Dear Collin: Today you reach age 20. Unfortunately, there may have been times during your nineteenth year when you wondered whether you would, or even wanted to, be here for your twentieth birthday.
August 2, 2006
Today you reach age 20. Unfortunately, there may have been times during your nineteenth year when you wondered whether you would, or even wanted to, be here for your twentieth birthday.
But, you're still here, with your family and friends, and the good news is that the day of your exoneration is closer and those who persecuted you (and your Duke University men's lacrosse team teammates) should be the ones filled with fear during your twentieth year.
Truth is catching up to the lies. Too slowly, of course. But the truth about both that lamentable lacrosse team party and Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael Nifong probably will become manifest early enough for the good people of Durham County, North Carolina to reject Mr. Nifong (who wants a "Durham solution") on Election Day, November 7, 2006.
Better late than never.
That said, Collin, although hindsight is 20-20, I also believe that more should have been done sooner (1) to hasten the day of vindication of the Duke Three and (2) to expose the misconduct of (a) the false accuser whose credibility is nil, (b) those who rigged the identification procedure and surely knew better and (c) the blatantly political and pathetically unprofessional prosecutor who chose to treat the Duke Three and the other white Duke men's lacrosse players as political pawns in the race-based politics in Durham County, North Carolina as he saw defeat at the polls looming and his only legal job coming to an unwanted end less than a year later if he did not successfully pander to the black bloc vote in Durham County.
To be sure, the standard legal advice to an accused is to shut up. In the words of the Miranda warning, "anything you say may be used against you." For the guilty, it is sound advice: don't help the prosecution make its case and hope the prosecution fails to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For the guilty, pleading in the courtroom of public opinion generally is a very bad idea. But, for the innocent, the truth will set them free and, when one cannot be confident of receiving justice in a particular court, then pleading candidly and confidently in the courtroom of public opinion should be a welcome option.
For you and your two indicted teammates, following the conventional wisdom of saying nothing plays into the hands of the prosecution (which is much more accurately described as the persecution). In Durham, the playing field is not level in the Duke case. The tilt is severe. The prosecution has the high ground (even though it has taken the low road). You, Reade Seligmann and David Evans are (1) white, (2) Yankees (3) from wealthy families. That's three strikes right there. If you were poor black Durhamites, there would have been no political mileage in indicting you, you would have taken and passed polygraph tests, and your accuser with the criminal record would be being prosecuted.
But, the three of you are white Yankees from wealthy families and Durham County, North Carolina is a Democrat bastion in which the black vote is critical. But for the black vote, Durham County's never elected District Attorney, Michael Nifong, would have lost the Democrat primary to Freda Black back on May 2. The Durham County Democrat party chairman is Floyd McKissick, Jr. (and he obtained that post AFTER the North Carolina Bar sanctioned him). The North Carolina Governor (Michael Easley) appointed Mr. Nifong, is loathe to admit he made THAT big a mistake and, having won reelection in 2004 with only 52% of the vote (due to the black bloc vote), he's not inclined to risk offending the people he expects to re-elect him again or put him in the United States Senate. Likewise, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper looks to the black vote to support him politically and is blind to Mr. Nifong's egregious misconduct.
When the situation is that bleak, Collin, an unconventional approach is in order when, as in your case, the truth IS on your side.
Collin, YOU need to let the American people know you are innocent. YOU, Collin. Not Dad, or Mom, or one or all members of your legal team.
"To Collin's family: stop hiding him in the attic. IF he is innocent of all the charges let him hold his head high and face the courts and the cameras and the judges and proclaim to the world who he is. Time to grow up and face the charges like a man — even though you probably are guilty of nothing you need to jump off the speeding train or at least change tracks before they railroad you right into the BIG HOUSE. "
I didn't write it. I didn't ghostwrite it. But I fully agree with it.
In addition, it is apparent that the prosecution/persecution fears it. Mr. Nifong thoroughly enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame early in the case, transforming the legal presumption of innocence into an illegal presumption of guilt for whomever he managed to indict, and you became one of the unlucky three.
Initially, you and Reade Seligmann were indicted. You must have been in shock. You essentially stood mute and looked terrified. Reade was understandably frightened and avoided public speaking too. But, his lawyers put out awesome alibi evidence that reestablished his presumption of innocence in the public mind and had the prosecution/persecution scrambling to change the time line and have a black taxi driver arrested on a bogus old warrant because he was a strong alibi witness for Reade. It worked for Reade. Even The New York Times ran an article explaining that Reade really is a great guy trapped in a nightmare for which he was not responsible.
Collin, you need more than your relatives and friends (especially your girlfriend) to realize the same is true about you. You have awesome alibi evidence too, but your team has kept it under wraps, presumably calculating (rationally) that Mr. Nifong will harass your alibi witnesses just as he harassed the taxi driver.
After the accuser and her enabler prosecutor/persecutor, Mr. Nifong, made David Evans number three on their hit list, David Evans did what cautious lawyers can barely imagine: he held a press conference to proclaim his innocence (and the innocence of yourself and Reade) AND to pronounce the accuser's story a "fantastic lie."
Yes, David has some advantages: (1) he was a senior while you and Reade were sophomores; (2) his father is a lawyer; (3) his mother is a lobbyist; (4) he had not been indicted until he had graduated; and (5) he was not hampered by (a) a simple (and unrelated) assault charge in another jurisdiction, (b) a prosecutor there who blindly opted to treat the so-called Duke rape case as bona fide instead of bogus and (c) a judge there who should have been a hall monitor instead of a judge and imagined you were violating the curfew he had imposed on you.
Unfortunately, Collin, David's boldness and Reade's detailed alibi made you look bad in comparison. (Thus life is not always fair, but surely you've figured that out.)
At the end of June, your parents appeared on NBC ("Today") and MSNBC (the discontinued, but lamented, "Abrams Report") and let people know you too have an alibi (without detailing it).
Collin, I'm old enough and was interested enough to have followed the Tawana Brawley case (hoax) closely. I suspected the Duke case was a similar hoax and that suspicion has been vindicated.
For your information:
In November 1987 (you were less than sixteen months old), then 15-year-old Tawana Brawley was found in upstate New York, covered with feces and racial slurs written in charcoal. Ms. Brawley, who is black, claimed to have been abducted and raped by six white law enforcement officers.
Steven Pagones, one of the six, then a local prosecutor and later an assistant state attorney general, sued the men who advised Ms. Brawley after the alleged incident -- Al Sharpton (the once and future Democrat presidential aspirant), Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason.
Ms. Brawley's case was ultimately thrown out in 1988 when a grand jury determined that her story was not credible. New York State Justice S. Barrett Hickman allowed the grand jury report to be included as evidence in the trial of the defamation case.
On July 13, 1998, after a trial lasting almost eight months, a jury found the three advisors liable for defaming Mr. Pagones and later awarded Mr. Pagones $345,000 in damages apportioned among the three defamers.
There is an important difference, however: the legal system was not corrupted in the Tawana Brawley case.
In your case, Collin, Judge Kenneth Titus outrageously, but slyly, slipped a gag into the mouths of yourself and all your witnesses on July 17, 2006, much to the relief of your accuser, Mr. Nifong and the NAACP that had called for the gagging.
The order's ordering paragraphs state:
Counsel for the State of North Carolina and counsel for the defendants, the employees and agents of the State, the employees and agents of counsel for the defendants, and any witnesses for the State or the defendants, are hereby restrained and enjoined from communicating with the news media concerning the above-entitled criminal action except as specifically permitted by the provisions of Rule 3.6 of the North Carolina Revised Rules of Professional Conduct.
Counsel for the State and counsel for the defendants shall be responsible for communicating the content of this Order to their agents, employees, and witnesses.
A violation of this Order shall subject the person or persons in violation thereof to the contempt powers of the Court.
A copy of this Order shall be sent by the Clerk to counsel for the State and counsel for the defendants.
So, the Judge wants to make sure you (and Reade and David and any other defense witnesses) be quiet, under penalty of being held in contempt or barred from being a witness!
It surely seems like the powers that be in Durham want to suppress the truth, even if it requires trampling on the Constitution to do it.
I guess Mr. Nifong feared you would follow up on your parents' television appearances and people would realize you are not a racist, or a rapist. Why people might find out how anti-racist the Finnerty family really is. They might learn about all those family charitable contributions that primarily benefit blacks. Worse, they might not only appreciate that the "hired priest" libel is shameless Catholic bashing (that priest being a friend of your father since childhood and someone you've known all your life), but that the priest was called to build a hospital in AFRICA and lots of the money for that noble purpose came from the Finnerty family. It would be very hard to have Durham's blacks hate you if they saw you and learned how you were raised and what you and your family believe. Why, it would be impossible to brainwash the bulk of Durham's blacks under those circumstances.
Yes, I know the defense teams have moved to ungag witnesses. If the media focuses public attention, the gag will be removed, if not by Judge Titus, by a higher court. And the media will appreciate what gagging signified, and do what is needed to rally good people of even shade of color across America behind you.
Then it's up to you to...BE THE MAN (instead of the overprotected son). Ironically, Judge Titus gave you a GOOD excuse to wait a bit, but your day will come. Carpe diem! (And don't be a stranger.)
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.