North Carolina journalist and television commentator Cash Michaels' pre-election column, titled "Critics Target Black Voters in Duke Case," lacks the balance for which he criticized the "60 Minutes" expose on the Duke case. But that is not its biggest problem.
Frankly, I wish "60 Minutes" had spent even more time (it did a two-part segment on October 15) on the Duke case. Given the time it allotted, however, I believe it prioritized properly: it presented each of the Duke Three (Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans), the other stripper (Kim Roberts Pittman) and the distinguished Duke Law Professor who is both an expert on identification procedures and the person principally charged by Duke University with investigating the conduct of its men's lacrosse team (James Coleman). The accuser (Crystal Gail Mangum) did not want to be interviewed., and the lawyers are under a court order limiting what they can say.
Mr. Michaels was irate that the person who is monitoring the Duke case for the North Carolina NAACP (NCCU Law Professor and author of a treatise of North Carolina Criminal Procedure Law Irving Joyner) was not interviewed by Ed Bradley of “60 Minutes” too.
I sympathize, albeit not because I thought Professor Joyner would help the prosecution in the least. I wanted "60 Minutes" to have Professor Joyner and Stuart Taylor, Jr., America's top legal commentator, discuss the legal issues, such as prosecutorial misconduct and pre-trial dismissal. Especially with Election Day 2006 less than a month away.
In early June Professor Joyner told Sports Illustrated that Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong "still has a viable shot at victory before a jury in Durham."
Professor Joyner subsequently explained that he had specified a “Durham” jury as giving Mr. Nifong a chance to win, this way: “A Durham jury may see things differently than would an Orange or Wake County jury because the Durham jury will probably have more African-Americans on it than would be involved in most other counties in North Carolina.”
That’s scary. Whether the verdict of guilt or not guilty should not depend upon the county in which the case is tried or the color of the accuser, the accused, the prosecutor or the jurors. But give Professor Joyner credit for candor.
ProfessorJoyner: “This case originated in Durham and should be tried here.”
Brooklyn College Professor Robert K.C. Johnson, a Duke case expert who elicited the foregoing quotations from Professor Joyner in email exchange, explained both the fallacy of Professor Joyner's reasoning and the need for a change of venue if the Duke case is to be tried: "Carried to its logical conclusion, Joyner’s statement would imply that cases always need to be tried where they 'originated'—since surely if any case needs a change of venue, it’s this one. Quite beyond Nifong’s myriad public statements, the case itself was the central issue in not only the spring primary but the fall election for district attorney."
Professor Joyner should know well that the accused that is entitled to a disinterested jury and the Constitution does not mandate trial where a case “originates.” (Fortunate for O.J. Simpson!)
Professor Joyner was the attorney for the defendant-appellant in North Carolina v. Chavis, a first-degree murder case in which conviction was affirmed despite all of the able Professor Joyner's legal arguments. (Now North Carolina Governor and then North Carolina Attorney General Michael Easley prevailed in the case, although he did not argue it personally.)
In affirming, the North Carolina Court of Appeal quoted North Carolina's highest court, stating: "[D]ue process requires that a defendant have `a panel of impartial, indifferent jurors.'' State v. Williams , 330 N.C. 579, 583, 411 S.E.2d 814, 817(1992)(quoting Rutherford, 70 N.C. App. at 677, 320 S.E.2d at 919)."
North Carolina law also requires a district attorney to be a fair and impartial minister of justice.
Due process has been AWOL (absent without leave) in the Duke case.
A debate between Professor Joyner and Mr. Taylor would be a great public service, because ot would highlight how egregious the prosecutorial abuse and have flagrant the constitutional rights violations have been.
Cash Michaels: "In a last ditch effort to put a nail in the coffin of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong’s election bid on November 7, supporters for the Duke University Three – the three white lacrosse players alleged to have raped and kidnapped a Black exotic dancer during a wild, off-campus team party last March – are admonishing Durham’s African-American voters not [to] vote for a man they charge is not only falsely prosecuting the defendants, but pandered to the Black vote last May in order to win the Democratic primary."
In fairness, Duke Three supporters want everyone eligible to do so to vote against Mr. Nifong, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, sex or party affiliation.
Mr. Michaels: "Nifong, who has not returned previous calls for comment from the Carolinian/Wilmington Journal newspapers, has denied the charge."
What a shock! But, his own words convict him.
Brooklyn College Professor Robert K.C. Johnson: "Nifong’s latter-day positioning of himself as a crusader for social justice is chimerical. His office regularly entered into plea bargains resulting in the dismissal of rape charges and the imposition of often laughably light sentences. 'I’m not going to allow,' the D.A. said at one campaign forum, 'Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham.' Yet he seems to have cared little for the 'black girls from Durham' when their alleged rapists didn’t fit a profile that would benefit him politically."
Mr. Michaels: "He was appointed to the post over a year ago by the governor, won his party’s primary, but attracted two independent challengers in the general election because of his controversial handling of the Duke alleged rape case."
True. One “independent” challenger being Democrat County Commissioner Lewis Cheek and the other being Durham County Republican Party Chairman Steve Monks.
Mr. Michaels: "The Duke Three – Colin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, NY; Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, NJ; and David Forker Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md. – have all been indicted for first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, and first-degree sexual offense. They have maintained their innocence."
Mr. Michaels: "Their supporters allege that DA Nifong, who is also white, is pandering to the African-American community to win again by promising to bring the three white suspects he says “raped a Black girl from Durham” to justice. Those supporters also warn that if elected, Nifong will falsely prosecute Black defendants too."
Professor Coleman, which is Black, explained that poor blacks have good reason to fear. Nifong already has falsely prosecuted a Black defendant! What color was the cabbie prosecuted by Mr. Nifong after he confirmed Reade Seligmann's alibi and quickly acquitted by a jury? (His "real crime" was telling the truth for Reade.)
Mr. Michaels: "However, that hasn’t stopped the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the county’s most prominent Black political organization, from endorsing DA Nifong, though it never specifically said why."
True. Shame on that Committee.
Mr. Michaels: "That endorsement has led some Duke Three supporters to label the all-Black organization as 'racist,' saying it is deliberately ignoring the false prosecution of the three white Duke students because the alleged victim is Black.
Which ones? Why not specify? Should all be tarred with the same brush?
Mr. Michaels: "The Durham Committee, however, did not endorse the Durham DA last May, two months after the case made world headlines."
True. It endorsed the Black candidate in the race. The candidate who came in third and lacked prosecutorial experience.
Mr. Michaels: "Unless those opposing Nifong can effectively chip away at his broad support in the waning days before the election this Tuesday, their hopes of stopping his prosecution, and ultimately getting a new district attorney to drop the case, will be dashed."
The prosecution can be stopped by a successful motion to dismiss.
Mr. Michaels: "With a recent poll showing the Durham DA with a commanding 46% of likely voters supporting him, even some of Nifong’s most arduous critics concede he may not be unseated as hoped."
That's one poll, the one most favorable to Mr. Nifong.
Mr. Michaels: "'So after Nifong wins this election, then Durham, like Baghdad, should be marked off as a 'dead zone,' and all outsiders, especially tourists, students, and businessmen should steer clear,' writes rabid Nifong critic, blogger Johnsville News.
I have my disagreements with the way The Johnsville News has anonymously criticized Mr. Michaels, and I would not mark off Durham as a "dead zone" if Mr. Nifong wins, but TJN has a valid point and it is the same point made by the recipient of the 1987 NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Pro Bono Award for contribution to enforcement of civil rights laws, Professor Coleman: “You’ve got a prosecutor playing to race. It’s disgusting. If he’s willing to [make race an issue] to go after what he thinks are three white kids with influence, what will he do going against some poor black kid in a case where people are saying, 'You’ve got to convict somebody?' To me, a prosecutor who’s willing to cut corners in any case is a prosecutor who’s subverting justice.'"
To me, too.
"But ironically, Nifong’s critics have also engaged in a bit of pandering themselves, having gone as far as trying to influence the Carolinian/Wilmington Journal Black newspapers to mount a campaign against the Durham DA’s election effort.
“'Durham County will bring shame upon itself if it elects the shameless Mr. Nifong,” conservative NY Republican online columnist attorney Michael Gaynor, who has written several Duke Three supporting pieces, including “The Duke Case is a Democrat Scandal” and “Foley (as in disgraced former, admittedly gay, Republican Congressman Mark Foley) Scandal Implications for Duke Case,” wrote in one of his recent columns.
“'…[R] eport (fairly, of course) before Election Day 2006 …on what should be a matter of great importance to the voters of Durham County, North Carolina: whether Mr. Nifong has committed prosecutorial misconduct in order to manipulate voters in that district attorney Democrat primary last May,' the conservative added.
"Gaynor, who is white, has demanded that all charges against the Duke Three be dropped, and has even used famous quotations from slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to try to convince a Black newspaper reporter, and anyone else who would listen, that if Dr. King were here, he would be siding with Duke Three supporters against Nifong."
A November 4 editorial post on The Wllmington Journal website begins: "For the past two weeks, this newspaper has made recommendations to our community about which public servants and candidates for public office deserve, we believe, both your attention and support at the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7." I believe that The Wilmington Journal should "mount a campaign against the Durham DA’s election effort." I told Mr. Michaels that Mr. Nifong's prosecutorial misconduct was intolerable. Is that pandering? Was I pandering when I assailed the prosecutors of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson for prosecutorial abuse? I doubt it.
As a conservative Republican, I would be expected to support Mr. Monks and in a two-man race with Mr. Cheek, perhaps I would have. But I have urged everyone to support Mr. Cheek as the viable alternative, because the need for an ethical district attorney should trump partisan politics and the reality is that Mr. Monks can be a spoiler, but not a winner. Is giving Democrat Governor Michael Easley as second chance to appoint an ethical Durham County District Attorney NOT a good idea? Would he do WORSE?
Mr. Michaels: "Even Duke supporters on online message boards have criticized the Black Press for not 'leading' Durham’s Black voters to go against Nifong."
That November 4 editorial in The Wilmington Journal stated in part: "Aren’t you one of the many Americans (let alone African-Americans) who are simply fed up with the direction this country is headed? When you have honest, competent and capable public officials already in place, like NC Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, doesn’t it make sense to do your part to keep them in office?"
Seems to me like an attempt by the Black Press to lead voters to go for Ms. Timmons-Goodson. Why not against Mr. Nifong?
“'He can’t tell the voters of Durham that Nifong used them,' a poster named 'lizza8631' said of a Black newspaper reporter who wrote it is not his job to tell African-Americans whom to vote for, but provide them with the information for them to make their own choices.
“'His articles must meet the standards set upon him by Jesse, Al and the other black "leaders,"' 'lizza' continued, later adding that the reporter was 'living his life as a puppet' of the Black community, and 'You need a rape to have happened to cover your sorry racist behind.'"
I've gotten hate email, purportedly from Blacks, outraged by my support of the Duke Three, that make "lizza" seem civil, if not friendly. I don't post hate speech (except when it's absolutely newsworthy, like the "Dead man walking" aimed at Reade Seligmann.
Let's deal with the merits of the case instead of the misfits mususing the case.
Mr. Nifong doesn't have a case and he is a prosecutorial disgrace. He has a vested interest in keeping the Duke case going, since the grievances filed against him have been shelved for the duration of the Duke case. He's probably willing to keep trying it as long as he lives, and as long as one of his diehard supporters hangs a jury.
"Many other Duke Three supporting online posters – the majority of whom are white - who are critical of the Black Press for not leading the charge against the Durham DA in the African-American community, have posted such remarks as 'The blacks in Durham got 'suckered'…, 'the greatest thing to come of this fiasco is the exposure of the hypocritical nature of certain segments of the black community,' and '…If a black person does not consider himself a victim then he or she is 'acting white'.”
Substitute fooled for suckered and move on. Suckered is not a racial epithet, like the N word or hooligan (anti-Irish).
Are you saying the Black community is hypocrisy-free? Oh dear me!
EVERYBODY is a victim of Mr. Nifong perverting the criminal justice system.
"Despite racist emails and telephone calls, the publishers of both The Carolinian of Raleigh and The Wilmington Journal Newspaper of Wilmington, NC have steadfastly resisted the pressure, saying that the Black voters of Durham have been fully informed as to all aspects of the Duke alleged rape case, and charges that Nifong pandered to the Black vote last May, and want the criminal justice system to duly sought [sort] it all out.
"Those very capable voters must now decide in their own way, the publishers add, whether the Durham District Attorney should continue to serve, or must leave."
They aren't smart enough to decide on Ms. Timmons-Goodson without an explicit endorsement?
Mr. Michaels: "Blacks make up one-third of Durham County’s registered voters."
If you say so. You should know.
"Most African-Americans in Durham feel, thanks to numerous local, and recent national press reports like the Oct. 15 CBS News '60 Minutes' expose’ on the Duke alleged rape case, that while it certainly has problems – multiple versions of the incident from the accuser; no known DNA matches; questions about Durham police procedure in the photo lineup process and allegedly submitting false medical information on the accuser to a judge for a search warrant; alibis for at least two of the indicted Duke Three players accused; a short videotape purported of the accuser doing a pole dance at a local strip club just two weeks after she alleged she was beaten and could hardly walk; Nifong not interviewing the accuser about the alleged crime even seven months later; and the so-called 'second dancer,”'Kim Roberts Pittman, telling ABC News this week that the accuser wanted her to 'put marks' on her as they were driving away from the party after the alleged assault, presumably to help concoct a story about a false rape – still, a trial where a judge and/or jury makes the ultimate decision of guilt or innocence, is the proper resolution of the case."
The begs the question of whether Mr. Nifong should be elected, and the question of whether or not he has been the fair and impartial minister of justice that a district attorney is supposed to be.
"But many prominent Duke Three supporters disagree.
“'Over the last seven months, Durham ’s legal system has reverted to a mirror image of what existed in the South 50 years ago, when defendants were halfway to conviction based on the color of their skin,' Brooklyn College History Professor KC Johnson wrote this week on his 'Durham-in-Wonderland' blog. 'The closest historical parallel to Mike Nifong’s behavior comes from the 1950s and early 1960s, when district attorneys in the Deep South routinely filed specious charges against civil rights activists.'
“'Facts had no relevance; everyone knew the accused were innocent. These cases aided the careers of the prosecutors, who, like Nifong, blatantly violated procedures just to get to court,' Prof. Johnson, who has blasted the NC NAACP for not siding with the Duke Three, added."
Professor Johnson is right! The NC NAACP is wrong about the Duke case.
"Some Duke Three supporters, like Newsweek Magazine Contributing Editor Stuart Taylor, who is writing a book about the Duke case, have become so incensed by any case analysis that doesn’t favor the defendants, they’ve aggressively attacked the credibility, and even character of the perceived opponents.
"In one instance, in response to a Black newspaper reporter’s written explanation of analysis by Dr. Irving Joyner, law professor at historically Black North Carolina Central University’s School of Law in Durham, who said that DA Nifong could still mount a case in court despite his numerous evidentiary setbacks, Taylor came out swinging.
“'If the facts and "theory" here were the same but the accuser were white and the defendants were black, Professor Joyner would be screaming from the rooftops that this was an outrage and a travesty of justice,' Taylor wrote in an email response to the reporter.
"Taylor, who later admits to being 'emotionally invested in this case,' then added, 'And if Professor Joyner denies that, I say he’s a liar.'
“'The reason that the prospect of a trial scares some of us is that we fear that some jurors may be as determined to apply a racial double standard with blinders on to avoid looking at the most probative evidence as Professor Joyner seems to be. It is extremely unlikely that 12 jurors would be that biased. But it only takes one holdout for conviction to hang a jury and force these innocent young men through more agony,' Taylor wrote.
“'You know damned well that these young men are innocent. Professor Joyner knows it too…,' Taylor continued in his blistering email to the Black reporter. 'Yet you strain for ways to avoid facing—or telling your readers—the one all-important truth. Why?' When confronted by the reporter about the impropriety of calling Prof. Joyner a 'liar' behind his back, Taylor later apologized for that, but held to his point."
Mr. Taylor learned of Mr. Michaels' article (although not from Mr. Michaels), wrote to Mr. Michaels are follows and authorized me to make use of his response if he thought it useful.
"Someone sent me an article in which you grossly and repeatedly distorted two emails that I had sent you last month.
"I request a full correction or clarification.
"First, you misleadingly quoted me as having admitted 'to being emotionally invested in the case.'
"This was a gross and clearly deliberate distortion of what the first of my two emails said. You were quite obviously trying to deceive your readers into thinking that I had suggested that my analysis of the evidence was driven not be reason but by emotion.
"The opposite is true, as is clear from the context of my statement: 'The reason that some of us are emotionally invested in this case is that--BEFORE becoming emotionally invested--we looked at the evidence very carefully over many months and come to a reasoned judgment that it is clear far beyond any reasonable doubt that the rape charge is a fraud. We would feel exactly the same way if the accuser were white and the defendants black.'
"If you are honest, your correction or clarification will include both your distortion--'Taylor, who later admits to being "emotionally invested in this case"'--and the entire preceding paragraph, which belies your distortion.
"Second, you wrote that I had 'apologized' for 'calling Prof. Joyner a "liar" behind his back."
"This is false. As you know, my apology specified that I had NOT called Professor Joyner a liar. Here is what I wrote:
"'I apologize for my rudeness in sending you an email so strongly worded that I knew you would find it offensive and insulting. I can’t blame you for taking offense at my use of the word "liar" in proximity to the name of someone you so obviously respect. But to be clear: Rude as it was, my email did not call Professor Joyner (or you) a liar or a racist. It said that I would call him a liar if (and only if) he were to deny that he would be calling this case an outrage and a travesty of justice if the accuser were white and the defendants were black. I am not aware that Professor Joyner has ever denied this. And I don’t see how he could deny it, given my burning conviction that the DA’s public conduct has been so outrageous that ANY decent law professor or commentator following this case closely, regardless of race, would be denouncing the DA if the accuser were white and the defendants black.'
"I called Professor Joyner a liar if and only if he has denied that he would be calling this case an outrage if the accuser were white and the defendants were black. I challenge you to cite any such denial by Professor Joyner. As far as I know, he has never denied this. I suspect that he never will, because it would be so transparently false as to make him look preposterous.
"Third, you falsely accused me of being 'incensed by any case analysis that doesn't favor the defendants.' As you know, what I am incensed about is the disingenuousness--to choose the mildest of many words that come to mind--of people who know very well that the defendants are almost certainly innocent but hide behind every imaginable rationalization, and in your case behind a pretense of journalistic balance, to divert attention from that central fact.
"People such as you--whether for reasons of personal self-advancement or for fear of offending others on whose approval and good will you depend--are trying to force these innocent defendants to face the enormous cost, agony, and risk of trial at the hands of a dishonest, unethical prosecutor who also knows that they are innocent.
"Does that incense me? You bet it does.
"Finally, unless I have missed something along the way, in recent months you have NEVER said, publicly or privately, that you have any serious doubt as to the innocence of these defendants. I challenge you either to say that you doubt their innocence or to admit publicly that you do NOT doubt their innocence."
It has been my practice to defend Mr. Michaels against what I considered to be unfair (even racist or uncomfortably close to racist) remarks. I very much appreciate Mr. Michaels following the evidence and saying that what he expected wasn’t there.
In support of Mr. Michaels, I can say that he has not distorted any of my remarks or mischaracterized me in any of his articles.
I was familiar with the email exchange between Messr. Michaels and Taylor before Mr. Michaels chose to make it public.
I prefer to let Mr. Taylor speak for himself, so I have quoted his response to Mr. Michaels in full.
If there were anything in it that was even overstated, in my view, I'd say so.
I can't do that.
Instead, I lament that (1) Mr. Nifong's racial pandering and prosecutorial abuse gave the North Carolina NAACP a great opportunity to stand up for colorblind justice and the North Carolina NAACP has yet to take it; (2) Professor Joyner's apparent view that Mr. Nifong should go to and can win at trial overlooks the fact that the case is ripe for dismissal on constitutional grounds under North Carolina law, and (3) Mr. Michaels and Professor Joyner should be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
"The NC NAACP has been royally criticized by Nifong critics for not following what they perceive to be the organization’s long civil rights history, and standing up for the Duke Three.
"But those same critics have ignored the NC NAACP’s 10-point position on the case, calling for no rush to judgment and a fair criminal justice process to determine the true facts. They also ignored the civil rights organization’s call for calm in the Black community early on when tensions were high, and its denunciation of the radical New Black Panther Party, which rallied in Durham last April.
"The NC NAACP also called for an end to racist and vile portrayals of the accuser by the most rabid Duke Three supporters, something the more moderate supporters have not only said little about in opposition, but in many cases, have ignored completely."
Who said that the North Carolina NAACP did everything wrong? Who took pleasure in extremists using the Duke case for their own purposes?
It seems that the Duke Three are being punished not for what they did, but for what many want to believe they did and for what some nuts apparently said.
Show me where any of the Duke Three or any of their lawyers portrayed accuser Crystal Gail Mangum in a racist or vile way and I’ll condemn them for it. I won’t hold the New Black Panther Party against the NAACP or a skinhead’s comments against the Duke Three. The second stripper (Kim Roberts Pittman) spoke of racist remarks at the infamous party, but she explicitly said none of the Duke Three made a racist remark.)
By now (if not long ago), it should be (or have been) clear to Professor Joyner and the North Carolina NAACP that the Duke Three are innocent. The North Carolina NAACP discredits itself by insisting that the Duke case proceed and tolerating Mr. Nifong's prosecutorial conduct.
Mr. Michaels: "Nifong critics hope that recent negative events in the case will help further tarnish the DA’s chances of winning."
"On Oct. 27, Nifong turned over another 2,000 pages of discovery evidence, bringing the total in the case to well over 4,000 pages handed over as required by state law, in addition to DVDs containing email downloads from dorm-room computers of the defendants.
"No one has officially said what is contained in those emails, or why they are considered evidence.
"Nifong made headlines at the hearing when he admitted that in the seven months since the alleged sexual assault, he has not interviewed the accuser about the details, though police investigators have. The admission drew strong criticism from defense attorneys and legal observers.
"On Monday, Kim Roberts Pittman, the so-called 'second dancer' who performed with the accuser at that March 13 lacrosse team party, told ABC’s 'Good Morning America' that the accuser never said anything about being raped inside the house when the pair drove off, but she did allegedly ask Pittman to 'Put marks on me,' as if to make it look as if she had been brutalized.
"Pittman, who have been convicted of embezzlement, changed her story several times, and did contact a NY public relations firm to sell her story as a potential prosecution witness, says the request so 'chilled' her, she went to the authorities.
"The record shows, however, that she actually went to a Kroger Supermarket, where she had a security guard call Durham Police. To get the accuser out of her car.
"Also this week, Devon Sherwood, the sole Black lacrosse player on the Duke team who was not required to give DNA because the accuser did not identify him as a suspect in her alleged assault, told ABC’s 'Good Morning America' that the past seven months have been difficult for him because of harassment from both the white and Black communities. He 'knows' that his three teammates are innocent of the rape charges, and he considers the entire Duke lacrosse team to be his 'brothers.'
"The next hearing in the Duke case is scheduled for Dec. 15 in Durham Superior Court."
None of those statements (and nothing else) changes (or can change) the fact that the Duke Three are being persecuted, not prosecuted, and that there was no rape, much less a gang rape.
Those statements either support the Duke Three or are "trees" that obscure "the forest,” that is, the big picture: (1) the Duke Three are innocent, (2) accuser Crystal Gail Mangum lied, and (3) Mr. Nifong used the opportunity presented to him by Ms. Mangum’s ludicrous gang rape claim as a gift from Hell to win a Democrat primary, and thereby make himself a heavy favorite in the general election.
If Mr. Michaels (or I or anyone else) wants to rail against (1) the lacrosse team co-captains for their choice of "entertainment" or hosting a party that permitted underage drinking or excess noise or (2) lacrosse players for letting down their coach by having a party was "wild" (to use Mr. Michaels' word), that's a right as an American.
BUT there is no right to pretend that any of the partiers kidnapped, raped or sexually assaulted anyone.
Rather, it is our duty to put a stop to a persecution masquerading as a prosecution and to end prosecutorial abuse.
The Dyurham County voters should remove Mr. Nifong from office and replace him with an ethical district attorney.
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.