Decision Likely in Duke Lacrosse Case Tomorrow

Tomorrow appears to be the day the North Carolina Attorney General's office will announce its decision on whether to drop or proceed with sexual assault charges against the three former Duke lacrosse players.

Smart money says the case will be dismissed. Two of the defendants, Reade Seligman and Colin Finnerty traveled to Durham today, and the press is swarming around.

Question: If the charges are dropped because of lack of evidence or because the accuser won't cooperate, what should be the remedy for the boys? Their lives -- and that of their families -- have been turned upside down and into a hell for the past year. Their schooling has been interrupted, their reputations trashed.

Duke's reputation has taken a hit. The lacrosse team season was cancelled. Unpleasant racial issues surfaced.

I put much of the blame for this travesty of a case on D.A. Mike Nifong. If he hadn't glommed on to the media and made outrageously inappropriate comments in the beginning, jumping to the support of the accuser before the facts were in, much of the damage could have been avoided.

I think the State Bar will hold him accountable, but it still can't undo the damage.

Update: I'll be live-blogging the AG's press conference in a new thread. Or, you can watch it on your computer's here.

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    On the other hand (none / 0) (#1)
    by desertwind on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 05:26:34 AM EST
    Perhaps the young will have taken a good look at their general conduct plus Duke will have re-evaluated its relationship to the city of Durham and its people.

    Not alone. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 07:55:10 AM EST
    I put much of the blame for this travesty of a case on D.A. Mike Nifong.

    I agree.  But lets not forget his massive racist and sexist cheering section that was desperate to believe the charges to be true in order to justify their own distorted world view.  The quote below from the one time Edwards campaign blogger is of that view.  He had plenty of enablers.

    I had to listen to how the poor dear lacrosse players at Duke are being persecuted just because they held someone down and f*ked her against her will--not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can't a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.

    Note. * were not in origional.  I put them in place of the origional two letters for posting to this site.  You see?

    much appreciated (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:04:42 PM EST
    thank you for the letter substitution.

    Conduct of the "Duke Three" (none / 0) (#3)
    by exlax on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 08:18:30 AM EST
    Perhaps the young will have taken a good look at their general conduct

    I'm not sure whether you are referring to youth in general watching their conduct, the defendants taking a look at their own conduct or other youth looking at the defendants' conduct.

    There are certainly lessons to be learned from all of this.  In this case, however, I don't know how much can be extrapolated from the conduct of the defendants (as opposed to the DA, the AV and perhaps some of their teammates).

    We don't know anything about the defendants' conduct other than allegations that are unsupported or demonstrably false. I suppose a take-home point from "known" information could be "don't attend team parties where strippers might be present," or "before you attend a party, make sure someone does a background check on any strippers that might be present," but neither translates particularly well into a broad life lesson.

    Perfect Storm (none / 0) (#4)
    by Slado on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 08:28:47 AM EST
    Looking back this case was a combination of several things.   The racially charged community, white rich atheletes, a frat like paty, a slow news cycle, media hype, a crooked DA eager for attention, a liberal institution too worried about it's self preceived image, an all to willing media, etc... etc...

    There are too many people to blame but ultimately the biggest responsibility lies with Mr. Nilfong because the case was already out of control before he took center stage but he enabled it to last 18months instead of 3.   His self promotion gave the meat to the waiting feeding frenzy and his sheer incompetance or malice gave this case a life of it's own and ruined these boys lives.

    He should be disbarred and the DA's ofice that let him run amouck should pay severely in civil court.  Duke should openly apologize to these boys and the media should do weeks of coverage about the injustice that was purportrated on them.  

    We'll see.

    Update: (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:08:23 AM EST
    ESPN radio reports that there will be a press conference at 2:30 PM ET Wednesday where the NC AG will announce the decision.

    They also report that the decision will be to drop all charges.

    don't bet the rent money (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:26:54 AM EST
    on a succesfull civil action against either mr. nifong, or the durham DA's office. the bar is set too high; all they need do is show proof of good faith, in bringing the charges. that bar is set pretty low.

    frankly, i'm not sure what lessons can be drawn from this whole episode, other than don't go anywhere the opposite sex is present. oh, try to avoid accusations of wrongdoing, when the DA is running for re-election.

    lessons learned (none / 0) (#7)
    by txpublicdefender on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:57:26 AM EST
    I'm interested in the comment about a crooked DA out to use the case for publicity can do.  To me, that is the wrong lesson to learn here.  By many accounts, Mike Nifong was not a crooked DA.  My understanding from the local criminal law community is that he was pretty well-respected.  And yet, in this case, he seemed to do the wrong thing at every turn.  He made statements to the media that were, at best, exaggerations and misleading, and at worst, outright falsehoods.  He interfered with the police investigation to the point of instructing officers to conduct a vastly inappropriate identification procedure--one that was contrary to department policy in multiple respects.  Neither he nor his prosecutors ever interviewed the complainant.  He was completely blinded by belief in "his victim" (the way he kept calling her "my victim" always disturbed me for its indication that 1) this case was about him; and 2) he was representing the victim in this case and not the people) that he was unwilling to see all the evidence of her multiple accounts, inconsistent statements, inconsistent identifications, defense alibi evidence, etc. for what it was--evidence that she was not telling the truth.

    So here you have a pretty well-respected prosecutor who worked his way up to be the district attorney, and yet, he was capable of royally screwing up a case so badly; he was capable of ruining the lives of three innocent people with seemingly no regard; he was capable of seemingly putting his own political ambition so far ahead of doing real justice.  That is what is scary.  If it was only the crooked DAs we had to worry about railroading people, I wouldn't be as worried.  But what this case shows, is that you can have a good DA essentially turn crooked in one case, and that case can cause a lot of harm to a lot of people.

    *The other lesson I learned is that Fox News really cares a lot when upper class white boys are wrongfully accused.

    Really? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Slado on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:10:26 AM EST
    "Crooked" may be oversimplifying but you are going out of your way to place blame on the system.  

    Also Fox News should get credit for not being so succeptable to a fake scandal that erupted in Durham.

    I hope they don't let up on this story.

    What's funny is nobody cares when something like this happens.

    I have no idea what race the accused and the victim are but I would imagine it's not a black women and (3) white males and since the males don't attend Duke and aren't rich there is no scandal.


    Politics and Justice (none / 0) (#9)
    by jrod on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:24:57 AM EST
    Politics on a personal level, as in Nifong's case, and politics on a Party level, such as Gonzales, Rove, etal, when mixed with justice are being proved to be a dangerous combination.

    The Big Issue (none / 0) (#10)
    by peacrevol on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 10:32:28 AM EST
    In this case, it appears that the accuser was not telling the truth about what happened to her. So the question arises, 'who should be held accountable?' The prosecution is doing their best to represent their client, the state. Her attourneys were doing their best to represent her. As long as they were not lying to force a case that they knew to be false, we cant blame them. We cant blame the lacross players if they didnt really do anything. So that just leaves the accuser. If it turns out that she was lying, she should have some consequences, right? But we cant be too harsh b/c a girl who really is raped would be worried that nobody would believe her if she told someone and she never tells anyone. I think most of the blame should be towards the accuser, even if the attorneys in the case went too far, because she started it. But we have to be careful in our criticism of her to not discourage anyone from coming forward if something like that really happens to them.

    at least one right-wing-blog is running PHOTOS! (none / 0) (#11)
    by the rainnn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:14:57 PM EST
    . . . photos of the accuser -- in
    large, clear, full color resolution
    of her face -- enough to ID her,
    along with her name -- this strikes
    me as an extremely unwise, and unkind,
    thing to do.  and, ironically, that right-
    wing blogger
    claims to be
    a fundamental "christian". . .

    if someone takes the law into their
    own hands -- and attacks this woman -- how
    will this "christian" feel about that?

    how do the folks here feel about it?

    i do understand that she may be subject
    to a false prosecution criminal proceeding
    of her own -- but does it make sense to
    plaster her real name, her photo, and
    the facts -- including the college she
    attend[ed?], and her home-town -- all
    over the internets?

    i do recognize that the duke players'
    photos and names have been published,
    but this strikes me as beyond the pale.

    any one else?

    a n y o n e ? ? ?

    The False Accuser (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:37:15 PM EST
    is very much an adult and her accusations were complete lies and fabrications.

    Her lies and fabrications - which were not only criminal, but she also has still not had the common decency to recant - have developed into a huge mess.

    Not the least of which is that the likely result of her lies will be that the cause of real rape victims in the future will be hurt.

    The identity of adult pernicious criminal liars should be protected? Why?


    who's a criminal? who decides? you or a judge? (none / 0) (#15)
    by the rainnn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 03:27:57 PM EST
    ". . .The identity of adult pernicious
    criminal liars should be
    protected? Why?. . ."

    f a s c i n a t i n g.

    and -- a rather pungent reply,
    there, oh "sarcastic unnamed one." . .

    i guess i missed the juncture at
    which any prosecutor charged,
    or grand jury indicted, or
    judge or jury convicted her
    of any crime, at all. . .

    additionally, i just sread
    that the relevant carolina
    authorities definitively
    decided AGAINST charging
    her -- so she is definitively
    NOT a "criminal" in the eyes
    of the law. . .

    in fact, i read recently
    that she may be mentally-
    ill -- that would explain
    much, here -- yet, this right-
    wing "christian" blogger has
    appointed herself prosecutor,
    judge, jury and vigilante-enabler. . .

    any [additional] thoughts?


    as it distracts from the substance of your comment and my response to it.

    How do you support the position that a false accuser's identity should be protected?


    the public policy at work here. . . (none / 0) (#19)
    by the rainnn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 06:38:40 PM EST
    . . .the public policy is to ENCOURAGE
    victims to report crimes -- do you give
    no weight to the seemingly uncontraverted
    accounts of her mental illness?

    do you consider harrasssing the
    mentally ill your god-given right?

    in this case, there is scant
    justification for publishing her
    name or photo -- she did not thrust
    herself into the public eye.

    she reported being attacked -- it
    doesn't matter (too much) that she
    was wrong about her attackers.

    they are allowed to confront her
    in court, not on the streets.

    since they won't be in court, there
    is no need/justification for the citizens
    to confront her.  clear?

    my point about crimes is that
    you don't get to call her a
    criminal -- she is a citizen.

    she has a right to be shielded,
    imo, given these circumstances.


    So (none / 0) (#20)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 07:50:03 PM EST
    we disagree.

    And, after this comment

    she reported being attacked -- it
    doesn't matter (too much) that she
    was wrong about her attackers.
    it is pretty obvious why.

    Good luck!


    y a w n. . . (none / 0) (#22)
    by the rainnn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 09:07:44 PM EST
    you never did offer
    any view on whether
    mental illness should
    be a factor weighed into
    whether she should get a
    full-on internet-wide public
    shaming, including her name,
    city, school, and ID photos. . .

    it's no surprise that you didn't
    answer/defend -- because i don't
    think you can. . .

    c h e e r s !


    You (none / 0) (#23)
    by ding7777 on Thu Apr 12, 2007 at 04:45:02 AM EST
    criticized someone for calling her a criminal when she has not beeen charged as a criminal re her behavior but then you automatically bought into the the "mental illness" charge - which has not yet been proven.

    beyond the pale? (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 12:33:13 PM EST
    no. in poor taste? perhaps. of course, one could argue that her actions merit some form of public ridicule, if not criminal prosecution. did the blog recommend that she should be physically harmed, or that harsh/threatening letters/e-mails be directed her way? no, it didn't.

    as far as the impact on real victims of rape, should the false accuser be prosecuted, i'm yet convinced that it's material. there doesn't seem to even be any substantiated anecdotal evidence to support this assertion, much less empirical data. how do you quantify a negative?

    okay -- now this (at least) makes sense. . . (none / 0) (#16)
    by the rainnn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 03:34:15 PM EST
    cpinva -- i do think it
    a question of balance,
    and perspective.

    that said. . .

    if the accuser is, in
    fact, mentally-ill -- she
    may not be in the best position
    even to protect herself. . . or,
    prepare for the inevitably-coming
    firestorm of publicity -- or much worse.

    what responsibility have we as
    a society of ordered liberty, and
    a nation of laws, to avoid additional
    harm in an admittedly-grotesquely-
    contorted situation?


    Did the right blogosphere get it more right than.. (none / 0) (#14)
    by jerry on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 01:45:02 PM EST
    Did the right blogosphere get it more right than the left blogosphere?  Without having studied the issue, that's my perception.

    If that is true, how did that happen?  Aren't we the defenders of civil liberties, against racial profiling, against bigotry and sexism, and against railroading?

    Do we tend to dismiss the rights of white guys and discount injuries against them?  (If we do, is it due to sexism and bigotry on our part?)

    Will our liberal blogosphere make any mention of this or are we going to kind of hope it goes away?

    I don't know the answer to this in general.  I think in this case, we definitely saw some pretty crappy behavior from bloggers and academia that putatively claims to be liberal and progressive.

    i think jeralyn just did! (none / 0) (#17)
    by the rainnn on Wed Apr 11, 2007 at 03:39:56 PM EST
    in fact, i think she's
    given it its own headline. . .

    * points overhead *

    now, i think we can agree that
    talkleft is a left-leaning blog. . .

    so -- did the right get it
    more "right"?  i dunno -- i read
    a lot of hateful, racist rhetoric
    about the ACCUSER on various righty blogs. . .

    and i am reading very little in
    the way of harsh condemnation of
    dork imus on those same righty-blogs. . .

    not that there are NOT exceptions,
    but the exceptions tend to prove
    the rule, in this case. . . imo.