News & Observer staff writer Anne Blythe continues to mislead the public with an article in the April 23, 2010 paper titled “Man acquitted in 2008 killing.” In it she writes, “Roy Cooper, the state attorney general, exonerated the three lacrosse players…” This statement is blatantly false and has no factual or legal weight. The attorney general is not capable of exonerating defendants, period. Only a judge or jury can pronounce a defendant “innocent” or “not guilty.” Such adjudication can not be made by the attorney general, a member of the executive branch of government. For the media to make such statements, compromises the essence of those who are legitimately exonerated, such as Gregory Flint Taylor (a three judge panel recently found Greg Taylor innocent of a 1991 murder). Anthony Baker, a law professor at Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, has made this point clear. The role of the attorney general is that of a “trier of facts” and not an adjudicator. To date, I have not heard an attorney or legal scholar say otherwise.
Ms. Blythe went on to say that the state’s investigation found “no evidence that any assault had occurred at a March 2006 spring break lacrosse party.” Well that is hardly surprising, seeing as how the state investigators found no evidence of an assault against inmate Timothy Helms, who while in solitary confinement sustained two skull fractures with resulting brain damage that left him a quadriplegic… in addition to baton-like welts all over his body. The only thing that A.G. Cooper was authorized to say before the media on April 11, 2007 was whether or not the prosecution was going to proceed or whether it was going to dismiss the case. It did the latter.
In perpetually bringing up Roy Cooper’s “Innocence Promulgation” as fact, the media demonstrates its bias (heavily in favor of the Carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants and their attorneys) and grossly misleads the audience it serves. Whenever the opportunity presents… and even when it doesn’t, you can count on The News & Observer and other media outlets to talk about how the three Duke Lacrosse defendants were “exonerated,” “cleared,” or “declared innocent.” Readers should not believe it.
In this particular news article about a man being acquitted of murder, the nexus to the “Innocence Promulgation” and the Duke Lacrosse case originated from the defense attorney Clifton Gray III. According to the newspaper article, Gray likened the case of defendant Khaleel A. Oyeneyin to that “of the Duke lacrosse case in which Crystal Gail Mangum, a stripper, falsely accused three lacrosse team members of a gang-rape.” Now it was important for Ms. Blythe to get Ms. Mangum’s name out in the article in as negative way as possible in order to sustain hostile public opinion against her as she faces flimsy charges in a domestic dispute case in Durham. The fact of the matter is that the Oyeneyin case has very little in common with the Duke Lacrosse case. Oyeneyin was charged with killing his girlfriend, whereas the Duke Lacrosse case was a sexual assault one. That the prosecutors of Oyeneyin relied so much on the testimony of a stripper who said she overheard the defendant admit to the murder, is much closer to the Greg Taylor case in which Prosecutor Tom Ford relied heavily on the testimony of a jail house snitch who stated the defendant made statements that implicated himself.
Because of the intense public animosity generated by the media against Mike Nifong and Crystal Mangum, astute defense attorneys are quick to mention the case in court whenever possible… it’s sure to spur sympathy for the defense lawyer’s client as the public reflects on how those so-called innocent Duke lacrosse boy defendants (who never served one day in jail and walked away from Duke University with a seven million dollar settlement each) were put through so much because of what a dancer said about them at their Spring Break beer-guzzling stripper party. The media, totally in cahoots with Carpetbaggers and on board with their jihadist agenda, takes advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to keep a negative image before the minds of the public. It wants to counter any sympathetic feelings the people may have for a young lady who is being victimized by vendetta justice… payback, plain and simple.
Objective media coverage of Khaleel Oyeneyin’s court case, would not have even mentioned the Duke Lacrosse case, and especially not the name of the accuser Crystal Mangum… but that’s what happens when the media plays favorites. Ultimately, it is up to the media consumer to recognize the prejudicial and flawed statements. Any mention of Cooper’s “Innocent Promulgation” as having legal merit should be a red flag that the media is attempting to play a Jedi mind-trick on you. Don’t let them succeed.
For defense lawyers, invoking the Duke Lacrosse case whenever possible is a clever strategy that will lend itself well to unquestioning jury members (and the public from whom the jury is selected) whose minds have been manipulated to be averse towards Mike Nifong and Crystal Mangum. Gray’s closing statement remarks in reference to the Duke Lacrosse case may have helped win a “not guilty” verdict for his client… it certainly didn’t hurt.
Whereas I do not begrudge the defense for using the lacrosse case to its advantage when possible, I do fault the media for using it in an exploitive manner in order to support the vindictive agenda of the few, well-heeled, privileged, and powerful.