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Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence

The New York Times today has an 8 page online article on the Duke Lacrosse alleged rape case.

By disclosing pieces of evidence favorable to the defendants, the defense has created an image of a case heading for the rocks. But an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation yields a more ambiguous picture. It shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong's case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury.

The commenters are analyzing it over at the Duke Forums. You can comment there or here.

My first question is just how did the New York Times get the entire discovery file? After that, I wonder about the accuracy of some of the police reports when I read this:

Crucial to that portrait of the case are Sergeant Gottlieb's 33 pages of typed notes and 3 pages of handwritten notes, which have not previously been revealed. His file was delivered to the defense on July 17, making it the last of three batches of investigators' notes, medical reports, statements and other evidence shared with the defense under North Carolina's pretrial discovery rules.

Joseph B. Cheshire, a lawyer for David Evans, one of the defendants, called Sergeant Gottlieb's report a "make-up document." He said Sergeant Gottlieb had told defense lawyers that he took few handwritten notes, relying instead on his memory and other officers' notes to write entries in his chronological report of the investigation....Mr. Cheshire said the sergeant's report was "transparently written to try to make up for holes in the prosecution's case." He added, "It smacks of almost desperation."

Much of the article reads like a prosecution motion.

In several important areas, the full files, reviewed by The New York Times, contain evidence stronger than that highlighted by the defense.

Yet, even the Times has to agree, there's no definitive evidence a rape occurred.

The files, of course, cannot settle any arguments about the case, which is expected to go to trial next spring. Still, taken in their entirety, they help answer some important questions and raise others.

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  • Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#1)
    by TEScott on Thu Aug 24, 2006 at 11:16:11 PM EST
    More sloppy work from the NY Times.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#2)
    by weezie on Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 04:16:04 AM EST
    Not to mention Sgt. Gottlieb.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 04:57:10 AM EST
    I'm not a fan of the way they frame the evidence in this article. They mention that the police found a towel with Dan Evan's semen on it and present it as supporting the AV's account that the accused wiped off her vagina after the alledged attack. But they fail to even mention the fact that not a shred of the AV's DNA was found on the towel. If the semen on the towel was wiped off the AV, the attackers did a hell of a clean up job since not strand of DNA was left behind. Unless the jury is composed entirely of virgins, I'm not sure how this towel evidence does a thing for the prosecution.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 06:36:20 AM EST
    I find the apparance of this article somewhat strange. Especially given that the NYT reporters evaluate the strength of elements of both the evidence and the prosecution's case and the defense allegations, wouldn't this information be considered as seriously tainting the jury pool?

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#5)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 08:18:52 AM EST
    Considering that all parties to this case have been under a gag order since the day Gottlieb's report was turned into the court, it seems that this and a story about the towel that came out about a month ago were leaks by the prosecution in order to win back some points in the court of public opinion. It may work for those uninformed about the case, but if you're familiar with the evidence it does show a kind of desperation. Gottlieb's descriptions of the alleged rapists so well fit the accused, and are so at odds with what the alleged victim gave initially, that it is apparent that Gottlieb, four months after the fact, is rewriting history in order to somehow make the case fit. Unfortunately, outright lying about facts is a lot more damning than refining his biased observations, like the AV was in pain days after the alleged attack. The excerpts from Gottlieb's report also confirm that he perjured himself in front of the court regarding search warrants allegedly based on subpoenaed documents which he did not yet possess. If the "fruit of the poisoned tree" dictum applies here, the prosecution would be left with nothing. As noted before, nothing in the article shows any evidence of a rape having occurred or even when it could have occurred. NYT article also fails to mention that Gottlieb has his own problems involving an off-duty racist beating of an African American cook in neighboring Raleigh. Any mention of this at trial would surely go against whatever little credibility his may have had. I don't think that there's even enough in the Gottlieb report to pretend to get this case in front of a judge and jury. This is just a holding action to keep the case breathing until after Nifong's November election.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Fri Aug 25, 2006 at 11:07:49 AM EST
    This story highlights two big problems I've seen for the defendants - they cooperated too much with the police initially, and their lawyers and backers gave too much information to the police to try to exculpate them, which enabled the police to re-work their narrative to fit the otherwise exculpatory facts into the prosecution narrative. In so many words, the information which would ordinarily tend to exculpate them, may well be used to inculpate them. Still, a file which makes the case seem "ambiguous" does not yield "beyond a reasonable doubt" "metsphysical certainty" in my book.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#7)
    by inmyhumbleopinion on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 01:14:58 PM EST
    Talk Left posted:
    My first question is just how did the New York Times get the entire discovery file?
    Could this be a clue? The Herald-Sun
    Defense lawyers contended medical reports did not support a rape charge and that they sent The Times' reporters photos of the alleged victim, reportedly taken within days of the alleged attack, in which no bruises are visible.


    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 02:29:45 PM EST
    What a foolish preceeding post. NO, that does not provide a clue. It provides proof that the defense attorneys got advance word of the article when they were asked to comment about various things and they sent in those pictures to show that the pictures showed NO BRUISES.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#9)
    by inmyhumbleopinion on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 08:47:48 PM EST
    Newport, It didn't work out between us. Don't be bitter, I'm not. 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. That's weird about the photos. The defense attorneys are the ones who were saying their photos, taken two and a half days earlier, show "extensive bruising." Attorney: Dancer Injured, Impaired Upon Arriving At Lacrosse Party
    Durham attorney Bill Thomas said some of the photographs, taken when she arrived at the house, indicate the woman was injured before getting to the party March 13. They show extensive bruises and scrapes on her legs, especially around the knees, he said.
    How about the the UNC medical report documenting contusions the day before the police photos were taken?

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 11:14:08 PM EST
    Where were the contusions? Were they on her butt from the fall? Are they documented in any way? Or, are the "contusions" from Gottlieb's report on the UNC medical report? You don't know the answer to any of the foregoing questions and neither does anyone without access to the source documents. The important point is that the photographs taken by the police of the accuser several days after the event in question show no significant bruising. No way around this for your Boy. I do not respond to you in the forum and I will not respond to you further here. Your point about the defense photo's has been so thoroughly dissected and proven utterly useless so many times that your bringing it up once again shows that you are not a serious poster, and that your only purpose here is to draw attention to yourself. Your audience is extremely limited imho, and I will not enable you.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 01:06:26 AM EST
            This article illustrates something I refer to by the phrase "editing-as-lying."         The Times, for reasons it doesn't care to discuss, has decided to push the idea that there's a credible case against the three defendents.  So the Times presents an article that emphasizes the alleged evidence showing the crime occurred, and ignores the alleged evidence showing the whole story to be nonsense.  The article is essentially a prosecution brief.         For me, the fact that an article slanted in favor of the prosecution displays such a shake case is enough to convince me that charges should never have been filed.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#12)
    by inmyhumbleopinion on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 10:04:27 AM EST
    Newport asks:
    Where were the contusions? Were they on her butt from the fall? Are they documented in any way? Or, are the "contusions" from Gottlieb's report on the UNC medical report? You don't know the answer to any of the foregoing questions and neither does anyone without access to the source documents.
    From the NY Times article:
    A day later, the woman's condition appeared worse. She went to a University of North Carolina hospital, where she had previously received care for chronic neck and back pain. Now, she reported that she had been "knocked to the floor multiple times and had hit her head on the sink" during a rape, Dr. Yvonne E. Lai wrote. U.N.C. doctors observed a limping gait, and they confirmed that she had muscle tenderness and that her head did not have the full range of motion. They diagnosed acute pain in her knees, neck pain and contusions, and recommended crutches and ice packs.
    Sounds like it is not from Gottlieb's notes, but from the report itself. Did Neff have the UNC medical report? If so, why didn't he mention the contusions? Newport wrote:
    The important point is that the photographs taken by the police of the accuser several days after the event in question show no significant bruising. No way around this for your Boy.
    The defense has said the photos they sent to the NY Times reporters show no visible bruises, but they didn't say if the NY Times reporters were sent ALL of the photos. Neff said the photos of the accuser's neck and face show no bruising, but he didn't say if he had seen the photos himself.

    Re: Duke Lacrosse Case: NYT Reviews Evidence (none / 0) (#13)
    by Bob In Pacifica on Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 10:44:49 AM EST
    "The retired trucker who lives in Durham said he saw his daughter the day after the reported attack, BUT SHE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING WAS WRONG. She EVEN left her car at the house for several days because he said she didn't want to drive it." "Last week, a reporter stopped by the reported victim's house looking for her, the woman's father said, but he said he didn't know what was going on. He called his daughter and she said the district attorney told her not talk to anyone." "(She) DIDN'T TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT IT," he said. " Source: Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Tonya Jameson, 3/31/06 imho's inventions are endlessly discussed and dismissed over at the forum.