Thursday, June 21, 2007

School's board of trustees apologizes (sort of) for harm done to falsely-accused students

(CNN) -- Duke University has reached an undisclosed settlement with three former lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape, the school announced Monday.

"This past year has been hard for many people who care about Duke -- for students, faculty, staff, alumni, families and friends -- and for the three students and their families most of all," the Duke board of trustees said in a written statement.

The three students posted a statement on Duke's Web site saying, "We hope that today's resolution will begin to bring the Duke family back together again, and we look forward to working with the university to develop and implement initiatives that will prevent similar injustices and ensure that the lessons of last year are never forgotten."

David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann were accused of sexually assaulting an escort-service dancer at a party in March 2006.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper reviewed the case and exonerated the three men in April 2007, saying the charges never should have been brought against them.

District attorney disbarred for unethical behavior

The prosecutor who brought those charges, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, was disbarred Saturday by a disciplinary panel that said he violated the majority of at least 19 ethics offenses in prosecuting the case.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bonnie Dumanis misses the point of the Duke Lacrosse Players case

I read San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' opinion piece in the San Diego Union Tribune today.

After scanning four columns of print that read like a high school civics lesson, I realized that Bonnie had sidestepped the glaring truth and the most important lesson of the Nifong case: it is wrong to prosecute someone in order to get reelected.

Why didn't you address the real problem, Bonnie? Mike Nifong couldn't resist the temptation to go after three rich white privileged young men in order to get votes from his working-class district.

You don't need to answer that question, Bonnie. I know the answer. It's a very sensitive issue for you, since you've done exactly the same thing that Mike Nifong did. You prosecuted a young man, Jason Moore, who took two hours off work, simply because it would please your rich white constituency. Moore was targeted because he used those two hours to spy on a Cheryl Cox yacht party. Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Castaneda has revealed that your unit has also investigated him. It appears that you have allowed Cheryl Cox's supporters to dictate the list of targets that your "public integrity" unit investigates.

Perhaps someone ought to investigate your "public integrity" unit. The first thing they would find is Patrick O'Toole, a former US attorney who might very well run against you if you were to allow him to outflank you on your right. It looks like you gave him freedom to investigate anyone he wants, no matter how politically motivated the investigation is. You want to keep him happy so he doesn't run against you, don't you?

In your favor it must be said that you have decided to sacrifice just one young man to your political ambitions. You obviously know what you've done, Bonnie, or you wouldn't have so carefully avoided talking about the true reason for Mike Nifong's moral collapse: political ambition.

Voice of San Diego published a piece about the problem of politically-motivated prosecutions, such as the Dale Akiki case that cost District Attorney Ed Miller his job. Here a comment by Billy Bob Henry on that article:

"Ed Miller of course lost his job over the Aikiki scam, and he should have been disbarred. Nifong-if he was in CA-would not be disbarred. No prosecutor, that I can recall, no matter how unlawful an act they have committed, has ever been disbarred."