Thursday, May 17, 2007

Coleman at Duke Club of Delaware

At the LS Forum, Blog Hooligans Buddy, A. Peter Allan, and Dukex4 report on yesterday's Duke Club of Delaware luncheon which featured Duke University Professor of Law James Coleman.

[Coleman] defended the University's handling of the case in this sense--that if the University had been vigorously proclaiming the students innocence, that it would have been impossible for Cooper to proclaim the players "innocent." [Coleman] described Cooper as not terribly courageous, but that the result--INNOCENT--was extraordinary, that it never happens. His theory is that had Duke been active, that exoneration would have been attributed to Duke's influence, and Cooper would only have been able to dismiss for "lack of evidence."

Having said that, he did criticize several actions that Duke took. I'll try to summarize in no particular order:

1. Ryan MacFayden's suspension was wrong. Apparently his e-mail was one of a series which, if read together, would indicate that it was not a threat.

2. Mike Pressler's firing was wrong. He pointed out that Pressler sat two seniors for last year's championship game, and that he made them wear civvies instead of uniforms that day. He called that a commendable action.

3. The University was correct to cancel the season. There was a real danger of violence had the games been played, and it might have been impossible to protect the players and fans.

4. The Group of 88 had/have the right to express their views, but they should also be responsible for them, and they have not been.

5. He actually was more concerned about the treatment of players in class, in which he stated that several (many) instructors abused their position to harass the players. I think he is referring to situations of making the players sit on one side of the room, criticizing them in front of the class, etc. And he criticized the University for not correcting this situation as soon as possible.

6. We may be disappointed that students drink and hire strippers, but it is a fact of life on college campuses everywhere, not a condition unique to the Duke lacrosse team.

7. He mentioned the Kyle Dowd case, but made no comments about the continuation of Kim Curtis on the faculty.

8. He reiterated the findings of his report that the team had the best (?) GPA of any athletic team, that their disciplinary record was not noticeably worse than that of the student body at large.

9. When asked if the University should reimburse the students for their ordeal he smilingly said he was sure the University's lawyers and the student's lawyers were discussing this right now.

10. While it would have been inappropriate to declare the innocence of the students, Duke knew they had cooperated with the police, had given uncounseled statements to the police (a fact that horrified him, but which was further indication of innocence to him). They should have put out a press release limited to the fact that the players had cooperated with the police, and had done so originally without counsel, and that they had all given DNA willingly even though they likely could have appealed the order. Such a statement would have set the record straight without prejudging the case.

11. He defended Chancellor Ammons and Mayor Bell, saying they tried to quiet tempers, and that had they acted differently the situation could have become even more inflamed.

12. Said the University should have been more supportive of the students during the ordeal last spring.

I am glad I heard his explanation of his defense of the University. If you take his defense in conjunction with his caveats, it is clear that his defense is very narrow, and is aimed solely at the legal issues. This was not clear to me from previous reporting. If you look at all the things he said were done wrong, most of us would agree with him. As a result, his defense is quite narrow and limited.
A. Peter Alan:
My strongest take-away impression was item 9, and I think Coleman's statement was a little stronger than buddy reported. I think Coleman said that he had heard that discussions were taking place between Duke and the 3 indicted players.

Regarding the 88, Coleman encouraged the audience to read the "listening" ad if they had not. I think his implication is that it's not so bad for the the 88 members who don't have words or deeds beyond the ad. He also said that more time should pass before judging them as a group and consideration of any sanctions. Judging by groans around the room, I don't think he was convincing on this, or in his support for Brodhead.
He opened his remarks by saying that one of the bright spots of a miserable year was how the students on the team (all of them) handled themselves – we should be “proud” of them.

As to questions from the audience, I was prepared to ask a question Blog Hooligan had posed, specifically:

1. Would it have been influencing the judicial process if the Duke administration had publicly tried to dispel the myth that the lacrosse players had cooperated with police on March 16th, and that the 3 Duke captains had offered to take a lie detector test and had willingly given DNA samples?

I did not need to ask it as Coleman addressed it specifically, as reported by Buddy. I felt he was very blunt on this – he said the allegation of the wall of silence was bogus and that “someone [from Duke] should have stood up and said so.” People at “Duke knew it was a lie, the Durham PD knew it was a lie – only the reporters reporting it didn’t know it was a lie. “


Anonymous said...

Professor Coleman - You and KC are everything a Unviersity Professor shoud be. You bring tears to my eyes.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree that if Duke was more forceful early on in their defense of the players as innocent things could have been a lot worse for the 3 accused. HOWEVER, I have always suggested that Duke should have stated that the players should be assumed innocent until proven guilty. In other words let the justice system work, rather than banging pots. They did not do that and enabled the process to fail. I can not believe that stating loudly, fairness to the process, early on by Duke would have hurt the final "innocent" results by cooper. It was about the truth but brodhead caved early on. He paniced for whatever reason and that hurt everyone the worst.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I'd have also groaned REALLY loud on hearing any defense of the Gang. And I'd have made noise about defense of Brodhead, too.

That being said, Coleman is clearly the one of the most honorable and intelligent persons at Duke - he stands head and shoulders above practically every professor at that university.

And that's the problem. The students deserved his equal - not 88 (and more) of his inferiors.

Anonymous said...

why is it so surprising that uncle tom Coleman is defending the plantation known as duke? that is what he is paid to do and he did that with his first report which tried to downplay the misbehavior of a team that had over 30% disciplined by the legal system or duke's own disciplnary system in the last few years and actually had the highest number of offenses of any sports team at duke! and now he is doing it to defend brodhead and crew. give the man credit. he at least knows who is writing his paycheck and he is a team player. he will defend duke to the end as long as they keep on paying his bills.

Anonymous said...

7:30 PM While I disagree that Professor Coleman is anything but a hero, it is true that unless you invented the Hula Hoop, everyone must be mindfull of who is signing the pay check and be team playes. Sadly, to many do not understand, this is why they have no paycheck and are "living Poor." Calling the Professor an "Uncle Tom", is not going to help get folk out of poverty. But that is your decision.

Anonymous said...

i am not talking about getting folks out of poverty so that is off topic and irrelevant. rather, i am talking about a black individual who is trying to sweep the racist and illegal behaviorial history of the white lacrosse team under the rug to protect his employer, duke, in a possible civil suit. this is synanmous with the uncle tom character who identified with his white owners and thanked the owner for beating him and the other blacks! uncle tom fully supported the white racist agenda no matter what and wanted to show he was a team player; he was eventually rewarded by being beaten to death.

back to the duke case. duke was liable from suit by the accuser if it could be shown that duke knew this lax team was a problem(which their disciplinary records definitely shows to anyone really interested in the truth) and if duke took no definitive steps to correct it and that lead to the accuser's being mistreated in the house duke rented to these people. Coleman's report was a whitewash attempt to cover up the record of the team to get duke off the hook. coleman is now similarly trying to get brodhead off the hook which is his next paid off assignment. His tom stance is so obvious that he has no crediblity whatsoever with with the black people here in durham and neither did Ed Bradley.

as to everyone being mindful of who pays the paycheck and being a team player and acting accordingly, that is so not true for real heroes. real heroes tell the truth regardless of their own self interest but of course since you support evildoers and racists who did not speak to the police, you would not know that. MLK never took a paycheck in his life from white people and was not a team player by any means which is why the white establishment killed him. MLK went totally againist the team player concept which would have been to be silent and go along with the program and not fight for black rights as long as he got a check. thank God he did not act as Coleman and Bradley had done. they are not heroes in our community; far from it.

8:44 you have a lot to learn about life, the truth,racism etc.

Anonymous said...

“If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn’t do it, whatever they did is bad enough.” Richard Broadhead, April 20th, 2006 to the Durham Chamber of Commerce.

The above was TWO DAYS after the indictment of Seligman and Finnerty, in a public forum before the citizens of Durham who would have most likely been empanelled in the jury to try the case.

Right now, Nifong is facing charges with the bar association for making public statements that might serve to prejudice the community and deny the three accused a fair trial.

Who is going to hold Broadhead accountable for making equally false and defamatory statements?

You can parse and quibble and make excuses until hell freezes over, but the stink will stay at Duke until Broadhead and every single member of the gang of 88 is fired.

Anonymous said...

duke was liable from suit by the accuser if it could be shown that duke knew this lax team was a problem(which their disciplinary records definitely shows to anyone really interested in the truth)

If you TRULY look at their disciplinary record, they were no worse than any other athletic team...that HAS been looked at.

The fact of the matter

is that Durham has rather a lot of crime, and the Duke students as a group contribute much less than their fair share.

And if you care to look at violent crime by race, either locally or nationally....there's no contest.

So if you are interested in facts...well, the FACTS are against you.

Anonymous said...

what does that have to do with the fact that the team had a high percentage of disciplinary problems known to the university? and that the uncle tom was paid to cover this up and whitewash the players and now is doing the same thing for massa brodhead? stay on point!

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

12:10, since when were you interested in the facts? You've continued on your false premise in spite of volumes of evidence to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

Have your read Coleman's comments on the lacrosse team? Have you read the report that Coleman's committee put out? Not exactly glowing remarks about the team. Go read his comments, come back and tell us what he said and how many 'white washed' remarks there were versus remarks about "inappropriate" (but fairly normal "college" conduct.) His comments were fair.

Did you read the article in the Herald Scum where Coleman defended Crystal? Read those words. Blackwash?

Have you ever talked to Coleman or heard him speak 'live'? He's a better person than 99% of us here.

The uncle tom comments are just another excuse...

Anonymous said...

when did coleman defend the accuser? you must live in bizarro world. that did not happen.

Cindy said...

I find this most interesting.

Zeppo said...

Coleman seems to want to make his case without offending anyone in particular.

Anonymous said...

because he is an uncle tom paid to defend duke at all costs.