Sunday, June 17, 2007

Statement by Duke President Richard H. Brodhead on Disbarment of Durham DA Mike Nifong

Statement by Duke President Richard H. Brodhead on Disbarment of Durham DA Mike Nifong

Durham, NC -- Today, the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar determined that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong’s “intentional prosecutorial misconduct” in charging three Duke students with serious crimes. The judgment of Mr. Nifong by his professional colleagues is a stinging rebuke.

At the end of the Attorney General’s review in April and now the Bar’s proceeding, one fact stares us in the face: the ordeal of the last 15 months was wholly unnecessary. It was not the result of reasonable differences of legal opinion or honest errors of judgment. Our students were accused by the community’s senior law enforcement officer with no credible basis in fact.

Evidence that could have helped establish their innocence was systematically ignored. Meanwhile, the DA continued to make inflammatory statements expressing confidence that the crimes had occurred. Repeated around the world, these statements established a “certainty” it took months to dispel.

A heavy responsibility flows from this abuse of power. The harshest and most direct harm was done to the three students and their families, who suffered from the very place we look to for justice. Other members of their team were also harmed when they were included in Mr. Nifong’s blanket accusations. Duke University was also included in the harm in having to respond to the Durham District Attorney’s assurances that a crime had been committed and the unprecedented crisis those assurances unleashed. The actions Duke took caused consternation to many in the university family, which I profoundly regret.

Finally, harm was done to the criminal justice system itself. In our society, we rely on the criminal justice system to settle disputes of fact and value. But our system only works when the public has faith in the system’s integrity and justice; and this requires that those entrusted with the law act in a way that assures us of their fairness and uprightness. We applaud the actions of the bar today -- and of Attorney General Cooper in April -- in helping to restore that elemental trust. The appointment of a new District Attorney will be another positive step.

As Duke University’s president, I resolve to do my part to repair the harm unleashed by Mr. Nifong’s actions and to move forward from this painful episode.

For more information, contact: John Burness | (919) 681-3788 | john.burness@duke.edu

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

This statement by Duke President Brodhead is much welcomed.

There is one offensive aspect to the announcement, however, and that is the inclusion of John Burness' name at the end. It has been reported from many sources that Burness was Duke's principal hatchet-man against the lacrosse players, rarely missing an opportunity to slander them in "off the record" comments as "bad actors".

For so long as true "bad actors" like John Burness continue to occupy senior positions at Duke, there can be no peace.

Rob said...

I'm intrigued by these comments.

He says: "Duke University was also included in the harm in having to respond to the Durham District Attorney’s assurances that a crime had been committed and the unprecedented crisis those assurances unleashed. The actions Duke took caused consternation to many in the university family, which I profoundly regret."

Presumably these actions (aside from cancelling the LAX team season) include the letter and subsequent actions by the Group of 88.

Brodhead seems oblivious that a DA insisting a crime took place is not legal process, it's not a conviction, and at the time, was not even based on evidence that Duke and its administration saw.

Their actions therefore are all the more baffling since they still went on and violated all principles of fairness and decency. It should not be too surprising. In many respects, when you see the comments from people like Shadee Malaklou, you realise that the culture of feminist dogma and over the top political correctness is endemic in the Duke faculty. There is no other way to describe the actions of the admin,the Group of 88 and the vigilante crowds of "victim's advocates" that appeared almost instantly on campus.

Brodhead should be purging these people and ensuring that a firm investigation takes place into the actions of the most vociferous of these 88 "professors".

A culture of hatred towards males on campus coupled with the power and fear that the "Women's Studies" department engenders will be fatal for Duke's future. The only good thing is that in the future, a major in Women's studies from Duke will be a stain on a resume. The department has been shown to be dangerously out of control with tacit acceptance of comments such at those by Malaklou

What right thinking parent or male, or fair minded female will ever want to grace that establishment's bank account with their hard earned money when those who assisted with the hysteria that Nifong whipped up are still there, and malevolently suggesting that a prosecution should have taken place anyway, even without evidence?

I hope the civil suits include all those from Duke who took actions over the last year to demonise the 3 victims, and strong university sanctions are put in place for individual departments to prevent future gender hate campaigns by campus feminists.

One interesting thing about this case is that yesterday, in testimony, two witnesses (Mr Evans and Jerry Parnell) both said they had used Google to read up on this case to get a feel for public sentiment. Well, the Group of 88 (and their vindictive in-class behaviours and comments to male lacrosse players), Brodhead, Malaklou and various other gender feminists have their names, actions and prejudices recored on the internet for good now. Should be interesting the next time any of them goes for a job interview......

Anonymous said...

Dear President Brodhead,

If you are really sincere in repairing the damage you can pay all the legal bills of the Duke 3, fire all your radical student hating professors and resign.

Anonymous said...

...one fact stares us in the face: the ordeal of the last 15 months was wholly unnecessary. It was not the result of reasonable differences of legal opinion or honest errors of judgment. Our students were accused by ______________________with no credible basis in fact.

Hey, you fill in the blank here, but does the Gang of 88 come to mind? Let's see what Brodhead does about that...

Anonymous said...

So finally we see a "profoundly regret" and an "I resolve to do my part to repair the harm unleashed by Mr. Nifong's actions." It's pretty late in the day, but always better late than never. Did the highly intellectual President Brodhead really have a road to Damascus experience?

Hugs and more hugs to the Liestopper's Board. You are amazing.

Observer

Anonymous said...

Silence in the face of evil.... you know the rest.

as for Duke, the school continues. the kids want to go there and thinking that the school will decline is just not going to happen. increasingly the school becomes more and more politically correct in its student body. just look at the make up of its freshman class this year. the school had more apps and its yield rose making the freshman class oversubscribed. I just shake my head in disbelief at the parents who'd send their kids there. there are so many many good tough schools to gain admission to and yet kids want to go there.

Great board.

John E said...

Now that Nifong got his justice - what about Richard Brodhead?
Will he ever receive the same justice from the Duke Board of Trustees? The wheels of justice [claimed to turn so slowly] turned rather fast
on Mike Nifong.

The North Carolina ethics committee has a constituency of lawyers and the public to whom it met its professional and civic responsibility with honor and integrity.

The Duke Board of Trustees has little responsibility to the public; its constituency is its alumni, its students, its legacy as a great American university; a legacy severely tarnished at this point.

Rebuilding that soiled reputation begins tomorrow by axing Richard
Broadhead, the sniveling quivering president whose absence in
leadership, whose failure to challenge Nifong in March 2006
[not a year later], whose failure to vocably support his students at
time of need, contributed to the scandal which is now laid at the feet of Mike Nifong.

The problems and causes go far deeper. For the Board to do nothing is another failure, another scar on the face of Duke University.

Anonymous said...

Our country has a problem with gangs. Duke University, like many communities, seems oblivious to its own vitriolic, politically motivated gang of 88. Duke obviously needs a "top cop". If the trustees have any scruples at all, they will start at the top (the head of the snake, Brodhead) and then take the body(the gang of 88) and give them the same kind of pink slip that Nifong got. They gave comfort to the enemy in their support of him and his witch hunt.
Then again, Nifong still faces civil and criminal charges. Does slander ring bells for any of them? They know who you are!!!!!
Anne

bravefacari said...

WOW! You guys are all right on the money with exactly what I have been thinking on this as well. Duke Prez must resign immediately, 88 Professors PUBLICALLY and SEVERLEY reprimanded, IN THEIR FILES! Duke then needs to be preemptive, and sit down with Coach Pressler and the 3 players and their families and offer monetary compensation, public apologies to each and everyone of them without whining about what Nifong told them, but taking responsibility for their failure to uphold the US Constitution. Which by the way, they have a Law School, in case anyone forgot! Until they do this they are under the Nifong "Fiasco" cloud as bafoons who ACTIVELY participated (not passively) and can be viewed no less than cannibals devouring their own members!

Until then, the shame Duke has brought on itself will not lift. In the words of Disciplinary Chairman Williamson, "...character is not a constant..." Duke failed on this and they don't get a "mulligan" either, just because up until this point they had a good reputation and character.

Shame on the Duke Board if they don't get some heads to roll and policy to prevent this from happening in future cases.

Anonymous said...

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive" . . . and Brodhead is one of the major deceivers, unrepentant to the end, a victim - he would have us believe - of other people's unscrupulous conduct. His vast scholarship has taught him little.

Anonymous said...

My letter to John Burness Duke University

John,

I have read Mr. Brodhead’s remarks regarding the harm that Knifing has created. I have also read the remarks regarding Mr. Brodhead doing his part to repair the harm done. Mr. Brodhead also stated “A heavy responsibility flows from this abuse of power.”

Since much of the harm done to these students was the loss of their status as “students” is Mr. Brodhead willing to take on the abuse of power at Duke University? After all Mr. Brodhead has the power to punish those responsible for the following actions;

1. Publishing a hit list of Duke student Lacrosse players “ the wanted poster”
2. Publishing with apparent backing of Duke an action statement titled “What does A Social Disaster Sound Like” This statement called for action to be taken against players before any findings of innocence or quilt.
3. Professors at Duke University giving bad grades to students solely based on the fact they were members of the Duke Lacrosse Team.
4. Ending the season of athletes who worked their whole life to achieve a goal of being the best at something in the country, and then negating all their efforts and hard work by canceling the season solely based on them being Lacrosse players.
5. The firing of maybe the best coach in the country who gave most of his career life in building a sports team at Duke, solely because he was the coach of the wrongly accused Lacrosse team.
6. Statements by Mr. Brodhead that inflamed public opinions against the Lacrosse team even though he knew or should have known these statements where inflammatory. i.e. after the Duke Lacrosse Captains made all efforts to give all information to the Durham Police Department Mr. Brodhead made statements that they had not.
7. Administrators at Duke University telling students to negate their constitution rights and imploring them to speak with a rogue prosecutor without advice of parents or council.
8. Circumventing privacy rules and allowing private emails to be taken from Duke University’s computer systems to be used by a criminal in the act of railroading 3 students.
9. Allowing a professor Houston Baker to use racial remarks when speaking with the mother of one of your students ““scummy white male farm animal”.




If any of these statements are wrong please correct me, but if they are all correct I think it is plain to see the Mr. Brodhead, and Duke University were willing participants in trying to harm the people involved in this hoax. Thus what actions will Mr. Brodhead take to punish these people including himself, and prevent this happening to others at Duke University?


I patiently await your response.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I am anonymous @ 10:55

Should be signed

Tom E.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Well, isn't that special? Brodhead wants to 'move foward'. He didn't do any moving when the Gang of 88 terrorized those students, didn't even flicker an eye when the wanted and vigilante posters went up, didn't even twitch when a black racist who'd pulled a gun on Duke students (and his own mother) roamed the Duke campus writing that white people needed to be killed because they were white - nope, didn't see any movement at all from the President of Duke University.

Well, I got a real good 'movement' for him. It's one you make while sitting on a toilet. Brodhead has already dumped his integrity, courage and responsibility in there. I suggest he move the rest of himself the same place at once.

I will then salute as Reade, Dave and Collin pull the chain.

Anonymous said...

Good letter.

Anonymous said...

A genuine apology and acknowledgement of wrong doing would have helped tremendously in repairing the harm unleashed. This statement falls painfully short of that stated goal.

bravefacari said...

My letter to Duke:

MISSED THE MARK!

Duke will be unable to come out from under the cloud of Nifong's "Fiasco" until the President resigns, the 88 Professors who publicly condemned the Lacrosse Team and its Coach are reprimanded severely, new policies are set to prevent this from occurring in the future, and offers of financial restitution to the 3 players, their families and Coach Pressler, of significant proportions occur. Time and time again, Duke University has missed opportunity's to do the right thing, but not missed opportunities to do the wrong thing. You have yet another chance to get it right before the legal system is at your door with lawsuits that you know are justified and are coming. Wouldn't it be great if Duke presented it's "character" in a new light and wasted no time in doing it. Take the lead - do the right thing. Then and only then will Duke be viewed as a victim of Nifong's "Fiasco". Until you do, you are viewed as an active (not passive) participant in the destruction of lives of your own members. You need to correct your abandonment of the members of your group. Until you do, and of your own accord, not ordered by some court in a long drawn out process, Duke University will carry the shame of Nifong for years to come.

Three families and a Coach of such grace and dignity you will not find easily. It is up to you to take the lead to make this horrible wrong, right. If you let the legal system do it, that is a "bypass" of your institution. In that result, you will lose, you will pay, and no one will ever see that you did the right thing. You will be viewed as a loser who got what they deserved. If you take the preemptive stance on your own to settle this matter appropriately, you will be viewed as a winner, one with character, who acknowledged its wrong and one who wishes to do what little they can to make it right. You will be admired and regain much of the reputation you have lost.

Good luck.

wts said...

All whose "self-deception arising out of self-interest" should be punished.

Anonymous said...

In the infamous words of John Burness, "apologize for what?" Why does Burness still work for Duke - much less, Broadhead and the gang of 88!

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

If he's honest, he'll fire Burness and the Gang of 88, and sanction their departments, and then resign only after their paperwork goes through.

Anonymous said...

Amazing how Brodhead uses the passive voice so often when referring to actions and Duke.

It was all someone else's fault, someone else's judgement call. He and his university were only the passive victims of someone else's wrongdoing.

Uh huh.

redcybra said...

Duke under Brodhead reminds me of the Catholic Church's attitude towards all those priests sexually assaulting children. CYA and not give a damn about the victims until it gets sued.

Anonymous said...

Well, While we are writing to MR. Burness, here is what I wrote for what it is worth...

Dear Mr. Burness;
I am sure you have had many e-mails regarding this case. I applaud Duke for welcoming the recent disbarment of Mr. Nifong. What is of my most concern however, is how the faculty at Duke, a great University, reacted when the charges were first brought. Professors on faculty were seen at "castrate" rallies. Some 88 of your professors took out an ad in the local newspaper condemning the lacrosse team. Some lacrosse players were victimized in class, Kyle Dowd being the most notable.
I understand the "group of 88" say there statement had nothing to do with the lacrosse case, but frankly, no reasonable person would believe that. What makes them even more unbelievable, is that none have apologized for stoking the racial tensions that arose from the case, and certainly, I find it extremely unethical for the students own professors out at rallies condemning the players.
The only person employed by Duke to have been publicly humiliated was coach Pressler. The coach, however, it seems, is perhaps one of the more honorable people in the entire hoax.

Mr. Burness, I fully understand that Mr. Nifong threw gasoline on a fire so to speak. We, however, are men of honor, and you and I know that what some people did was dishonorable, and some of those people are employed by Duke. Using the charges of a DA to justify bad behavior is simply disgusting.

Finally, sir, I do not write this letter to be critical of Duke as a whole. I have many friends from that University, and some of them are brilliant. Duke has turned out many a fine person. I think what makes myself, and many, many people angry, is that the University does not seem to want to acknowledge that some of its faculty acted extremely inappropriately, and they have been given a pass in this whole hoax.

Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns,

Respectfully,

R. Bart Day M.D.
SMU Alum, but Duke basketball fan !!

Anonymous said...

President Brodhead stated: "Duke University was also included in the harm in having to respond to the Durham District Attorney’s assurances that a crime had been committed and the unprecedented crisis those assurances unleashed."

No one forced Duke (or Brodhead) to respond in the way they did. Indeed, no one dorced them to do anything. They made choices in admittedly difficult circumstances. But, they were Duke's (and Brodhead's) choices freely taken.

Leadership and character are critical and tough in difficult times. It's easy to demonstrate those qualities when times are easy. One measure of leadership is how one responds in those difficult times. Another measure is how well one atones for past failures and tries to set things right.

In the first part I think Duke and Brodhead failed. Their next test will be the second. If they take and honest look at thir actions I think they have a chance. Otherwise they are doomed to failure and self denial.

Anonymous said...

The minimum I'd expect from Duke (not that they'd listen-hehe) are: a rebuke of the Gang of 88 and an establishment of policy regarding publishing similar ads in the future, for the Gang of 88 to apologize for the presumption of guilt that was so obvious in their ad, for Duke to pay for the students' legal bills, to stop encouraging students to abdicate their rights to Durham Police (maybe hire a retainer for this purpose), to request Durham Police to revisit and revoke their policy of picking on Duke students, and for Duke to just stop this "social-climbing" mentality 'cause it's so pathetic.

Duke alum and Durham resident