Thursday, May 31, 2007

How you can help

This morning I received an Email. He doesn't say, but the author sounds like a Duke alum. He asks:

Keep it civil and to the point and I think that some pressure on Duke will start to show some yield.

Is there a way for alums and other supporters to show support for the effort. I am sickened by the lack of response from the admin to the behavoir of the faculty.

I'm answering him on this blog.

Absolutely, there are many ways. You can:

* Stop giving money to Duke, and let them know the reason.

* Start writing Duke's donors yourselves. I think it is helpful to send copies of your letters to relevant individuals at Duke.

* Let people know about this blog. While it is not exclusively focussed on the Duke case, I do intend to blog about this effort again.

The main point is, a University can frequently ignore criticism. But if its sources of funding start to dry up, it will pay attention.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

William Jockusch
[street address omitted] (without the xxx -- to foil spammers)

Bill and Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
PO Box 23350
Seattle, WA 98102

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gates,

I write you because your foundation is a donor to Duke University. I admire your decision to use part of your wealth to support higher education. As you know, education opens doors, and Duke has doubtless given a fine education to many deserving people.

However, Duke University needs a wake-up call. The statements of many of its faculty during the recent Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax have been outrageous. I quote a sampling of the worst Duke faculty statements in Appendix 1. These statements have been repeatedly and fiercely criticized in blogs and news reports, but the faculty in question just don't get it. Typically, they are defiant, refuse to apologize, and insist that they are in the right, and the lacrosse team and blogs are somehow wrong. This continues right up to the present. Yet Duke has failed to take any action against these faculty, who include both a large number of professors, and even Duke’s own Dean of the Social Sciences.

I believe it is long past time for Duke to fire most of the faculty quoted in the appendix. While initial outrage at the rape accusiations, before the facts were known, is understandable, it is not understandable that, now that it is known that these accusations were false, nearly all of these faculty refuse to apologize, and many seem to wish that the rape accusations were true. I believe that neither academic credentials nor tenure should excuse their lack of basic human fairness. However, Duke, even with all the criticism its facultys’ actions has engendered, has failed to take any public action. Therefore, I call on you to stop supporting Duke University, just as, I am sure, that at Microsoft you would have fired a division chief who failed to discipline misbehaving employees. It gives me no pleasure to make this request, but I believe it is necessary.

If you fail to act, and instead continue to support Duke, then, regardless of whether you intend to or not, and regardless of whether you like it or not, you are supporting statements like the ones in Appendix 1. I hope and believe you don’t want to do that. And that’s why I’m asking you to stop giving to Duke.


William Jockusch

Richard Brodhead, President, Duke University
Sarah Deutsch, Dean of the Social Sciences, Duke University
Mimi O’Brien, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, Duke University
Posted online on 5/30/07 at
Online version corrected on 6/3/07.

Appendix 1 – Duke faculty statements.
Comments are mine. Emphasis is from the originals.

“There can be no confidence in an administration that believes suspending a lacrosse season and removing pictures of Duke lacrosse players from a web page is a dutifully moral response to abhorrent sexual assault, verbal racial violence, and drunken white male privilege loosed amongst us” – Houston Baker, Professor of English, Duke University, in a letter dated 3/29/06, made public by Mr. Baker at the time, and currently available at

“At Duke University this past spring, the bodies left to the trauma of a campus brought to its knees by members of Duke University’s Lacrosse team were African American and women.”
“The culture of men’s sports . . . remains unindicted in this curious yet predictable aftermath of the men’s lacrosse teams’ documented record of demeaning, brutish, rude, and alcohol-ridden conduct.”
– both by Karla Holloway, Professor of English, Duke University, Summer 2006 issue of the Scholar and Feminist. From the context of the article, it is clear that it was written after April 11, 2006, when it was revealed that DNA tests failed to match any of the accused players to the items from the rape kit. The entire article is currently posted at

“The decision by the university to readmit the students . . .is a clear use of corporate power, and a breach, I think, of ethical citizenship.” – Holloway, resigning from a campus committee to investigate race relations. The decision Ms. Holloway refers to was made public on 1/3/2007, after the accuser had changed her timeline for the attack, and said she was no longer sure she had been raped. Ms. Holloway’s letter is quoted at

“Regardless of the results of the police investigation, what is apparent everyday now is the anger and fear of many students who know themselves to be objects of racism and sexism, who see illuminated in this moment’s extraordinary spotlight what they live with everyday. They know that it isn’t just Duke, it isn’t everybody, and it isn’t just individuals making this disaster.
But it is a disaster nonetheless.
These students are shouting and whispering about what happened to this young woman and to themselves.” -- full-page ad in the Duke Chronicle, signed by 88 faculty, including Sarah [aka Sally] Deutsch, who is currently Dean of the Social Sciences at Duke. The list of signers was formerly posted on Duke’s African and African American Studies website, but has since been removed from there. The full ad is currently available at
The list of signers is currently available at

“There have been public calls to the authors to retract the ad or apologize for it, as well as calls for action against them and attacks on their character. We reject all of these.” – 87 Duke faculty, including many of the original 88, in a letter posted January 16, 2007, and available at

“These three players, an entire team, a team with an unsavory, [unclear] history. The history of the lacrosse team is the history of being inhospitable. The history of being bad neighbors to the Durham community. At the heart of the lacrosse team’s behavior is the racist history of the South”
-- Grant Farred, Professor of Literature, Duke University, in a talk given at Williams College, on April 30, 2007.
This was after the April 12, 2007 announcement by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper that “we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges”.
The talk is quoted online at
The post contains what appear to have been audio links to Professor Farred’s recorded voice, but the links currently do not work.

Appendix 2

Description by Ralph Luker of an encounter with Ms. Deutsch at a May, 2007 conference of the Labor and Working Class History Association.

Sally Deutsch, who is one of "the Duke 88", seemed to think that I should know better than to be found blogging with KC Johnson. She bristled noticeably when I said that, after all, he'd turned out to be correct about the lacrosse case. "You mean about the charges being dropped? she asked. I started to say: "No. Read my lips: ‘There was no rape.'" But the hairs were already standing up from the back of her neck up over to her eyebrows and her eyes were flashing. It's a good thing that KC and I are not looking for a job at Duke. Professor Deutsch has just moved from chairing Duke's history department to dean of the college of arts and sciences.

Mr. Luker’s statement is posted online at
My comment is that if, as Mr. Luker’s statement makes it appear, Ms. Deutsch would not want to hire someone who loudly and publically says there was no rape, then Duke should not employ Ms. Deutsch, and particularly not in a position where she has great influence over hiring decisions.

Appendix 3

A widely-read blog which has continually taken issue with Duke faculty statements. The purpose of this appendix is to show that both Duke and its faculty have had fair warning about the nature of the facultys’ conduct.

Appendix 4

News reports which have taken issue with Duke faculty conduct around the case. Unfortunately, much of this criticism is couched in terms of denouncing “leftist faculty”, rather than denouncing faculty who are just plain wrong. However, like the previous appendix, it shows that both Duke and its faculty have had fair warning.

Hitting Duke where it hurts

The disgraceful actions of many Duke faculty, and even of the Dean of Social Sciences at Duke,
have been documented all over the place. Even when it was obvious to any sensible observer that the players were innocent, the guilty faculty typically refused to apologize. This behavior continues even today, after the North Carolina Attorney General said in no uncertain terms that the players were innocent. Yet Duke has failed to take any public action against the guilty faculty. I believe that the actions of these faculty demonstrate such a deep lack of fundamental fairness that the proper solution is to fire them, tenure or no tenure.

Duke, however, has taken no action against even one of the guilty faculty. This is even true in cases where the faculty in question appear to also be guilty of other conduct which ought to be sufficient grounds for dismissal.

Duke needs a wake up call. And the way to give them one is to get nasty. For this reason, I am going to start a letter-writing campaign to Duke's donors. I will ask them to stop giving money to Duke, and to tell Duke that its failure to discipline its faculty is the reason. Some might object that it is wrong to take an action which would hurt Duke, which surely has given a fine education to many deserving people. I disagree. When an institution strays too far from fundamental fairness, and fails to take dramatic, and planly necessary, action to correct itself, even after the problem is pointed out to it from many quarters, the time for tough love has arrived.

The first letter will be addressed to Bill Gates. I hope to post it soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Arizona finally executes murderer after 20 years

Robert Comer was executed today, 20 years after murdering Larry Pritchard, and raping another woman in front of her boyfriend. Mr. Comer decided in the year 2000 that he wanted to give up his appeals and die. It took him 7 hears to persuade the courts that he was competent to make that decision.

I believe that the death penalty is correct for the likes of Mr. Comer, and it should be done quickly. I believe that we should limit it to cases where evidence of guilt is overwhelming. Overwhelming evidence would consist of one of the following:

1) A single item that is very difficult to fake and is absolutely convincing. Such as a videotape of the person committing the murder.

2) Two or more chains of logic, each of which independently points to the killer. At least one of these chains should consist of physical evidence.

If one of these two conditions is met, then give the person a few months to raise any doubts about their guilt that they may have failed to raise during the trial. If they can't raise significant doubt, then go ahead and execute them. And I don't care how much pain they feel.

Monica Goodling's testimony

Watching parts of Ms. Goodling's testimony today, my feeling was that she was forthright and candid. Perhaps this is because she had immunity, while others who testified earlier did not.

My other feeling was that Congress are the wrong people to be doing this type of investigation. Everybody wants to score their political points, and that tends to get in the way of the search for the truth.

For instance, after months of Congressional investigations, we still don't know who put together the list of attorneys to be asked to resign, and why each name was added to the list. While primary responsibility for our continuing ignorance lies squarely on the Justice department, I can't help but feel that a professional presecutor would have gotten to the truth by now.

Monica Goodling to testify today

Monica Goodling will testify before the House Judiciary Committee, starting at 10:15 this morning. She had previously plead the fifth to avoid testifying but has now been granted immunity and compelled to testify.

I am very curious just what crimes she is guilty of that led her to plead the fifth, and who,
if anyone, else was involved.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jury nullification in Atlanta

In an apparent case of jury nullification, Jeanine Echols was acquitted of 16 felony counts for lying on government forms to get her children into better schools, without paying out-of-district tuition. According to the article, residency checks revealed 197 cheaters in the last two years, but only Echols' case made it as far as a trial. Coincidentally or not, Ms. Echols appears to be African American.

Has the Bush administration politicized corruption investigations?

A very interesting study suggests that the Bush Justice department is investigates allegations of corruption by Democratic officials far more frequently than it does allegations of corruption by Republican officials. Specifically, 78% of the corruption investigations they found had Democratic targets, vs. 18% for Republicans.

This isn't (yet) an open-and-shut case, but it is highly suspicious. Some natural questions:

1. As the authors themselves admit, they didn't find every investigation. They relied on search engines to come up with what they could. But if word of an investigation never reached the press, or if they missed it in their searches, we wouldn't have it.

2. When I look at the site of the people who are publicizing this study (, I get the impression that they have an anti-Republican bias. So while it is entirely possible that this study gives the full story, I would not be confident that it does until the whole thing is evaluated by a more neutral source (e.g. Newsweek).

3. In light of points 1 and 2, it would be interesting if the Justice department were to release complete data on public corruption investigations and the party affiliations of their targets.

4. I wonder what the picture was under past administrations? For instance, do Democratic administrations tend to disproportionately investigate Republicans?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The rot runs deep

Many people were responsible for the Duke Rape Hoax. The responsible parties include:

1) Crystal Magnum, who originated it,

2) SANE nurse Tara Levicy, who appears to have substituted her opinions for the facts in her report on the examination of Crystal Magnum

3) Durham police officer Benjamin Himan, who signed a false affidavit to obtain DNA from the players and authorize the infamous photo identification procedure that led to the infamous photo identification procedure that identified the three "suspects",

4) Durham police officer Mark Gottlieb, who conducted that procedure,

5) investigator Linwood Wilson, who appears to have helped Crystal Magnum change her story to match the then-available evidence,

4) Gottlieb (again), who produced some highly suspect typewritten notes months after certain events, and which contradicted contemporaneous notes of those events

6) Of course, Mike Nifong, who oversaw the whole case, and is by far the most culpable.

These people work for three different employers -- Duke University, the Durham Police Department, and the 14th North Carolina Prosecutorial District. Amazingly, not one of these employers has seen fit to fire their respective employees, despite their culpability in the Hoax. To the contrary:

1) Tara Levicy still works for Duke University.

2) The Durham Police Department has tried to whitewash its officers' culpability.

3) North Carolina judge Orlando Hudson, when presented with a complaint seeking Nifong's removal, chose to do nothing for the time being. Nifong is the subject of a complaint by the North Carolina bar, which will be tried in June. To date, that is the only public action taken against any perpetrator of the Hoax.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Using the Duke case to assess credibility

The Duke case has the interesting benefit of allowing one to assess the credibility of various people and organizations -- especially those with a liberal point of view. Conservative organizations and people generally got this one right because their natural tendency was to
believe the defense case. So the fact that they did so doesn't tell us anything about whether they are credible or not. Assessment of their credibility will have to wait for another issue.

So, with that in mind, here are my assessments:

Susan Estrich grade: A-.

A rape victim herself, she initially followed her natural instincts and had a hard time believing the defense. However, as the facts came out, she at first saw that Mike Nifong had mishandled the press, then that he had not followed proper legal procedure, then that he was completely out of control and had lost his moral compass, and at last that he was a liar who has used a very confused woman.

The only quibble I have with Ms. Estrich is that I believe each of these points was clear long before she made it. So it took a long time for the facts to overwhelm her inner predispositions. However, it is greatly to her credit that she eventually allowed them to do so.

The New York Times grade: F

The New York Times gave the worst reporting of the case. It's transparently misleading front-page August 2006 article has been torn to shreds in blog after blog after blog after blog, and yet the Times had the gall to claim that they "generally fairly reported both sides". I guess that 5700-word news article just didn't have space to mention that there was a time-stamped photo of one of the "suspects" at another location when he was supposedly comitting the crime.

Hillary Clinton grade: C

As best I can tell, Clinton has not mentioned the case at all. Perhaps she fears that attacking Nifong would offend some of her supporters, while mentioning the case without doing so would definitely offend many other people.

Barack Obama grade: A

Apparently not afraid of what feathers he might ruffle, Obama has had the courage to state the obvious.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Captain Sarvis' dilemma

Capt. Ed Sarvis, who heads up internal affairs and professional standards at the Durham Police Department, is in a difficult position. If he says there was wrongdoing by the police, he is being insubordinate to his chief who, judging by the official report, appears to want to sweep all problems under the rug. However, if he does not say this, I believe he is failing in his duty to make sure the Durham Police Force is honest. I thought it would be interesting to look at other people who have faced similar dilemmas but chosen to speak up.

Sherron Watkins of Enron was willing to write a letter to CEO Ken Lay that the company's accounting was not right. At the time, her acts surely brought her a chilly reception from Mr. Lay and from other people she worked with. But later, Time Magazine named her
Person of the Week, and she was able to write a book about her experiences. She was also criticized because, although she did bring up her concerns internally, she failed to take them public until after the Enron scandal broke. The publicity associated with her letter to Mr. Lay did give her many speaking engagements. And her fate was far better than that of Mr. Lay, who was convicted of six counts of fraud and conspiracy for his role in the scandal, but died of a heart attack before he could begin serving his sentence.

Former Detroit deputy chief Gary Brown investigated alleged wrongdoing by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his security detail. For doing his job, Brown's reward was that he was fired. Brown sued, charging wrongful termination, and is now locked in a lengthy court battle with the Mayor.

History's most famous whistleblower was Winston Churchill. Almost alone among his contemporaries, he recognized the threat of Nazi Germany as early as 1933. He fought tirelessly for higher British military spending, and was rewarded by political isolation. However, shortly after history proved Churchill to be alarmingly correct about Hitler, Churchill became Prime Minister, and oversaw the British efforts for the rest of the war.

It is clear that in each of these cases, the whistleblower's life initially became more difficult as a result of his or her whistleblowing. I imagine these type of considerations are driving Capt. Sarvis' decision to support his chief. However, in two of the above cases, the whistleblower's efforts were rewarded in the long run. The exception is Gary Brown, who may be rewarded eventually, but for the time being is locked in a doubtless difficult and frustrating court battle.

Conversation with Capt. Ed Sarvis of the Durham Police

Yesterday I put in a phone call to Capt. Ed Sarvis, who is in charge of professional standards and internal affairs at the Durham Police Department. He wasn't in, so I left a message, saying I had some concerns about the Department's handling of the case that I wanted to discuss with him. To my surprise and delight, he did call me back today, and we discussed the matter at length. He was of the opinion that the police handled the case just fine. This was disappointing, but I was encouraged that he was willing to discuss the matter at length with someone who held a different view.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Durham Police Report

The Durham Police have issued their official report on their handling of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Hoax. As you may remember, this is the case where despite overwhelming evidence of innocence, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong charged Duke students and Lacrosse players Reade Seligmann, Colin Finnerty, and David Evans with rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping, and the legal battle lasted for over a year. Unsurprisingly, the police report does not fault any of the police conduct in the case. One claim in the report:

"Investigators made consistent attempts and were always interested in obtaining exculpatory information. Claims that have been made to the contrary are simply unfounded."

Oh really? For example, did the investigators attempt to check out the exculpatory information that was broadcast on 60 Minutes? Did they follow up on the exculpatory leads that were broadcast on ABC News? Did they check out the exculpatory leads in the Wikipedia article on the case? Did they try the standard investigative technique of contacting the cell phone service provider for Reade Seligmann to see if they might have any evidence, exculpatory or otherwise? Did they ever ask Crystal Magnum about the endless inconsistencies in her various stories about the "attack"? Did they fail to notice the exculpatory results of the prosecution's DNA tests? Did they check out the exculpatory story of cabbie Moez Elmostafa, when they were arresting him on a trumped up shoplifting charge? Did they check out the endless exculpatory evidence presented in KC Johnson's Blog? Did they notice the exculpatory fact, mentioned in the report itself, that Crystal Magnum couldn't identify any suspects on her first six attempts to do so? Did they ever interview Julie Manly, who performed the rape exam on Crystal Magnum, to see if she might have any exculpatory information? Did they try a google search on "Duke Rape", to see if that might bring up any exculpatory hits?

The report spends two pages talking about supposed police attempts to obtain exculpatory evidence. But it does not mention any police attempt to check out these obvious exculpatory leads.