"60 Minutes" never mentioned during is two-part segment on the Duke case broadcast last Sunday night that the Duke case is a Democrat scandal. But, IT IS! Durham County, North Carolina is a Democrat bastion; Durham County's appointed District Attorney Michael B. Nifong is a Democrat; the North Carolina Governor (Michael Easley) who appointed Mr. Nifong is a Democrat; and North Carolina Attorney General (Roy Cooper) who has not intervened in the interests of justice, is a Democrat.
After the "60 Minutes" Duke case expose, responsible (and smart) Democrats will stand for justice instead of stand with Mr. Nifong.
"60 Minutes" DID make it clear that (1) the Duke case is baseless (that is, none of the Duke Three committed any of the felonies on which Mr. Nifong had them indicted by a grand jury that was misled by Mr. Nifong), (2) Mr. Nifong engaged in egregious prosecutorial misconduct in the Duke case (that is, he refused to consider evidence of innocence before seeking indictments and he ordered a photo identification procedure that violated local, state and federal guidelines, to give two examples), and (3) Mr. Nifong, in Ed Bradley's words, "played up the racial aspects of the case" while waging a "hotly contested election campaign...in a city with a large black population" (that is, Mr. Nifong used the Duke case to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to keep his job by playing the race card and manipulating enough black votes to win a plurality of the votes).
As Sports Illustrated reported, Mr. Nifong "polled 2 to 1 among African-American voters [as against Freda Brown], an advantage that more than accounted for his victory margin of 883 votes."
To his credit, a Democrat- Lewis Cheek, a Democrat County Commissioner, came forward to offer Durham County voters an alternative to Mr. Nifong. (Not all Democrats automatically back a rogue, because he's a Democrat rogue.)
Unfortunately, a Republican is helping Mr. Nifong instead of helping the people of Durham County.
As I have asserted repeatedly, Steve Monks, the Republican Party Chairman in Durham County, North Carolina should cease and desist his efforts to split the anti-Nifong vote by asking voters to write in his name instead of vote for Mr. Cheek as the viable alternative to Mr. Nifong. Both Mr. Cheek and Mr. Monks tried to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot via petition. Mr. Cheek succeeded; Mr. Monks did not. Mr. Cheek is the viable Anybody But Nifong, not Mr. Monks. Under ordinary circumstances, as a conservative Republican, I'd probably favor Mr. Monks. These are not ordinary circumstances, however. Durham County's appointed District Attorney. Michael B. Nifong, is a rogue prosecutor who should have been removed from the Duke case long ago by the court and should be rejected by the Durham County voters on November 7. Mr. Nifong is so abominable that the right thing for conservatives and Republicans to do is to vote for Mr. Cheek, who already has announced that he will give North Carolina's Governor, Michael Easley, another chance to appoint a respectable person to serve as Durham County District Attorney.
In Durham, there are still some who treat Crystal Gail Mangum, the accuser of the Duke Three, and Mr. Nifong, as the victims instead of the victimizers and demand a trial, even though the law requires sufficient evidence to warrant a trial and it surely seems to be lacking. The prosecution's production suggests malicious prosecution in process, not a legitimate prosecution. The prosecution does not have credible evidence to support a guilty verdict. There is no DNA evidence. There is no witness to confirm Ms. Mangum's accusation. Ms. Mangum's contradictory statements and her criminal, medical and employment history make believing her a leap of faith instead of an act of logic. The prosecution is a persecution, and the persecution should be stopped. Prolonging it because Mr. Nifong wants to be elected, or because the some people are pleased with the notion of an ex-convict stripper like Ms. Mangum having a jury decide her claim against people like the Duke Three, is perverted, not principled.
Barry Saunders, a News & Observer staff writer, watched the Duke case segment on "60 Minutes" and was moved to write an article titled "Lacrosse episode was lame."
By lame, Mr. Saunders apparently meant " lacking needful or desirable substance."
It is the prosecution's case that is lame, as "60 Minutes" showed.
Mr. Saunders is still upset that Ed Bradley asked Kathleen Willey whether former President Clinton aroused her.
"'Was he aroused?'
"I certainly wasn't, and it's doubtful that anyone else with a thimbleful of knowledge of the Duke lacrosse rape case was, either, after watching the hugely hyped '60 Minutes' episode about the case Sunday.
"Correspondent Ed Bradley, forever immortalized by some -- OK, maybe just me -- as the journalist who in 1998 asked Kathleen Willey if President Clinton was 'aroused' when he allegedly placed her hand where it didn't belong, broke no new ground and, except for showing what was allegedly the alleged victim gyrating onstage after the alleged incident, shed no new light on any aspect of the Duke case."
Mr. Bradley broke new ground. He introduced America to each of the Duke Three and demonstrated that they are not the racist rapists some want people to believe, but innocent victims. He elicited from Reade Seligmann that neither the police nor the prosecution had talked to him about what allegedly happened at what Mr. Seligmann called a "boring" party last year. He interviewed the other exotic dancer (aka stripper) and she said that (1) none of the Duke Three had used racial epithets, (2) Ms. Mangum had not looked or behaved like she had been assaulted and (3) Ms. Mangum's version of what had happened was contrary to what she remembered. (Mr. Nifong won't be calling Ms. Mangum as a prosecution witness and has no one confirming Ms. Mangum's claim.)
As for "showing what was allegedly the alleged victim gyrating onstage after the alleged incident," THAT not only impeached Ms. Mangum's claims, but it sent a message that Ms. Mangum has been thoroughly investigated and the truth about her that is pertinent to the case will come out if there is a trial. (That video was made weeks BEFORE the first two indictments. Imagine what subsequent investigation discovered.)
Mr. Saunders portrayed Mr. Nifong as a hard-working who shames the press:
"When a pack of reporters cornered Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong on Monday afternoon at Durham police headquarters and asked whether he had watched the show that portrayed his prosecution of the case as politically motivated, Nifong said, 'No.'
"He then scolded us for even asking about it at a news conference at which an arrest was announced in a 2005 Durham quadruple homicide case.
"Perhaps we should, as Nifong said, be ashamed, but the DA's public comments have been rare since his initial expansiveness about the case."
Mr. Saunders referred in his article not only to Mr. Nifong's "initial expansiveness," but to "possible prosecutorial overzealousness." (He has a way with euphemisms.)
"[Duke Law Professor James] Coleman found that while many of the players [at the lacrosse team party] drank alcohol excessively, they had no history of violent or racist behavior. Professor Coleman believes that the three indicted players are victims in this case – victims of an overzealous prosecutor who pandered to the black community in the middle of an election campaign.
"'I think that he pandered to the community by saying "I'm gonna go out there and defend your interests in seeing that these hooligans who committed the crime are prosecuted. I'm not gonna let their fathers, with all of their money, buy you know big-time lawyers and get them off. I'm doing this for you." You know, what are you to conclude about a prosecutor who says to you, "I'll do whatever it takes to get this set of defendants?" What does it say about what he's willing to do to get poor black defendants,' Coleman asks.
"Asked if he thinks the D.A. committed prosecutorial misconduct, Coleman says, 'Yes, I mean I think that’s the whole point. And if this case resulted in a conviction, I think there would be a basis to have the conviction overturned based on his conduct.
Mr. Saunders was unimpressed:
"No doubt '60 Minutes' sold a lot of cars and soap for CBS on Sunday. People from across the country called me to ask whether I was watching it. With Bradley's kid-gloves treatment of Kim Roberts, the show might have solidified in some people's minds the belief that the charges are without merit."
Is Mr. Saunders' mind?
Jason Whitlock, who writes for the McClatchy newspapers, saw the same program as Mr. Saunders and wrote "It's time for justice: drop the charges vs. Duke lacrosse players."
To Mr. Saunders, what Mr. Whitlock wrote might come as a shock:
"The charges against the Duke lacrosse players should be dropped immediately, and the people demanding the dismissal the loudest and most forcefully should be the very people who have made a living allegedly fighting against racial injustice.
"I've said this before, but it's worth saying again: Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should be in Durham, N.C., today, promising civil disobedience until the charges are dropped and prosecutor Mike Nifong resigns.
"Ed Bradley and '60 Minutes' should never be mistaken for Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court. Bradley is just a TV reporter and '60 Minutes' is just a TV show, but you couldn't help but be moved by the story they aired Sunday night about the Duke lacrosse rape allegations."
Mr. Saunders could!
"The three accused players gave their first interviews, and two of them claimed they had airtight, documented alibis. The accuser's one-night sidekick, Kim Roberts, seems to have settled on telling the truth rather than trying to spin the story for fame or money. She contradicted several of the statements the accuser gave to police.
"'60 Minutes' obtained footage of the accuser working a stripper pole two short weeks after allegedly being brutally raped and beaten by three men and exposed the unfairness of the photo lineup used to ID the suspects.
"It was powerful stuff.
"The piece left you with two overwhelming beliefs: 1. Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans did not rape the accuser; 2. There's no possible way the district attorney can win a conviction.
"Either belief is justification for dropping the charges.
"When you toss in the players' claims that the prosecutor won't even grant them an audience to hear their exculpatory evidence and the racially charged nature of the investigation, the case rises to a level where people concerned about blind, equal and fair justice should get involved.
"Anyone who has been mistreated by law enforcement or had a friend or family member treated unjustly by our criminal-courts system should be concerned about what is transpiring in Durham.
"It is true that the Duke lacrosse players are from wealthy families and can afford attorneys who probably will win an acquittal or dismissal.
"But there is nothing to be gained and plenty to be lost by showing indifference to their plight.
"Had '60 Minutes' aired the same story about three black Duke basketball players being railroaded by a prosecutor pandering to white voters and a white accuser with zero credibility, we all know where Jackson and Sharpton would be - right where they should be today. In Durham, asking the prosecutor to do the right thing.
"It is in the best interest of all black people, especially poor black people, that black people with a voice and a platform call for an end to the persecution of the Duke lacrosse players and program.
"Speaking out in support of the wealthy Duke players enhances our credibility when we claim that someone poor and black is being treated unfairly. Poor people need that credibility because they can't afford to make bail, let alone a team of high-priced attorneys.
"By remaining silent about this obvious miscarriage of justice, black leadership looks as racist and cowardly as it paints white people who ignore obvious mistreatment of blacks.
Mr. Saunders does not follow. But Mr. Whitlock is absolutely right. It's time to stand up to Mr. Nifong instead of stand by him.
As Mr. Whitlock concluded: "Standing up for Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans would be standing up against injustice, and what we're learning is that injustice recognizes opportunity more than color. In America, there is more opportunity for injustice to visit poor people of color. Their best defense is standing against all injustice, regardless of race."
Mr. Whitlock is calling for the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Mr. Saunders is sticking by Ms. Mangum (who is not credible or confirmed) and Mr. Nifong (who bamboozled enough black voters last May to win a plurality of the votes in a Democrat primary).
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.