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As I have stated before, the trial and inquisition given to Joan of Arc by the English was far fairer and much more humane than the state’s treatment afforded to Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse case victim/accuser. Ms. Mangum has clearly been subjected to a malign vendetta-driven prosecution by a wide ranging cabal of conspirators with a goal of exacting misguided payback for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case… and you can bet that their pursuit of this persecution is based in part on the fact that she is an African American woman. Those colluding to subvert justice and punish Mangum consist of the medical examiner Dr. Clay Nichols, the mainstream media (which to date has done a magnificent job of concealing the truth from the masses), and the Enablers… individuals and organization who are in positions to help put a halt to the injustices against Mangum, such as the NAACP, but elect to remain silent and do nothing due to lack of will, lack of courage, or both. One of the prosecution’s most valued and no-so-secret weapon is H. Wood Vann, the defense attorney for Crystal Mangum. The fact that he was the Court’s initial choice in appointing a defense attorney, speaks volumes as the entire Tar Heelian justice system has been and is now relying on him to do the bidding of the prosecutors.
Although the State’s initial goal may have been to win a conviction for first degree murder in order to hand Mangum a life sentence, the intervention by the grass roots organization Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong has taken that draconian option out of play and placed the prosecution on defense. The State, representing the city of Durham, is now fighting to extract a plea deal (preferably to a felony) for time served in order to extricate the City of Bull from any civil liability for its malicious prosecution of Mangum. And it is Mangum’s own attorney, Woody Vann, who has been given the mandate to deliver her on a silver platter to Durham prosecutor Charlene Coggins-Franks. You can bet that Mr. Vann will continue to dutifully carry out his assignment as he already indicated that he does not intend to step aside amidst criticism and accusations of some Mangum supporters… accusations against which he has no answer and which include the following:
(1) his failure to file a motion to dismiss the murder charge due to lack of probable cause and a charge based upon a blatantly bogus autopsy report;
(2) his failure to file a motion to dismiss the larceny of chose in action charge due to lack of probable cause;
(3) his withholding important exculpatory evidence from his client including photographs which document her injuries and suggest that Reginald Daye was the aggressor;
(4) his withholding important exculpatory evidence from his client including the report from Dr. Christena L. Roberts which assesses Daye’s cause of death and the autopsy report by Dr. Nichols; and
(5) his testing the waters on behalf of the prosecutors to see if Mangum was ready to accept a plea deal by presenting one to her and advising her to take it… saying that she had a weak case.
For Mr. Vann to suggest that the case for Mangum’s defense is weak when the prosecution is willing to drop a first degree murder charge to assault with a deadly weapon for time served (about 500 days at the time) shows the ludicrous nature of his contentions about the offer. Rest assured that after Ms. Mangum is softened up with more jail time, the plea deal will be offered once more, because the prosecution is not going to take this case to trial, because it has no case. And because, as Mangum’s legal counsel, Mr. Vann holds a position of his client’s trust, he is charged with bringing about her downfall.
On September 18, 2012, Mr. Vann and his collaborators put on a court performance in which he was pretending to valiantly fight to have Ms. Mangum’s bail reduced from $200,000 to $50,000. I felt all along that this event was staged for Mangum’s benefit and that all participants involved in this charade knew that there was absolutely no way in Hades that her bail would be reduced one cent. Vann had been taking a lot of well-deserved criticism from Mangum supporters for not doing anything for his client, so in response he felt forced to put on this little courtroom drama. Mr. Vann’s true allegiances and fidelity are evidenced by his actions in which includes his failure to seek dismissal of the bogus charges against Mangum, his withholding all pertinent discovery and evidence not already in her possession from her, his infrequent visits and lack of communication with his client, and his general lack of urgency and willingness to allow Mangum to unjustly sit in jail separated from her three children. The bottom line is that Mr. Vann has sold his soul to the Blue Devil, as his priorities obviously are to protect Duke University and its hospital from negative publicity.
Because it is obvious to anyone with at least one functioning gray matter neuron that the stab wound inflicted by Mangum was not responsible for Reginald Daye’s brain death and subsequent elective removal from life support a week later and resultant death, the defense and prosecution have even shifted their stories to suggest that Mr. Daye’s brain death was due to a massive aspiration following a bout of emesis. Even the mainstream media is going along with this misdirection by not mentioning the fact that Mr. Daye was improperly intubated by Duke University Hospital staff. This medical mistake that attorneys on both sides and the media are trying to keep covered up led to hypoxia which resulted in brain death and Daye’s comatose state.
In addition to protecting Duke University Hospital’s reputation, Mr. Vann is entrusted with eliminating any legal liability Ms. Mangum has against the city of Durham for bringing a malicious prosecution against her. The privileged Duke Lacrosse defendants, who never spent a single day in jail and who were able to shake down Duke University for $20 million each, feel that they are now entitled to receive $10 million each from the city of Durham just because Attorney General Roy Cooper felt pressured by Joe Cheshire to proclaim that the Duke Lacrosse defendants were “innocent.” Not only that, but the mainstream media has lionized and coddled these boys while viciously attacking Crystal Mangum and labeling her as a liar who is emotionally unstable, violent, irrational and a threat to society. In this backdrop, Ms. Mangum’s attorney is trying to wrangle from her a plea deal that would let the city and its prosecutors off the hook for compensation she rightfully deserves for a premeditated vindictive and malicious prosecution that has deprived her of her liberty for nearly a year and a half and deprived her of contact with her three children who love her and need her.
Whereas Mr. Vann is the prosecution’s not-so-secret weapon against Ms. Mangum, the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong and Mangum’s supporters are her only weapons against an injustice system bent on making her suffer because of politics related to the Duke Lacrosse case. Legal layperson Sidney Harr, a retired physician who has been sounding the alarm about serious problems with the Nichols’ autopsy report of April 14, 2011 since its release to the public in mid-August 2011, has helped Ms. Mangum draft and file motions to the court to dismiss the charges against her. The result netted by his action has been for the North Carolina State Bar to investigate Harr for the unauthorized practice of law; the action originating from complaints by “more than one journalist,” and whose identities have been hidden by the Bar which assumed the role of complainant for that specific purpose. Then, when Harr filed a Pro se petition for writ of mandamus to order prosecutors to dismiss charges against Mangum for lack of probable cause and to order attorney Vann to desist from withholding evidence and discovery from his client Mangum, the State Bar launched another investigation for unauthorized law practice (this one scheduled to be heard on October 24, 2012). However, all of Harr’s complaints filed with the Bar against prosecutors Kelly Gauger and Charlene Coggins-Franks (for malicious prosecution against Mangum without probable cause) and H. Wood Vann (for withholding evidence and prosecution discovery from his client Mangum) were not acted upon.
What contributes to making this an uphill battle for the Committee and Mangum supporters is the silence and idleness of the enablers – NAACP, the ACLU, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (in Durham), politicians (including those in the North Carolina General Assembly), and civil rights and religious community leaders. It is understandable why people refuse to get involved in trying to help Crystal Mangum… they realize that to do so is politically incorrect and they justifiably fear the consequences. A lesson was learned in 2007 in North Carolina when former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was persecuted by the state, disbarred by the State Bar, and crucified in the media because he went forward with his prosecution of the three defendants in the Duke Lacrosse case… that lesson being that acting ethically and with professional integrity will not protect an individual from being mauled by the system. This has even been borne out in this situation as Harr has already been confronted twice by the NC State Bar… actions against him initially instigated by the media.
I am of the firm belief that Dr. Clay Nichols felt under duress to go along with the program and issue a report he knew to be fraudulent in order to wrongly implicate Mangum lest he be subjected to the torturous treatment meted out to Mr. Nifong. The politicizing of Duke Lacrosse related issues have cast a pall over the state’s criminal justice system unlike any other case, forcing some good and decent people to unwillingly take part in corruption and others to look the other way. The timorous NAACP is looking the other way and has been quiet as a dormouse when it comes to the gross injustices against Ms. Mangum… as has the aforementioned enablers. Governor Bev Perdue has been apprised of the injustice against Mangum as has Attorney General Roy Cooper, and they have both elected to ignore the issue and allow an innocent mother of three to remain locked behind bars because of a misguided vendetta.
The Committee is engaged in waging a lonely battle for justice with the enablers being effectively throttled by a statewide reign of political-inspired terror that is ant-Nifong and anti-Mangum. After peeling off the veneer to expose the true nature of the prosecution’s not-so-secret weapon, it is time for Crystal Mangum to jettison Mr. Vann… deadweight that is undermining her case while propping up hopes for the prosecution. For example, Mr. Vann has consistently been inconsistent in his explanations about prosecution discovery and evidence. First he tells Ms. Mangum that he has received Dr. Roberts’ report but will withhold it from her. Then, after confronted by the Committee he states that he has not yet received the report. First he tells Ms. Mangum that he will withhold from her the photographs taken by prosecution related to the April 2011 incident… photographs which document her injuries at Daye’s hand and the other exculpatory evidence. Then, after pressed by the Committee, he told Ms. Mangum that he sent the disc containing the photographs to the printer and they came up blank. The most recent explanation is that the photographs provided by the prosecution show only images of smoke damage to the apartment in the 2010 case… that he has no images related to the 2011 case. Durham Police Forensics report (Note: the smoke damage was the result of Durham Police officers allowing clothing on fire in a bathtub to burn for fifteen minutes without any attempt by officers to intervene and douse the blaze by turning on the bathtub spigot or shower.) He gave Mangum no indication as to when he would have possession of the above referenced evidence and discovery. He gave her no indication of any action he might take to expedite there retrieval… documents and evidence that holds the key to her release from custody and the dismissal of charges against her as the photos support her claims of self-defense and the Roberts report will undoubtedly reinforce the baseless foundation for the prosecution’s murder charge.
As this justice system tragedy continues to play out, Mangum’s sole supporters will continue to carry the good fight against the state and its not-so-secret weapon… Woody Vann, a wolf in sheep’s clothing who is guarding the hen house. Even so, it is Mangum who will prevail as truth is on her side… and hopefully other current enablers will eventually muster up the courage to do the right thing by moving from the sidelines and take part in this all-important conflict with justice on the line.