Sunday, October 08, 2006

Advancing the Story

Over the past six months, the majority of the mainstream media has either been content to report on the Duke Lacrosse case after items are revealed elsewhere or intent on opining that the District Attorney must have something. One noteworthy exception to the prevailing complacency has been the News and Observer’s Joseph Neff, whose investigative reporting appears intent on revealing the Hoax to be the blatant miscarriage of justice that it is.

Starting in April with an examination of DA Nifong’s violations of State Bar ethics rules 3.6 and 3.8 and continuing with an inspection of several of the prosecutor and police mistakes or misconduct a few weeks later, Mr. Neff has endeavored to advance the story by uncovering the hoax.
"When a district attorney talks to the local and national media about his personal belief that certain people are guilty and are 'a bunch of hooligans,' about how horrified he is by the allegation, that 'a bunch of lacrosse players from Duke ... raped a black girl from Durham,' or how alleged racial slurs 'make what is already an extremely reprehensible attack even more reprehensible,' the State Bar would have to be concerned,"
“If and when the Duke lacrosse case gets to a courtroom, more than the defendants will be on trial. So will the Durham police and the prosecutor leading the case.”
In June, we learned from Mr. Neff that District Attorney Nifong’s campaign-minded statements were contradicted by the facts of the case.
"A comparison of his words with documents that Nifong gave defense lawyers show that Nifong made what appear to be misstatements about condom use, a purported struggle and a 911 call made by a second dancer, among other things.”
In July, he informed us that the accuser may have made a cell phone call to her third escort service at 12:26am from the phone purportedly taken from her by her assailants.
"In the middle of a Duke lacrosse party where a dancer said she was gang-raped for 30 minutes, a call was placed from her cell phone to a Durham escort service.The 12:26 a.m. call to the service, Centerfold, lasted one minute, according to a copy of her cell phone bill reviewed by The News & Observer".
In August, he dropped a bombshell by revealing how glaring the gaps in District Attorney Nifong’s files were.
“In examining the files Nifong has produced in the case, The News & Observer found that the accuser gave at least five different versions of the alleged assault to different police and medical interviewers and made shaky identifications of suspects. To get warrants, police made statements that weren't supported by information in their files.”
“The district attorney commented publicly about the strength of the medical evidence before he had seen it. He promised DNA evidence that has not materialized. He suggested that police conduct lineups in a way that conflicted with department policy.”
September brought us this gem from Neff:
“A toxicology test of the woman who accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape turned up no signs of controlled substances.”
Today, Mr. Neff continues his investigation into the Hoax by questioning the tainted lineup used to manufacture identifications.
“Psychologists Gary Wells and Brian Cutler helped design a procedure in 2003 for witnesses to identify crime suspects. Police departments across North Carolina embraced the procedure. The Durham Police Department adopted it almost word- for-word in February.”
“The conduct of the Durham police in the Duke lacrosse case, however, is a case study in violating the new policy, the psychologists said. And as a result, police have injected doubt into a woman's selection of three lacrosse players whom she accused of rape.”
Thanks Joe.
More from Joseph Neff:

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least one Journalist is a Professional in Durham County!

The truth is all we want!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Neff distinguishes himself again. He continues to INVESTIGATE, produce FACTUAL INFORMATION that is carefully documented, and REPORT the results to the public. When he makes an error, he takes RESPONSIBILITY for it. As a result, I TRUST his reporting.
What can the N&O learn from Mr. Neff?
INVESTIGATE, FACTUAL INFORMATION, REPORT, RESPONSIBILITY
I look forward to the day when Mr. Neff is offered a job as an investigative reported with a different paper.

krddurham said...

Thanks Mr. Neff! At least someone at the N&O has an appetite for the truth.

DukeGradNCResident said...

FYI, the N&O is published in Raleigh (Wake County).

I would suggest friends of LieStoppers congratulate Neff directly as he has certainly earned his pay over the past several months- jneff@newsobserver.com

In thinking of this odd relationship between
Nifong and Ms. Mangum I can't seem to get these lyrics from "Third Rate Romance" out of my head:

She said, "You don't look like my type
But I guess you'll do"
Third rate romance
Low rent rendezvous
And he said, "I'll even tell you that I love you
If you want me to"
Third rate romance
Low rent rendezvous

Here's for hoping the voters of Durham are ready to do the right thing and break up this "romance" in 29 days.

Anonymous said...

Important information from John in Carolina blog. This from a reader:

John,
Important stuff is below (where I suggest an effective way to get a correction in the N&O). First off though I thought I wanted to mention Neff: Am I the only one who finds that while his articles poke 'holes' in Nifong's case (a collapsed dike seems more appropriate but hey) he manages to make his articles, well, much less effective than they could be. He does this by simply by structuring his articles in an odd way, having the most damning evidence against Nifong's hoax compacted into complex/difficult to decode wording while expanding on the 'fluff' bits. I'm a bit annoyed that the 'contrarian' within the N&O just doesn't to a point by point rebuttal of Nifong's hoax - the structure would actually be effective (ie make him have a point by point structure that is all about what went wrong, not 'distracting' quotes, etc that he uses)

I really don't think you're going to get Melanie to do anything using the editor's blog. I'm not being a troll and I am one of your regular posters. What Melanie needs is some 'ecouragement' by HER BOSSES to 'correct' the N&Os errors. Simply put all that we need is a short front page 'clarification'/'retraction'/'we messed up'. Perhaps that could be followed by the weak public editor writing a piece in the editorial section.

Now how would we get that to happen? I have a suspicion that there are a good number of Duke alumni that own McClatchy company stock either directly (very good) or indirectly (still good). Those shares have voting power even if the McClatchy family outvotes all the 'regular' shares with their seperate class of shares (which they use for 'strategic' purposes, ie, sales and purchases of assets).

PLUG: The N&O had revenues of$136,843,000 last year. The wonders of a public company (in contrast to H-S). Revenues were 200,000 up from the year before: a good sign (well if the alternative is the H-S...)


Assuming that Duke alumni directly or indirectly (read mutual funds, 401ks, etc) and there are CERTAINLY asset managers who vote proxies for such indirect holdings then things are looking up. FODU could start a little drive to put some pressure on McClatchy using their alumni contacts in order to get a correction.

This wouldn't be very difficult. If a few asset managers, corporate pension planners, ceos, and shareholders (or those who have substantial indirect holdings) were to start voicing their opinion to McClatchy's corporate contact people there'd be a correction - in fairly short order (not a century like the Wilmington 'take over' by the whites).

http://www.mcclatchy.com/
(company is profitable incidentally)
Contacts:
http://www.mcclatchy.com/100/story/380.html

Those who have a financial interest in the company should contact:
Financial/Investor Inquiries
Elaine Lintecum, Treasurer
916-321-1846
elintecum@mcclatchy.com

Those who want to voice their disapproval (which should also include investors, ie, cc the message you send to Elaine to the following contact)

General Inquiries
Peter Tira, Communications Director
916-321-1941
ptira@mcclatchy.com

5:53 PM

Anonymous said...

From the talkleft duke forum:

“BILL OF PARTICULARS” FOR MICHAEL NIFONG

A. Actions subverting the legal system
1) Suggesting that potential defendants do not need lawyers
2) Declining to meet with defendants’ lawyers
3) Refusing to review exculpatory evidence
4) Improperly directing a police investigation instead of the police chief
5) Organizing an illegal photo-ID lineup without “fillers”
6) Indicting before fully investigating by going straight to the grand jury
7) Inflaming public opinion with over 50 interviews
8) Pursuing the case despite inconclusive DNA and forensic evidence
9) Declining to consider polygraph evidence
10) Delaying and blocking production of discovery material including police notes and phone and computer records
11) Refusing to release notes of his 4/11 meeting with accuser by implausibly claiming the facts of the case were not discussed
12) Attempting to place burden of proof on defendants rather than prosecution
13) Declining to produce a bill of particulars and giving changing theories of the “crime”
14) Deciding to prosecute the case personally to curry political favor with the black community
15) Attempting to tamper with witnesses by inducements (Kim Roberts) and threats (Mr. Elmostafa)

B. Misleading and/or lying to the public
1) Falsely stating identity of 911 caller who reported racial slurs was unknown
2) Falsely claiming use of condoms despite known contrary statements from accuser
3) Falsely suggesting use of date rape drug
4) Demonstrating choke-hold
5) Discussing “scratches” and shirts on players’ arms
6) Calling players “hooligans” and declaring definitely that a rape happened at the party
7) Stating DNA evidence would identify the guilty players then backtracking
8) Claiming players not cooperating after captains came involuntarily

C. Inappropriate Conduct
1) Shouting and swearing at a female defense attorney and others
2) Accusing lawyers for unindicted players of being disappointed their clients were not indicted
3) Demeaning defense attorneys in court
4) Smirking, laughing, and making insulting gestures in court
5) Inciting racial tensions by dealing with the National Black Panther Party (NBPP) and not denouncing its racist and anti-semitic views
6) Insulting Duke students by talking about “rich daddies” even though 40% of Duke students receive financial assistance.

Anonymous said...

Neff’s articles are not as effective as they could be because he tries so hard not to express his opinion. Someone like Niolet expresses an opinion “he was so confident” about Nifong, without any problems whatsoever. But Neff tries to present the facts only, without saying “he is so unethical” about Nifong. So, of course, it’s not as effective as it could be, but considering Neff works for N&O, it’s the best what could be possibly gotten out of that publication.