Friday, June 01, 2007

Mayor Bell's Memo to City Council

Memo To: Durham City Council
From: William V. 'Bill" Bell, Mayor
Subject: Durham City Council Third Party Duke Lacrosse Investigative Committee
Attachment: Resume of Attorney Willis P. Whichard
Date: May 30, 2007

Suggested Committee Charge: The committee is charged with performing an independent review of the conduct of the Durham Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's action (in as much as it possibly can include the DA's actions) in the prosecution of charges of rape and other offenses brought against three Duke Lacrosse players. It is to review documents, interview or take testimony from participants on both sides of the prosecution, and perform such other tasks as it deems necessary or appropriate. In due course, as expeditiously as feasible but without the restrictive constraints of arbitrary deadlines, it shall present to the City Council a report of its findings and conclusions.

The purpose is, insofar as possible, to ascertain and report the truth about these now terminated prosecutions; and, if unconstitutional or otherwise improper procedures were followed, to assist the Department in avoiding similar improprieties in the future, The sole objective is a properly functioning justice system: one that discovers and appropriately punishes the perpetrators of anti-social conduct that our lawmakers have defined as criminal, but that does so in a manner best calculated to produce reliable results and within the procedural boundaries established by our democratic constitutional system.

Suggested Committee Size: The committee shall be comprised of: 9 - 12 members including the committee chairperson. The members shall reflect diversity by race and gender as equally as possible. None of the members should have had any relation or association with any former or existing members of the Duke Lacrosse team, the accuser, witnesses or have any ties to Duke University or NCCU which may be perceived by the Durham City Council as prohibiting them from making a fair, objective and impartial investigation.
The committee shall establish its own rules and procedures for operations. All committee meetings shall follow the open meetings policy of the Durham City Council.

Suggested categories of members: The committee shall be divided as equally as possible
among the three categories of representatives as follows:

1. 3 - 4 Law enforcement officials (i.e. Policemen, District Attorney, etc,)
2. 3 - 4 Criminal Defense Attorneys.
3. 3 - 4 Community Persons

Suggested Chairperson of the committee: Attorney Willis P. Whichard

Latest Suggested date for having the committee appointed and the holding of its first meeting: Week of June 18. 2007.

Suggested time for the committee to complete its investigation: 30 - 60 days from the date of its first official meeting.

Suggested Budget: A budget proposal shall by prepared by the committee and presented to the Durham City Council within two weeks of its first meeting. The Durham City Council shall make the final budget determination within two weeks after having been presented the proposed budget.

Staff support for the committee shall be provided by The Durham City Government from the offices of the city manager, city attorney and city clerk as appropriately determined by the city council as a result of recommendations from the committee, or else suggested by the committee or the Durham City Council. In any event the Durham City Council reserves the final right to determine how the staff support shall be provided to the committee.


Born in Durham, NC, May 24, 19A0. Resident of Durham until August 2002, when moved to Chatham County, N.C. Part-time residence in Hayesville, N.G., since 1979.


Father (deceased) native of Pitt County; served as teacher and principal for 36 years.
Mother (deceased) native of Clay County: taught for 21 years and worked for county hospital for 24 years.
Married Leona Paschal of Chatham County June 4, 1961. Two daughters: Jennifer W. Ritz, born August 7, 1968; Ida W.-Siikanat, born November 12, 1376. Six grandchildren: Chamberlain Whichard Silkenat, born September 29,1996; Georgia Coleman Ritz, born December 24, 1997; Dawson Gflbert Silkenat, barn May 11, 1999; Evelyn Grace Ritz, born February 13, 2000; Thessaly Larissa Silkenat, born May 7, 2001 and Cordia Franklin Ritz, born April 20, 2002.


Durham City Schools (1946-58).

A.B. in History, University of NC at Chapel Hill, 1952. Member of Phi Beta Kappa, Order of the Golden Fleece, Order of the Grail and other honorary societies.

J.D. (Juris Doctor), University of NC School of Law, 1965. Board of Editors, NC Law Review. Order of the Coif, highest scholastic honorary society for law students. Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.

L.L.M. (Master of Laws) in Judicial Process, University of Virginia, 1984.

S.J.D. (Doctor of Judicial Science), University of Virginia, 1994.


Member, Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, N.C.


Affiliated with Democratic Party since 1959. Served as President of University of North Carolina Young Democratic Clubs. Member of group that founded College Federation of Young Democrats.


Enlisted man, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, NC Army National Guard, Raleigh, NC. 1966w72. Life member, NC National Guard Association (Judge Advocate, 1972-73; Chairman, Constitution and By-Laws Committee, 1973-74; member Legislative Committee, 1974-76).


Law Clerk to Justice (later Chief Justice) William H. Bobbitt, NC Supreme Court, 1965-66.

Practicing attorney with Durham, NC, law firm Powe, Porter, Alphin & Whichard, P.A., 1966-80; with Moore & Van Allen PLLG 2006 - .
Dean and Professor of Law, Campbell University 1999-2006.

Instructor of Business Law, Duke University School of Business Administration, summer and fall 1978; instructor for American Institute of Banking law course, 1972.

Adjunct professor, University of North Carolina School of Law, 1986-1999.

Member of American Bar Association, NC Bar Association (Vice-President 1983-84 and 2001-02) and Durham County Bar Association, UNC Law Alumni Association (President, 1978-79; First Vice-President, 1977-75; Second Vice-President, 1978-79; Board of Directors, 1971-73; 1979-82).


NC General Statutes Commission, 1969-73.

NC House of Representatives, 1970-74. NC Senate, 1974-80.

Judge, NC Court of Appeals, 1980-86. Associate Justice, NC Supreme Court, 1986-98 (Note: Justice Whichard is the only person in the history of North Carolina who has served in both houses of the state legislature and on both of the state's appellate courts.)

Chair and member of numerous committees and commissions, including chairing Senate Committee on Courts and Judicial Districts (1975-76) and serving on Judicial Planning Committee of Governor's Crime Commission (1977-80); member, N.C. State-Federal Judicial Relations Council, 1986-98 (chair, 1988-89,1997-98); N.C. Courts Commission, 1994-98.

Comments from Attorney Willis P. Whichard
Re: Third Party independent investigative committee.

In one sense this committee is about the past. Its function is to attempt to ascertain and report the truth about events that are now history. In a broader, more significant sense, however, it is about the future. Its overriding purpose is not just to identify any improprieties or mistakes that may have occurred in the handling of the lacrosse players` cases, but to assist local law enforcement in avoiding such in the future.

I look forward to working with the mayor, the City Council and the committee in this endeavor.

May 31, 2007

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