Duke Case: Shouldn't Mothers Demonstrate Against Injustice?
Date: February 4, 2007
Time: 11 AM
Congregation Place: Durham County Courthouse, 201 East Main Street, Durham, North Carolina
Event: Concerned Mothers Walk of Support
Purpose: To support (1) "David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann who are innocent"; (2) "the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann families"; (3) "Coach Mike Pressler and his family" and (4) "the Men and Women Lacrosse Teams at Duke University."
Welcomed: Homemade signs of support
An apparently well meaning Durhamite urged that the walk be cancelled for several reasons in this LieStoppers post:
"I'm local. Though I can see some positive reasons supporters might want to do this, I see more downsides than positives:
"Scheduling it during church hours will be read by some as reinforcing the notion that this is about 'out of town Yankees,' since the church-going habit is stronger in the south. Sunday afternoon would be more in keeping with southern culture. There is no point in provoking additional issues, or reinforcing the 'outsiders' impression.
"Additionally, choosing church time may actually call out the particular church that originally protested against the lax players in counter-protest.
"No matter when the march is held, if there is tension, (i.e. interchanges back and forth) , and I would be surprised if there wasn't, I think it will strengthen anti-lacrosse sentiment among people who currently have ambivalent feelings--whether they have been somewhat inclined to support the alleged victim but recognize the issues created with her multiple accounts, or whether they have been moderately inclined to support the players. Any tension downtown is likely to swing those folks into a more negative position, not more positive.
"If there is tension, you can also guarantee that the news coverage will be different than your recollection of the event. All it takes is one snide remark from the supporters (And are you sure that you can control everyone, no matter what is said to provoke?) and you can be sure THAT exchange will be the one that is on TV-- just like the news has largely neglected to cover the 'limp----white boys comment' but has covered the retort. It doesn't matter if 149 marchers were totally dignified while abuse was hurled constantly and one marcher finally retorted. 'Balanced' coverage will show one take from each side--if you are lucky. I've been to protests and marches and this has 'always' happened. So far, there has been little for people to be critical of in the conduct of supporters of the lax players, with the exception of some racist remarks on some blogs. So far, though the main players: the lax players, their defense teams, and the families have been able to keep totally to the high road. There has not been a misstep.That has been part of what is driving the support. For that perception to change (and all it takes is one blot) would be tragic. My experience would be that if that kind of change happened, it wouldn't be taken in proportion to wrongs done, and it wouldn't blow over; rather, it would 'even things up' in many people's minds. The supporters of the players have got to keep their noses totally clean. It may not be fair, but it's reality.
"Honestly, I think taking this issue to the streets, even with peaceful intent, is likely to have more negative fallout than positive. I really think it's best to continue speaking & writing, and waiting to see what happens in court the next day. While you may wish that more local people were speaking up, you may not be aware of how much is going on behind the scenes. Any tension created will jeopardize this. If lax supporters come to be seen as instigators of tension, some of the behind-the-scenes support, in both the white and Black communities, may melt away.
"I realize that this opinion will likely be flamed, but it is offered helpfully. People will surely point out the potbangers protests, etc. 'They did it; why don't we have the right to do it?' I'd say, 'Sure you have the right, but look at the results of the protests; have you seen any positive results from them? The 'castrate' sign, for instance, came back later to bite them, as it should have. A march would be a really bad move politically, IMO.
"I may be wrong, but I have lived here for decades and know people well of various ethnicities ranging from very wealthy and influential to poor. I really think that while it may provide a way for the marchers feel better for the moment, this has a very high risk of making things worse, and very little chance of making things better for the players.
"I seriously hope someone will reconsider.
"If supporters wanted to create a powerful public event, get together people of various races who have been wrongfully convicted in North Carolina, or elsewhere in the US. Get Elmostofa and his attorney involved, for instance, as a casualty of this case. Make it a rally about justice in general. The defense attorneys should have many connections from their pro bono work. (Don't know whether they would be ethically allowed to give them.) But that's the kind of thing I think would be both powerful and positive. Bring people of color from out of state if need be. SHOW that this is about more than these three guys; SHOW that if these types of abuse are given a pass here, who it will be most likely to effect."
A second anonymous poster agreed that the risks outweighed any reward:
"I've never been a big 'march' fan simply because white, male, Christian conservatives like me are always the foil...the ones that are marched against. I agree that the event should have been scheduled for Saturday. Nobody marches on Super Bowl Sunday at 11:00 in the morning! Alas, we are march novices. Also agree with other posters that this event can lead to nothing positive. The media can spin anything to portray what they want to portray. In this case it will probably be something to the effect of 'the angry (white) face of the alleged rapists' supporters'. And please Dear God don't let any kook KKK or Aryan Brotherhood types show up! The Duke Moms should reconsider."
A rebutter was not about to cede the streets to those who behave badly, however:
"While I think the timing could have been planned a little better (Saturday, maybe, as was mentioned), I don't think fear of being those who stand up for 'elite, male, white rapists' should stop these women, or anyone, for standing up for their sons, especially when it is so obvious they have done nothing wrong. The Black Panthers, the NAACP, and the potbangers all held their heads high when they convicted these boys months ago without one iota of evidence. They held their bias and racism up to the world without considering how the families of those accused (and not accused) might feel. They weren't even supporting the 'victim' at times, they were simply condemning the laxers.
"These mothers want to support their sons and show that they will not be manhandled by bias and racism, or articles like 'we're watching, Mr. Cooper' where the AA community suggests they hold the keys and control this thing and goes as far as threatens the AG if things aren't done in their favor. No, I think these women (and men, uncles, friends, brothers, etc) have every right to stand up for themselves for once and not be ashamed that they are white, that they ever played lacrosse or made something of themselves in lives. Be proud of who you are. Who [cares] what anyone else thinks?"
My view: If the mothers of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans support the walk, they deserve the support of everyone who believes in due process and equal protection of law and loathes scapegoating and political opportunism. When such ladies stand up for what is right and refuse to be intimidated by those who would intimidate them (or dissuaded by those who mean well but have not been going through the hell in which they have been living since the hoax began), then ...MAKE WAY!
Mary Laney of The Chicago Sun-Times never mentioned the upcoming Moms March, but her January 22, 2007 article on the Duke case explains beautifully why the march is scheduled to be held on February 4, 2007, the day before what was supposed to be the next scheduled hearing in the Duke case (postponed to allow the North Carolina Attorney General's Office to get up to speed on the prosecution that has been a persecution).
"If I were one of the parents of the Duke lacrosse players I would be mad as hell right now. Those parents have been put through the wringer for seven months -- and forced to come up with God knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to protect their sons from what appear to be made-up accusations."
It's been more than seven months, and more than hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there was no excuse for any of it, much less for more.
"Their sons have been called racists and rapists and violent spoiled frat boys and more. Why? Because a black stripper accused the white boys of rape and an ambitious district attorney, running for office in Durham, N.C., saw the case that could bring him the winning votes from African Americans."
The sums it up: a false (and obviously suspect) accusation treated as true by a political hack rightly afraid the voters would give him the sack.
"I have two sons and, had this nightmare happened to them, I would be going after not only the district attorney but some Duke professors and the university president as well. They put political correctness before due process in the railroading of these young Duke students."
Worse, they believed what they wanted to believe (and pretended to do so long after it was obvious that they had been wrong).
"Charles Osgood of CBS News once said, 'Being politically correct is always having to say you're sorry.' And some members of the faculty of Duke University were very politically correct last year. As soon as the now dubious claims of rape were leveled, 88 professors wrote an open letter decrying racism, sexism and sexual violence on that campus. They urged the student body to get out and let their voices be heard."
So far, one of the 88 has expressed sorry for that. Perhaps the rest believe love is never having to say you are sorry and they really love those members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team and their families. But I doubt it.
"The president of Duke, being equally P.C., fired the lacrosse coach, suspended the players from school and canceled the rest of the championship lacrosse season -- all before a trial was held."
Don't hold your breath waiting for him to say he's sorry. That's not part of Duke's legal strategy.
"Meanwhile, the alleged victim was telling various stories. First, she told police she had been raped by a big group. Next, she told a nurse it had been three or five men."
The false accuser may have discovered that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...," and did not want others to think she has a little mind. She's changed her story many times.
"The event hit the airwaves with the speed of a raging fire."
The phony story fit the mainstream media's liberal bias.
"Well, the Durham district attorney set up a 'lineup' of pictures for the alleged victim to identify those who she said raped her. Such lineups, by law, are supposed to include some pictures of uninvolved people. But that's not how the acting district attorney of Durham did it. You see, Mike Nifong was running for election to the office, and wanted a strong case.
So he gave the woman only pictures of members of the Duke lacrosse team -- in effect, a multiple choice test where there could be no wrong answers."
There could have been wrong answers, but Mr. Nifong directed that federal, state and local guidelines be violated in multiple ways and false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum reportedly believed there can not be a wrong answer.
"She picked three of the lacrosse players."
In what the families of the players came to call the Crystal Lottery.
"Nifong then sent all fluids taken from the woman at the hospital, along with her clothes, to a lab for DNA testing. The lab technician told the district attorney that he found DNA from several men in the woman and in her pants, but that none of it matched any Duke lacrosse player. In fact, there was no DNA from any lacrosse player anywhere in or on this woman nor on her clothing. Despite this, the district attorney kept the information secret even from defense attorneys, and days later indicted the three Duke players for rape."
Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were indicted on the same day in April; David Evans in May, even though there was no physical evidence to support the ludicrous charges against them.
"Last month, the victim told the district attorney that she couldn't tell if she had actually been raped. Nifong then dropped the rape charges, but held that the three Duke players would still be tried for kidnapping and sexual charges."
After Mr. Nifong's attempt to conceal exculpatory evidence was exposed in court and the North Carolina State bar wrote to Mr. Nifong about that problem, Mr. Nifong had his investigator interview Ms. Mangum again and she said she was not certain that she was penetrated by a man or a broomstick, but that Reade Seligmann had not raped or sexually assaulted her. Nifong dropped the rape charges the next day, but let the remaining charges continue to stand (even the sexual assault charge against Reade Seligmann).
"To recap, the victim has changed her story several times and now says she isn't sure she was raped. The 'lineup' where the lacrosse players were identified was illegal. The DNA taken from the woman excluded all Duke lacrosse players. The district attorney had the DNA evidence before he indicted the players, but withheld this evidence from the defense, and later lied about it in court, but still refused to drop all charges against the players."
Mr. Nifong withheld DNA results showing that, contrary to her claimed sexual inactivity, DNA from at least four males had been found in or on her underwear.
"Now Nifong has recused himself from the case and the North Carolina attorney general has appointed a special prosecutor to take his place. Meanwhile, the parents of the young men still have to pay lawyers to represent their sons against charges that should have been dropped months ago or never brought at all."
"I'd be mad as hell if I were one of these parents. I hope they sue everyone involved in this railroading of justice."
If the planned Moms March takes place, millions like Ms. Laney, in spirit, will be there.
Note to those who would try to intimidate the Moms: DON'T YOU DARE!
Note to skinheads: Stay at home and try to grow some hair.
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.