Friday, February 22, 2008

"Joan Foster" Eviscerates Robert Steel

I’ll admit to having been fascinated by the Scott Peterson trial…this seemingly “normal” young man with his pregnant lovely wife. How did those last horrific moments come about? What did he say? What did she? What was in his mind as he watched her die? I would wonder how he rationalized snuffing her life and the life of his child? If one could ever get the truth from him, what would he say? What was he thinking? How does someone like this form a personal defense… even to his own self?

Nowadays I think this same way about Robert Steele and Dick Brodhead. What’s the emotional and moral make-up of folks like this? I’ll confess I’ve never met either of them. I bet they are charming at cocktail parties and impressive in their insular little world, okay…fine. But everything I ever needed to know about either of them, I learned , if true and accurate, in the written summary of the third lawsuit.

Let’s start with Steele. Jason Trumpbour relays a conversation with Steele that just might be the most stunning moral indictment of the current Duke leadership to date. Now, stay with me here. Trumpbour tells us Steele felt it would be best FOR DUKE if Collin, Reade, and Dave…WENT TO TRIAL. Best for Duke. Say that again: “BEST FOR DUKE.” If convicted, he shrugged, “it would all be sorted out on appeal.”

Who thinks like that?

What kind of man thinks like that?

I can’t even type that without stopping to take a deep, outraged breath. Imagine you are the Finnertys, or the Evans. Or the Seligmanns. Your child, your boy, already scourged, and branded, and sullied by an outrageous LIE, would best serve the University’s interest by going TO TRIAL, perhaps being convicted of a felony and imprisoned in some hellhole. This is the measured, moral opinion of the chairman of the Board of Trustees at his school. It would be BEST for Duke for your INNOCENT child, your ravaged family to endure a TRIAL. And let’s remember the backdrop of this time: the Black Panthers, well represented , no doubt, in our prison system, shouting at Reade “You’re a dead man walking!!!” Sure, Chairman Steele, let it all be sorted out on appeal.

BEST FOR DUKE. He can pull these three young lives out of the equation, discard them, and focus on what’s BEST FOR DUKE.

Wow! That Chairman Steele!…he gives new definition to being a “company man.” And Brodhead, the subservient, self-serving lackey. Duke parents and alumni, you can’t say from here on, you don’t know the quality and moral compass of your leadership!

So what does that say about how Steele ( and his willing sidekick Brodhead) perceive the worth, the humanity, the reality of the lives of Collin, Reade, and Dave? Are they expendable for the PR purposes of Duke? Is it much more INSTITUTIONALLY important in the mind of Chairman Steele to prop up a life-destroying LIE so that Duke appears even-handed and sensitive to Durham’s homegrown strippers and lap-dancers? In lock-step with Durham’s cracker-jack, dump-burning governing entities? Supportive of the “castrate” sign- carrying, racist- diatribes of its activist professors? Why Chairman Steele should have just run a spot on local TV and made his message plain:

“ Hi, I’m Bob Steele, Chairman of the BOT of Duke University and I approve this message:

In the best interests of Duke University, to show our inclusiveness and reverence of even drug-addled, mentally ill prostitutes; our fear of our activist faculty; our guilt-fueled submissiveness to the local political intelligentsia; and our heavy duty P.C. credentials …. we will aid and assist D.A. Nifong in railroading three innocent students of ours and besmirching for life the reputations of their teammates. We and our employees will accomplish this by ignoring and/or suppressing or even ALTERING when we must any exculpatory evidence to the contrary. Like the local newspapers, we will also try to level the playing field, by ravaging the “histories” of these young men to try to bring them down to a level where the Lap-dancer /deranged former felon /and prostitute will appear their moral “equal.” To that end, we will empower commissions to uncover anything and everything negative that we might hand the media to envelop these boys in that stain. We will opine that “whatever they did was bad enough.” We will cancel their season and start a “Mea Culpa” progression around town, mournfully apologetic for having these young privileged men in our midst. We will turn our eyes away from any and all violations of OUR OWN conduct codes as long as the objects of these violations are these young men of the wrong race and income group. We will refuse to meet with their terrified parents or read the defense files that might force us to confront their ABSOLUTE INNOCENCE. We will look on mute while our faculty radicals ravage them in print from ad to op-ed over and over again. Proclaim them “farm animals” and let our silence speak approval.

We will do all this in the best interests of Duke University. To send to the world and our student body, through our actions, a moral imprint of what the leadership of Duke University considers the new expediency, the new righteousness. Here is our blueprint for what’s really important for those who aspire to assume the helm of any business. It’s not people, it’s not the lives of three young men or the reputation of forty-plus others. It’s PR and PC. Public relations and Political Correctness. It’s IMAGE. It’s that thin layer of false veneer we’ll protect NOT with OUR LIVES OR LIVELIHOODS, oh no! But those of OTHERS!

It’s protecting our bottom line and our top guys at the price of those we consider expendable. The Coach, the kids. In the business world we can kick the small investor and the retiree to the curb in the holy name of our corporate interest; at Duke, it’s three white students and their white coach. That’s our lesson for the leaders of tomorrow: it’s BETTER FOR US if these three nothing, nobody, non –protected species kids go to trial… so-o-o-o, let’s help it happen. If convicted….Gee Whiz, no Biggie…it will be settled out “on appeal.”

How does that sound to you, Alumni and parents? Do you like what you hear from the top? Am I wrong? Okay, you give me another way to interpret those words between Trumpbour and Steele. Look at your child before you do. Think of HIM as Chairman Steele and his Lapdog Brodhead’s sacrificial lamb. “If convicted, it can be sorted out on appeal.”

“YOU’RE A DEAD MAN WALKING” they shouted at Reade.

I’ve really tried to think of an alternative take on Chairman Steele’s words. Not to excuse or defend him but just because they astound me. I don’t know people who think like this. Maybe I don’t move in the proper exalted circles.

Thank God.

How can the best interests of Duke trump three real young lives? How can the best interests of Duke require the suspension of all logic and common sense, the suppression of evidence, the submission to the mob? How can the best interests of Duke under the current leadership be only about artificial IMAGE…not about its students, not about the rule of law, and dear God, especially….” not about the truth?”

No parent or alumni can say “move on” until they can confront the awful reality of those unanswered questions. Until they absorb the consequences of the cold fact THAT THIS IS THE MINDSET of those who still remain in power at Duke.

I'm reminded of the last powerful scene in the first Godfather movie: the bereaved newly widowed sister, waving the newspaper describing the Mob hits , pointing at Michael Corleone, besseching her sister-in'law to face it all..."THAT'S your husband! THAT'S your husband!"

That's your Chairman of the BOT.

That's your President of the once esteemed Duke University.

“Honey, you can’t leave” … until all you "Move-On Minions" confront the enormity of what was done to these kids.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tortmaster, Hero of the Hoax

A long, long, loooooong time ago, the only reason to visit talkleft became the opportunity to read the consistently excellent analyses of a single voice of reason among many, many vapid blowhards.


His utter vaporization of the "Listening Statement" Revisionists in today's Chronicle warrants re-publication in full, in as many fora as possible, as the student athletes' attorneys hone their Bowie knives for jungle conflict. Tortmaster's painstakingly thorough evisceration of the ad, which exemplifies the "critical thinking" of 88 lucky coffee house poets and assistant librarians, begins shortly past mid-scroll through the comments page accessed by the above link, at "2:31 AM EST." It continues uninterrupted through six consecutive posts, the last timed in at "3:30 AM EST."

It reads, in its entirety, as follows:

Let's look at the Listening Ad, but first let's look at it in context. It was drafted mere days after the alleged rape became public knowledge. Was it rash to jump on a bandwagon that was only 12 days old?

Keep in mind that even eventually disbarred attorney Mike Nifong would not indict anyone for the alleged crime until 12 days AFTER the Listening ad was published. Any conclusions about a "social disaster" did not even have enough time to become properly gossip-based yet.

There were the protests, including the "castrate" banner, the potbangers marching up Buchanan Boulevard, and, of course, the wanted posters depicting the faces of the lax players. Not pictures of the eventually-indicted players, but pictures of all the players.

The context includes the fact that local media had begun to focus on the Lacrosse team. A week before the Listening ad came out in the student newspaper, the News&Observer ran an editorial by Ruth Sheehan presuming guilt and presuming a lacrosse "wall of silence," with her "we know you know" piece.

The context also includes the fact that the Listening ad's author, Wahneema Lubiano, chose to publish it in the school's newspaper. What better way to cause harm to students than publish something about them in the student's own newspaper? Who better to publish it than gobs of faculty and whole university departments and programs?

The context also includes other editorials written by the Gang of 88, including the infamous one by Professor Chafe with the Emmett Till comparison. He wrote the following in the Duke Chronicle a week before the Listening Ad:

"Sex and race have been intertwined since the beginning of American history. They remain so today, throughout America and here at Duke. The events that occurred on Buchanan Boulevard two weeks ago are part of a deep and troubling history."

But Lubiano also had an editorial published in the News&Observer in which she wrote in May 2006:

"An anger is surfacing against aspects of everyday life at Duke, an anger that is playing out in the aftermath of the accusations against the lacrosse team and responses to those accusations. The changes at Duke that critics want to see are coming more sharply into view as a result of struggle in this moment of spectacle."

The Listening ad author wrote that "[a]n anger is surfacing ... in the aftermath of the ... accusations against the lacrosse team ...." She wrote this in a paper with a printing of 167,891 copies each weekday in the Raleigh-Durham area.

The context also includes what the author of the Listening ad thought of the ad herself. As reported by ESPN, "Lubiano knew some would see the ad as a stake through the collective heart of the lacrosse team."

The context of the "Listening ad" included some lacrosse students sleeping in cars to avoid public consternation or worse, staying over at the homes of anonymous friends or even leaving the state.

On March 30, 2006, a few days before the publication of the Listening ad, the News&Observer printed a story which included the following subheading and copy:


The case, which erupted last week when police took DNA from all but one member of the team, heightened tensions between the city and Duke, a private university sometimes accused of walling itself off from a community with blue-collar roots.

The incident has sparked outrage on and off campus about classism, racism and sexual violence. The woman, an N.C. Central University student and employee of an escort service hired for the party, is black; she told authorities that her attackers were white....

Frustration over Duke's response continued Wednesday.

Wednesday's Take Back the Night rally, planned months ago, drew nearly a thousand people. Students and residents walked nearly a mile from East Campus to the landmark chapel on West Campus, chanting, 'Hey, hey, ho, ho, all rape has got to go.'

Ignacio Adriasola, an art history graduate student, had a sign taped to his shirt: 'It isn't what Duke has, but what it lax,' using the shorthand word for lacrosse.

Jean Leonard, Duke's sexual assault support services coordinator, welcomed rally participants from Duke, NCCU and Durham Technical Community College. TV trucks from national media outlets rumbled nearby. 'Tonight is about more than a great media story that the nation has great interest in,' Leonard said. 'Tonight is more about healing.' "

(capitalization of subheading added).

As you can see, the context included an atmosphere of heightened worry; Duke administrative staff and students alike were on the record presuming guilt. Tension was building. The national media had arrived at last! This was all BEFORE Lubiano published the "Listening ad."

Approximately a week prior to the Listening ad, the students' lawyers were already concerned about prejudicial pretrial publicity. A March 30, 2006 News&Observer article had the following headline: "Lacrosse players' lawyers object."

Eventually, Mike Nifong is disbarred, in part, for his prejudicial pretrial public statements, and the defense lawyers cite Duke faculty in their Motion to Change Venue. Of course, such a motion is filed when a party believes that it cannot receive a fair trial in that particular venue.

On the "Diverse" Education website, it is posted:

"The [Listening] advertisement gained additional prominence when, in the fall, the defense attorney for the lacrosse players requested a change of venue, citing the advertisement as evidence of Duke faculty bias against the players."

About a week before the publication of the "Listening ad," every literate person in Durham (and some who just watched television news) knew that the BIG DAY was approaching. Mike Nifong had publicly said that DNA results for the case would be available on or about April 10, 2006. On April 1, 2006, the N&O printed an article proclaiming:

"District Attorney Mike Nifong said Friday that no charges will be filed in the investigation of a report of rape at a Duke University lacrosse party until at least the WEEK OF APRIL 10. He also said he won't release DNA results that had been expected next week.

The tests, which are comparing the DNA of 46 lacrosse players with samples taken from the accuser as well as from towels, rags and rugs in the house where the party was held, COULD BE COMPLETED NEXT WEEK, Nifong said."

(emphasis added)

Now, anybody riding the backs of presumptively innocent students for his or her political agenda would know that APRIL 10 was an important day. If the DNA came back negative, the sane response would be a dismissal of claims (especially given the alleged 30-minute violent gangrape by 3 Division I athletes).

In other words, if hay were to be made, it had better be harvested fast. In a mass e-mail to other professors, Lubiano directed her colleagues to review the Listening ad quickly, sign on and hurry up: "We're trying for Thursday (04/05) if we can do it; if not, then next Monday (04/10)."

Thus, not only does it appear that Lubiano whipped up the "Listening ad" in record time, she did so as quickly as possible in case the boys were ACTUALLY FOUND TO BE INNOCENT.

The best context of all, of course, is the author's interpretation of her own handiwork. In this case, Lubiano unequivocally stated in her e-mail to colleagues that,

"African & African-American Studies is placing an ad in The Chronicle ABOUT THE LACROSSE TEAM INCIDENT." (emphasis added).

So, it seems that Lubiano's admission against interest proves that the Listening ad was about "the lacrosse team incident." But she went further and signed up not just 87 other colleagues, but also whole university programs and departments, including the following:

Duke University's African-American Studies
Duke University's Romance Studies
Duke University's Social & Health Sciences
Duke University's Franklin Humanities Institute
Duke University's Critical Studies Program
Duke University's Art Department
Duke University's Art History Department
Duke University's Latin American Studies
Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies
Duke University's Women's Studies Program
Duke University's Program in Education
Duke University's European Studies Program

The "Listening ad," taken in context, heightened tensions on campus, aligned a huge number of professors, departments and programs against the lacrosse players, was raised in a Motion to Change Venue to protect the students and joined such other recent disparaging editorials as Sheehan's and Chafe's.

To say the ad was not about the lax hoax is to ignore the ad's author, the timing of its publication, and even the first line of the ad. For those who have not seen the "Listening ad," it can be found at

At the top of this "PAID ADVERTISEMENT," it provides: "Regardless of the results of the police investigation ...." This is stated without previous mention of any event deserving of a "police investigation." The author was obviously referring to the Duke hoax investigation.

In the same paragraph, Lubiano describes "this moment's extraorinary spotlight." Again, an obvious reference to the Duke rape hoax.

The next paragraph, which is just one sentence, claims that "[I]t is a disaster nonetheless." The author appears to be describing BOTH what happened at 610 Buchanan and other perceived acts of racism at Duke (and elsewhere).

The next one-sentence paragraph states that "[t]hese students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves."

THAT is a prejudgment. The words used were "WHAT HAPPENED to this young woman ...." The author could have used words such as "what was alleged to have happened." Lubiano mentioned in her e-mail that she had made drafts of the piece, so she had time to edit the language. It is also instructive to note that the Listening ad sets an early emphasis on "shouting."

The next paragraph appears to be a quote, but there are no quotation marks or attribution. This is a continuing problem in the advertisement. "We want the absence of terror.... Terror robs you of language and you need language for the healing to begin." As stated previously, the author was obviously discussing the hoaxed rape allegations and generic perceived racism. Which would the reader perceive as more likely deserving of actual "terror"?

The next paragraph again appears to be a quotation mark-less quote, but this is attributed to the Independent (but no particular speaker). Significantly, this quote appeared approximately 3 days after the Duke rape hoax became public knowledge: "This is not a different experience for us here at Duke University. We go to class with racist classmates, we go to gym with people who are racists ... It's part of the experience." (ellipses in original).

The author is apparently conveying that rape (or is it just the generic perceived racism) is as abundant as ipods about campus. Since I am an American, I read the ad left to right and top to bottom, the context leads me to believe that rape may be as prevalent as fast food at Duke.

After three unattributed apparent quotes, there is this: "... I am only comfortable talking about THIS EVENT in my room with close friends. I am actually afraid to even bring it up in public. But worse, I wonder now about everything.... If SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS TO ME ...." (emphasis added).

What do you think "this event" means? The Duke hoax, of course. No other specific event is alluded to in the least. Also, consider what the apparent quotation implies: The speaker has nothing to fear if there is just an investigation of students who are presumed innocent, but she does have something to fear "if something like this happens" to her. Something like what? A rape, of course, a prejudged, juried and executed rape.

After another unattributed quote, there is, in the center of the Listening ad, in giant eye-catching print, "WHAT DOES A SOCIAL DISASTER SOUND LIKE?"

After two quotes attributed only to the Independent (and not a person), the ad goes on to provide: "... no one is really talking about how to keep the YOUNG WOMAN herself central to this conversation, how to keep her humanity before us ... she doesn't seem to be visible in this. Not for the university, not for us." (emphasis added).

It seems strange to me that everyone quoted by Lubiano was a poet. In a poetic way, the author inserted this "quote" in the ad to apparently get the university to support the "invisible" woman and not the university's students.

The next unattributed "quote" also seems to be egging on the University and the community to strive to achieve greater success in arresting someone. Consider how this "quote" attempts to elicit action while it, at the same time, prejudges the case and prejudices the lacrosse players:

"I can't help but think about the different attention given to WHAT HAS HAPPENED from what it would have been if the guys had been not just black but participating in a different sport, like football, something that's not SO UPSCALE." (emphasis added).

"What has happened" refers to the Duke lacrosse hoax, and the author appears to be saying, that he or she wants arrests now! The "different attention" is the lock-up of the offenders. Finally, the use of the "so upscale" language prejudices the boys in a classist way.

The next unattributed "quote" again appears to egg on the university to take action about the Duke rape hoax. The "quote" provides:

"And this is what I'm thinking right now - Duke isn't really responding to THIS. Not really. And THIS, what HAS HAPPENED, IS A DISASTER. THIS IS A SOCIAL DISASTER." (emphasis mine except last sentence).

Use of the word "this," of course, refers to the Duke rape hoax. So do the words "what has happened." Even a feeble-minded person would conclude that an investigation is not a disaster, but a rape would be. "This" rape "happened." That is a prejudgment.

The remaining substantive portions of the "Listening ad" provide additional clues as to the motivation behind it, including use of the date "March 13th," which could only reference the date of the fake gangrape.

Lubiano notes at the bottom that "[t]his ad, printed in the most easily seen venue on campus, is just one way for us to say that we're hearing what our students are saying."

This raises a couple of issues in my mind: (1) it is a "Paid Advertisement," which means that faculty felt it was so important that they spent their own money on it; and (2) the implication is that entire departments and programs at Duke University also paid for the advertisement, which as described above prejudged the students as guilty of "this" and "what happened."

Then, Lubiano goes on to write the following: "We're turning up the volume in a moment when some of the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait."

- "[T]urning up the volume" is akin to the "shouting" described earlier in the ad. In context, this is at a time when the local and national media have already turned up the volume, when potbangers and 1,000-person domestic violence protest marches were roaming Durham.

- "[T]urning up the volume" and "shouting" do not seem to be the best way for university professors to achieve a measured response or dialogue.

- "[I]n a moment" again refers to the fake rape and its warm afterglow.

- "[I]n a moment when some of the most vulnerable among us are being asked to quiet down while we wait" refers to waiting on due process and court hearings. Lubiano and the Gang of 88 are telling their students NOT to wait for due process. Join a lynch mob, see the world.

Next, the Gang of 88 compliment the potbangers and protesters, leaflet spammers, wanted poster hangers, castrate banner holders (one for each side of that HUGE banner) with this: "To the students speaking individually and to the protestors making collective noise, thank you for NOT WAITING and for making yourselves heard." (emphasis added).

- Lubiano and the Gang of 88 are lucky some crackpot did not take "individual[]" action.

-"[T]hank you for NOT WAITING" is positive reinforcement for judgment rushing and the perceived university-sanctioned elimination of due process.

Finally, the "Listening ad" concludes with a list of all the university departments and programs aligned against the lacrosse students. I can just imagine a lacrosse player reading the ad and thinking, "We didn't do it, but the African & African-American Studies Program, the Psychology Department and even the Franklin Humanities Institute believe we did, and they want us arrested."

A website address is given because of "space limitations" in listing all of the faculty signatories, which lends weight (in numbers) to the charges and instructions contained in the ad.

My problems with the "Listening ad," which are many and varied, do not include the allegation that the ad's author is dumb. Far from that, I think the ad was well-crafted to tacitly, yet obviously, refer to the rape as basically well-established fact.

It was also surgically designed to extract as much marrow as possible from the bones of Duke University. The Gang of 88 chose that moment to press an advantage and "negotiate" their demands with the university. Some of my problems with the "Listening ad" include the following:

A. Using what was essentially gossip (triple hearsay at best) to stir up an already tense situation.

B. Using this gossip to extract demands from the University.

C. Providing negative pre-trial publicity against their own students.

D. Failing to reflect, soberly, on the ramifications of their actions (lynching their own students)(ignoring due process)(the propriety of basing demands on gossip).

E. Implying, in a crafty way, that it was the institutional belief of a large faction in the University that rushing to judgment was condoned.

F. Implying, in a careful way, that it was the institutional belief of a large faction in the University that a rational approach to days-old gossip was "making collective noise" rather than waiting to allow due process protections to attach.

G. The shoddy scholarship involved.

H. Attacking and attempting to alienate 46 of their own students.

I. Painting themselves into such a corner that they could not later apologize and acknowledge their misdeeds.

J. Providing intellectual support to a false prosecution.

K. Prejudging and convicting their innocent students.

L. Compounding their error with a subsequent "Clarifying Statement," editorials, letters to the editor, articles, "Shut Up and Teach" forums, etc.

M. Bringing the University into disrepute.


Based upon their power play, the Gang of 88 were able to extract a number of concessions from Duke, including, among other things, the elevation of the African & African-American Studies Department, the appointment of a Diversity & Equity Officer, numerous committee investigations, including the infamous Campus Culture Initiative, various benefits for faculty and students involved in the protests or "Listening ad" and, most significantly, a chilling of speech on campus, causing other professors and administrators to refrain from denouncing the obvious hoax (and the actions of the 88).

These are my opinions only. MOO! Gregory

The End.

Blog Hooligan


Tenured Dook "Professors"

Too funny.

And John Burness responds, "For what?", when asked if the University would apologize to the indicted players, post-exoneration.

Keep gearing for trial, Duke, as the 88 begin simultaneously stitching the world's largest wallet while singing, "We Shall Overcome."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Disgraced Nifong Should Resign Now

In 2002, HALT, An Organization Of Americans For Legal Reform, undertook the first comprehensive evaluation of the legal profession's system of self-regulation in ten years. Of fifty-one "Lawyer Discipline Report Cards" issued (one for each state and the District of Columbia), the State Bar of North Carolina ranked fifieth in the nation. Only North Carolina and Pennsylvania flunked outright, each then receiving an overall grade of "F."

In 2006, HALT again issued Report Cards on lawyer accountability. In the interim, overall performance of the Pennsylvania Grievance Committee leapt to fifth best in the country. North Carolina? Fiftieth. The NC Bar received "Incomplete" grades in the categories of "Adequacy of Discipline Imposed" and "Promptness" because it failed to provide data related to those categories to the American Bar Association. Actually, it failed to provide the data because it doesn't even keep records or statistics attending such insignificant issues. Incredibly, despite the pig circus staged by the Bar in the aftermath of Hoke & Graves v. Gell, the NC Grievance Committee somehow did manage to raise its overall grade, to a pitiful "D."

The criminal misconduct of David Hoke and Debra Graves during the prosecution of Alan Gell would have resulted in the state-sanctioned murder of an innocent man but for the heroic perseverance of Mary Pollard and Jim Cooney. Hoke and Graves were ultimately "tried" for their unconscionable behavior before the NC State Bar Grievance Committee. They made out quite well, thank you very much. They are still practicing law, still prosecuting cases for the State's Attorney General, still wielding the full armament of the State's power to deprive individuals of their personal liberties, and their lives. Criminal charges never followed. Incarceration was never really their concern.


No one cared.

Okay, okay, Gell cared. His mom cared. Bill Anderson cared. Thankfully, so did his appellate attorneys and Joe Neff. But, really, a poor, red neck petty criminal wrongly convicted of killing a poor, red neck pedophile in a poor North Carolina town? Ho Hum. Woefully insufficient to wake the drive-by media. Woefully insufficient to warrant ink in newspapers outside Bertie and contiguous counties. Woefully insufficient to spur the Bar to abandon the usual business of protecting its own, particularly those ensconced in the mail of State Prosecutorial Power.

Well, people care now. Rich white male power rules. Good thing for the sons.

Now, the whole world is watching.

The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!

The whole world is watching and waiting to see if the State Bar will yet again thumb its nose at the Constitution; The Canon of Ethics; The Disciplinary Rules; The beyond-a-doubt evidence of a criminal frame-up orchestrated by an avaricious agent of the State solely for personal gain. The whole world is watching and waiting to see the State Bar try to save Good Ol' Blues Brothers Band Boy Nifong.

Hee hee hee hee.

Nah gah doit.

Can Governor Mike Easley, he of, um, higher political aspirations, allow the citizenry of forty-nine states to point at his as the one break-away Banana Republic of our Union? The one sovereign tobacco field where the Constitution simply doesn't apply? Of course not!

Wouldn't be prudent.

That's not to say Nifonging doesn't happen daily throughout the country. It does. But the whole world isn't watching the other forty nine states. The whole world is watching Mike Easley's. Why? Because Mike Easley personally appointed an immoral, sociopathic liar to be a State's "Minister of Justice." He didn't know it at the time, of course. But he's still fucked. The other forty nine governors must hit their knees every night, look heavenward, and exclaim, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Can the State Attorney General's Office risk exposing itself and, by extension, the State itself, to incalculable civil damages for further perpetuating a wrongful prosecution that never should have been brought nearly a very long, very wrong, year ago? Shirley, you jest.

Do you wonder at all whether Easley and Cooper, or minions on their behalf, have had double secret communications with the Grievance Committee of the State Bar? Me neither. Does anyone think it odd that Easley kept his trap shut for months and months and months and months and months as Nifong built the Hoax but now just can't stop yammering on about how he was LIED TO by that duplicitous little prick? I don't. Easley knows what's heading Mikey's way. Damage Control Central, we got an off-schedule train comin' two miles out.

I feel sorry for the North Carolina Bar. I really do sympathize with the Gentleman's Club. Were it not for that damn Crystal Mangum and her fantastic lies, business might have continued as usual in North Carolina. Durham railroads might have forever run on schedule. Durham problems might have forever commanded merely Durham solutions. But Defendant Nifong had to go and fuck it all up by picking on the wrong families. What a dumbass. If he weren't an egomaniacal, narcissistic sociopath possessed of but Tar Heel intellect, he would have thought through the potential consequences of picking on the wrong families. But he's not, so he didn't, and now, hell, everything's gotta change. The Bar and the State must, at least, convey the appearance of giving a damn about that silly piece of parchment deteriorating under bullet-proof glass in Washington. What with the whole world watching, and all. Nifong gives them that chance.

So, the disgraced Defendant Nifong should resign now. Because of the blog attention devoted to the Duke Hoax, millions of people, myself included, now know of the Gell Frame and the Bar's essential sanctioning of it. The Bar simply cannot act, or fail to act, in Matter of Nifong as it did in Matter of Hoke and Graves. It has made clear that it is going to bend him over. Stick a fork in Mikey's law license. He's done. Continued petulant defiance only hurts his position on the end of the plank, but he's just not wired to appreciate it. He's too stupid to see that he would be better served looking for another job, now.

Irving Joiner and Al McSurely, on behalf of the NCNAACP, should talk to the defendant and demand his immediate resignation. His continued presence at the helm of the Durham County D.A.'s office is a grave threat to all innocent defendants of color compromised by lack of the financial means to retain counsel and experts capable of deciphering a sham prosecution.

Ruth Sheehan, Cathy Davidson, Karla Holloway, Wahneema Lubiano and NOW's Bennett and Hopper should also demand an audience with the defendant to urge that he step down. His perpetuation of the Crystal Mess, Mangum's "fantastic lies," has immeasurably set back the interwoven causes of militant feminists and the "group rights" reverse racists, as well as the struggle of real rape victims to be accepted as truthful when reporting crimes of sexual violence.

His staff most of all should demand Nifong's disappearance, forthwith and forever, from the halls of the Durham County Judicial Building. His unscrupulous character paints each and every one of them, and the good work resulting from their collective efforts, with an unfairly colored brush. Well, each and every one except those guilty of complicity in furthering the Hoax. Maybe Big C and Saacks can talk some sense into him.

Friday, January 12, 2007

We're Watching You

NCAG Roy Cooper showed up today to confirm that, upon Defendant Nifong's recusal request, his office has agreed to take over the prosecution of the Duke Frame cases. He said all the right things, about the need to focus not on how the cases got to his office, but where they will ultimately go from here. He spoke of the need to conduct a full, fair, and thorough investigation of the Durham County D.A.'s case files, conduct interviews of Crystal Mangum, other witnesses, and investigators [Hi, Mark! Hi, Linwood! Hi, Ben!]. He pledged that the actions of his office will be spurred exclusively by what the facts show to be the truth, and that "blinders" will be worn to shield the investigation from taint by "external pressures" [Hi Whiners! Hi Blog Hooligans!]. He played Solomon [Did you watch, Mikey?], noting that the transfer does not necessarily mean, either, that there will be a trial or that the cases will be dismissed. Sound good so far?

Unfortunately, he went on to note that the matters have been assigned to the Special Prosecutions Section of his office, where two lawyers, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, will have primary case management authority. Coman and Winstead. Hoo boy. Cooper's vesting chief prosecutorial authority in these two is potentially a bad thing. A VEH-ry bad thing.

To understand why Coman's appointment is most troubling, one must have a working knowledge of the case of Alan Gell, a man wrongly accused, tried, convicted and sentenced to die for the 1995 murder of Allen Ray Jenkins. Gell spent ten years in jail for the crime, much of it on death row. The only problem? He didn't do it.

Jenkins' rotting corpse was found on April 14, 1995. A troubled teenage girl, Crystal Annette Morris, who ultimately pled guilty to second degree murder for her role in the killing, claimed that she was present when Gell shot Jenkins to death on April 3, 1995. April 3d was the only date on which Gell could have committed the murder, since he was proven to have been out of state on April 4th and 5th, and incarcerated in a North Carolina jail on unrelated charges from April 6 through the 14th, the date on which Jenkins' dead body was found.

Morris' version of Gell's "involvement" changed eight times between her first police interview, on the day after Jenkins' body was discovered, and her testimony at trial in 1998. One such version was captured in a tape recorded telephone conversation with her boyfriend, in which she intimated both her involvement in Jenkins' killing and the plan to frame Alan Gell. Morris was corroborated by her best friend, Shanna Hall, who also ultimately pled guilty to second degree murder for her role in the crime.

Additionally, seventeen people, including the decedent's brother, neighbors, friends and town acquaintances, had given law enforcement personnel statements setting forth their recollections of having seen Jenkins alive between April 7th and 10th (while Gell was incarerated).

How could Gell have been convicted, you ask?

After SBI and Aulander police authority had decided to deem April 3d the date of the murder, based solely on the stories of Crystal Morris and Shanna Hall, the two lead investigtors re-interviewed those acquaintances who had claimed to have seen Jenkins' alive as much as a week later. As Joe Neff reported it,

Still, (SBI Agent) Ransome and (Aulander Police Chief) Godwin had a problem. In each of Crystal's versions, the murder occurred April 3. But the SBI and the district attorney files had statements from 17 people saying they had seen Jenkins alive after April 3.

The next day, July 28, Godwin and Ransome set out to clear up the discrepancies. They went to Ahoskie and re-interviewed four witnesses who had seen Jenkins buying gas, fish and a meal on April 10.

Ransome and Godwin informed each witness that Jenkins had died April 3. Each one then gave a new statement to the effect that they were not sure of the actual date, just that it was in early April.

Armed with the revised statements, Godwin and Ransome returned to Aulander to look for two key witnesses -- Jenkins' next-door neighbors, Bobby and Mary Hunt.

The two officers found Mary Hunt at her job at Farm and Home Gas Co. at the corner of Main and Commerce.

Ransome later dictated a report from this interview: "Hunt was re-interviewed because it was learned that Allen Ray Jenkins had been shot and killed on Monday, April 3, 1995. Hunt stated that she last saw Jenkins on Saturday morning, April 1, 1995."

Mary Hunt did not learn the contents of this report until a reporter showed her a copy in October 2002. The Hunts are clear on their story: She last saw Jenkins on Saturday, April 8, six days before his body was found. She was sitting in her office, waiting for the clock hands to hit noon so she could go to lunch, when she saw him stop at the traffic light outside her window.

"Oh, no," she thought. "He's getting ready for another party tonight."

The next day, April 9, Bobby Hunt saw Jenkins cooking fish in the back yard with some friends. Bobby Hunt went to bed early, as he did every Sunday. He needed to be at work at the Food Lion in Williamston at 5 a.m.

A grandson and his friend were playing when he went to bed. About 10 p.m., Bobby Hunt was awakened by a loud rumbling sound. He went out and told Mary to quiet the children down.

She told her husband she was the only one there. The children had left an hour ago.

All that week, the Hunts noticed that Jenkins' kitchen light was on constantly, shining into their bedroom.

The Hunts, who still live in the brick ranch house at 301 Lombardy St., are just as certain that the kitchen light was not on for two weeks, and that there were no quiet weekend evenings before Jenkins' body was found.

And the grass: Jenkins mowed his lawn twice a week, and the grass had not gone unmowed for two weeks. It would have been much higher.

Shown the SBI file stating she last saw Jenkins on April 1, Mary Hunt shook her head at Ransome's report.

"This is not right," she said. "That's wrong there. I didn't say April first. He must have put that down wrong."

Mary Hunt's comments came seven years too late for Alan Gell.

Between his arrest and first trial, four different attorneys were assigned to represent the indigent Alan Gell. Suffice to say, none of them did anything. Well, the first two did accept positions as prosecutors, one in the Bertie County D.A.'s office. Because of the conflict of interest created by Gell's former lawyer taking a job with the very office prosectuting him, the matter was transferred to the office of then-Attorney General, Mike Easley, and headed up by David Hoke and Debra Graves. Hoke and Graves ignored a 1997 Order to turn over all exculpatory evidence to defense counsel. Disturbingly, these two are still with the AG's Special Prosecutions Section, along with Coman and Winstead.

Shortly before the commencement of Gell's trial, on February 2, 1998, his fourth lawyer, assigned to the case but three months earlier, read a newspaper article speaking of the existence of witnesses who had seen Jenkins alive as late as April 10, 1995. The attorney, Maynard Harrell, immediately asked the trial judge to order Hoke and Graves to turn over any exculpatory witness statements contained in the prosecutors' files.

Joe Neff:

The prosecutors replied that there was none. Some witnesses had said they saw Jenkins after April 3, prosecutor Debra Graves said, but they were mistaken.

"Ransome talked to those witnesses a number of times, and the dates change from time to time," Graves said. "There was nothing exculpatory about that information, and consequently we did not provide it."

At Judge Meyer's insistence, however, prosecutors handed over statements by 10 people.

All had been re-interviewed after April 3 had been established as the date of death, Meyer said, and all said they were unsure when they last saw Jenkins.

But "out of an abundance of caution," Meyer let the defense lawyers read the statements.

So on the first day of trial, the state finally gave Gell's lawyers reports of people who said they saw Jenkins alive after April 3.

But only some. All but one of the statements were from people whom Police Chief Godwin and SBI agent Ransome had re-interviewed after telling them Jenkins was killed April 3.

Like all defendants, Gell had the constitutional right to evidence in law enforcement files that could prove his innocence or cast doubt on the truthfulness of witnesses such as Crystal and Shanna.

Whether intentionally or inadvertently, the prosecution team did not turn over the statements of Donald Hale, Jenkins' lifelong friend who said he chatted with him April 7. They also did not provide the account of Willie Hoggard, his across-the-street neighbor who said he saw him that same day; and that of Ricky Alan Odom, who told police he talked with Jenkins about roofing his home on April 7; and that of Jenkins' brother Sidney, who said he had honked at him in town on April 8; and Edward and Margaret Adams, who saw him April 9.

The state did not hand over the tape recording of a phone call involving Crystal Morris, the state's key witness -- a conversation with evidence that Crystal was fabricating her account of the murder. And the state didn't turn over its numerous reports of Jenkins' interest in young girls and payments for sex.

The late production of the witness reports put Harrell at a disadvantage. The trial had begun, and the lawyers were in court all day, with little time to chase down people who might help their case.

On February 25th, the jury took less than one hour to convict Alan Gell of first degree murder.


During the sentencing phase, Harrell put Gell's family and friends on the stand. Pleas for mercy, however, are best accompanied by remorse, and Gell continued to maintain his innocence.

Prosecutor David Hoke called for death in a powerful closing argument that was more sermon than summation. He hammered at Gell for ambushing Jenkins in the sanctity of his own home.

Hoke reminded jurors of the words of Gell's pastor, who testified that Gell had never acknowledged wrongdoing or shown remorse.

Gell interrupted Hoke. "I still deny the charges," he blurted out.

This gave more fuel to Hoke, who asked jurors to think about how important it was for them to feel safe in their own homes.

"Look at that feeling of peace, joy, comfort in your own home," he said. Contrast it to the act done "at the hands of this man who has not yet acknowledged any sorrow."

He addressed the jury, calling each member by name, and then:

"From the Old Testament and the Book of Numbers, anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer upon the testimony of witnesses. You've heard the testimony of witnesses. ... Now, they might argue to you the New Testament changes all that. No, it doesn't. Jesus didn't come to destroy the law or the prophecies of the Old Testament. He came to fulfill them.

"Listen to this in Deuteronomy. 'Cursed is the man who kills his neighbor secretly and all the people shall say amen. Cursed is the man who kills an innocent person for money, and all the people shall say amen.' It's time to sentence this man, a murderer, to die, and let the people of Bertie County say amen."

The jury needed just two hours to reach a conclusion: death.

As ironically noted by Mr. Neff, "getting sentenced to death was a lucky break for Alan Gell."

As a death row convict, Gell became entitled to two attorneys, paid by the state, to review the entire case -- both the conduct of the trial and the conduct of police and prosecutorial authority in building the investigation and the case against him. Enter Mary Pollard and Jim Cooney. To make this long, tortured story just a bit shorter, suffice to say that Pollard and Cooney undertook the admirable leg work work not even contemplated by any of Alan's prior counsel.

Pollard immediately realized that the date of death was the crucial issue in the case. She contacted Dr. M.G.F. Gilliland, the forensic pathologist who had testified for the prosecution at trial that Jenkins' was killed in a loosely framed window between April 3-8, 1995. Gilliland's testimony was, obviously, a linchpin on which the jury hung its hat in deciding the guilt of Alan Gell. Because ambient temperature, more than any other factor, determines the rate at which a corpse decomposes, and because there was no data given to her regarding the temperature of Jenkins' home in the time between his murder and the discovery of his body, Gilliland told Pollard that she could not more precisely estimate the date of his demise.

Pollard and Conney set out to get that data. A forensic anthropologist, mechanical engineer, and entomologist were retained. Their conjunctive work, which is nicely, if grisly, summarized by Mr. Neff, here, led to the conclusion that Jenkins was killed on either April 8, 9 or 10, 1995. The assumption, accepted by the trial jury, that he was killed on April 3, 1995, was "so unreasonable as to be nearly impossible."

Pollard and Cooney took their experts' test results and conclusions back to Gilliland. Mr. Neff:

For two decades, Gilliland, like Marks and Arends, has worked with the state, helping police and prosecutors. She still has the intensity and focus that cowed Gell's lawyers during trial. But now, in the case of N.C. v. Gell, she is no longer focused on the defense lawyers.

Sitting in her office recently at Pitt Memorial Hospital, surrounded by books, papers, microscopes and files, Gilliland recalled a pretrial conference in January 1998. The prosecution team was there: SBI agent Dwight Ransome, Aulander Police Chief Gordon Godwin, and David Hoke and Debra Graves from the Attorney General's Office.

Gilliland asked about the initial medical examiner's report, which noted that Jenkins was last seen alive on midmorning April 8 by a neighbor.

That person was mistaken, one of the team members said.

"That information had been withdrawn," recalled Gilliland.

Gilliland said she assumed this meant that the neighbor -- one neighbor -- had retracted the statement.

That assumption was demolished when Gilliland met with Gell's lawyers.

She learned that law enforcement had statements from 17 people who saw Jenkins alive after April 3 but had not shared that information with her.

"Seventeen people, that's a clue, that's valuable information," she said. "I would rely on that kind of information."

Gilliland has reviewed the work of Arends, the entomologist, and Marks, of the Body Farm. She is in full agreement with them about Jenkins' time of death.

She rifled briskly through her file folder, extracting some of the withheld statements.

She held up the one from Willie Hoggard, the across-the-street neighbor.

"He lived there 25 years, and he saw [Jenkins] in his truck, and he knows the man very well; he last saw him on the Friday, which is the seventh," she said, rattling the paper. "He's alive on the seventh; he's not decomposing in his house."

She moved on to the statement of Ricky Alan Odom, who told police he talked with Jenkins that same day about putting a roof on his house.

"A job, the man says, he looks at the roof on the seventh," Gilliland said. "That is not having maggots working on your remains."

Gilliland did not attend the trial and did not hear Crystal Morris testify that Gell stood in the bedroom and shot Jenkins in the hallway.

"No, no, no!" Clearly, she said, the killer shot from the hallway into the bedroom.

Crystal Morris "may have intimate knowledge of who was shooting," Gilliland said. "It may have been herself. It could have been somebody else, I don't know -- that's not something that I have information about. But with all of this together, I have better information to when it happened and when it did not happen.

"It did not happen April 3, 1995."

Gilliland is rock certain: The murder occurred while Gell was in jail, probably on April 8 or 9.

"That doesn't mean that poor Mr. Jenkins wasn't killed. It just means that this man didn't do it."

Once the Attorney General's Office was made aware of this frame, and the prosecutorial misconduct of Hoke and Graves, it immediately moved the court to set aside the guilty verdict and free Alan Gell, right?

Um, no. After a thorough reinvestigation, Jim Coman advised Cooper that the matter should be tried again! Coman tried the case himself. He lost. Joe Cheshire sat first chair for Alan Gell at the re-trial. He was assisted by Jim Cooney, Mary Pollard and Brad Bannon.

Hoke and Graves were ultimately tried by the Grievance Committee of the State Bar for their egregious prosecutorial misconduct in the failure to timely provide Mr. Gell's original defense counsel with exculpatory Brady material to which they were absolutely entitled -- conduct that directly resulted in Mr. Gell's wrongful conviction and near execution. In my next post I am going to set forth, in its entirety, Mr. Bannon's letter to the the State Bar regarding his observations of that proceeding. It is a must read. Apparently, this "trial" was nothing but a smoke-filled room, a pig circus, an "old boy" JOKE.

Jim Coman testified on behalf of his office mates at the Bar "trial." Under oath, he said, in direct contravention of precedent settled since 1972, that his pals weren't obligated to turn over impeachment evidence to the defense. (See, Hoke and Graves decided to deem the taped phone call of Crystal Morris, wherein she implicated herself and spoke of the need to frame Gell, merely "impeachment" material, as opposed to "exculpatory"material, because, while it might have "embarrassed" poor Ms. Morris, it did not directly prove Gell's innocence. Kinda like the Nifong-Meehan conspiracy. But different. Snakes, just the same.)

In September, the state's senior prosecutor was in an unusual place: the witness stand. And what he said has caused quite a stir among lawyers around the state.
Jim Coman said under oath that the state Attorney General's Office had a policy of withholding a certain type of evidence helpful to defendants. As he described it, the policy would violate 30 years of U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Coman now says, however, that his testimony was incorrect. Even so, one prominent law professor said that the prosecutor's September statements may open the door to challenges of numerous convictions in cases tried by the attorney general's staff.

Coman was testifying at the State Bar about the character of two proteges, David Hoke and Debra Graves. They were charged with breaking ethical rules by withholding favorable evidence from former death row inmate Alan Gell. The evidence included a taped telephone call in which the state's star witness said she had to "make up a story" for police.

Hoke and Graves didn't have to turn over the tape, Coman said, because it wasn't "exculpatory"; it didn't prove Gell's innocence.

The tape could have been used to "impeach" the witness, or undercut her credibility, Coman acknowledged. But he said case law didn't require impeachment evidence to be turned over to the defense.

Handing over impeachment evidence has been law since a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision. But Coman went on to say it wasn't just his opinion, it was the policy of the Attorney General's Office.

An odd policy

"The prevailing view when I was there the first time, both under Judge [Lacy] Thornburg and Attorney General [Mike] Easley and now Governor Easley," Coman said, "was that just because something embarrassed a witness or might be impeaching to them, did not in and of itself, unless it went to being exculpatory, was not something we had to turn over."

In a recent interview, however, Coman backed away from that description of policy and said his September statements were not correct -- not on the case law, and not on the attorney general's policy.

"I was not very precise," he said. "My use of the term 'impeaching' or 'impeachment' ... would have not been accurate."

It's impossible to know how many times the Attorney General's Office has failed to turn over impeachment evidence, because the material would be in closed files. Coman and Attorney General Roy Cooper said that the department's policy was to obey the law, and that there was no written policy on impeachment evidence.

But in several known cases, lawyers for the attorney general did not hand over impeachment evidence or resisted opening files as the law required:

* In 1993, Hoke, the lead prosecutor in Gell's 1998 trial, was admonished by a trial judge for not turning over impeachment evidence at a murder trial. Hoke told the judge he didn't turn it over because it was "impeachment evidence, not exculpatory evidence."

Questioned by the State Bar under oath, Hoke testified that leading up to Gell's first trial, he thought the tape was impeaching. He did not hand over the tape, he said, because he didn't know impeachment evidence must be produced, despite the previous courtroom lecture.

* While Gell was on death row, the attorney general continued to fight his bid for a new trial long after the withheld evidence surfaced. Those claims of withheld evidence had no merit, the attorney general argued, and Gell should proceed to execution.

* Charles Munsey got off death row in 1999 because the Wilkes County prosecutor withheld impeachment evidence that the state's star witness, a jailhouse informant, was never in Central Prison, where Munsey supposedly confessed to him.

During the trial, a deputy attorney general, Dale Talbert, advised the local prosecutor that prison officials said it was nearly impossible for the witness to have been in Central. Talbert told the local district attorney that the prison officials said it was virtually impossible that he was at Central because there was no record showing that.

* From 1996 to 1998, the Attorney General's Office vehemently fought a new law giving death row inmates access to the complete case files of prosecutors and police. Special Deputy Attorney General Barry McNeill -- the state's leading death-penalty lawyer -- said at a statewide meeting of prosecutors that there was no need to open all law enforcement files, and that his office would help prosecutors ward off attempts to do so.

The state Supreme Court upheld the law, leading to new trials for at least six death row inmates.

Bad news for AG?

Rich Rosen, a law professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and a death-penalty opponent, predicted that Coman's testimony would cause trouble for the Attorney General's Office. "We've got a statement under oath," Rosen said. "I think anyone prosecuted by them in the last 20 years has a right to ask to reopen their files."

Beginning in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that prosecutors must hand over evidence that is favorable to defendants. That first decision involved evidence of the defendant's innocence. Later decisions included impeachment evidence.

Gell was convicted in 1998 of murdering a retired truck driver in Bertie County. The withheld evidence led to a new trial; in February a jury quickly acquitted him.

Among other evidence, prosecutors withheld the taped phone conversation, in which the state's alleged eyewitness to the murder talked about how she had to "make up a story" for police, evidence that she was prone to lie to law enforcement.

A formidable witness

Once Gell won a new trial, Coman became deeply familiar with the case. He led the reinvestigation and advised Attorney General Roy Cooper to retry Gell. He was the lead prosecutor at the retrial.

When Hoke and Graves were first investigated for misconduct, Coman filed a sworn affidavit with the State Bar in support of them. In that written statement, he said he wouldn't have given the evidence to the defense, either.

Coman was a formidable witness: a career prosecutor, former head of the State Bureau of Investigation and the state's senior deputy attorney general for law enforcement and prosecutions.

Hoke and Graves were reprimanded for withholding the evidence and bringing the judicial system into disrepute.

Coman said he was using the word "impeaching" as "embarrassing." The legal definition of impeach is the same as in Webster's dictionary: "to discredit."

Coman said he was thinking about how the tape from the Gell trial was embarrassing and humiliating for the state's witnesses.

"I wasn't thinking in terms of how it was defined in the case law," Coman said. "I was thinking only in terms of this transcript, this tape, and that it portrayed the girls in an embarrassing, humiliating position."

Coman's testimony, and Hoke's, will likely be fodder for the special State Bar committee set up to review the Hoke and Graves matter.

The N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers labeled their testimony "misleading" and a "blanket misstatement" of the law. Brad Bannon, one of Gell's lawyers at his retrial, wrote that Coman and Hoke gave a patently false recitation of the law as a defense for the prosecutors' misconduct.

Gov. Mike Easley was attorney general from 1993 to 2001, when his staff tried and convicted Gell. He declined to be interviewed. So did Lacy Thornburg, who was attorney general from 1985 to 1993 and is now a federal judge in Asheville.

Coman said the Gell case is the only one in his 20 years at the Attorney General's Office where evidence was not handed over as required.

Roy Cooper, who currently holds the office, said he has insisted on a very open policy.

"Attorneys have been instructed to be as open as possible and turn over as much evidence as possible to the defense," Cooper said. "It is in the best interest of a fair trial and helps criminals from getting guilty verdicts overturned."

Cooper said his lawyers would review cases prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office before his term only if challenged in court. He said his staff had no intention of independently going through files to see whether impeachment evidence had been withheld.

Poster "KP" had this to say about Coman today, at FODU:

I just heard who they have picked to handle the case. One of the two AAG's I have spoken with and he is not a fan of the defense team and he made that pertectly clear to me in a call that lasted for more than an hour twenty, back on Sept 22.

I filed a complaint with them back on Sept 21, 2006 and they called me back on the 22. I still have his number on my cell phone at home. The only lawyer he didn't talk about was Mr. Smith for fear of being sued. It looks like we are not going anywhere, anytime soon.

By the way the AAG I'm speaking of is James Coman.


Mary Winstead, Coman's assistant on the Duke Frame assignment, used to work with Mikey at the Durham County D.A.'s office. In the course of her prosecution of one Timothy Malloy for a 1992 rape, Winstead "accidentally" voiced over portions of not one, but two casette tapes bearing recordings of telephone answering machine messages crucial to Mr. Malloy's defense, some time in the year and a half between their creation and pre-trial discovery, during which time the tapes were in the exclusive possession of the state. She was removed from the case. Mikey tried it. Without those pesky audio tapes.


Roy, buddy, you may have blinders on.

We don't.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Have To Laugh!

In a 10:12 p.m. comment to this JinC post back in September, I loosely explained the trial lawyer's tactic of "shotgunning." The shotgun approach to evidentiary presentation is a revered old friend of crafty litigators possessed of formidable advocacy skills...and an atrociously weak case. Done well, shotgunning is art. The ultimate art of deception. After all, if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. Here, I speak not of brilliant intellect, but the brilliance of truth.

Another axiom of trial practice is that, "Good cases makes good lawyers." Indeed, it is expected that an advocate armed with the strength of dispositive facts will be able to shoot them, with scoped rifle precision, to score "bullseyes" at verdict. By natural extension, it is also said that, "Winning weak cases makes great lawyers."

I'm sure that Defendant Nifong has developed capable courtroom skills during his twenty eight years toiling in the bowels of Durham. I'm also sure that he knew early on, clearly by April 10th, that the alleged "Duke Rape case" was atrociously weak. In fact, he knew then that the accuser was wholly incredible, that there was no favorable disinterested eyewitness, that the scientific and forensic evidence wasn't there, and that this case was all but un-winnable. All but un-winnable but for that particularly nasty shotgun pellet called "Race Bait." See, Defendant Nifong fancied himself a great trial attorney, the proverbial cock o' the walk. Armed with a narcissistic, borderline personality disorder and the complicity of Hometown Players Titus and Stephens, Defendant Nifong was positive that he would be able to pull it off. He thought he'd simply shotgun his way through the gauntlet of discovery. He'd shotgun his way through a jury selection at which he'd seat as many of Durham County's stupidest, most hate-filled, pitchfork wielding racist Whiners as he could. Then he'd shotgun his way through trial, and blow up the target bearing Dave's, Reade's, and Collin's faces at its center. The other thing I'm sure of, however, is that Defendant Nifong had absolutely no idea just whom he had decided to fuck with, nor the strength of their resolve.

Defendant Nifong, you're not in Durham any more. Not the Durham you've known, anyway. No quick and dirty dispositions with the likes of Bourlon and Monks and L.R. "Lee" Castle today, tough guy. No more Ronnie and Kenny to guard your six. You're in the big time, now, Douche. You're bad! You're Nation-wide! Hell, you're big in Japan.

Which is why I have to laugh.

You actually thought you could shotgun your way through the Seligmanns? The Finnertys? The Evans's? Thought you'd blow away this team of defense attorneys, support staff and investigators? You really do seem to be certifiably insane. Too funny.

I'm sure you've read the defendants' latest motion. I bet you're re-reading it with Linwood right now. Isn't it is a thing of beauty? That, Defendant Nifong, is good lawyering. I hesitate to call it great, what with you and Crystal and Linwood all but handing them your heads on a silver platter. This shotgun approach, Defendant Nifong, is not art. In fact, I am struck by sudden mind's eye loop of the classic scene from The Odd Couple, in which a crestfallen, apron wearing Felix (Jack Lemon) bemoans Oscar's (Walter Matthau) lack of appreciation and culinary ignorance:

Felix: It's not spaghetti. It's linguini.
Oscar: Linguini?
Felix: Ha! You didn't even know that's linguini! It's not spaghetti. It's linguini!
Oscar: Linguini? [Throwing plate of linguini against the kitchen wall, where it momentarily sticks before starting its inexorable ooze to the floor]
Now it's garbage!

Oh, how my wife laughed when she read this

While the accuser now claims that “Adam” and “Matt” were both of the names used by Reade Seligmann, she provided vastly different descriptions for “Matt” and “Adam” on March 16: “Matt was heavy set with short hair and weighs 260lbs to 270lbs while “Adam” was “short, red cheeks, fluffy hair, stubby face with brown hair. Significantly, she also described “Brett” as “chubby” and claims that she saw a picture of him in the house. Similarly she now claims that Dave Evans is “Adam” and “Brett,” even though she gave two different descriptions for Adam and Brett on March 16. In short, the accuser has provided three different descriptions for what she now claims are only two men. Of course, if the SANE interview was truthful, then Dave Evans (as “Dan” who is really “Matt”) is “Matt,” “Adam,” and “Brett,” which means that the accuser has given three different descriptions for the same person . . . [and] if the accuser’s December 21 statement is to be believed, then “Dan” and “Brett” are the same person; yet in her written statement of April 6, she claimed that she was beaten by both Dan and Brett, and never informed police that it was the same person.

and this

According to the accuser’s most recent telling, she apparently spoke with someone at her father’s home for 7 minutes during the time that she was planning her nude dance routine, during the time that she was dancing, and then as she was fleeing to the car. In addition, the accuser was apparently talking with someone on her cell phone at the time that she was walking back into the house and being “kidnapped” into the bathroom. She finished her last conversation at the time the rape was beginning. None of these facts has ever been mentioned in any statement that the accuser has given to date in this case . . . [while] at the height of the sexual attack now claimed by the accuser, Reade Seligmann was having a telephone conversation.

and this

Since Dave Evans had a “5 o’clock shadow” in the picture the accuser was shown on April 4, and since her response was that he “looks like him without the mustache,” her claim now that a “mustache” is not a “mustache” indicates that her statement on April 4 is, again, no longer reliable.

and this

To believe the accuser’s present claim that her vagina was wiped with this towel, that her face was wiped with this towel, that Dave Evans was wiped with this towel, and that the floor was wiped with this towel, would require the belief that this towel could wipe away all DNA from her attackers on the accuser’s body, but leave the DNA of other, unknown males. It further requires the belief that the accuser’s face and vagina could be wiped with this towel, but leave no trace of her DNA on the towel. Further, it requires the belief that the floor could be wiped with this towel, but that it would only wipe Dave Evans’ DNA, leaving Matt Zash’s DNA behind on the floor. Finally, the towel, while apparently obliterating any DNA left behind by the alleged attackers on the accuser’s body, somehow contained only one of her attackers’ DNA, despite her multiple claims that two of her attackers penetrated her rectum and vagina with their penises.

and this

Since, at this point in time, Dave Evans can be one, two, three or even four different attackers, Reade Seligman can be one or two different attackers—and Collin Finnerty is an unidentified attacker—the accuser is now free to say that any of the Defendants did any act or all of the acts that she claims happened without regard to her previous statements or interviews. In short, by claiming that any one of the Defendants could be any or all of her attackers, the accuser has now created the equivalent of a “do over” in an attempt to try to make sense of her prior conflicting statements.

and this

Rather than attempt to identify her attackers as Matt, Brett and Adam, the accuser used the names of the Defendants in her most recent telling of her story. Specifically, the investigator noted that ‘Inv. Wilson asked [the accuser] to tell him whose names the guys were using on March 13, 2006 since she knows their real names.’ The State has repeatedly represented to this Court that no substantive discussions of this case took place with the accuser from April 6, 2006 until this last interview. The fact that the accuser now “knows their real names” indicates that she has learned their names from the extensive publicity that this case has received, publicity that has necessarily included the Defendants’ faces as well as their names. It cannot be known at this time with any reliability what else she has learned from this publicity. This, in turn, means that the accuser’s present recollection of who allegedly attacked her and how, has been irreparably tainted by this publicity and weighs strongly against any in-court identification by her of the Defendants.

and this hilarious little nugget of "oops" that slapped Liestoppers in their collective faces. Don't you know about strippers, dude? It's all about the shoes.

Oh, how we laughed when we read this

Was it a penis, or . . . “object”?

“I couldn’t say 100% that I saw them use their penis but it was certainly something.” LW 12/21/06 notes at 4.
“I believe it was their penis.” Id.
“It felt like a penis.” Id.
It penetrated me vaginally. [1]
It penetrated my butt. [2]
It did not use a condom. [3]
It raped me. [4]
It had sex with me for about two minutes in my vagina. [5]
It got frustrated because it couldn’t come. [5]
It had sex with me for 5 minutes. [6]
It then went into my anus for 2 minutes. [6]
I think it ejaculated. [7]

But was it a penis???
Alas, “I can’t say 100% that it was a penis that was used….” LW 12/21/06 notes at 4.

(1) Collin Finnerty "is the guy who assaulted me . . . . He put his penis in my anus and my vagina." Transcript of April 4 Powerpoint Identification, 1/11/07 Motion at 11 (Discovery at 1838). "At that point Matt then moved around to her front side where he penetrated her vagina.” Gottlieb Notes, 1/11/07 Motion at 11 (Discovery at 1817). "Matt had her legs and Brett was behind her and put his private part in her anus and in her vagina. . . . ." Himan's Interview, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 1208).

(2) “That’s when Adam came around back and put his private part in my butt." Sane Interview, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 539).

(3) “Adam said yes you can and then that was [when] Matt put his private part in me and did not use a condom." Sane Interview 1/11/07 Motion at 11 (Discovery at 538).

(4) “She stated that Brett was behind her and was the first to sodomize and then to rape her. She stated that Brett ejaculated . . . ." Gottlieb's Interview, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 1817).

(5) "Matt started having sex with me in my vagina and he got frustrated because he said he couldn't come, He [sic] had sex with me for about 2 minutes in my vagina. . . ." Accuser's Handwritten Statement, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 810).

(6) “Brett had sex with me in my vagina he stopped after about 5 minutes, then he put his penis in my anus for about 2 minutes." Accuser's Handwritten Statement, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 810).

(7) "Matt had her legs and Brett was behind her and put his private part in her anus and in her vagina. She stated that she thinks he ejaculated . . . ." Himan's Interview, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 1208). “She stated that Brett was behind her and was the first to sodomize and then to rape her. She stated that Brett ejaculated . . . ." Gottlieb's Interview, 1/11/07 Motion at 12 (Discovery at 1817).

We both just laughed and laughed. As I sat on the couch staring at her back as she read and laughed , she turned over her shoulder and said, "This sounds like a bad Woody Allen screenplay." And, hoo, boy, when we considered just how you'd feel being likened to Woody Allen, did we ever laugh and laugh all the harder.

Then, we read this

Meehan says writing an incomplete report violates his own firm's standards. "It was an error in judgment on my part. … It certainly was a big error," says Meehan. He says his firm wasn't trying to hide the information and that it released it when it was asked. But his client's behavior irks him, he says.

Nifong took six months to tell the players' defense attorneys about the other DNA, as required by law — and during that time, Nifong filed a court motion that stated he was not aware of any potentially exculpatory evidence.

The fact that Nifong withheld the information and knew it before he indicted their sons has outraged the parents of the accused. "You felt like someone hit you with a baseball bat. … It was almost too much to bear, as we sat there," says Kathy Seligmann, whose son, Reade, is among the three indicted players. "And [Nifong is] sitting 10 feet away from us."

It enraged Mary Ellen Finnerty, mother of Collin Finnerty, another indicted player. "I think [I felt] one of the strongest feelings of rage that I've had … I literally had to turn to my husband, because I was shaking from my head to my toe, and say, 'Hold me down,'" recalls Finnerty. Adds Seligmann, "And we had to hold on to each other because when you sit there and put two and two together and realize that it was calculated … set up to make these boys appear to be guilty of something they didn't do"

and stopped laughing.

Thankfully, Mrs. Evans' immediately following quote brought smiles back to our faces:

When asked what they would say to Nifong if he were in the room, Rae Evans, the mother of indicted player David Evans, says, "I would say with a smile on my face, 'Mr. Nifong, you've picked on the wrong families … and you will pay every day for the rest of your life.'"

May you both rot in hell.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ham Sandwich Indicts Nifong

Last Friday, Mary Katharine Ham released the wickedly ironic and darkly humorous Tour Of Things That Did Not Happen In Durham. Actually a "HamNation" production, drawing upon the talents of her mom, dad, and brothers, this short (2:58) satire is must viewing for Andrew Cohen and the other two extra-terrestrials yet in need of a "Talk To Me Like I'm Three Years Old" tutorial of non-events in Durham over the last ten months.

Today, dad Jon Ham, who's been chiming in with pithy Hoax-Frame commentary for some time now, grabbed the family camcorder in the hope of memorializing Defendant Mike Nifong standing, chest out, chin square, hand raised in Boy Scout salute, while swearing to uphold the laws of the State of North Carolina and the Constitution of the United States. Alas, Jon was deprived of the opportunity to record the historic moment, as was the rest of the media and the public at large, because, as Defendant Nifong explained, "I scheduled it at 8:00 knowing full well the courthouse opened at 8:30."

Captain Bill Wrenn, of the Durham County Sheriff's Department, told a WDTV reporter that he had been told "no" when he had asked if he should let people into the building in advance of the historic farce sham puke-inducement travesty tragedy swearing-in ceremony. Asked who had told him "no," Captain Wrenn replied, "I asked Mr. Nifong."

Defendant Nifong was finally found, not in his 6th Floor office hard at work fighting crime, but, sitting in a 5th Floor courtroom flanked by his mommy wife, the Stepfordian Cy Gurney, and mortified son, Bryan. Jon was able to get this absolutely mesmerizing video of Defendant Nifong under siege from a clearly agitated press corps. "Mesmerizing" in that sort of way one might become rapt on starting to look at a jungle disease book. You get sicker as you go along but you can't stop.

Gone was the trademark cocksure smirk. Defendant Nifong appeared dispassionate, subdued, anesthetized. He can still think up a lie, though, and think it up quick. Pressed as to why the media and public were not permitted to witness the swearing in of a public official, Defendant Nifong explained that

"there are ceremonial ceremonies, and then there are 'let's do this so we can get to work' ceremonies...because we had to be at work at 8:30...As I've indicated, you know, there's ceremonial ceremonies such as the one we had when I was appointed to this office back in 2005 but, now what we have is an office with twenty-one lawyers, all of whom have previously been sworn in, so the ceremonies are over. We have to get sworn in so we can get back to work...this was not a media event; this was an event that was required of us so that we could get back to work and do our jobs."

Just chew on that for a while. Go ahead. Take your time. It tastes real bad and you just can't swallow it. Poor Mike. Poor Cy. Poor Bryan. What should have been the crowning moment of his career became but an embarrassing "necessity" that he had to lie about. Foisting yet another public deception off on his poor staff. Sick. Explain to us again the relevance of the other twenty one previously sworn lawyers in your office, working on the floor above, whose need to get to work necessitated the closure to the public of a fifth floor courtroom. Please, do explain that again. This guy has "truly gone fishing."

Scarily, Defendant Nifong affirmed that he is looking forward to what he "can do next," feigned pride in "a lot of good that has been accomplished in the eighteen, 20 months since I've been the District Attorney here," and vowed "to do a whole lot more."

Bloggers beware: He WILL spit on your burgers.

Defendant Nifong then went fully Queeg, and displayed the true depth of his psychotic, delusional, borderline personality disorder with narcissistic overlay:

"Obviously, as witnessed by the fact that you're all here talking to me, when there's so much other stuff going on, is...Durham has some healing to do and I need to be a part of that healing process and I need to have something to do with what, how, how, we move forward from the events that have brought you all here because you're not here today for a swearing-in, you're here today because of the things that happened during the course of the last year." [Poor Bryan chewed gum tensely and appeared to stare at his shoetips as Dear Ol' Dad loosed this rancid stream.]

Asked if he felt he was a part of the problem in Durham, Defendant Nifong continued:

"No, I don't think I'm part of the problem. I feel I have assisted in revealing the problem, um, and, you know, if we get to the point where it appears my presence, um, in an investigation or, and so on, in, in anything like that is a hindrance, then we can deal with that at that time."

Over the rainbow,
He is craaaaazy!
Bars in the windows.

The time is now, Defendant Nifong. Where are the Feds? Get him out of there.

The best scene of Jon's video is its last. As a reporter smugly, or timidly, I'm not sure which, offers, "Sorry, Mrs. Nifong," Defendant "Elvis" leaves the building and the camera lens swings towards the front of the courtroom. For the first time it is revealed that, even as his destruction is being forever recorded for Bryan's future therapists, Defendant Nifong still maintains an odd Svengalian hold over the administration of justice in Durham. Four judges stand in the well, appearing to be awaiting their own swear-ins, as Senior Justice Orlando Hudson sits, silently waiting, on the bench. WTF?

Truly, cinema of the absurd.

Friday, December 29, 2006

An Open Letter To Michael Nifong

Bill Anderson:

Hello, Mike. Had I written this open letter last summer, I doubt you would have heard of me, but my sources in Durham (and they are good sources, Mike) tell me that I pretty much am on your enemies list. I’m glad I could accomplish that feat, but from what I can tell, that list is getting longer while we speak.

However, in this letter, I come to you in peace. I’m offering you advice, good advice, I might add, and if I were you, I would take it. Don’t get me wrong. I really hope that you not only lose your law license and your job, but since you were trying to take away the lives of three young men who had committed no crimes, I do hope that you have the opportunity to do a stretch in prison, or at least have to face that horrifying prospect. After all, there are people in this country who belong behind bars, and you are one of them.

But even though I want you to go to prison, I am going to offer you advice that I think very well not only could keep you out of what Lew Rockwell calls the crowbar motel, but also could save your career. Think about that, Mike. I am trying to help you keep your law license, your freedom, and maybe even your job, so you need to listen to me.

The first and most important thing is that you need to drop the kidnapping and sexual assault charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans. I mean drop the charges the way that Duke University receivers drop passes at crucial times during a close football game. Those charges need to disappear, and fast, for if you insist on pushing them forward, it only will get worse for you.

As I give you this advice, let me caution you not to listen to people like Wendy Murphy. She has been on television championing your cause, and wrote this abomination of an op-ed for USA Today that declared your dropping the rape charges, but keeping the others, to be a "brilliant move." Trust me, Mike; you don’t want Murphy being your only cheerleader, for I can give you a list of law-abiding and respectable people who would refuse to spit on her grave only because they hate standing in long lines.

No, listen to me. Dropping those charges leads to my second point. For the past nine months, you have been telling the world you had a great case. Last spring, while reading something by your political allies, I saw where you had a "mountain of physical evidence" that pointed toward those three men having committed what the black journalist Cash Michaels called a "brutal rape."

As you know, that mountain never was on your side; it was on the other side. My guess is that you had that figured out the minute you spoke to Brian Meehan of the DNA lab last April (before you secured the indictments against Reade and Collin), as he gave you the bad news that the only thing DNA was going to do would be to further discredit Crystal and, by definition, your case.

That is when you made your biggest mistake. You lied, and then tried to cover the lie, and when you were caught, you gave a litany of excuses that rivals anything John Belushi would have given in one of his movies. Despite Murphy’s contention that you simply were trying to protect the "privacy" of the unindicted lacrosse players, reason tells the rest of us that you were not too worried about protecting people whom you publicly had labeled "hooligans" and "rapists."

Mike, I can assure you that Judge W. Osmond Smith III was not taken in by your various excuses that range from "I didn’t know" to "the dog ate my homework" to "no harm, no foul." Maybe another judge might have looked the other way before this case became The Story nationally. When the Los Angeles Times is writing editorials calling for your head on a platter, you have to understand that this no longer is a Durham case. It is a national case, and you cannot stuff that thing back into your little jurisdiction.

Thus, literally everything you bring into that courtroom on February 5 is going to undergo scrutiny from every news outlet and every legal analyst in the country, not to mention overseas. Believe me, that is not something you want to happen, as the outright dishonesty of your "evidence" is going to be hung out for the world to see. It is one thing for that to happen in the current arena dominated by writers and talking heads, where nothing official has happened.

However, once you put this dreck before a judge, and the court gets to see exactly what your "evidence" really is, you are going to be in much more trouble than you are now. At this moment, you still are guilty only of "bad judgment." If you walk into that courtroom with your witness in tow, your "investigators," and your "medical evidence" (or, better put, your medical non-evidence), at that point you are going to be seen as the D.A. who has perpetrated a fraud. At that point, Mike, you will have openly committed a crime for which will make you vulnerable to spending time in the crowbar motel. That is fraud, Mike, and I am using that term in the legal sense.

There is a way out. You can go to the courthouse today – right now, I urge you – and make the following declaration:

I am announcing today that I have dropped all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans. There will be no further charges, and no more investigations of the alleged events that occurred on March 13 and 14, 2006.

At the time the accuser made the charges, my conversations with police officers led me to believe there had been a rape and sexual assault of the woman in question. As a prosecutor, I was duty-bound to investigate and the information that police gave me was of the type that required me to pursue this case and seek the indictments.

However, after further examination of the charges, I no longer can conclude that they are credible, and if I am not sure myself of the credibility of the accusations, by law I cannot further pursue this matter in a court of law. From the start, I have made it clear that this office takes rape allegations seriously, and we will investigate those allegations.

I do regret any actions I took which might have appeared to be overzealous, but at no time did I act against the letter or spirit of the law. While I take responsibility for mistakes that I might have made during this episode, let me assure all of you that those mistakes were made in the pursuit of what I thought was a just course of action.

Granted, about everything I have written for you is a lie, but since you already have lied repeatedly as an officer of the court, one more lie won’t hurt you, especially since it will have been told in the course of your ending this legal fraud. After all, you did not make the initial rape allegations; it was a woman with a history of drug abuse, prostitution, and mental problems (she was hospitalized in 2005 for those). She was trying to keep from being involuntarily committed to a mental institution when she made the charges, and that hardly was your fault.

But if you drop the charges with the above declaration, you have something you can bring to the representatives of the North Carolina Bar Association, who already have summoned you to appear before an investigative body. You can claim you were trying to make sure that a possible rape victim who is black and poor would receive justice. You can claim you were overzealous, but sincere in your actions.

(You might even try to repeat some of the acting talent you showed when you demonstrated on national television the alleged choke hold that the accused put on the woman. You sure were convincing when the cameras were on you.)

If the members of the legal cartel – I mean, your fellow attorneys of this august body – act within their usual scope of things, you might just get off with a reprimand, provided you have not tried to bring a lying accuser, lying police officers, and anyone else who would be torn apart by defense attorney, into a court of law. If you go that far, you can bet that the authorities will have no choice but to throw you to the wolves.

Remember, there are prosecutors in North Carolina who tried to get someone executed, even though they had exculpatory evidence in their possession (which they failed to give to the defense of Alan Gell). They got off with bare reprimands, and both of them are gainfully employed in the law. You might want to speak to David Hoke and Debra Graves about how to grovel in front of the Bar Association investigative committee, so that you, too, can get your free get-out-of-jail card.

Above all, Mike the key is dropping these charges now. Take my advice, please. I may not like you, but I believe that it would be best for everyone involved if you were to punt, including you. If you refuse to take my advice and continue this fraud, then people who have some authority over you are going to dismiss the charges, and then they will deal with you. Mike, you have an opportunity to see that this humiliating experience does not happen, and I recommend that you take the proper course of action today.