Sunday, 17 June 2007

Duke lacrosse book review

As promised, the review is up at OTB. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the book, although I’d imagine that those less familiar with the case would think it was better.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Nifong quits, loses law license

Via The New York Times and QandO, I just learned that Mike Nifong has quit as Durham County’s DA, apparently in the hope that the state bar will be lenient with him at his ongoing ethics trial. Good riddance.

In quasi-related news, one of my projects for this weekend is to review the book about the case by Don Yaeger for Outside The Beltway.

Update: CNN and others report that Nifong's trial ended Saturday with him being disbarred.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Sheehan: I'm sorry

That would be Ruth Sheehan, apologizing for her inflammatory columns at the beginning of the Duke lacrosse “fake but accurate” rape scandal in the Raleigh News & Observer, rather than anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who as of last report is still emulating a homeless woman in Crawford, Texas.

þ: Craig Newmark.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006


My former boss and NC gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger saves me the trouble of having to write a lengthy post summarizing my feelings about the Duke lacrosse debacle at this point.

To me, there are two different dimensions to the situation that Mike correctly points out. On the one hand, the known and proven conduct of the team at the party—putting aside the unproven allegations of sexual assault—represents a complete lapse in judgment by the players and their ostensible leaders (both among the students and the coaching staff). Those actions, along with the subsequent embarrassment of the university, could justifiably be punished by sanctions up to and including the disbanding of the Duke intercollegiate men’s lacrosse team.

On the other hand, the blatant race-baiting of district attorney Mike Nifong and his supporters, particularly in light of the absence of any credible evidence that a sexual assault took place (despite Nifong’s early assertions to the contrary), is also worthy of condemnation. His demonstrated, repeated inability to engage with the logical inconsistencies and facts surrounding the case make our current president look like a card-carrying member of the “reality-based community” by comparison. The man is a menace and a demagogue, not to mention an embarrassment to each and every citizen of Durham County, and my faith in democracy is shaken by the number of Durhamites of all races who keep voting for the idiot.

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Nifong and the paper trail

I’ve generally lost interest in the whole Duke lacrosse imbroglio, but KC Johnson notes some very interesting developments in the case that reinforce my prior belief that Durham DA Mike Nifong is, as the kids say, “completely full of shit.”

Monday, 5 June 2006

Explaining the satellite trucks

The Duke administration officially reinstated the men’s lacrosse team today; Margaret Soltan greets the news positively.

While I agree the institution didn’t take the easy way out—something of a surprise to me, especially given the charges given the various and sundry committees convened by President Brodhead—I am rather unconvinced of the central premise that Demon Rum (and its relatives) is the scourge at the root of the “campus culture” problems of the modern residential college or university, either at Duke or anywhere else.

I particularly wonder whether the university will detect the difference between promoting the responsible use of alcohol with the neoprohibitionist agenda. Given universities’ general willingness to be deputized by the MPAA and RIAA already, adding MADD (née the WCTU) to the alphabet soup would be another easy—but wrongheaded—step.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006

And then there were three

Mike Nifong dropped the Hammer of Righteous Townie Justice on former Duke lacrosse co-captain Dave Evans today, apparently based on finding Evans’ DNA in his own bathroom and an identification by the alleged victim that might have been a little bit more convincing to us non-DA types had Evans ever had a moustache in his life.

Meanwhile, if Nifong were a competitor in a poker tournament, people might be speculating about whether he was on tilt after his expletive-filled tirade against Evans’ attorney Joe Cheshire:

For more than six weeks, Cheshire and Nifong have criticized each other through newspapers and television cameras. They apparently have not spoken with each other about the case. On Monday, their acrimony seemed to have escalated into all-out war.

In a profanity-laced tirade Monday morning, Nifong told one of Evans’ attorneys that he was unhappy with the Friday news conference. In addition to discussing the test results, Cheshire accused someone in the District Attorney’s Office of leaking the test results to the media.

Nifong told lawyer Kerry Sutton that he would do no more favors for Cheshire. The comment and the swearing could be heard clearly across the sixth floor of the courthouse. A short time later, Cheshire tried to get a few minutes with Nifong but was told the prosecutor was not available.

Cheshire acknowledged the bitterness at the news conference.

“After Mr. Nifong made all his statements and we heard there were going to be indictments, we called over and tried to talk to him, and he refused to talk to us. He’s refused to look at the exculpatory evidence, and when there is someone who will simply not act professionally and discuss things with you in a professional way, how else do you do things?” Cheshire said.

“When you have someone’s life in your hands, anybody who would say it’s not war is not somebody I’d want representing me.”

There’s more commentary from KC Johnson and Jeralyn Merritt.

Sunday, 7 May 2006

Less lacrosse, more fulfilling

I’ve been avoiding writing about the Duke lacrosse thing for a few days, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t link this post from KC Johnson commenting on Jason Whitlock’s latest Kansas City Star column on the situation.

Also, as the Bull City Booster pointed out in comments to an earlier post, today’s News & Observer Q section was all lacrosse, all the time—the section editor asked me to write something about the online coverage of the case for the section, but the deadline was right in the middle of finals week.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Four more years of pain

UD passes on news that makes me glad I am getting the f*ck out of Dodge… er, Durham.

In a completely unrelated development, expect this blog to get a lot more hostile toward Townies in the near future.

Monday, 1 May 2006

The great non-escape

I think I’ve spent more time discussing the Duke lacrosse scandal in St. Louis today than I had all of last week.

A couple of noteworthy links from the wrong time zone:

  • There’s commentary from KC Johnson on the DA’s race and a filing by Reade Seligmann’s attorney; Johnson also has a column up at InsideHigherEd that’s worth a read.
  • Allison Clarke notes the release of the lacrosse committee report. Personally, I’m rather surprised that they recommended returning the team to the field, although that call is (obviously) up to the athletics department and Dick Brodhead. My general view on the concerns about the alcohol policy is “meh”; conflating the problems of underage and excessive drinking is rather silly in my mind, but then again I think (with the immigration protests today) conflation has become something of a theme for May 1.

Saturday, 29 April 2006

Poet/president ponders potential Panther peril

Here’s the statement of President Brodhead regarding the planned demonstration by the “New Black Panther Party” adjacent to the Duke campus on Monday—when I happily will be safely 800 miles away in Saint Louis.


Duke student Allison Clarke and I had some brief correspondence earlier this week (I think—time is starting to blur for me), an outgrowth of which is this post [link corrected -ed]. I don’t know that we disagree as much as she thinks we do—perhaps the reputation of my commenters is rubbing off on me—but either way it’s a thoughtful commentary that is worth your time.

Incidentally, congratulations to Allison and her fellow seniors on the happy event of their upcoming graduation; much to my disappointment (in part because I am missing out on my last chance to break out the regalia at Duke), I will be unable to attend the festivities for family reasons, so I suppose this is as close to a public demonstration of my felicitations as I will get.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Duke accuser made previous gang-rape charge in 1996

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, it turns out that the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case previously reported a brutal gang-rape by three men in 1996:

The woman who says she was raped by three members of Duke’s lacrosse team also told police 10 years ago she was raped by three men, filing a 1996 complaint claiming she had been assaulted three years earlier when she was 14.

Authorities in nearby Creedmoor said Thursday that none of the men named in the decade-old report was ever charged but they didn’t have details why.

A phone number for the accuser has been disconnected and her family declined to comment to The Associated Press. But relatives told Essence magazine in an online story this week that the woman declined to pursue the case out of fear for her safety.

On the one hand, one has to believe that the odds of being the victim of two separate gang rapes, each involving three men, are pretty low. On the other hand, it is believable that a young woman who had been sexually assaulted as a teenager would be more likely to get involved in the adult entertainment industry as an adult, which would of course expose her to more opportunties to be gang-raped than a lot of other professions, so both charges could be credible. Like I said… weird.

Black "hate group" claims it is providing security for the alleged victim

After this bit of news, I think people will be wishing it was just the Al and Jesse Show headed to Durham:

An official with the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense said the black nationalist organization is providing security for the woman who has accused Duke lacrosse players of raping her.

And the organization is distributing recruitment brochures with information about a rally planned near the Duke campus for Monday. The brochures ask, “Had enough of disrespect and racism from Duke University?” The materials contain photographs of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, the two white lacrosse players indicted and charged with raping a black exotic dancer at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. the night of March 13–14.

“We’ll do the escort and the security, going to court, whatever it takes” to protect the accuser from threats allegedly being made against her, said Minister Na’jee Shaka Muhammad, national field marshal with the New Black Panther Party who is based out of Atlanta but working in Durham with the dancer and her family. ...

Founded in 1989 in Dallas, the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense has chapters across the U.S. It preaches self-determination for a black nation through revolutionary changes. Among other tenets of the organization are calls to free all incarcerated black people, exempting blacks from military service, education that “exposes the true nature of this devilish and decadent American society,” and demands for trials by a jury of black peers.

The organization has been assailed by the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation in an open letter on the foundation’s Web site. Newton was the founder of the Black Panther Party that was active in the 1960s civil rights struggles. The organization Newton founded has no connection to the New Black Panther Party.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate groups across the country, lists the New Black Panther Party as a racist, black separatist organization.

Also, there may be some more problems with the identification of the (alleged) third attacker:

[A]ttorney sources said the accuser was only 90 percent sure about her identification of one of three men she said attacked her, and she tripped up over a mustache.

Looking at a photo lineup, the dancer told police the man in question “looks just like him without the mustache,” the lawyers said, citing a written investigative report.

But the alleged third rapist had no mustache on the relevant night, if he ever had one, according to attorneys. They said photographs and eyewitnesses would prove their point.

Elsewhere, ESPN’s George Smith has apparently gotten a few Duke lacrosse players to talk:

Several Duke lacrosse players who say they were at a team party the night of the alleged rape of a 27-year-old woman have told ESPN‘s George Smith that an argument over money and the amount of time two exotic dancers were expected to perform was at the center of a dispute that night.

The players, who agreed to speak with ESPN on the condition their names not be used, also admitted that slurs and bad language were used by some players and the dancers during the argument. ...

The players, who would not go on camera, also would not discuss many details about the case or answer more specific questions about exactly what happened.

But they told ESPN‘s Smith that not all 47 players were at the party at the time the woman said she was raped; some had already left. The players told Smith they admit it was foolish to have the party, but deny that any rape occurred. They also believe the two students charged so far will not be convicted.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Collin, Collin, Collin...

Mr. Finnerty’s previous legal entanglement has come back to haunt him, whether or not he was actually at Cosmic at the time of the alleged rape (via UD and others):

One of two Duke University lacrosse players charged with raping a stripper faces new legal trouble in an unrelated assault case from November.

Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., appeared in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday for a hearing in which a judge determined that he violated the conditions of a diversion program he entered after being charged in a Georgetown assault.

Finnerty and two other high school men are accused of punching Jeffrey O. Bloxgom in the face and body after he told them to “stop calling him gay and other derogatory names,” last November, according to court documents.

Under the terms of the diversion program, the charges would have been dismissed after Finnerty completed 25 hours of community service. But the agreement called for Finnerty to refrain from committing any criminal offense.

Finnerty remains free pending a July 10 trial date. He could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted of simple assault.

“We look forward to presenting the facts,” attorney Steven J. McCool, who is representing Finnerty in the Georgetown case, said in a brief statement outside the courthouse. “This incident has been grossly mischaracterized.” ...

In addition to the new trial dates, the Washington D.C. judge also set new restrictions for Finnerty and the other suspects. Under some of those restrictions, they must follow a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, stay at least 50 feet from Bloxgom and refrain from going any place where alcohol is sold, served or consumed.

I guess this means Collin won’t be joining us for LDOC festivities tomorrow.

More to chew on

The number that cabbie Moez Mostafa received a call from at 12:29 a.m. is in the 856 area code (including the exchange, 856–296-xxxx), if you pause playback during Rita Crosby’s interview with him. What’s weird is that Tony McDevitt, a junior Duke lacrosse player who has a striking resemblance to the indicted Reade Seligmann, lives smack dab in that area code according to this site. McDevitt, along with four teammates, was on the season watchlist for the nation’s top collegiate player before the incident.

Also, the 12:14 a.m. call, attributed to Reade Seligmann by the defense, is from the 973 area code (973–953-xxxx). This would seem to correspond with the part of New Jersey he is from.

Monday, 24 April 2006

You ain't seen no ugliness yet

The big news today is that the attorney for accused player Reade Seligmann has filed a motion for discovery into the background of the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation.

That’s really it as far as the links go. I read on the CourtTV message board that Rita Cosby had another interview with Our Man Moez in which he cleared up the time of when he was called to the lacrosse house to pick the second group of players up—it sounds like he just got confused looking at the call log. Apparently more footage from the interview with Kim Roberts was released today as well, but I haven’t seen that either. What can I say?—I had lots of work to do today.

But, if you’re really bored, I’m sure you can find some amusement at the website of Moez Mostafa’s On Time Taxi, featuring all sorts of weird clipart of generic white people in a city that looks nothing like Durham (maybe Durham, Ontario instead) and flat rate service to 9th Street and Shooters, which I suppose is a way to build brand loyalty. Alas, no prominent endorsement from Reade Seligmann yet…

Sunday, 23 April 2006

Lazy Sunday Linkage

No, no Chronic-les of Narnia; just more lacrosse stuff…

Saturday, 22 April 2006

The ethics of trial by media

Saturday’s News & Observer looks at the ethical questions surrounding the public comments of lawyers in the Duke lacrosse investigation:

Defense lawyers and legal experts say District Attorney Mike Nifong may have crossed ethical lines in public comments about rape allegations involving Duke University lacrosse players, potentially prejudicing jurors and setting off a media maelstrom.

For his part, Nifong says that he has done nothing wrong, though he has ceased talking with reporters about allegations made by an escort service dancer hired to perform at a March 13 team party. He would speak only about his handling of the case Friday.

“In terms of what I said, no, I wouldn’t say I regret anything I’ve said,” Nifong said. “I think what I have learned, basically, is that if you cooperate with the media out of a sense of duty to public truth, you make yourself a victim.”

Also, thanks to Sharon in the comments of a previous thread, NBC 17 reports a possible conflict between cab driver Moez Mostafa’s account of returning to the party and picking up four players and police accounts that show no people at the house around the same time; it’s possible that one or both accounts is off on the time in question, but it’s also possible that Mostafa is embellishing his story.

Friday, 21 April 2006

Defense claims IDs bogus

I may not be a law enforcement officer, but I’ve seen enough episodes of NYPD Blue to know that this isn’t how you run a photo array:

Defense attorneys are questioning the method used by Durham police to obtain a woman’s identification of two Duke University lacrosse players in an alleged rape last month….

A written report of the April 4 identification was turned over to defense attorneys Friday, and sources told NBC17 that the attorneys are considering asking a judge to suppress the evidence, claiming it was improperly conducted.

To obtain the identification, Durham police showed the woman a photo array that included only photos of the 46 [white] lacrosse team members, sources said. The woman said she was 100 percent certain that Finnerty and Seligmann were involved and 90 percent certain that a third player was involved.

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said Tuesday that he is still collecting evidence in the case and hopes to indict a third player soon.

No other photos were shown to the woman, sources said, and the defense attorneys maintain that police should have included photos of other young, white men in the photo array to make the identifications legitimate.

The bad news for me is that it shoots my theory of why Seligmann got ID’d to hell. Oh well.

The identification was on April 4. Let’s review what had already happened by April 4:

This news puts some real meat on the bones of the theory that Finnerty was set up because of his previous arrest, particularly if the defense can produce credible witnesses who have him at Cosmic Cantina when the rape allegedly occurred.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this ID is not good news for Mike Nifong’s case—not just against Seligmann or Finnerty, but against anyone else she subsequently IDs. He’d better start hoping that second round of DNA comes back with a match real soon…

Warrant confirms Seligmann has bad taste in music

The press has exposed more warrant follies from the Durham Police Department, this time from the list of items taken from Reade Seligmann’s dorm room. They took among other items his iPod and, presumably, a Beck EP—are they planning to sic the RIAA on him or something?

Here’s the full list of items taken; apparently they weren’t content just to take his iPod… they also made off with his iTrip FM adaptor, which I’m absolutely certain is just going to bust this thing wide open.

I am slightly curious what a “scouting report” relating to 1105 Urban Street on December 3, 2005 would be; you’ll note that this is the adjacent address to 1103 (a duplex?), where certain members of the lacrosse team were living at the time of the party. 1103/1105 is another of the properties acquired by Duke University in February. Perhaps this is an indication that the authorities did have some interest in the 1103 house too. No warrants have been served for a search of that address; at least, none that are known to the public—some enterprising reporter might want to see if this is another “double-secret” warrant that never got turned in to the clerk’s office by the presiding judge.

Second dancer publically identified

I have a busy day today, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t link this AP report on the second dancer in the case, now known to the public as Kim Roberts, 31, of Durham. Roberts was arrested on March 22nd on a parole violation, one week after the alleged rape at the Duke lacrosse party, although it’s unclear at this point what provision of her parole she violated.

At the very least, this part looks bad:

On Monday, the same day a grand jury indicted lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, a judge agreed to a change so that Roberts would no longer have to pay a 15 percent fee to a bonding agent. District Attorney Mike Nifong signed a document saying he would not oppose the change.

What an amazing coincidence…

More Moez Mostafa

Our cabbie’s 15 minutes of fame continue in this WRAL report, which adds even more detail on the second taxi pickup as the Duke lacrosse party was breaking up:

After dropping off Seligmann, [Moez] Mostafa said, he returned to the house to pick up four more passengers. When he arrived, it looked like a party was breaking up, with people crowded on both sides of the street.

While waiting for the men whom he would later drive to a nearby gas station, the Sudan-born driver saw a woman walking through a crowd of men toward a car, and heard someone say, “She just a stripper. She’s going to call the police.”

Mostafa said the woman, wearing jeans and a sweater, appeared to exchange words with some people in the crowd before getting into the driver’s side of a car.

“She looked, like, mad,” he said. “In her face, the way she walked, the way she talked, she looked like mad.”

When asked by a reporter with CBS News if he had a feeling that something had gone wrong or someone had been hurt at the party that night, Mostafa said, “Yeah, I got the feeling something had gone wrong.”

ABC 11 explains what they think the envelope seizure was all about:

The envelope likely was taken to prove that Finnerty lived at the dorm.

Never mind that the envelope would have been addressed to Finnerty’s P.O. box in the Bryan Center, not his dorm room, but whatever…

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Rats off a sinking ship

The Duke lacrosse team has figured out that big-time lacrosse probably ain’t coming back to Durham, but Margaret Soltan notes at least one school isn’t rolling out the welcome mat for potential transfers.

Something to try on for size

Tom Maguire finds something in the storyline that doesn’t quite fit:

Weren’t both women missing for the 20–30 minutes? Per the prosecution version, where was the second dancer while the first was being assaulted?

And if she was performing, why no photos?

I think I have an answer to that, and it came to me when I realized this morning how close the second lacrosse house is to the first (less than a two minute walk). Since this is at best speculation I am putting it below the fold.