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.


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He said ‘at about 1 am’, which could mean 10 til or even 12:52 as the neighbor said the party broke up real quick and with everyone gone Kim was able to place that 911 call without the guys around, if we are to believe she was really still across the street from the house when she made it. Or maybe that explains his initial story of when he went back there was talk of calling the police, she’s just a stripper, etc. She called the police, took off herself and the guys got the hell out of dodge.

If the cabbie saw Reade go in his dorm at 12:46, how long would it take him to drive over to 610 NB? Reade’s alibi does not depend solely on the cabbie, he has his call logged on both ends, apparently an ATM receipt and camera image plus the swipe card entry time. At the very least, his approximate time conflict should put talk of him being paid off by the defense to bed.

Could the cabbie be mistaken about seeing 20 guys outside the house? Doubtful. Could he be off a few minutes in his recollection of the time? Probable. Much ado about nothing, but great work by the NBC 17 team playing Fantasy D.A.

[Permalink] 2. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Sat, 22 Apr 2006, 2:03 pm CDT:

For anyone who’s interested: NC Rules of Professional Conduct 3.6, 3.8, and 4.2 and the official comments, available at , shed some light on some (but by no means all!) of the concerns a prosecutor generally needs to be mindful of….

[Permalink] 4. Skeptical-Hog wrote @ Sat, 22 Apr 2006, 2:46 pm CDT:

The maddening thing in all this is that it’s extremely possible the AV really was raped in that house, yet the odds that justice will be done seem to be declining…..

I’d love for the second DNA results to come back positive, if only to provide some sense of certainty in a case where the truth is particularly murky.

[Permalink] 5. Politicaobscura wrote @ Sat, 22 Apr 2006, 7:01 pm CDT:

from the NYTIMES —hhmmmmmm….. ?? :

“Team captains have told the police that 41 of the 47 Duke lacrosse players attended the party. The team captains left Mr. Seligmann off the list they gave to the police, although he had been photographed watching the dancers.”


I’m not sure the fact Seligmann wasn’t on the list is somehow suspicious; if you asked me to name who came to my research methods class on Tuesday, for example, I could probably get most of the people right but still make a few mistakes. And I wasn’t drunk at the time of the class, either…

Or, it could be that the list the captains gave police was an RSVP list… maybe Seligmann showed without RSVPing. Or they put a check next to the guy below or above him instead of him when going through a roster of 47 names.

Incidentally, the Times also puts the cabbie at the house at 1:07 am, which I’ve never seen anywhere else to that much precision, so I’m not sure where they get that from.


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

I really enjoy how the media castigates the d.a. for talking to… the media. Pot meet Kettle.

I’m also amazed that none of these lacrosse folks videotaped this event.

[Permalink] 8. LaxZebra wrote @ Mon, 24 Apr 2006, 6:59 pm CDT:

I did a quick run through the last few days of posts and didn’t see an obvious link to this one. For the record here’s a pointer to the N&O’s Editor’s Blog about how they are trying at “getting it right”:

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