Duke Case Prosecutor Lambasted as Media Hypocrisy is Revealed – MB#322

APRIL 12 2007 – Maybe the public and much of the media needed to see a group of what they consider to be ‘more acceptable faces’ on the issue of {tag false allegations} before they finally got that not every accuser in a high profile case tells the truth? Some of them certainly didn’t seem to ‘get it’ during the Michael Jackson case from 2005.

The Durham District Attorney (DA), {tag Mike Nifong}, is going through hell to keep from getting disbarred because of his actions in relation to what used to be called the {tag Duke rape case}. 

Nifong  has been accused of a serious set of charges including withholding evidence from the defense and lying to the court and State Bar investigators, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun (Nifong faces additional charges ).

As he is being made to answer to serious career ending offenses and ethics violations, the Attorney General for the State of North Carolina held a press conference totally clearing the 3 accused LaCrosse players of rape allegations.

Watching Nifong get his come-uppings only makes me wish the media and the ‘powers-that-be’ had also taken a scathingly critical eye to Tom Sneddon and his office during the prosecution of Michael Jackson.

Attorney General (AG), Roy Cooper, was called into the case once investigations began into accusations of Nifong’s prosecutorial misconduct.

During the press conference, Cooper actually called the accused players “innocent” and announced he had dropped the charges against them. The charges may not have been dropped had the State Bar not stepped in, investigated and ultimately filed ethics charges against Nifong.

The AG’s office investigated to see just what in hell was going on with a case which appeared to be on the fast track for trial regardless of the facts coming out about the lack of evidence.

Yesterday, we the public got to see how justice is really served and how having REAL third party oversight can make the difference between somebody’s entire life being unfairly put on trial, and somebody being rightly cleared without having to go through a hellish 2, 3 or 4 month trial.

Unfortunately, we the public are also witnessing hypocrisy with the way many talking heads have covered and analyzed the Duke case in comparison to their coverage of the Jackson case.

What do these two cases have in common? What does the coverage have in common?

The Duke allegation involved contradictory stories from the accuser, no DNA match, and alleged prosecutorial misconduct to say the least.

The Jackson allegation involved contradictory stories from the accuser, no DNA match, a changing timeline and alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

Personally, I didn’t believe the accuser in the Duke case…once the info started to leak about the facts of the case. I do think it’s asinine the way the three men were put on trial in the media by Nifong and initially by many media pundits.

What’s the difference between these two cases? The difference is that the media generally appeared to hate Jackson, and based much of their hate on thinking he got away with something in 1993 despite no evidence and no trial.

With the “three boys” accused in the Duke case, the media’s general attitude was that they were spoiled rapists initially, but later came to like these 3 men and see them as the victims of a heinous allegation.

What happened in the coverage of the Duke case which was missing from the coverage of the Jackson case is that certain media pundits, hosts, analysts, etc. have publicly corrected themselves after their initial “OMG-the-Duke-rapists!” response.

Also missing in the Jackson case were uncorrupted, outside authorities with the power to take a clear look at the case. With the Duke case, information from defense attorneys coupled with oversight from the State Bar and the AG’s office finally caused many in the media to begin openly stating the obvious: the evidence just wasn’t there and the charges should have been dropped.

Just like Nifong, the prosecutors in Jackson’s “case” didn’t seem to have it together either, and preferred to further the “case” in the media with personal assurances that there was even a “case” to begin with.

Often, the accused Duke players would be referred to as “these three boys”, “these children”, and “these three kids” by many media commentators for the past year who felt like they were being falsely accused.

Jackson was called everything from “wacko” to “child molester”. In the Jackson case, it was only after the travesty of a trial and his full acquittal that some pundits openly began to admit they could have been wrong to prejudge the case. However, you probably won’t get a prosecutor on the record to state the obvious: Jackson is innocent and shouldn’t have been prosecuted with those preposterous allegations.

 

__Legal compare and contrast__
The lawyers for the accused Duke Lacrosse players appeared on Anderson 360 April 11 2007. Some of attorney Jim Cooney’s comments about Mike Nifong could directly apply to {tag Tom Sneddon} from Jackson’s “case”. He told Cooper:

Well the problem is we had a prosecutor who simply wasn’t interested in finding the facts. He had his theory of the case. He believed he knew what the truth was. He really wasn’t interested in either hearing evidence from us or in hearing what the actual facts were. (Anderson 360 April 11 2007)

Similar comments were made both by Jackson’s previous attorney, {tag Mark Geragos}, and by attorney {tag Thomas Mesereau} when they were talking about Sneddon in 2003…2004…2005.

Before, during, and after the Jackson trial, the defense came as close as one could come to proving a negative. That is, every piece of exculpatory evidence either directly refuted or spoke towards refuting unproven witness/prosecutor accusations.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has helped to restore the faith that there are higher-ups somewhere who aren’t buck-passing, political whores that would rather bury their head in the sand than do the hard job of investigating a prosecutor who appeared to have jumped the tracks of justice.

Too bad he wasn’t the AG of California a few years ago. The North Carolina AG made some of the strongest statements I have ever heard any authority figure make about the guilt or innocence of an accused party.

He told the room full of reporters and millions of viewers that the accused men were innocent and inferred that Nifong was a rogue prosecutor. He also said that the case was the result of a “tragic rush to accuse”. From the press conference:

The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. …We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges. … In this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence, that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house on that night.

Yikes! Where have I heard of a situation where an accuser’s inconsistencies were significantly contrary to the evidence?

Hum…that might have been when the accusing family in the Jackson case claimed they were being held hostage at Neverland during the same time they were out shopping…spending Jackson’s money…going to the movies…going out to eat…getting body waxes…and being flown to Florida with {tag Chris Tucker} on a private jet!

The accuser’s story changed dramatically as well. At first he claimed molestation began at the beginning of February 2003 right after the {tag Martin Bashir} mock-umentary aired.

The story later changed to claiming it began at the end of Feb 2003 and spilled over into March. Because of the changing story, the number of alleged acts of molestation in the false claim changed as well (see Why Did Prosecutors Abandon Initial Charges Filed Dec 2003? – MB #229).

His brother’s testimony was also filled with incredible inconsistencies from the original allegations, the grand jury testimony, and the trial testimony (see Trial Review: Testimony of Brother Filled with Inconsistencies & Illogical Allegations – MB #293).

Jackson was in Florida during some of the prosecution’s timeline of allegations. The public and the jurors were asked to believe that the accuser was laid up in Jackson’s California ranch getting molested while Jackson was on the other side of the nation during some of that time.

I was half expecting prosecutors to claim that Jackson may have telepathically molested the accuser! This is, of course, based on the first set of allegations. You remember those, don’tcha? There were at least two different timelines to go along with the three different versions of allegations.

Hardly any talking head caught this AND made as big of a deal out of it because it had the double whammy of being both ridiculous and not physically possible.

Similarly, in the Duke “case”, at least two of the players have evidence that they weren’t in the house during the time the accuser claims the rape took place. I guess they telepathically raped her? What did she do to try to get around it? The same thing Jackson’s accuser did: change the allegation to fit around the facts.

Getting back to the AG’s press conference about the Duke case, he continued to talk about why the charges were being dropped. More from the press conference:

However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence like photographs and phone records could not be rectified. …No DNA confirms the accuser’s story. …Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself.

Where have I heard of a situation where an accuser’s story contradicts independent evidence, like phone records?

Hum…that might have been when the accusing family in the Jackson case claimed they were at Neverland and around Jackson during a time where phone records put them at the mother’s boyfriend’s house calling Chris Tucker in an effort to help them find where Jackson was.

The North Carolina AG also went after the shoddy-ass job Mike Nifong did with prosecuting the case. From the press conference:

In this case with the weight of the State behind him, the Durham District Attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in this case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn a community and a state, [he] lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons that this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Yesterday we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody.

In the Jackson case, many, including myself, thought the case was being pushed forward by the powers-that-be without any type of check on the prosecution.

The {tag 100 search warrants} or more sought and granted to the prosecutors may have been an indication.

Caution should have been the rule in the Jackson case. Instead, it started off with an arrogant prosecutor holding a joking press conference; a press conference where he essentially vouched for the truthfulness of the accuser in the case.

What turned out to be false leaks to the media about evidence (allegedly from those close to the prosecution) also served to bolster the media’s call to let the Jackson trial go forward despite the lack of evidence and contradictory facts.

In a Nov 5 2004 Santa Barbara News-Press article, it was reported that Thomas Mesereau, one of Jackson’s attorneys, informed the court that the accuser’s DNA was not found on Jackson’s mattress seized during the ransacking of Neverland in Nov 2003.

The defense discovered this fact after having to file a Motion to Compel to force prosecutors to hand over the information. In a slightly more sinister way, in the Duke case, DNA evidence of no link between the accuser and the accused was purposely kept from the defense for as long as possible.

The problem with the Jackson “case” is that there was no third- or fourth-party investigation into what the prosecutors may have kept from the defense. Some Sneddon critics admitted during the run-up to the 2005 trial that he had lost the ability to be objective.

From courtroom transcripts and under-oath admissions, the public found out that Sneddon had become personally involved in this case: meeting by himself with the accuser’s mother in a parking lot to take “evidence”, handing her papers to get Victim’s Compensation funds, and becoming personally involved in the police investigation.

There was such questionable behavior going on by Sneddon’s office that he himself became a freakin’ witness in the case he was prosecuting! That almost never happens with a District Attorney! He took the stand in a pre-trial hearing and answered questions about his actions.

Even the obnoxious Kimberly Guilfoyle commented about Sneddon’s behavior. She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper the following:

It is highly unusual. And here you just don’t have an assistant D.A., you have the head district attorney himself, Tom Sneddon, who’s really interjecting in this case, going on — basically putting himself into the investigation, going to this investigator’s place, his place of office, taking photographs. It is basically doing this himself when he’s supposed to allow the police to do it. There is a good argument that he would have to recuse himself because it is improper. …Yes, he even volunteered to testify. It is the last thing any district attorney wants to do is make themselves a witness, “I’ll take the stand and talk about it”. He says, "I have nothing to hide." It is preposterous. He should stay out of it, let his office and the police handle it. And anything he says could be used if it becomes relevant at the trial himself. (see Transcript: Anderson 360: Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsome Re: Sneddon possible witness)

Lawyers for the three accused Duke Lacrosse players say that they may have grounds to go after DA Nifong because he essentially did what Sneddon is alleged to have done: make himself a part of the investigation by acting like a police officer instead of a prosecutor. But Sneddon wasn’t removed and no one stepped in to investigate what was going on unlike in the Duke case.

Unlike the Jackson case, in the Duke case there were no previous accusers. However, just like in the Jackson case, the accuser had previously accused other people of things which turned out not to be true.

Specifically in the {tag J.C. Penney} case, the accuser had to admit that he lied under oath. He also appeared to lie to help his mother by backing her allegations that she was sexually abused by J.C. Penney guards after they were caught shoplifting (see Ranieri Hears JC Penney Sex Abuse Alleg. for 1st Time in Depo – MB#273).

There was also evidence that he could be ‘conning’ and manipulative to get money from other people.

 

__The Media says ‘I told you so’?__
After yesterday’s press conference from AG Ray Cooper, some of the media appeared to be openly outraged at the prosecutor without also pointing a finger to their own colleagues’ behavior.

The media’s Duke case coverage was generally not supportive but later came to be so when exculpatory information started to trickle out about the player’s innocence. When the same thing happened in the Jackson case, even those who were skeptical of Sneddon still wanted Jackson to go to trial and be judged by a jury.

There were no raucous calls for dropping the charges like in the Duke case. Even more infuriating is the fact that some of those who were ready to put Jackson under a jail house in California without any evidence were, on the flipside, publicly outraged about why the charges hadn’t been dropped against the Duke players.

Now the public is supposed to lament about ‘these poor boys’ whose lives have been ‘ruined’ and ‘put on hold for a year’ after some in the media were previously condemning them for being ‘rich white boys who think they’re above the law’?

What caused this correction in the collective media’s normal ‘chicken-little’ behavior is the overwhelming evidence either leaked or discovered through court documents. Much of the media jumped on the Duke case because it’s a high profile case. Okay. I get that.

Pundits and even the hosts of some cable shows, before yesterday, were all but flat out calling the rape allegation a hoax.

Actually Tucker Carlson (MSNBC) literally said the word “hoax” and had been railing for “justice” long before now; “justice” meaning that the accused shouldn’t have to face charges at trial.

There were no such vociferous proclamations by Carlson during the Jackson trial despite the ridiculously contradictory allegations against him. Surprise, surprise.

Today (April 12), I thought I was in the Twilight Zone when I heard Carlson confronting {tag Wendy Murphy} about her previous and numerous on-air proclamations of guilt about the Duke players.

Tucker told the seemingly delusional Murphy that she was wrong and he was right. What’s interesting is that Carlson didn’t do the same with the Jackson case. Both he and Murphy were both on the wrong side of that “case” and neither one went out of their way to call for caution before jumping to cover Jackson’s “case” like Jackson’s guilt was a foregone conclusion.

Carlson chided Murphy by saying “Will you apologize to the three Duke students whom you accused again and again and again…of a felony sex crime? Look at the camera and say ‘I’m sorry’.” Ha!

There’s not a chance in hell that Carlson would openly apologize to Jackson after his full acquittal after a trail with zero evidence.

Carlson also told Murphy that she wasn’t on the side of justice, but rather on the side of ‘mob-justice’. Ha!

I remember Carlson on a June 13 2005 show suggesting that Jackson had organized his life around attracting or enticing young boys. And this was the day of Jackson’s acquittal! I could say Carlson was part of ‘mob-justice’ where Jackson was concerned (see Not Guilty Verdict Sparks Media Meltdown – MJEOL Bullet #274).

What I don’t get is why this same type of Duke case skepticism managed to elude their flapping mouths during the 2005 Jackson trial as an avalanche of exculpatory evidence came flooding down from both independent reporting and defense investigation.

 Commenting on the very strong language from the Attorney General, Fox News’s Shephard Smith was visibly outraged that the Duke case was allowed to go forward, knowing the facts of the case. He told prosecutor and guest Arthur Aidala:

SMITH: Arthur, we knew the DNA didn’t match. The lawyers on both sides knew it. Everyone on both sides knew the DNA did not match….The knew it! We all knew it! …Arthur, there was no DNA!

I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head as his voice rose to a screaming level. Keep in mind that this is the same Smith who covered the Jackson case, snide insults and all.

I personally have never heard Smith so much as even seriously suggest that Jackson could be the victim of false allegations from an overzealous prosecutor.

And don’t even get me started on prosecutor {tag Susan Filan} over at MSNBC who also took the prosecution’s side in just about every issue discussed during the mob-atmosphere of media coverage in the Jackson “case”! The only person I specifically remember asking whether or not the “case” against Jackson should continue was {tag Joe Scarborough} (MSNBC) after hearing about an investigation by the {tag Los Angeles Dept of Children & Family services} ({tag DCFS}) happening right in the middle of the prosecution’s timeline. He’s far from a Jackson-supporter, by the way.

Scarborough would later continue to drift in and out of sanity (figuratively speaking) when covering Jackson-related issues during and after the trial. So excuse me if I don’t pat the media on the back for publicly coming to their senses, and exerting some public pressure for investigations into the Durham DA’s office.

They should have done the same thing – and accepted nothing less – during the Jackson case. Regardless of whether or not the media generally likes the defendant, it’s imperative that when things are obviously ridiculous (like the allegations in both cases) the media should say so.

And when it’s proven that their information is false and that they may have persecuted an innocent person, the same ones who were calling for a conviction should admit that they got it wrong.

They should also admit that they fell into a pattern of group-think and only believed what they wanted to believe about Jackson. The Duke students have been officially cleared of felonious sexual acts without having to go to trial.

Too bad Jackson’s “case” wasn’t resolved in a similar fashion before his entire life was put on trial one Playboy magazine at a time. The only ones who turned out to be incredibly embarrassed was the Santa Barbara DA’s office.

And it seems as if the only one who will turn out to be incredibly embarrassed in the Duke case is DA Mike Nifong and whoever supported him.

Your comments?

-MJEOL

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