
9.17.2007 3:31pm
Gaius Marius:
If only I could be such a good person like JFT.
9.17.2007 3:32pm
Dan Weber (www):

Sorry, I do care about prosecutorial misconduct regardless of the victim's race/class. You are getting overly sensitive because I am accusing you of caring about prosecutorial misconduct only because of the victim's race/class.

Oh, I missed where you were accusing me.

But that's okay, because I'm long past the age where I care about bullies calling me names.

Anyway, if you really want to speak for the victim's of prosecutorial abuse, then this case is an excellent one to add to your casebook. Because lots of people don't think DA abuse could really happen to them.

If you should them "hey, look, it can happen to someone almost just like you," then they'll probably be more receptive to what you have to say. It makes the danger much more personal to them, and you will win allies to your cause.
9.17.2007 3:32pm
ejo:
why can't the leftists like JF just admit their fault in joining the witch hunt and then move on to the problems of the criminal justice system? they enabled Nifong and wrote articles and editorials supporting his lies-then, when called on it, do their best to point their fingers at others.
9.17.2007 3:32pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The Iowa Hawkeye's had a basketball player convicted of rape and didn't lose their season.

Yeah well, lacrosse isn't a revenue generating sport. I doubt if the accused were on the basketball team at Duke, it would have lost its season either. Remember all the crap the Oklahoma football team got away with back in the Barry Switzer era.
9.17.2007 3:36pm
ejo:
now JFT is conflating petty harassment with a cooked up prosecution for sexual assault. despite the tears he and the left undoubtedly cry for all victims of police/prosecutorial misconduct, they certainly seem to have loved this one.
9.17.2007 3:43pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
why can't the leftists like JF just admit their fault in joining the witch hunt and then move on to the problems of the criminal justice system?

Well if there are leftists like me who join the witch hunt out there I would hope they would. But I have nothing to apologize for because I never joined the "witch hunt". I didn't follow the case that closely at the beginning and the first time I saw a detailed presentation of the facts of the case was the initial 60 Minutes story where it was obvious that Nifong was completely out of control (the ATM receipt and camera photo was enough to convince me that at least the one defendant was completely innocent).

And I do wish that this would be taken as a wider lesson about the widespread flaws in our justice system. But that is not the lesson being gleaned. No, it is all about a the justice system, the media, and academia not serving the needs of good upstanding middle class people but instead playing to minorities in a cynical attempt to, well, I don't know what exactly.
9.17.2007 3:47pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It's mike in houston who thinks the Durham cops go out every friday night and bust open heads of innocent Duke students.
9.17.2007 3:51pm
Whatever:
Prof. Lindgren, I think you are correct in your point and praise of KC Johnson, but I am not sure I agree in idea that race/gender/class narrative is somehow overturned by the Nifong issue. I think it shows that the narrative works in both directions. It is possible and sometimes useful for those in power to prosecute the powerful precisely because
they are white males who are deemed privileged.

You wrote:

If you needed any justification for your blogging efforts and for co-writing your book, JF Thomas in his comment above unwittingly gave it to you. Many people who think they know something about the case, especially academics, still cling tenaciously to a version of the race/gender/class meta-narrative, even after the basis for it has been exploded. If the racial and class aspects of the Duke hoax had been reversed, it is extraordinarily unlikely that any charges would have been brought, as you (and several VC commenters) have made clear. Nonetheless, if in another case prosecutors were to try to frame another group of young men for a serious crime that didn't happen (an injustice that does rarely occur), it is true that the defendants with better lawyers would be more likely to be acquitted.


You and JF Thomas are likely correct, that in the Duke case if the races had been reversed, Nifong would have had an incentive to downplay the case and not make it personal flag to increase his chance at election time.

I take issue with your determination that framing of innocent men "does rarely occur". My anecdotal evidence says that it occurs in the more typical cases where white prosecutors are courting white voters who demand law and order or clean streets free from the "other" minority or immigrant criminals. While you are correct that better lawyers would aid in correcting prosecutors that bend the rules and justice as Nifong did, such lawyering is not what many wrongfully convicted or over charged defendants get. The results from wrongful conviction centers like those at my alma mater and your law school, Northwestern, seems to show that the poor (of all races), minorities, immigrants and mentally disabled tend to be the parties wrongfully convicted and of course, wrongfully charged.

In the Duke case, the race baiting was driven by a courting of black voters by Nifong. The narrative as I see it is that the race of the accused and lying victim were important and useful to Nifong. I guess the questions is not what would have happened if the races were reversed but what happens if the races were the same. What happens if the races are the same and "class" is removed? That question seems far more interesting in uncovering the motivations and narrative that speaks to a broader issue. Is the result the same if both victim and accused were white or hispanic and the class distinctions were he same?

In my view, the reverse situation against poor black or hispanic kids where the prosecution is courting white voters could produce the same result we saw in Nifong's Duke travesty. It need not be a serious crime, just a sufficiently public one to grab press attention and send the signal to the racially charged voting public.

What JF Thomas in his earlier post may have been trying to highlight is that this reverse tale (white prosecutor courting white voters by overcharging or harshly punishing black defendants) is not unusual. It typically gets heavy coverage when the minority criminal is later released after the charges of wrongdoing are proven to be a sham, see the Tulia, or when the parties are overcharged or over punished for wrongful behavior, see Georgia conviction of teens engaging in oral sex story.

In my view the narrative holds. Perhaps the white upper-middle class and upper class now see how this narrative can be used to undermine their sense of Justice and fairness. But I think that minorities across class spectrums are keenly aware (and perhaps Prof. Lindgren's social science data shows this point) that the prosecution system can be used to send signals to voters based on race and tend to distrust the system. The large outpouring of condemnation for Nifong and the overly zealous press (and for most VC readers this means mainstream liberal press) seems to miss that this narrative is usually told with the races reversed (regardless of class and gender) after a conviction or over charge (see Jenna 6 story).
9.17.2007 3:51pm
ejo:
"No, it is all about a the justice system, the media, and academia not serving the needs of good upstanding middle class people but instead playing to minorities in a cynical attempt to, well, I don't know what exactly."

how about win elections? that has been a fairly obvious one from the local perspective. of course, you know that and, for some reason, are ignoring it. on the national level, this is a perfect case for the fine leftists in the media and academia-evil white males, poor downtrodden victims, in the South no less. you, of course, also are aware of that. why can't you face these simple facts-it is not particularly complex. instead, you throw in some class warfare nonsense to misdirect.
9.17.2007 4:07pm
Toby:

In what years did either NC or Duke have "nationally prominent" football teams? (For basketball the question would have to be turned around, "In what years did either NC or Duke not have 'nationally prominent' basketball teams?"

Well ten years ago, when UNC finished the season #3 may have been one time. he time that the Rose Bowl was held in Durham because the west coast was under a black out (1942) was one time (http://library.duke.edu/uarchives/exhibits/rosebowl/)...as was Duke in the Rose Bowl in the usual location (1939)..

Until the 57 season, Football was always king at UNC. Until the Bubas/Smith wars the rivalry was always football oriented.

As pitiful as Duke football is today,they were a power after hiring Walalce Wade away from 'Bama. Duke football went unbeaten and un-scored upon in 1938. Duke football was good in the 50's (ever hear of Sonny Jurgensen?) and good in the early 60s (remeber Sonny Jurgensen?), and good in the 80's before Spurrier was hired away by Florida. Carolina was solid in the 40's, prernial top 20 in the 70's, and the early 1980's teams team with Kelvin Bryant and Lawrence Taylor were powerhouses.
9.17.2007 4:12pm
Toby:
Oh of much more interest than the whole 88 (because less ambiguous), is the professor who failed a student because he was *on* the Lacrosse team (not one of the accused), admitted she did as much when the University settled with the student who sued, and remains on the faculty. If a professor admits to being able to discharge the most basic responsibilites of academia, than the proper response of the University should be...
9.17.2007 4:17pm
Temp Guest (mail):
Since Nifong has so thoroughly proven himself a liar, it seems absurd to me that posters would reference puffery in his self-promoting official bio as evidence of his academic evidence. The only evidence we have of Nifong's Phi Beta Kappa key is his assertion that he has one. By now people should be aware that these official biographies are often self-serving lies. Barring official academic records--and I doubt the liar Nifong will release them--we have only his extremely lackluster post-academic life upon which to judge how well he might have performed in school. A fair number of my friends are Phi Bet.s. None have performed as dismally outside the academy as this lout.
9.17.2007 4:18pm
Paul Spirito (mail) (www):

Say "we have another rogue prosecutor here" when a DA goes after a poor black person. Say "remember Nifong? Prosectors can and do make stuff up for personal gain."

That's fair. Try reading about this case. If the facts are as stated then it appears to be an example of both injustice and incompetance, with the added interest that there may be a multiple child murderer on the loose as a result.
9.17.2007 4:30pm
Smokey:
J.F. Thomas said:
And I do wish that this would be taken as a wider lesson about the widespread flaws in our justice system.
So, with his concern over those widespread flaws in our justice system, I assume that JFT will now raise an equal hue and cry over the comparison of Scooter Libby's sentence for his memory recall, vs Nifong's one day jail sentence for dishonestly attempting to imprison innocent students for decades -- in order to add some money to his retirement nest egg.

And don't even get JFT started on 'the widespread flaws in our justice system,' concerning Ronnie Earle's galavanting all over the state of Texas from his Austin venue in order to get someone he views as a political enemy.

No doubt JFT is equally up in arms over that corrupt corporate shakedown artist, Elliott Spitzer...
9.17.2007 4:36pm
Dan Weber (www):
By the way, if you're looking for a story of "black man accused of rape by non-credible girl, later found to be completely bunk", here it is:

ny daily news

This prosecution handled the case better than Nifong because he voluntarily admitted he was wrong; but it's still a good examination of the damage that false accusations can have.
9.17.2007 4:39pm
Ex-Fed (mail):
I've been the "you all only care about this because they were white" critique quite a lot. I think it is misguided.

I don't think the astounding reversal of fortune in this case would have gotten much play at all in the media -- including the right-wing media -- if it hadn't gotten so much play in the first place precisely because the players were white and (according to some) rich. If they hadn't been made the poster boys for white racism and entitlement in the first place, the reversal would have come with little fanfare. It seems more than a little disingenuous for the Left to complain about the press their exoneration is getting when the Left fanned the flames in the first place.

It's as if CNN, having rushed to judgment about Richard Jewel and having all but concluded he was the Olympic Park bomber, after his vindication whined that people were only ragging on CNN's coverage because Jewel was white. It's pathetic.
9.17.2007 4:45pm
Dan Weber (www):
Ex-Fed, I think you're onto something. When someone first comes across this case from Ed Bradley's amazing piece on 60 Minutes, they may not realize all the frothing that had been taking place in April 2006.
9.17.2007 4:59pm
Ex-Fed (mail):
Well, exactly.

Imagine if the races were reversed. A young black man is accused of abducting and hiding a pretty white girl. The media is all over it, particularly in the region where it happened -- let's say somewhere in the deep South for the sake of argument. Lots of media attention, lots of shots of the suspect's dark face contrasted with the pretty white girl and all her pretty white sorrority sisters. The right wing pundits are having a field day, because the case feeds into every racist sterotype that they trade on and their audience loves.

Suddenly, it turns out that the entire case is bogus. Some of the media begins to explore how this could have happened and whose misconduct caused it.

Some of the right-wing pundits start to whine that this is all about PC; the liberal media is only focusing on this because the guy who was exonerated is black.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. That's why you lynched him in the first place.

Would we react to those whines with anything but unmitigaged contempt? Why is this situation any different?
9.17.2007 5:12pm
ejo:
it's different because we had the right colored victim and right colored perpetrators in this case and academia/the media in not overrun with folks who would participate in reverso-Nifonging. Don't try to confuse them with such hypotheticals as it would not happen. JFT/The Duke 88/NYT and their ilk would gladly and happily have sacrificed the lacrosse players, given the story.
9.17.2007 5:29pm
Kestrel (mail):
The use of 'Nancy Grace' is a classic red herring argument. Ms Grace, unsavory though she may be, was never in a position to railroad innocent citizens. But Nifong was, and did.


Not a red herring. Just a very smelly one who, like Nifong, apparently was not above cutting some corners.

http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1115111123854
9.17.2007 5:30pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"The use of 'Nancy Grace' is a classic red herring argument. Ms Grace, unsavory though she may be, was never in a position to railroad innocent citizens."

Not in this case. But before she became a Talking Head she was a prosecutor in Georgia, who on three separate occasions was censured by the Georgia Supreme Court for prosecutorial misconduct (prejudicial statements, withholding evidence, etc.) It's not surprising she was such a big fan of Nifong early on; they seem to be kindred spirits.
9.17.2007 5:38pm
Elliot123 (mail):
One of the most entertaining aspects of this tragic case is the line up of public fools. The prosecution have been public fools. The police have been public fools. The Duke faculty have been public fools. The NAACP have been public fools. The New York Times staff have been public fools. The Preident of Duke has been a public fool. The list goes on.

But special mention should also be given to the public cowards. These include much of the Duke faculty, the president of the university, and the board of trustees.
9.17.2007 6:00pm
Brian K (mail):
I have to say that I agree with the arguments that JF Thomas is actually making, as opposed to the strawman that known hacks on this site keep attacking.

Some liberals seized on this case to further their personal agendas before all the evidence came in. Nifong used this case to further his own personal agenda. Both of these are wrong. But anyone who thinks that conservatives are completely blame free are completely delusional. Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent. Some undoubtedly did this because the people being railroaded were relatively wealthy and white and others did it to "get" the liberals (this can be clearly seen in the above comments). I have no doubt that if the accused had been black instead of white some liberals would still be outraged but most conservatives would not be and conservative pundits would definitely not have latched onto the case. Just look at the OJ simpsons case, how many conservative pundits were saying the white cop is racist therefore OJ is innocent? none, they were too busy calling for the chair.
9.17.2007 6:10pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Brian K said:

"I have no doubt that if the accused had been black instead of white some liberals would still be outraged but most conservatives would not be and conservative pundits would definitely not have latched onto the case."

Yes, it's quite clear that you and JF Thomas believe this. But where is your evidence that your belief is correct?
9.17.2007 6:13pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent."

Guilty until proven innocent?
9.17.2007 6:24pm
Nifonged:
"But where is your evidence that your belief is correct?"

They don't need evidence. I think Kobe Bryant got hosed as well and that the prosecutor behaved poorly in that ordeal (not as bad as Nifong, but poorly regardless), but in Brian/JF's world I don't because Kobe is black.

Since when did being right (not right in a political sense) become a political issue.

It was obvious to a lot of people back in April '06 that this was a sham prosecution, not sure why the johnny come lately's think this is anything more than a justified outrage over egregious (and more importantly public) prosecutial misconduct.
9.17.2007 6:27pm
Brian K (mail):
Guilty until proven innocent?

If you're going to fault liberals for rushing to judgment without knowing the evidence, it's only fair to fault conservatives for doing likewise. (unless of course those same conservatives always presumed innocence, which is obviously not true...look at any political scandal for proof, e.g. william jefferson, by your logic since he hasn't been proven guilty yet, conservatives should be claiming he's innocent and not saying that he is guilty, right?)



Yes, it's quite clear that you and JF Thomas believe this. But where is your evidence that your belief is correct?

Where are the calls from conservatives to end and/or not engage in racial profiling? The races listed that should be profiled never include white. Where is the general outrage everyone time the innocence project clears the name of a black person who has been wrongly convicted? Where are the calls that the prosecutors in these cases should be jailed? The stunning silence on the part of the conservative media is proof.
9.17.2007 6:37pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
JFT is obviously right that this is hardly the first case of prosecutorial abuse in the U.S. (and unfortunately it won't be the last). What was unique about this case, at least in recent history, was how the media and academia and other left wing groups piled on. You can throw a rock at any university and hit some faculty members who are eager to rally to Free Mumia, but here, you had a large group of faculty members applauding a virtual lynch mob.

I don't necessarily expect the NAACP to be organizing rallies to free rich white kids -- but I don't expect them to defend prosecutorial abuse, as they did here. Michael Vick got more support from black groups than the Duke 3 did. You would think that a normal narrative from the NAACP would be, "If Nifong could do this to the relatively privileged, think what he has probably been doing to poor black defendants. We need to investigate him thoroughly." Instead, they stood up for him.

We had left-wing university professors (as well as MSM figures) arguing that the facts didn't matter, that "something" must have happened, even a few arguing that if they were innocent, it was okay because the same thing had happened to blacks in the past.


It's pretty perverse to take a group of people who were targeted by the left for being white, made into household names as perpetrators of evil white male hegemony, and then criticize the backlash against that for glomming onto the case. Fox News didn't search around the country for some white people who were being victimized and then promote them as a national story; those who hated them for being white males did.
9.17.2007 6:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "Where are the calls from conservatives to end and/or not engage in racial profiling?"

There aren't any. When the vast majority of bombers are of Middle Eastern Muslim origin, it's common sense to profile them. It's simple probability.
9.17.2007 6:45pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Some liberals seized on this case to further their personal agendas before all the evidence came in. Nifong used this case to further his own personal agenda. Both of these are wrong. But anyone who thinks that conservatives are completely blame free are completely delusional. Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent.
Let's put aside your confusion over the burden of proof in a criminal case, and focus on your last sentence: name them. Which conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent?
9.17.2007 6:47pm
Dan Weber (www):

Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent.


Examples?

You might also have a quite different concept of just when "it became clear that they were innocent" than some other people. It was readily apparent that Nifong was playing dirty in April 2006.
9.17.2007 6:52pm
ejo:
no one is going to answer your question, although I must say if such conservatives existed, they were remarkably prescient. I can't think of many conservative media outlets that write odes to prosecutorial misconduct, either. To make the poster look even sillier, you can't break such misconduct into conservative/liberal-Cook County, a long time Democratic stronghold and political birthplace of Barack Obama, has probably had the worst history of prosecutorial misconduct you can imagine without a Republican in sight. Certainly, Barack hasn't been in the forefront criticizing it-is he a conservative?
9.17.2007 6:59pm
LEC (mail):
Ex-Fed (mail):
"Imagine if the races were reversed. A young black man is accused of abducting and hiding a pretty white girl. The media is all over it, particularly in the region where it happened -- let's say somewhere in the deep South for the sake of argument. Lots of media attention, lots of shots of the suspect's dark face contrasted with the pretty white girl and all her pretty white sorrority sisters. The right wing pundits are having a field day, because the case feeds into every racist sterotype that they trade on and their audience loves."

In my part of the south (Houston) Quanelle X would show up early on if some black dude was getting railroaded for raping some what girl. It could even be the combination of the New Black Panther Party, Quanelle, and the NAACP. They would raise such a pretty big stink that would probably get the prosecutors attention.
9.17.2007 7:10pm
Smokey:
BrianK:
Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent.
Before it became clear?? In other words, upon the accusation of Crystal Mangum, and without hearing the Duke students' strong alibis, conservatives were 'rushing to defend' accused rapists?

Maybe BrianK believes this, but since I don't, a reputable citation would clear this up. Just make sure the citation timeline is prior to the release of exculpatory evidence.

Or perhaps the Nifong apologists around here agree instead with the Newsweek cover story, which quoted an African-American North Carolina Central student: ''Whether it happened or not, it would be justice for things that happened in the past.''
9.17.2007 7:23pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It could even be the combination of the New Black Panther Party, Quanelle, and the NAACP. They would raise such a pretty big stink that would probably get the prosecutors attention.

Yeah, well it took an attempted murder conviction and a twenty year sentence and the prospect of five more trials in Jena, LA, before that case even registered in the national media (and even now it is just a blip), and I still don't see conservatives screaming about the prosecutorial misconduct there. In fact, mostly I hear statements of support for the prosecutor from the right wing.
9.17.2007 7:30pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas writes:

The only difference between this case and thousands of others tried every year in this country is that the victims of the prosecutorial misconduct were rich white kids. Do you really think that if Crystal were white and the alleged rapists were a bunch of poor black guys from the slums of Durham that they would not be doing serious time right now and that the case would have never received any press attention at all, except for local press attention decrying the black thugs who raped the poor white girl who was trying to work her way through college.
Wow! A comment posted through a wormhole from 1970! I'm impressed!

At a minimum, a case this weak with the colors reversed would have certainly resulted in the NAACP raising a stink about it--and the ACLU would have shown up to defend them.

Oh J.F., guess what? There was a similar case back in 1931. A bunch black teenagers were charged with raping a white woman. Fortunately, a Supreme Court dominated by those evil white males conservatives that you hate so much ordered a new trial wiht a 7-2 decision, and prevented what would otherwise have been quick executions.

It wasn't pretty, but even back in the 1930s, as bad as things were, justice was eventually served.
9.17.2007 7:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

when I read a post like JF's, I can only think how sorry I am that JF was not the person wrongfully accused who has a family that has to mortgage their future away to pay for attorneys. What twists someone's mind to the degree that they take some sort of pleasure out of these three getting abused to the extent they were?
I'm sure JF's parents are multimillionaires, and he clearly has limited contact with the real world.
9.17.2007 7:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas writes:

The criminal justice system in this country is seriously deficient. But the vast majority of innocent people who suffer because of its deficiencies are not privileged middle and upper class white kids.
I'm curious: do you think that the vast majority of those charged with crimes in the U.S. are innocent? Now, I don't think the system works perfectly. I do not doubt that innocent people get honestly prosecuted who did nothing wrong. I do not doubt that innocent people get railroaded, like the Duke case. But I do not believe for a second that most people who are prosecuted for felonies in the U.S. are innocent. You are going to have to present something more than, "I'm a spoiled rich white kid and I feel terrible about it" as a reason to make this claim.

It is the case that Nifong picked on these three white men because he needed some white defendants--rather like The Great White Defendant in Bonfire of the Vanities. Unfortunately, racial politics is very, very important in some parts of America--and having white villains to hiss and boo is a big part of how you get elected in Durham County.
9.17.2007 8:03pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
doubled writes:

The Iowa Hawkeye's had a basketball player convicted of rape and didn't lose their season.
Let me guess. Was he black? The left regards a black athlete accused of rape as "meets industry standards," because the left regards blacks as animals. But a white athlete must be punished! Even if he didn't do anything except behave boorishly.
9.17.2007 8:05pm
Dan Weber (www):
<blockquote>
before it became clear that they were innocent.
</blockquote>
Can someone explain something to me?

Where did this idea, this "we should wait for the judicial system to run its course before pointing out injustices" concept, come from?

I saw this several times during the lacrosse case: 1) folks were saying that those agitating for justice ought to just sit back and wait while the system ran its course; 2) that Magnum "deserved her day in court"; 3) that the players "deserved a chance to be proved innocent in court."

Waiting after an injustice occurs to try to correct it is insane; surely the Innocence Project doesn't wait until a man has been found guilty and run through all of his appeals and the governor has decided not to pardon him before doing anything, does it?

The concept of Magnum deserving a day in court seriously misunderstands our judicial system; in fact, it sounds like the thing that would come out of "victim's rights" groups, and is a bastion of a sometimes ugly side of conservatism.

And "proving innocence at a trial" is hopefully stupid enough on its face for everyone to see the problems it has.

Parties that traditionally work <i>for</i> the falsely accused worked <i>against</i> the accused here. Why?

Why did <i>The New York Times</i> say that there was a "body of evidence" to prosecute them, when we now know it's clear that the <i>only</i> thing was Magnum's testimony. (And the NYT has refused to correct that.)

Why did the state chapter of the NAACP <i>go out of its way</i> to make stuff up about the case?

I mean, they're for justice all the time... right?
9.17.2007 8:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Brian K writes:

Where are the calls from conservatives to end and/or not engage in racial profiling? The races listed that should be profiled never include white.
Except if they are young male Arabs (who are definitely white) getting on an airliner. Then not only do conservatives, but even many black Americans, support profiling.

I've got bad news for you: when the police go looking for a rapist/murderer, with very, very few exceptions--they start by "profiling" males. I mean, it could be that there's a woman out there, murdering other women, then using a turkey baster to insert semen into their vaginas. And to just look for male rapists is profiling--more prejudice!

I don't dispute that there is inappropriate profiling going on. A neighbor who looked Hispanic when I lived in San Jose had a very nice new car, and was constantly being pulled over by San Jose P.D. for no apparent reason. It took a while to figure out that she was Driving While Brown. I agree that something needs to be done to get police officers to narrow their use of profiling to situations where they have a bit finer focus than race alone. But this insistence that white and black grandmothers boarding an airliner deserve the same level of searching as young Arab males is liberalism par excellence.

Where is the general outrage everyone time the innocence project clears the name of a black person who has been wrongly convicted? Where are the calls that the prosecutors in these cases should be jailed?
In most of the cases that I have read, the prosecutors did nothing wrong. I can recall one in particular where the eyewitness to the rape was mistaken, but there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone.

I do not dispute that such wrongdoing takes place, and when it does, those guilty need to be prosecuted. But the justice system isn't perfect. Even if everyone is doing their job, it fails. (Part of why I am an opponent of the death penalty--there's no Undo button.)
9.17.2007 8:17pm
Brian K (mail):
No, I'm not going to provide examples. you guys are looking at this through hindsight bias and I already know how you're going to respond (see dan weber's post). that early in the investigation all you had was the spin put out by both sides. Can you honestly tell me that no one accused of a crime has ever lied about an alibi? Liberals in general believed the prosecutors spin while conservatives in general believed the defense's spin. At the time, it was wrong to take either at face value. Definitive proof of prosecutorial misconduct only came out later. You are exonerating conservatives with information that we know now but wasn't known when the claims were originally made.

And since I know you guys aren't good at reading i'll reiterate. i said some conservatives. not most. not all. (unlike the conservative hacks on this post, i try to avoid implicating every member of a group for the actions of some members of that group.)
9.17.2007 8:22pm
Dan Weber (www):
Just wondering, but when do you think it was "clear" that the players were innocent? Can you give a specific piece of evidence, or even a month? Was it the AG's report?
9.17.2007 8:28pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Liberals in general believed the prosecutors spin while conservatives in general believed the defense's spin.
I actually believe the prosecutor's spin. Of course, I wasn't putting out pronouncements about the defendants' guilt comparable to the Duke Group of 88. I wasn't too happy about some of the behavior of the lacrosse players that was separate from the allegation of rape. I blogged about the case on April 5, 2006, and on April 11, 2006 (by which point it was bcoming apparent that the prosecution's case was, at best, weak), and April 24, 2006.
9.17.2007 8:39pm
Dan Weber (www):
<blockquote>
you guys are looking at this through hindsight bias
</blockquote>

This might be amazing to you, but it was quite possible to see that the prosecution's story had a lot of BS. <a rel="nofollow" href="http://volokh.com/posts/1190072413.shtml">As KC has thankfully pointed out</a>, this has nothing to do with conservative or liberal labels.

In April 2006, I did not know the level of Nifong's malfeasance, but I did know his story did not add up. When a DA says "DNA evidence will clear the innocent" and then, after DNA has cleared all the people he publicly accused, says "DNA doesn't matter," you know he's not being straight. It was all downhill for him from there.

<blockquote>
Can you honestly tell me that no one accused of a crime has ever lied about an alibi?
</blockquote>
You are aware, yes, that one of the accused players had timestamped pictures from an ATM camera showing him far away? He couldn't have "lied" those into existence. (And his black cab driver also testified for him, too.)
9.17.2007 8:51pm
Brian K (mail):
Except if they are young male Arabs (who are definitely white) getting on an airliner
yes. i should have been more precise in my terminology. arabs are caucasian, but in general everyday usage concerning races they are not considered white. i.e. pundits on tv don't often say we should be racially profiling white people, they say we should be racially profiling arabs/middle eastern people. that's the way i was using the term.

I actually believe the prosecutor's spin.
did you not notice my use of the words "in general" i.e. not all. Here's another new flash: not all liberals believed the prosecutor's spin...I for one didn't.

But this insistence that white and black grandmothers boarding an airliner deserve the same level of searching as young Arab males is liberalism par excellence.
And this insistence that only arab men are capable of committing an act of terrorism and that terrorists are incapable of adapting is conservatism par excellence.

I mean, it could be that there's a woman out there, murdering other women, then using a turkey baster to insert semen into their vaginas. And to just look for male rapists is profiling--more prejudice!
nice strawman you got there. i see it didn't take you long to make it...its not surprising when you make as many as you do. when you got semen its a fair bet there was a male involved. an incredibly rare exception doesn't indicate any sort of profiling is involved.
9.17.2007 8:57pm
Smokey:
BrianK stated:
Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent.
But since BrianK provided no evidence that his statement was anything but a Dan Rather-style fabrication, he was asked to provide some evidence for his highly questionable assertion. His response:
''No, I'm not going to provide examples.''
Well, not to be harsh or anything, but BrianK loses the argument.

BrianK appears very self-satisfied with his smug assertion that ''unlike the conservative hacks on this post, i try to avoid implicating every member of a group for the actions of some members of that group.''

...Unless, of course, the group happens to consist of kids on a college lacrosse team. Or, 'conservative hacks on this post.' Are those groups both fair game, BrianK?
9.17.2007 9:00pm
advisory opinion:
"No, I'm not going to provide examples."

In other words, you can't back up your claims.

"Brian K" = busted for evasion.

Next.
9.17.2007 9:12pm
mike in houston (mail):
I will tell you why it was clear. The NTO that got all of the players DNA stated that its purpose was to clear the innocent. The DNA results came back in April without any matchs. The alibi consisted of eletronic data, pictures from a bank ATM and the sworn testamony of a taxi driver. No one could "lie" about that. Some of you guys need to study the case alittle more before posting.
9.17.2007 9:18pm
Brian K (mail):
that one of the accused players
yes. and he shouldn't have been charged. but his alibi doesn't magically clear the other 2.

Unless, of course, the group happens to consist of kids on a college lacrosse team
please point out where i did this. you can't? so why are you immune from your own evidenciary requirements?

'conservative hacks on this post.'
this is a very specific group that total less than maybe 5 people. that is a far cry from the "liberals" mentioned above.

BrianK loses the argument
your more than welcome to believe whatever you want. i am not sufficiently masochistic enough to spend my time sifting through who knows how many posts of political hackery to find an example that you find suitable.
9.17.2007 9:18pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Brian K: "And this insistence that only arab men are capable of committing an act of terrorism and that terrorists are incapable of adapting is conservatism par excellence."

Others are certainly capable of committing acts of terrorism, but it seems much more popular among young Arab men intent on imposing Mohameds teachings on the rest of the world.
9.17.2007 9:25pm
Brian K (mail):
to find an example that you find suitable.
I should clarify this. i'm making the assumption that you want find personal anecdotes about my then roommates suitable. I'm basing my opinions off of their (and their friends) opinions. If you'll accept those i'll elaborate...if you won't then like said above, you can believe whatever you want.
9.17.2007 9:25pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


But this insistence that white and black grandmothers boarding an airliner deserve the same level of searching as young Arab males is liberalism par excellence.


And this insistence that only arab men are capable of committing an act of terrorism and that terrorists are incapable of adapting is conservatism par excellence.

Except that I'm not insisting that. Please provide a list of terrorist hijackers of airliners in the United States in the last 20 years that weren't Arab males. Or, for that matter, provide a list of non-Muslim terrorists in the last 20 years that have attacked U.S. interests. It's quite a long list, isn't it?



I mean, it could be that there's a woman out there, murdering other women, then using a turkey baster to insert semen into their vaginas. And to just look for male rapists is profiling--more prejudice!


nice strawman you got there. i see it didn't take you long to make it...its not surprising when you make as many as you do. when you got semen its a fair bet there was a male involved. an incredibly rare exception doesn't indicate any sort of profiling is involved.
Except that is EXACTLY what you are objecting to with respect to terror suspects boarding airliners. There have been non-Muslim terrorists who have attacked U.S. interests (Timothy McVeigh, for example), but they are only slightly more common than the absurd example above.

I supposed if you found a dead black man aged 17 wearing baggy pants shot dead on a street in south central Los Angeles, you would assume that it could have been almost anyone in the U.S., right? It is far more likely to have been done by a white guy from Nebraska than by a black man from south central Los Angeles, right?
9.17.2007 9:35pm
Brian K (mail):
9/11 - arab
unabomber - white
oklahoma city bomber - white
shoe bomber - half white, half black and all british
DC snipers - black
anthrax in the mail - ??? most likely an american though given where the strain originated from

it doesn't appear that any ethnicity has a monopoly on terrorist attacks on US soil.

in the past 30 years there have only been 2 hijackings on us soil. one by arabs, one by russians.

it seems you are the one that want to take a one in a million incident and use it to slander an entire group of people.

I supposed if you found a dead black man aged 17 wearing baggy pants shot dead on a street in south central Los Angeles, you would assume that it could have been almost anyone in the U.S., right? It is far more likely to have been done by a white guy from Nebraska than by a black man from south central Los Angeles, right?
another strawman. its more likely the black guy from south central. why? its not because he's black. its because HE'S FROM SOUTH CENTRAL. most murderers know their victims and its much easier to know someone when you live near them.
9.17.2007 9:54pm
TruthHurts001 (mail):

its not because he's black. its because HE'S FROM SOUTH CENTRAL. most murderers know their victims and its much easier to know someone when you live near them.

More than 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks.

Of course it's because he's black.
9.17.2007 10:00pm
advisory opinion:
Brian K is still posting? He couldn't even give a straightforward reply when asked to name names. Name and shame the conservatives who 'rushed to judgement [of innocence]' from the beginning - i.e., before the exculpatory evidence was out. Can he?

The challenge was straighforward, Brian's dissembling response anything but.

In short, Brian can't answer.

Really, stop digging already.
9.17.2007 10:02pm
Nifonged:
Since Brian can't even begin to back his own assertions, I (in a sense of impartiality given that I'm a political independent, although in full disclosure's sake am married to a Republican) will attempt to do it for him.

www.freerepublic.com. Type in "duke lacrosse" in the search function and follow the links to go all the way back to March 2006.....if you are more interested in other posts you can follow the link throughout this debacle. Certainly there were people that came to conclusions ON BOTH SIDES. But there is more reason, logic and thought on these threads than the "leftist" counterparts, like Amanda Marcotte's blog that insinuated these guys were still guilty all the way through 2007.
9.17.2007 10:13pm
Brian K (mail):
"76.8 percent of the victims knew their killers and 23.2 percent were slain by strangers. Among the incidents in which the victims knew their killers, 29.8 percent were murdered by family members and 70.2 percent were killed by acquaintances."

I think its a safe bet to assume that of those 25% victims killed by a complete stranger, most of them lived in the same geographic region. At the very least its not as simple as "because he was black".
9.17.2007 10:14pm
Brian K (mail):
Since Brian can't even begin to back his own assertions

like i said, i'm basing this off of personal conversations with other people.

advisory opinion, how about Jonathon Cohen? its a name and he's a conservative (volunteered for GWBs reelection campaign). since i don't tape record my conversation on a regular i'll be the first to admit its not verifiable...so i don't care if you believe it or not.
9.17.2007 10:18pm
Elliot123 (mail):
A safe bet? Are you advocating we operate on probabilities?
9.17.2007 10:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J. F. Thomas:

I'm sure they will find dozens, if not hundreds of cases, where people were convicted on evidence much flimsier than Nifong had.

Name one. Give me one case where an accused black man had an airtight alibi and the DA refused to even hear it. Give me a case where the black community and the press did everything they could to railroad the accused.

Let's also remember that white-on-black rape is virtually non-existent. If you don't believe me check out Table 42 from the National Criminalization Victimization Survey. In 2005 the sample had zero white-on-black sexual assaults (which includes rape). Compare that to black-on-white sexual assaults where estimated 33.6% of the reported cases were black rapes of white people. This is nearly equal to 44.5% of white rapes of white people despite the fact that black men are only 6% of the population. You have to face the reality that black men are much more violent than white men and that's particularly true for sexual assault. Table 42 also provides data black-on-white crimes of violence in general and here we see a much lower rate than for sexual assault. If you think that black men are no more violent or prone to rape than white men than provide us with some evidence.
9.17.2007 10:38pm
advisory opinion:
Well, I followed Nifonged's suggestion and looked up the threads on Free Republic (the earliest two plus some of the third) - a lot of "if innocent", "if guilty", "starting to smell bad", but a cursory glance doesn't reveal a "they're innocent" rush to judgement.

Of course, when making such comments most were implicitly adopting the innocent-until-proven-guilty mantra. Followed by their own "doesn't look good" and "if..." hypotheses.

Brian - ok. I'll take your word for it that Cohen claimed that they were innocent before exculpatory evidence came to light.
9.17.2007 10:44pm
Smokey:
Brian K:
''Some conservatives rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent. Some undoubtedly did this because the people being railroaded were relatively wealthy and white and others did it to 'get' the liberals...''
OK, that makes no sense at all. Brian K is upset because conservatives 'rushed' to the presumption of innocence! He then goes on to make the ridiculous claim that conservatives defended the students because the students were - wait for it - 'wealthy and white.' And, of course, the other conservatives only questioned Nifong's credibility in order to 'get' liberals.

R-i-i-i-i-ght.

Some folks are completely deluded, and that's a fact. Leave it to Brian K to impotently try and shift Nifong's criminal wrongdoing to Brian K's putative conservative enemies -- no doubt because Nifong is a Democrat, and therefore he must be defended by pointing an accusatory finger at conservatives -- while the poor misunderstood libs are the victims that conservatives are out to 'get.' Yep. And up is down, black is white, evil is good, and conservatives are bad, bad, bad. BTW, we're still waiting for links to Brian K's mythical citations showing that his hated conservatives 'rushed to defend the lacrosse players before it became clear that they were innocent.' We sure wouldn't want to find that Brian K was inventing bogus facts like that, rather than making a sound, honest argument and backing it up.
9.18.2007 12:01am
David M. Nieporent (www):
No, I'm not going to provide examples.
Gee, what a shock.
you guys are looking at this through hindsight bias and I already know how you're going to respond (see dan weber's post). that early in the investigation all you had was the spin put out by both sides. Can you honestly tell me that no one accused of a crime has ever lied about an alibi?
People lie all the time about alibis. Few of them have documentary proof, though, as Seligmann did. Or completely disinterested alibi witnesses, as Seligmann did.

Early in the case -- very early -- it was reasonable to believe based on what we knew that the stripper may have been raped. At no point in the case was it ever reasonable to believe that the three who were accused were guilty of the rape. By the time those three were identified and indicted, it was clear that the case against them was bogus.
9.18.2007 12:07am
Russ (mail):
All Brian K is doing here is showing that he dislikes Conservatives. Why? Because, by holding conservative views, they must be eeeeeeeeevvvviiiilllllll...

No substantive argument, no evidence, and attempting to deflect the argument into how evil the Right is by saying things like, "Yeah, Nifong was wrong, but look at all this stuff conservatives have done that's bad."

I'd love to see a liberal, just once, say, "Yup, we got snookered. We'll look harder next time and avoid blame games that make us look like we're making excuses."
9.18.2007 12:36am
Redlands (mail):
Someone wrote, "If they really are concerned about miscarriages of justice, then they should pick any city they want in the south and check out the case files of the public defenders office, I'm sure they will find dozens, if not hundreds of cases, where people were convicted on evidence much flimsier than Nifong had."

Sounds like you found your calling. Go for it. On the other hand, are you a prosecutor or criminal defense attorney? Do you know how hard it is to actually convict someone given the burden of proof? Don't you think reasonable doubt frees many more criminals than innocent people are convicted on flimsy evidence, or just flat out wrongly convicted? Crimony, thanks to Miami CSI, or whatever it's called, juries nearly expect absolute perfection any more in a courtroom. The hair brained exculpatory theories they will buy into would leave you breathless. After 25+ years in the arena I could tell you about many of them. But it is guaranteed that mistaken verdicts will lead to conviction. It has to happen, doesn't it, unless we raise the burden to "beyond all doubt." And the result of that would be . . . what? Consider, institutionalized-induced social chaos.
It has less to do with the evidence than the amount of money a defendant can throw at a case, meaning mostly the level of competence of the defense attorney employed. And in that respect the system may not be kind to the economically challenged. The only thing we can do is try to do the best, especially ethically. Mr. Nifong richly deserves his public pillorying. But to suggest that there are 1,000's more like him across the country? Prove it. Won't even make you do it beyond a reasonable doubt.
9.18.2007 12:47am
Brian K (mail):
Some folks are completely deluded, and that's a fact. Leave it to Brian K to impotently try and shift Nifong's criminal wrongdoing to Brian K's putative conservative enemies -- no doubt because Nifong is a Democrat, and therefore he must be defended by pointing an accusatory finger at conservatives
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA your reading comprehension obviously sucks. thanks for the laugh though...i needed after spending hours reading about eicosinoids and NSAIDs. where have i defended nifong?

We sure wouldn't want to find that Brian K was inventing bogus facts like that, rather than making a sound, honest argument and backing it up.
yet more proof that you can't read. how you managed to type a post is beyong me. at least we know smokey is a hypocrite...demanded proof from me while simultaneously fabricating stuff about me. hahaha...you crack me up.

People lie all the time about alibis. Few of them have documentary proof, though, as Seligmann did. Or completely disinterested alibi witnesses, as Seligmann did.
alibi's are not transferable. i already addressed this above. seems both you and smokey need to learn how to read.

No substantive argument, no evidence, and attempting to deflect the argument into how evil the Right is by saying things like, "Yeah, Nifong was wrong, but look at all this stuff conservatives have done that's bad."
if you think i'm trying to deflect the argument you obviously don't understand my argument. i'm not trying to exonerate one side by blaming the other, i'm saying both sides have their problems.

Thanks you 3...you considerably brightened my mood.
9.18.2007 12:52am
neurodoc:
Clayton E. Cramer: (W)hen the police go looking for a rapist/murderer, with very, very few exceptions--they start by "profiling" males. I mean, it could be that there's a woman out there, murdering other women, then using a turkey baster to insert semen into their vaginas.
You should acknowledge cribbing that one from a Scott Thurow novel.
9.18.2007 1:19am
neurodoc:
Toby, thanks. I never would have imagined that as recently as 10 years ago UNC finished a season ranked #3 in football. Geez, the things you learn here on volokh.com. (I don't pay that much attention to college football, but was I so inattentive that year as to miss such an aberrant outcome? All but two of the usual suspects - Nebraska, Texas, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, etc. ranked lower than the Tarheels in football that year?!)
9.18.2007 1:25am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
I simply can't bring myself to watch Nancy Grace, her show is so bad, which is a real pity. A decent legal affairs show would be great. Here in Canada we have a show called The Verdict, with Paula Todd, which is roughly comparable to Nancy Grace but vastly better. Todd doesn't show the bias that Grace does, doesn't rant, interviews interesting people and asks intelligent questions.
9.18.2007 1:45am
neurodoc:
Nancy Grace...P-A-N-D-E-R-E-R. Hard to imagine worse. Would rather listen to chalk scrapping across blackboard than to her.
9.18.2007 1:55am
Brian G (mail) (www):
WOW. he first comment continues the "fatcs were wrong but the narrative was right" nonsense. Hilarious.

Thanks for posting here gentlemen. I look forward to reading your book in th next few weeks, once my caseload calms down.
9.18.2007 2:19am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Sounds like you found your calling. Go for it. On the other hand, are you a prosecutor or criminal defense attorney? Do you know how hard it is to actually convict someone given the burden of proof? Don't you think reasonable doubt frees many more criminals than innocent people are convicted on flimsy evidence, or just flat out wrongly convicted?

Nice theory, but apparently you are under the serious delusion that everyone charged with a crime goes to trial. You really should stop getting your information on how the criminal justice system works from TV dramas. Less than 10% of criminal cases go to trial, and even then the conviction rate at trial is around 90%. Most defendants plead out. If you have to depend on a public defender, especially in the south, you are going to have a lawyer who is juggling hundreds--maybe over a thousand--of cases a year (e.g., when I was in law school in 1991 a public defender in Atlanta resigned in protest because by March she had already been assigned her 300th case for the year), has no investigative resources, and is seriously underpaid (e.g., in Mississippi lawyers working on death penalty cases sued because they were getting paid $25 an hour and claimed that it actually worked out to less than minimum wage after expenses were deducted).

You take the best deal you can get, plead guilty and do your time. For most people arrested for a crime without adequate resources, that is the harsh reality. Most people can't afford an expensive defense attorney to baffle and bullshit the jury.
9.18.2007 10:35am
Roundhead (mail) (www):
Dear Mr. "Thomas"

I wanted to respond to your assertion (to the effect of) that the conservative blogosphere/commentariat is not saying anything about the prosecution of several people in Jena, Louisiana (in contrast to the Durham scandal), simply because the defendants in this case are black...

But just what is your point of comparison of the Jena case to that in Durham? That the defendants in both cases allegedly attacked an individual of another race?

Is that it?

Let alone that, what is the basis of your statement that the Jena prosecutor was engaged in "misconduct"? Did he withhold evidence from the prosecution that showed the defendants were not culpable in the crime? Did he conspire with other law enforcement officials in this effort to railroad the accused? Did he exploit this case in order to gain reelection in his constituency? did he do anything at all that would compare with the conduct of Nifong?

From what I read on Google (as you advised), I don't see any reference to that at all. The complaints from those who see this case as "injustice" is that the prosecutor brought more serious charges - attempted murder - against the accused that the critics believe is justified - and that one of the defendants at least was a juvenile at the time of the crime, but was prosecuted in adult court.

I hardly think an attack by six individuals upon one person constitutes a "schoolyard fight"; there is, in any case, absolutely no doubt that the assault in Jena took place (unlike in Durham) - only how it was disposed of by the prosecutor.

In fact, I will argue that the response to this case on the part of those who criticize actually shows up the culpability of the so-called Durham 88 in creating a lynch mob mentality, as the authors of the book excerpted at the VC state.

After all, did 88 academics in Louisiana sign a statement urging that the "Jena Six" be prosecuted for their crime, or urge vigilante-style "protestors" to "not wait" for the mechanisms of due process to be completed, before coming to conclusions about the guilt of the accused?

The answer is, of course not. On the contrary, the "Jena Six" are the recipients of a great deal of support among academics, as quoted by the New YOrk Times and other mainstream media posted on Google News - even though no one actually questions their guilt. Soon enough, Jena will be the locale to as many as 30,000 people who will come to smear the town's residents as `racist' and everything else...

If this is the best you can do, I think you've struck out.
9.19.2007 3:28pm
Roundhead (mail) (www):
Mr. Thomas - "rotwang2027@yahoo.com"

phoney email of course, someone who is too afraid to give out their real name and address.
9.19.2007 3:44pm
MikeT:
Neurodoc, Mack Brown was the coach at UNC before he went to Texas and won a national championship. One reason they were so good during the mid 90's. Duke on the other hand has been a non-factor since Spurrier left for Florida.

I was a grad student at NC State during that time, and I think we lost to UNC all 5 years I was there.
9.19.2007 11:30pm