On February 24, 2012, one week prior to Franklin County Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood handing down his decision to permanently remove Tracey Cline from her position as Durham County district attorney, I gave my observations about Cline’s challenges and her hearing to Barry Saunders, the humorously sarcastic columnist for The News & Observer. Specifically, I told him that a single snowflake had a better chance of remaining intact for a year within the bowels of Hades than Tracey Cline had of being reinstated by Judge Hobgood as the district attorney for Durham County. Mr. Saunders had contacted me days prior to get my take; in particular wanting to know if I felt the attempt to remove Cline had any connection to former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. I expressed to him that I definitely not only felt that the media, especially The News & Observer, had targeted Ms. Cline because of her congenial relationship with Mr. Nifong, but also because she is an African American.
Then I proceeded to enlighten Mr. Saunders by explaining to him about the Duke Lacrosse/mainstream media connection. Mr. Saunders, like so many others, was unaware that Ms. Rae Evans, the mother of Duke Lacrosse defendant Dave Evans, had worked as an executive for CBS News for more than a decade, that she then founded and is CEO of a highly successful PR firm in Washington, DC, and that her husband is an attorney in a prominent DC law firm. Even CBS, in violation of acceptable journalistic standards, did not disclose this vital relationship when it interviewed Ms. Evans during its numerous and skewed “60 Minutes” news magazine stories devoted to the Duke Lacrosse case. Possibly this unexpected revelation contributed to his decision to omit any of my comments from his column in the March 3, 2012 edition of the newspaper… a revelation that is supported by an article in today’s newspaper of March 4, 2012.
The News & Observer isn’t through with Tracey Cline… not by a long shot. Now that the N&O has succeeded in dethroning Cline of her position as the top Durham prosecutor, it is moving forward with stage two… having Tracey Cline disbarred. The full court press has begun with an article in today’s March 4th paper by pit bull investigative reporter J. Andrew Curliss titled “Lacrosse case had Cline input.” This is the first admission by the media that I am aware of to confess that it has been targeting Cline because of her relationship with the Duke Lacrosse case and Mike Nifong… it reinforces my long held contention that the Nifong connection was the seed that sowed Cline’s media-instigated downfall. The appearance of the Curliss article helps explain why columnist Barry Saunders chose not to ridicule me in his column for my contention that Cline’s removal was related to her association with Mike Nifong. Not only that, but Barry, who I believe does possess some journalistic ethics, would’ve felt compelled to mention Rae Evans’ connection with CBS News had he made mention of me in his column.
The complaint filed by Durham defense attorney Kerry Sutton, which cited a little known, rarely used elastic law, alleged that District Attorney Cline engaged in “conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brought her office into disrepute.” In quoting that famed philosopher Yogi Berra, “This is deja vu all over again.” Not unlike 2007 when the North Carolina State Bar heaped all of the woes in the state’s justice system upon Mike Nifong’s handling of the Duke Lacrosse case, Judge Hobgood and the media are scapegoating Ms. Cline by accusing her of bringing the justice system into disrepute. The fact is that the present-day condition of the justice system preceded her, and will continue long after her removal. In Durham itself, for example, Crystal Mangum is being held on a charge of first degree murder for stabbing a man in self-defense… a man well on his way to recovery from the wound, but who mysteriously on the third postoperative day went into a coma which led to his elective removal from life support and his death. This prosecution of Ms. Mangum is vendetta motivated, as was the trumped up 2010 arson-related charges she faced. Crystal Mangum is not a criminal; she committed no crimes in 2010 and 2011; and she should not have served a day of jail time. This is the type of biased and vindictive justice that is responsible for Durham’s ill-repute.
That Durhamian Erick Daniels and Shawn Massey, two African Americans who were wrongly convicted of crimes for which they served more than seven and twelve years respectively, were denied pardons by the Governor’s Executive Clemency Board – pardons which are required before they can receive compensation for their wrongful incarcerations – itself brings the North Carolina justice system into disrepute. In denying the petition of Erick Daniels, Governor Bev Perdue’s General Counsel Mark A. Davis refuted my claim that the determination refusing his pardon was because of racial bias. Instead, Mr. Davis claimed that the Governor’s Office had conducted its own investigation which questioned Daniels’ true innocence… but then added that he was unable to back it up by sharing investigative findings with me due to “confidentiality concerns.” Everyone knows that explanation is nothing more than hogwash. Unless the Governor’s Office is willing to publicly prove otherwise, the impetus for rebuking Daniels’ and Massey’s calls for the pardons is due to the color of their skins.
However, one of the most egregious attempts to infringe upon the judicial rights of the people is playing out now in the U.S. District Court in Greensboro, North Carolina, involving the Dukegate Discrimination Scandal of April 2010. Succinctly, Duke University maliciously harassed, humiliated, and intimidated Sidney B. Harr because he was a Nifong supporter, and then attempted to arrest him because he is an African American. When Harr’s attempts to reasonably resolve the incident in good faith were rebuffed by Duke University, he filed a Pro Se lawsuit against the powerful institution alleging discrimination.
What makes this matter so outrageous is that Duke University would choose to fight rather than amicably settle... especially when one realizes the defense Duke’s legal team has chosen to use. First they claim that the wrong individuals (Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead, Duke Law School Dean David F. Levi, and Duke University General Counsel Pamela Bernard) were named as defendants in Harr’s complaint. However, this is through no fault of plaintiff Harr, as he tried at the scene of the incident and for months following to learn the name of the individual(s) responsible for his mistreatment. Other than “the building manager” as quoted by the security guard, and “the Duke Police,” Harr could not learn the identity of the ringleader or other conspirators in the plot against him. Had the actions against Harr been proper, appropriate and above board, then surely someone would have accepted responsibility for them. Harr has the conviction to stand by all actions and statements he makes and take full responsibility for them. Because the intrigue against Harr was so malicious, despicable, and corrupt, no one at Duke University wants to accept responsibility for it. The fact that Harr sent letters to Brodhead and Levi initially, and then included Bernard in all of the subsequent communications definitely affixes legal liability to them.
The second defense used by Duke is that it is immune from discrimination complaints because it is a private institution and not a state one. F. W. Woolworths was not a state agency when it refused lunch counter service to African Americans back in the day when the civil rights wars in the Jim Crow south were at their zenith. This is what Duke University attorneys want the people to believe… that Duke is protected when it discriminates based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc. Without a legitimate defense, Duke is trying its best to stave off an inevitable defeat in court by not allowing the case to go to trial. In other words, Duke is trying to get the Courts to do its dirty work for it. Currently, the case hinges on a Motion to Dismiss filed by the Duke defense.
Because Harr filed as a Pro Se plaintiff, Duke University is unable to undermine his legal representation, a tact which would have been first used if Harr had retained an attorney. Also, since Harr is Pro Se, the Duke defendants cannot rely on any legal consultation to bleed him dry financially. Duke defendants’ only hopes to prevail, with their non-existent defense, against Harr is to prevent the case from going to court. Everything is riding on the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. And Duke University is doing everything in its power to replicate the courtroom course that took place when former lab director Brian Meehan filed a lawsuit against the company which fired him. Meehan, whose lab was used by Prosecutor Mike Nifong in the Duke Lacrosse case, was denied the opportunity to have his wrongful dismissal case heard in court when a judge found in favor of a defense motion to dismiss.
This is the strategy that is being used by Dixie T. Wells, of the Greensboro law firm of Ellis & Winters, LLP. I do not fault the firm for using the “Motion to Dismiss” tactic, as it is available to the defendants and is the only realistic chance for them to prevail. Ellis & Winters, LLP is a business and its priority is its bottom line. Unlike the ideal of a prosecutor in a criminal case whose ultimate goal is to seek justice, the attitude in the realm of civil lawsuits is “justice be damned.” If Ellis & Winters, LLP gives Lady Justice a black eye and defiles Christian morals, it is no big deal as long as the outcome results in a win for its clients.
That Duke University retained a Greensboro law firm to represent it, gives it an upper hand as its legal staff has undoubtedly had dealings with the U.S. magistrate judges. What brings this legal matter into disrepute is the fact that Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp would purposely make false statements (lies) about facts of the case in a manner that is willfully prejudicial in favor of the Duke defendants. Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp’s recommendation to the U.S. District Court to accept the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is now under consideration despite the fact that it contains serious false and misleading statements that Judge Sharp has refused to correct. In an attempt to clarify the facts of the case, Harr filed a motion that the defendants’ Motion to Dismiss be heard in court… a motion which defense attorney Dixie Wells vehemently opposed. The Duke University defendants want the U.S. District Court judge to make a ruling based upon a recommendation that contains blatantly false and misleading statements that go directly to the core of the case. Duke defendants do not want the Court to rule on the Motion to Dismiss based upon the truths of the case.
If the Duke defendants prevail in its Motion to Dismiss, it would set a detrimental precedent of allowing the big and powerful corporations and individuals to keep meritorious complaints against them by ordinary individuals from being heard in court. Individuals with legitimate grievances should not be deprived of the opportunity to have their cases heard in court. Justice should be available to everyone regardless of their class, color, or financial standing.
One thing that the Duke University defendants have been able to rely upon thus far has been the prejudicial silence of the mainstream media. Despite awareness of the Dukegate Discrimination Scandal of April 2010, the media has, in concert, remained silent about it… keeping it hidden from the public. The mainstream media was informed about the discrimination lawsuit against Duke that was filed in April 2011, and keeping true to form, has purposely ignored it, as well. That the media has chosen to collude with Duke University to keep the Dukegate Scandal under wraps puts the mainstream media in violation of important journalism ethics.
Unfortunately, with the engineering of her successful removal from office, the media is now pushing for Tracey Cline’s disbarment; this after finally admitting that its vendetta motive against her was related to her role in the Duke Lacrosse case. Instead of generating news stories and taking sides, the media should focus on objectively reporting about them… all important and relevant stories, even the ones that might cause embarrassment to the big and powerful. Actions by the mainstream media threaten to embed it, alongside the justice system, in disrepute with the public. All Tar Heelians expect and deserve better from the justice system and the mainstream media.