NOTE: The day after this blog was posted, on Friday, November 30, 2012, Dr. Harr physically carried to the Clerk of court's office a Motion to Dismiss the Larceny of Chose in Action charge by Mangum, as well as his own Petition for writ of Mandamus to effect the release of Mangum on her own recognizance. Both of these documents, along with their exhibits have been added to the directory of the link at the end of the blog.
While the saying, “A person who represents himself has a fool for a client,” may be applicable in many, if not most, instances, that is definitely not the case in which Crystal Mangum is currently facing a first degree murder charge and a “Larceny of chose in action” charge (a Class H felony). The criminal charges against Mangum, the victim/accuser in the Duke Lacrosse case, are vendetta-driven and baseless charges that any competent attorney acting in the client’s best interest should have been able to dismantle and debunk hastily. That the prosecution should even have the audacity to level such charges against a young lady who committed no crimes but was the victim of a heinous domestic battery, is due to the politics surrounding the case and the prosecutors’ assurance that the defense attorneys for Mangum will work in collusion against her best interests.
The initial intent of Durham prosecutors Kelly Gauger and Charlene Coggins-Franks was to use the bogus trumped up charges in an attempt to convict Ms. Mangum of first degree murder and have her sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole… not because of Daye’s death, but rather as payback for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case. However, Sidney B. Harr, the Mangum supporter and Lay Advocate for the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong, has gotten involved in publicly pointing out the following: (1) that major discrepancies, inconsistencies, and contradictions existed in the April 14, 2011 Autopsy Examination Report tendered by North Carolina Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Clay Nichols; (2) that the true cause of Reginald Daye’s death was due to wrongful endotracheal tube placement for treatment of complications arising from delirium tremens; (3) the stab wound inflicted by Mangum was non-fatal and successfully treated with emergency surgery with a postoperative prognosis for a full recovery; and (4) the “Larceny of chose in action” charge met none of the criteria and was implemented for the sole purpose of elevating the murder charge to first degree… resulting in a reassessment of their original pie-in-the-sky aspirations.
Durham prosecutors’ desperate objectives now are centered around getting Crystal Mangum to accept a plea deal in order to achieve the following major goals: (1) help prosecutors save face and limit legal civil liability for its malicious prosecution and wrongful incarceration of Mangum; (2) protect Medical Examiner Nichols who conspired with the prosecutors to produce a criminally fraudulent autopsy report as the basis for a trumped up murder charge against Mangum; and (3) shield Duke University Hospital’s reputation and its staff for culpability in Daye’s demise… in which a potential hospital staff homicidal contribution was never even taken into consideration by Durham Police or prosecutors.
During Mangum’s 606 days of unjust incarceration (as of today’s date, and counting…), her legal representation has been, for all intents and purposes, impotent and totally lacking in urgency while their client is confined. There has been no attempt to conduct the most minimal investigation by her legal counsel… no attempt made to obtain clinic records of a March 24, 2011 visit by Mangum after being beaten by Daye – occurring nine days prior to the self-defense stabbing incident… no attempt to interview one of Daye’s former girlfriends whom Daye admitted to punching in the face four or five times… nothing!
The request for forensic pathologist Christena L. Roberts to review Daye’s death and autopsy report was made only after Lay Advocate Harr spent a half hour pointing out discrepancies in the autopsy report to Mangum’s attorney on or about May 24, 2012… and a court order to pay for that defense expert witness was issued on June 18, 2012… more than a year after Mangum was charged. Although the court allowed payment for only ten hours of work, a written report by Dr. Roberts has yet to be completed after more than five months.
Mangum did not have the benefit of a preliminary hearing, and during her 600-plus days behind bars, the only motions filed on her behalf by her attorneys have been for bail reduction; the last four failing to get it reduced below $200,000. No motions have been filed to have the “Larceny of chose in action” charge dismissed, no motions filed to have the first degree murder charge dismissed, and no motion made to have Judge Osmond Smith III recuse himself from hearing a bail reduction case for Mangum (Smith presided over the Duke Lacrosse case and made rulings against Mangum and was responsible for sentencing former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong to 24 hours in jail).
During Mangum’s incarceration her attorneys have essentially conducted no investigation and filed no motions of substance… therefore, they have achieved nothing for their client. Crystal Mangum, in representing herself, surely could do no worse. However, because she is currently representing herself she is now in position to have the Court provide finances for an investigator, she is in position to receive all records and documents (including the long-awaited report from Dr. Roberts), and she is able to file motions with the Court. These are invaluable rights that she now has and she needs to hold on to them lest she be put back in the same situation as she was before when others were named as her counsel of record… that situation being that no substantive motions were filed and prosecution discovery and other evidence was withheld from her.
Around August19, 2012, Lay Advocate Harr first contacted Louisburg attorney Paris Branch-Ramadan, a recent graduate from North Carolina Central University Law School… and he has kept her apprised of the case and his contributions on the internet and his filings with the Clerk of Court. Although Attorney Branch-Ramadan has spoken with Mangum on at least two occasions, and received from Harr the entire prosecution discovery disks (thirteen in all), she has evidently not committed to help by assisting Mangum to represent herself. According to an article by Beth Velliquette of The Herald-Sun titled, “Confusion reigns at Mangum court appearance,” Paris Branch-Ramadan “later said that she purposefully did not appear at the hearing because Mangum had not hired her.”
Whether or not Ms. Branch-Ramadan elects to assist Mangum in representing herself, she has already brought to Harr’s attention the fact that the Court acted maliciously in denying Mangum visitation with her children while she “was incarcerated in any detention center.” Judge Doretta Walker issued this order in family court after acknowledging that she was not an unfit mother. Visitation at the detention center is one in which inmates have no physical contact with visitors who they can see through a thick glass barricade.
Attorney Branch-Ramadan’s observation alerted Harr to the fact that this is not the first time the State has used Mangum’s children as a tool to punish her. In the 2010 so-called “arson case,” Durham prosecutors magically proclaimed that Mangum’s children were her “victims” because she allegedly set fire to the clothes in the bathtub while they were inside the apartment. Based on this obtuse rationale, the Court severely restricted the length and conditions of Mangum’s visitation with her three children while she was on electronically monitored house arrest following released from jail after her bond was satisfied.
Now, because of Judge Walker’s ruling, Mangum is denied visitation with her children while she is in the detention center… a cruel and inhumane punitive order. And it is an order which works to the advantage of the prosecution in trying to force Mangum to accept an unjust plea deal in order to be able to see her children again. Once again, Mangum’s defense attorneys have been, or should have been, aware of this and taken steps to rectify this injustice and draconian leverage against Mangum… but, as usual, no motions were filed by her attorneys to allow Mangum to have visitation with her children. As Paris Branch-Ramadan stated, this is nothing but malicious behavior on the part of the State.
Ms. Branch-Ramadan also pointed out to Harr that the “Larceny of chose in action” charge is being brought against Mangum without a prosecuting witness… in other words, the prosecution does not even have an eyewitness who allegedly saw Ms. Mangum steal, take and carry away, or take by robbery the two cashier’s checks. In fact, Reginald Daye, in a police report interview specifically stated that he gave the two cashier’s checks to Mangum to hold on to, and he is never quoted as saying that she unlawfully took possession of them. Daye’s nephew, Carlos Wilson, never claimed to have seen Mangum steal or take the two cashier’s checks. According to Mr. Wilson, in all police accounts, Daye and Mangum were arguing about “money” and not cashier’s checks. Even Daye, in his highly intoxicated state during the early morning hours of April 3, 2011, stated that the argument leading up to the stabbing was centered about “money” and not cashier’s checks. (During an interview the following day of Monday, April 4, 2011, from his hospital bed, Daye confessed to police officer Marianne Bond that the argument of the prior morning’s incident stemmed from his perception that Mangum disrespected him and that she was “running off at the mouth.”)
Because Mangum’s legal representation has been woefully inept (either purposefully or not) in representing her and protecting her rights, it is imperative that Mangum retain control of her legal destiny in this politically charged case and not turn it over to the control of anyone else. If she does, she will be in the same position as she was previously when motions were not filed on her behalf and prosecution discovery and evidence were withheld from her.
I believe that the reason the Dr. Roberts report has not yet been delivered is because as things now stand Judge Robert Hobgood has ordered that attorney Woody Vann contact Dr. Roberts and have her send her report directly to Mangum. However, any attorney who is considered by the Court to be Mangum’s legal representative would be the person to whom the all important report would be sent, and as in the past, it could be withheld from her.
It is obvious that neither the Durham prosecutors nor Mangum’s past defense attorneys want her to have the Dr. Roberts report, and the prosecution is supposedly moving ahead with plans to offer a plea deal without Mangum having the benefit of having seen the Roberts report… which would undoubtedly favor Mangum and strengthen her position. So in order for Mangum to be assured of receiving the report, it is imperative that she remain at the helm of her defense.
If Attorney Branch-Ramadan agrees to sign on to help Mangum, it should only be as a back-up assistant. She should not seek to represent Mangum which could only be viewed by a reasonable person with full knowledge of the facts as an overreaching power grab that could very likely accrue to Mangum’s extreme detriment.
It would be ill-advised and pure folly for Crystal Mangum to now relinquish control of her defense and her destiny, and place her fate in the hands of another.