Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s a done deal… Cline is out!

To Access the flog, click on the LINK below.

Tracey Cline, the Durham County district attorney, will shortly be relieved of her position. The handwriting has been spray-painted on the wall like sickening graffiti for many months. In September 2011, when The News & Observer came out with its three-part series titled “Twisted Truth,” it heralded the official beginning of its smear campaign against Ms. Cline; and anyone with any familiarity with North Carolina politics and law, especially as practiced in Durham, knew back then that her days in office were numbered. I was aware from what I read in the newspaper that Ms. Cline was in the media’s crosshairs long before the publication of their “Twisted Truth” series.

As staff investigative reporter Mandy Locke stated in her article in the Sunday, February 19, 2012 edition of the newspaper, Tracey Cline has uncommon zeal in prosecuting those charged with crimes… and for that reason, she will lose her publicly elected position by virtue of the decision of one man… a superior court judge from Franklin County, Robert H. Hobgood.

According to the Saturday, February 18, 2012 edition of The News & Observer, the hearing that is to hold court, on what I believe to be a pre-determined outcome, will begin on Monday, February 20, 2012… Presidents’ Day… a national holiday.

The removal affidavit process was initiated in mid-January 2012 by Durham Defense Attorney Kerry Sutton. She was critical of Cline because of Cline’s repeated attempts to keep Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson from hearing any of her criminal cases. Cline believes her attacks against Judge Hudson are a justified reflection of her passion for prosecuting the bad guys whereas her detractors, such as Attorney Sutton, feels Cline’s attacks against a sitting judge are detrimental to the judicial process and puts it in “disrepute.” In specific, Attorney Sutton has referred to some of Cline’s more colorful passages as “venom.”

Three actions by Judge Robert Hobgood since taking control of the proceeding which finds Cline in the hot seat do much to peel away veneers of objectivity and fairness. The alternatives to the decisions taken by the judge would have been preferable, I feel, and made it more likely that a fair and unbiased ruling could be reached. These important decisions are as follows:

One – Judge Hobgood’s decision to immediately suspend Tracey Cline was extremely prejudicial, and uncalled for. There was no impending threat to justice, life, or liberty had Ms. Cline been allowed to remain in her elected position until a determination could have been reached at the culmination of the hearing. Instead the only dividend reaped from this action was to force taxpayers’ monies to go towards paying the salary of an interim D.A. while Ms. Cline is suspended with pay. That is reason enough for allowing Ms. Cline to remain as the district attorney pending a final disposition.

Not only that, but issuing a suspension greatly prejudices the case against Ms. Cline, giving the impression that her conduct was so potentially hazardous that it required her immediate removal. Were I sitting in judgment of Ms. Cline in this matter, I would not have called for her suspension… as a matter of fairness.

Two – Judge Hobgood’s decision to deny Ms. Cline’s attorneys adequate time to prepare is a major disadvantage and handicap to the defendant. It is obvious that her attorneys, who were recently hired out of Pinehurst law firm, have not had time to get up to speed and prepare an adequate and effective defense. Delaying the hearing for several weeks is the reasonable approach in this instance. Denying Cline’s attorneys time to investigate, strategize, and build a case is not justifiable. It is like scheduling a boxing match and not giving one opponent the opportunity to train for the bout.

This is perhaps the main point of the three that bodes ill regarding the chance that Ms. Cline might hang on to her job. My understanding is that Attorney Sutton, who launched the removal process against Ms. Cline, argued against a delay because it would be inconvenient to some people involved. The initial delay of only one week that Judge Hobgood gave Ms. Cline, was stingy; and she required most of that time just to recover from a serious bout of pneumonia. Sutton also chided Cline for not being prepared when in Ms. Cline’s position to find legal representation without any conflict of interest is next to impossible.

I submit that the process of attaining true justice should be placed ahead of expediency and convenience. For Ms. Cline to receive justice in this hearing, it is imperative that she be given ample time to prepare her defense.

Three – Judge Hobgood’s decision to limit the scope of the hearing to statements Tracey Cline made against Judge Hudson. In other words, Judge Hobgood wants to take questionable actions by the media, mainly The News & Observer, and possible mistakes or misconduct by Judge Hudson out of the equation. By not allowing in questions put before journalists, how can she uphold a position that the media acted conspiratorially and with malice? By not being permitted to question the judge’s behavior and rulings in cases which she prosecuted, how can she prove bias on Judge Hudson’s part? Apparently, the only issue Judge Hobgood is willing to consider is Ms. Cline’s harsh diatribe against Hudson… period.

One of the commenters to my blog recently enlightened me with information that North Carolina is one of twelve states without a process for the general public to recall elected officials. The reason for that is because North Carolina is a backward state that has a little know rarely used law to allow a single individual to remove an official who was elected by the people. The more progressive states give the people the power, instead of a single individual, to remove the officials who the masses are responsible for putting into office. When Judge Hobgood removes Tracey Cline as Durham district attorney, he will be defying the will of the people who voted for her.

I believe in treating everyone with respect, be they judge, preacher, pauper, scoundrel, or Republican. Likewise we are all human beings with imperfections and frailties. There are no deities walking amongst us, and that includes those sitting on benches in our courtrooms. I believe in treating them with respect, but I do not feel they should be immune from vigorous criticism.

From what I can ascertain from Attorney Sutton’s complaint, she is appalled at the viciousness of the dialogue Ms. Cline directs at Judge Hudson… but from what I can tell about the judge, his skin is as thick as a rhinoceros, and he can take anything that Tracey Cline can dish out… or anything that I can dish out, although my basic comments about him have been in a lighthearted vein. For an example, I used humor in my comic strip – “The MisAdventures of Super-Duper Cooper” – to criticize his decision to deny Michael Peterson’s defense a new trial when it became known that his prosecutors withheld the existence of a tire iron that could have possibly been a murder weapon. Personally, I felt that that prosecutorial transgression demanded that the murder charge against him be dismissed.

I am not at conflict with Judge Hudson on all of his rulings. He was right on target when he dismissed the charge against African American Erick Daniels and freed him. Although he is deserving of a pardon so that he can receive compensation for the seven years of wrongful incarceration he served after his arrest at age fourteen, the racial-based policies in the governor’s office have denied his petition. The governor refuses to correct this injustice because Durham’s African American political leaders, such as Senator Floyd McKissick, and Representatives Larry Hall and Mickey Michaux, as well as Congressman David Price are enabling this discriminatory behavior by remaining silent.

I can appreciate the passion of Ms. Cline’s rebukes of Judge Hudson, but I cannot speak to the wisdom of them. My verbiage in complaints against U.S. Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp tended to be a little spicy, but most importantly, it was accurate. My encounter with this magistrate judge stems from a lawsuit that I filed against Duke University in April 2011. The media has kept the public in the dark about the discrimination incident the previous year in which Duke University attempted to arrest me for being a Mike Nifong supporter. I complained about Magistrate Judge Sharp because, in making a recommendation adverse to me, he lied about the facts of my case in an attempt to boost the position of Duke University. As things now stand, I await hearing from the U.S. District Court judge about a decision regarding the defendants’ motion to dismiss; one which takes into consideration a recommendation that contains lies and misleading statements from the magistrate judge.

Finally, for anyone to believe that Tracey Cline’s ravings against Judge Hudson are capable of pulling the Durham D.A. Office or the justice system into disrepute is unrealistic. There is reason enough without that to draw such conclusions… specifically the 2010 and 2011 vendetta prosecutions against Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser.

Like the referee says prior to a coin toss, there are two sides to every coin. The fact that the suspended Durham district attorney has an unbridled zeal when it comes to prosecuting those charged with crimes, could very well be comforting to crime victims, their advocates, and those ensconced in crime-ridden neighborhoods. On the other hand, many defense attorneys may very well prefer going up against a district attorney who is more docile, passive, and compliant than Ms. Cline.

At all costs, justice should be strived for in any court and in every case. However, the outcome of this case is plainly evident. Judge Robert Hobgood is going to remove Tracey Cline as Durham district attorney. It’s a done deal. What is scheduled to proceed in court on Monday, Presidents’ Day, is nothing more than window dressing… a charade to give the appearances of justice being served. It is a deception for the unenlightened.

I would recommend that as soon as the court next convenes, the judge proceeds directly to issuing an order removing Tracey Cline as the elected Durham district attorney without any testimony, witnesses, or evidence. Since the outcome is foreordained and justice irreparable compromised, there’s no sense in inconveniencing anyone by going through the motions of holding a hearing. I am sure that Attorney Sutton would have no objections.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Tracey Cline should be reinstated as Durham D.A.

Readers of my blog and viewers of my flog know that I am no fan of suspended Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline. As the county’s head prosecutor, I believe that she should have stepped in and dismissed her Assistant D. A. Angela Garcia-Lamarca’s 2010 vendetta prosecution of Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser. Likewise, I feel she should have moved to force prosecutor Kelly Gauger to drop the murder and larceny charges against Ms. Mangum related to the April 13, 2011 death of Reginald Daye. Despite the fact that D.A. Cline is a friend of former Durham D.A. Mike Nifong and has treated him with civility and respect, I am nonetheless not an ardent backer of her.

You may then query, why do I advocate for her to be reinstated as Durham district attorney? The answer is surprisingly simple and devoid of political prejudices. Tracey Cline should be reinstated as the district attorney because she was overwhelmingly elected to that position by the people of Durham County. In other words, the people had spoken… people who Ms. Cline represented. Her job, and that of any other elected official, be it municipal, county, or state, should not be threatened because of a single individual’s discontent.

Durham defense attorney Kerry Sutton is certainly not an objective bystander when it comes to D.A. Cline. Attorney Sutton had sparred with Cline numerous times within the confines of the courtrooms housed in the Bull City’s justice building. The News & Observer even intimated that Ms. Sutton may have political aspirations and be considering a run for the state senate. Wherever the truth lies, her motives for launching the attack against Ms. Cline can be brought into question.

I am also bothered by the fact that a “little known law” that is on the books and one that is rarely used is the basis for the removal of Ms. Cline from elected office. Not only that, but the law is ambiguous, vague, and subject to a wide range of interpretation. Yes, I am concerned that a “little known law” is being used in an attempt to oust from office the county’s highest ranking prosecutor.

Ms. Sutton seems to be especially offended by the language Tracey Cline used in going after Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. She refers to it as “venom.” However, Cline supporters may construe this same language as a yardstick to measure her passion for vigorously prosecuting those charged with crimes. Her supporters may attribute her defiant and unyielding stance against Judge Hudson to be an indication of her dedication and determination in the conviction of her beliefs.

In a way, and to an extent, I can appreciate Ms. Cline’s actions in going against the superior court judge… although I would never advise it. I agree that, as human beings, judges make mistakes and that none are infallible. For example, in my civil rights discrimination lawsuit against Duke University, Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp, in a Recommendation, misstated facts about the case; inaccurate and prejudicial “facts” which he attributed to me. He stated that I represented that “after an interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer concluded, I began passing out my business cards.” This was totally incorrect, false and misleading. Specifically, in my Complaint, I mentioned that “while waiting for the interview to begin I passed out a few cards to some individuals I had engaged in conversation.” Kerry Sutton and others may consider my use of the accusatory term that he “lied” to be venom. I would say that it is possibly a “politically incorrect” term… but it is nevertheless the truth. Should I have used a less inflammatory term to describe the magistrate judge’s misstatements? Possibly. But like Ms. Cline, I am extremely passionate about the anti-Nifong discrimination to which I was subjected by Duke University and I do not feel that I should be sanctioned because of it.

The fact that Judge Robert Hobgood, who is charged with overseeing Sutton’s complaint against Cline, decided to immediately suspend Ms. Cline as Durham district attorney does not bode well for her. Doing so automatically prejudices the case against her by implying that the action taken was a safeguard to prevent Ms. Cline from pursuing a course that would result in an imminent threat or peril. Without an explanation from Judge Hobgood about his decision for immediate suspension, it is not unreasonable to believe that he caved to The News & Observer-led media vendetta against Ms. Cline.

It has been evident for months that the Triangle area newspaper had Tracy Cline in its crosshairs… just like it did her predecessor, Mike Nifong. The three part series by the N & O, titled “Twisted Truth” was a pathetic bid to stir the public into an anti-Cline frenzy, just like it had successfully accomplished against Mr. Nifong. In its rare exception to the PAPEN (Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong) policy, the newspaper was at the vanguard of the media offensive against Cline. It highlighted a few instances in which it alleged the prosecutor had withheld evidence and misled the court… dramatizing them as if they were singular events throughout the state’s history of juris prudence. Had the media been conscientiously objective, then it would have produced three-part series about the following legal luminaries: Wilson prosecutor Bill Wolfe for his mishandling of the case against James Arthur Johnson; Wake County prosecutor Tom Ford and his misconduct in Gregory Taylor and Carletta Alston cases; prosecutor David Hoke’s withheld exculpatory evidence in the Alan Gell case, and many others. Note, that although The News & Observer did extensively cover the Alan Gell case and its associated prosecutorial misconduct, it went out of its way to shield the prosecutors and take the focus away from their misdeeds.

Without doubt the media’s attacks against Tracey Cline are rooted in the Duke Lacrosse case and are a part of the seemingly endless and ubiquitous vindictive web cast by the Carpetbagger Jihadists in an attempt to ensnare those considered by the Powers-That-Be to be on the wrong end of that case. For example, the discrimination against me by Duke University had its origins from that case, as well. That the repetitive onslaught to remove Ms. Cline as Durham district attorney is vindictive and politically motivated is clearly evident.

Do I agree with Ms. Cline’s repeated attacks against Judge Hudson? No.
Do I believe her disparaging confrontations against the judge are productive? No.
Do I agree with the way her assistant prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca handled the 2010 case against Crystal Mangum? No.
Do I agree with the ongoing prosecution of Mangum by her assistant Kelly Gauger? No.
The most important question is, however, do I think Tracey Cline should be removed from office because of my disagreements with the way she has conducted herself as Durham district attorney? No. Because the people of Durham elected her to the office of Durham district attorney, the people should be the ones to remove her, if so inclined… not a single individual who may or may not have an ax to grind against Ms. Cline.

I submit that instead of using a “little known law” that is rarely used to remove Tracey Cline as Durham district attorney, Kerry Sutton should have taken the more appropriate and responsible track of initiating and circulating a recall petition amongst the Durham County electorate… allowing the people to determine the destiny of their elected officials instead of a single person.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In a David v. Goliath legal battle, Duke University takes unfair advantage

Click on following link to view the flog.
LINK: http://www.justice4nifong.com/direc/flog/flog14.html

Part One – An accurate retelling of events leading to Harr’s legal action against Duke

Honesty and fairness are the two most important characteristics for any judge to possess. In his November 16, 2011 recommendation to the Court, United States Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp demonstrated his lack of both by flat out lying to the Court with the intention of misleading the Court for the purpose of achieving a ruling in favor of the defendants from Duke University. That the Duke defendants’ defense against the discrimination complaint made by the Plaintiff Sidney B. Harr was extremely weak was evidenced by the magistrate judge’s unethical conduct in propping up defendants’ position with lies.

Because of the well-known prejudice of the mainstream media against Mike Nifong, Crystal Mangum, Nifong supporters and others considered by the Powers-That-Be to be on the wrong end of the Duke Lacrosse case, the public at large is unfamiliar with the discriminatory and malicious acts of Duke University on April 14, 2010. A concise review of this important case will ensue.

Prior to that date of April 14, 2010, Sidney Harr, the Lay Advocate for the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong, had visited Duke University on numerous occasions… as an invited guest to public conferences, a book-signing, and other public forums. Harr also at times ventured onto the grounds to say “hello” to a few of his friends, including Law Professor James Coleman and Political Science Chair Mike Munger. In addition Harr had taken in cultural events offered at the Nasher Museum, which is situated on Duke University property, as well as having sat in attendance at Easter mass in the Duke Cathedral.

Harr enjoyed and valued his visits to the Duke campus – whether for enjoyment, enlightenment, or both – and even stated as much. After attending a three day John Hope Franklin conference at Duke Law School on Law, Politics, and Race, Harr took the time to write letters to the university President Richard Brodhead and law school dean David Levi, expressing his appreciation for the wonderful programs that Duke produced for the public’s benefit. Because Harr had previously placed President Brodhead in his educational comic strip, “The MisAdventures of Super-Duper Cooper,” he wanted to assure that President Brodhead harbored no ill will, so he was sure to show other comic strip examples in which Harr utilized self-deprecating humor.

Harr also went to great lengths to express his view that even though he was a supporter of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, that that had nothing to do with his attitude towards Duke University… which at the time was full of nothing but admiration.

And finally, to show his support for the programs Duke put on for the public, Harr wrote in his letters that he planned on attending the interview of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer… which was scheduled two days later, on April 14, 2010. What is so diabolical about this is that the information that Harr gave of his intention to be in attendance at the April 14th event was used to set a trap in which to arrest Harr for trespassing. The apparent animosity which led the Duke University officials to plot to place Harr behind bars was the fact that he was a well known and outspoken supporter of Mike Nifong. That Harr is an African American also entered into their designs to have him incarcerated, as the criminal justice system in the Tar Heel state is quick to place innocent black people in jail with impunity… even without justification or cause. The arrest of Knightdale resident Carletta Alston, who was held in jail for twelve months by Wake County prosecutor Tom Ford, is a prime example.

Because Harr sent the complimentary letters on Monday, April 12, 2010, he assumed that they would have reached Duke University the morning of Wednesday, April 14th, the day of the event. Harr believed that on that particular morning, both defendants Brodhead and Levi would have been busy with preparations for their distinguished guest, and would not have had the luxury of engaging in a plot against him. He surmised that one of their assistants, probably that of Dean Levi, cooked up the scheme and ordered the security guard to initially confront Harr and then call in the Duke campus police to make the arrest.

Now, had the letter reached Duke University a day earlier, on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, then that would have given defendants Brodhead and Levi ample time to become involved in the skullduggery. Make no mistake that the security guard had been summoned for this mission by someone in the office of the recipients of Harr’s letters because Harr enclosed a “j4n” business card in both letters… and the security officer acknowledged having a “j4n” business card in his possession when he confronted Harr.

At the conclusion of the event, Harr exited the large room and was heading for the exit when he was approached by Tom Breen of the Associated Press. Mr. Breen proceeded to ask Harr of his impressions of interview with the justice. Was Mr. Breen in collusion… part of the conspiracy against Harr? Possibly, as of all the people in attendance, Harr was the only one he saw Mr. Breen interview… and Harr who sat near the front of the large standing room only crowd, was one of the final people to emerge from the room’s rear exit.

Per his custom, Harr always exchanged his business card with media-types when the opportunity arose, and so he and Mr. Breen traded business cards during their brief encounter, and Harr continued to walk towards the building’s exit for the purpose of catching a bus to return home to Raleigh. Before he could reach the exit door, Harr was intercepted by a uniformed security guard, K. Harris.

The security guard informed Harr that he would have to immediately leave the campus, but could not give a reason, stating only that the “building manager” ordered him to remove Harr from university property. Harr was moving with the guard towards the door while he tried to get an audience with the building manager or obtain an understanding from the guard for his being thrown off campus. Throughout the conversation, the guard kept threatening to arrest Harr… again without provocation. Because Harr’s behavior was no different from others similarly situated, he came to the immediate realization that he was being discriminated against because of his support for Mike Nifong. He also realized that his future visits to Duke University property and venues were in jeopardy… pending a satisfactory resolution… which at the moment seemed extremely remote.

As the security guard ushered Harr to the exit, Harr saw his friend, Duke Law Professor James Coleman, and flagged him down. With his audio recorder running Harr explained his predicament and Professor Coleman vigorously interceded with the guard on Harr’s behalf. Coleman also attempted to calm down Harr who was visibly upset at being asked to leave the campus. In a hurry to catch a plane, Professor Coleman brokered a settlement of sorts with the security guard before leaving. The brief intervention by Professor Coleman saved Harr from being arrested, as the Duke police had already been summoned by the security guard and he arrived shortly thereafter in a patrol car.

As if the incident within the building wasn’t embarrassing and humiliating enough, the uniformed guard and police officer closely followed Harr, despite his protestations, to the bus stop whereupon he caught a bus that would take him off Duke University property and to the downtown bus terminal… thus ending his campus nightmare.

It was obvious to Harr that any future return to Duke property would be dependent upon one of two things occurring. First, if Duke University was able to give a logical explanation for its treatment of Harr on April 14th, which was, in essence, exceedingly improbable. Secondly, if Duke University would accept responsibility for its misconduct and take other measures of restorative justice to see that mistreatment of Nifong supporters did not recur in the future. Harr was banking on the latter when he wrote individual letters in April and May of 2010 to President Brodhead, Dean Levi, and Pamela Bernard, the general counsel of Duke University.

All hopes for a resolution which would enable Harr to return to Duke campus without fear of being abused, harassed, and/or arrested, were dashed by a May 10, 2010 letter from the Duke University spokesman Mike Schoenfeld. Far from being conciliatory, the letter was accusatory… alleging that Harr had repeatedly violated its policy against solicitation by handing out business cards and asking their recipients to visit his website. This was the best excuse that Duke University could concoct for its mistreatment and near arrest of Harr. Correspondence between the parties concluded with May 15, 2010 letters by Harr to Brodhead, Levi, and Bernard in which he expressed his disapproval and dissatisfaction with Schoenfeld’s letter of May 10th.

During the ensuing months, Harr unsuccessfully tried to get civil rights organizations and individuals to intervene with Duke University on his behalf. On April 5, 2011, with the one year anniversary of the incident fast approaching, Harr reluctantly filed his complaint in federal court in order to protect his legal rights from any statute of limitation provisions.

Part 2 – Serious problems with Magistrate Judge Sharp’s recommendation to the Court

The complaint that Harr filed was based upon his civil rights being violated by Duke University for discriminating against him because of his beliefs, thoughts, opinions and allegiances… which were in favor of Mike Nifong. Because of his strongly held position regarding Mr. Nifong, Harr was singularly targeted in a conspiracy intended to culminate in his arrest… presumably on a trespassing charge, and most likely with other charges, such as interfering with a public officer, tacked on.

The defendants through their attorney from the Greensboro law firm of Ellis & Winters LLP, never denied the factual nature of the events stated by the plaintiff Harr, in large measure because Harr audio recorded much of his conversation with the security guard. From what I could ascertain from the confusingly esoteric legalese mumbo-jumbo spewed by Attorney J. Donald Cowan in his motion, the defense proffered by Duke was mainly that the named defendants were not involved in the April 14th incident, and that Duke University was not an agent of the state.

A timeline of events that followed Harr’s filing of his complaint on April 5, 2011 are as follows:
April 15, 2011 – the Defendants file a Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s complaint;
May 6, 2011 – Plaintiff Harr files a Response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss;
May 16, 2011 – Defendants file a Response in Further Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss;
May 20, 2011 – Harr sends a letter to the Court expressing his displeasure at being denied the opportunity to respond to the Defendants’ May 16, 2011 filing;
November 16, 2011 – Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp files his Recommendation to the Court regarding the motion by the defense; and
December 8, 2011 – Harr files a timely response with the Court about the Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge.

The problem with Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp’s Recommendation begins with the first sentence in the second paragraph in which he states: “The following factual allegations are made in Plaintiff’s complaint.” By allegedly basing the facts on statements made by the Plaintiff, he sets the stage in which the facts he is about to re-state are not likely to be in dispute by the Plaintiff.

On page two, line eight, the calculated lies begin with the following statement: “After the interview concluded, Plaintiff began handing out business cards of the Committee and was asked by a reporter for the Associated Press for an interview.” This is totally false as neither Harr, nor the Defendants’ stated that Harr began handing out business cards at the conclusion of the Justice Breyer interview. Specifically, Harr stated the following in his complaint:

“14. While waiting for the event, Plaintiff, per his usual custom when on the Duke campus, stopped by the office of Duke Law Professor James Coleman (hereinafter “COLEMAN”) to say “hello.” COLEMAN was not in his office, so Plaintiff returned to the building’s lobby to read his book.
15. While waiting and between stints of reading, Plaintiff struck up conversations with about a half dozen individuals, a few of whom were law students. Plaintiff handed out a few COMMITTEE business cards to some of the people with whom he had conversed, and collected business cards from those who had some.”

The complaint explicitly states that the cards were handed out while Harr was waiting for the interview to begin, and it further states that they were not handed out indiscriminately, but to those individuals with whom Harr was engaged in dialogue.

Magistrate Judge Sharp falsely states that “Plaintiff began handing out business cards of the Committee and was asked by a reporter for the Associated Press for an interview.” This is a fabrication because it suggests that the reporter Tom Breen witnessed Harr distributing cards, and as a result asked him for an interview. There is nothing in Plaintiff Harr’s complaint to suggest such a scenario. In fact, Harr’s complaint reads as follows:

“17. At the event’s conclusion, Plaintiff, who was seated about a third of the way in the front of the packed lecture hall, filed out of the large room en mass with others in attendance.
18. On leaving the room, a gentleman approached the Plaintiff and introduced himself as Tom Breen of the Associated Press. Plaintiff was under the assumption that he was randomly chosen by the reporter from the attendees to give his thoughts about the event. After briefly giving his opinions, the Plaintiff began telling Mr. Breen about his advocacy for NIFONG, and the two exchanged business cards.”

Magistrate Judge Sharp’s reconstruction of the event implied that Harr’s actions induced the reporter Mr. Breen to seek an interview with him. The truth, as stated in Harr’s complaint, is that Harr was leaving the room as others similarly situated when he was approached by Mr. Breen… and that he was not handing out business cards. In fact, per Harr’s complaint, the two were well into their brief conversation when the business cards were exchanged. Furthermore, the card Harr gave to Mr. Breen was the only business card he handed out after the conclusion of the Justice Breyer interview.

Finally, Magistrate Judge Sharp falsely states, “After this interview (with Mr. Breen), Duke campus security approached Plaintiff and advised him he would have to leave the campus. The security officer told Plaintiff that the ‘building manager’ was having him removed. When Plaintiff protested, the security officer called for campus police to meet them.” This, again, is a prevarication which is not substantiated in Harr’s complaint.

In this instance the interpretation of the word “protesting” is of vital importance and Magistrate Judge Sharp uses it to imply that Harr protested being removed from Duke property, as though he were an occupier. To appreciate the essence of the proper interpretation, it should be put into context as is stated in Harr’s complaint which follows:

“21. When Plaintiff asked SECURITY who was responsible for kicking him off campus, SECURITY replied, ‘the building manager.’ Plaintiff asked SECURITY to take him to see the building manager, and SECURITY refused.
22. As an upset and protesting Plaintiff was being escorted to the nearest exit of the building, Plaintiff saw COLEMAN and flagged him down in order to express what Plaintiff considered to be his unwarranted expulsion from the campus…”

That Harr was protesting his “treatment” is further evidenced in paragraph 23 which reads: “COLEMAN tried his best to defuse the issue and calm down Plaintiff who was highly indignant by his treatment.”

Magistrate Judge Sharp failed to mention that in Harr’s complaint, he stated that he was in compliance with the security guard with regards to leaving the campus. The magistrate judge also failed to mention that the security guard repeatedly threatened Harr with arrest. And the magistrate judge failed to mention Harr’s contention that Duke police was summoned without provocation. That paragraph reads as follows:

“26. Plaintiff who was not submissive but more agitated at his mistreatment – not unlike Harvard University’s Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. – was in compliance with SECURITY and walking towards the bus stop while seeking answers to why he was being kicked off the campus. Nonetheless, SECURITY continued to threaten Plaintiff with arrest, and then without provocation called in backup from Duke University campus police.”

That Harr protested his unwarranted and humiliating treatment by security is not at issue, and in itself did not warrant calling in police. The fact is that Harr never refused to leave Duke University property and even stated that he was in compliance with SECURITY.

Part 3 – Reasons behind the magistrate judge’s false and misleading statements

That the recommendation by Magistrate Judge Sharp contains false and misleading statements is indisputable, and directly questions the honesty of the magistrate judge. The reason that the magistrate judge misrepresented the facts of the complaint by Harr, is directly linked to his pronounced prejudice in favor of the defendants from Duke University… as the facts of the incident in question lay the groundwork for the conclusions drawn by the magistrate judge and the impressions developed by the Court upon which to make its rulings.

It is imperative that the re-stated facts be accurate, as they are the foundation upon which conclusions are made and decisions are reached. For example, in a June 17, 2007 online article titled: “Nifong’s punishment is extreme, appropritate,” by MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst Susan F. Filan, she states as fact that Mr. Nifong asked his son to attend his disciplinary hearing.

When notified of the passage, Mrs. Nifong emphatically stated that Ms. Filan’s statement was totally false. She went so far as to say that Mr. Nifong asked his son not to attend… but that his son insisted in order to show support for his beleaguered father.

Ms. Filan, using this untruthful premise as a basis, then reached the conclusion that he asked his son to come as a ploy in order to gain sympathy, leniency, and pity… and she trounces Mr. Nifong’s character and role as a father with the rhetorical question, “Why put your son through this?”

That the media is biased against Mike Nifong is clearly demonstrated by the fact that letters that pointed out these gross mistakes and mailed to NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, Vice president and General Counsel Rick Cotton, and the MSNBC Legal Department were returned to the sender Harr unopened.

By misstating that Harr began handing out business cards upon the conclusion of the Justice Breyer interview, Magistrate Judge Sharp is trying to make a trespassing case for the defendants to use against Harr. When Harr was handing out the business cards prior to the interview, he was a guest of the campus waiting for the event, which was open to the public, to begin. However, upon the conclusion of the event, Harr was no longer under the umbrella of being an invited guest. The slack and misleading representation of Harr following the Justice Breyer interview is that of a peddler indiscriminately handing out business cards as though they were flyers being given to passersby.

With respect to reporter Tom Breen, Magistrate Judge Sharp implies that Harr’s alleged actions attracted Mr. Breen… not that the reality that Mr. Breen had targeted Harr and approached Harr as he was leaving the lecture room walking as those around him, and not talking or handing out cards.

Finally, Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp takes the liberty of misinterpreting Harr’s statement that he was protesting his treatment by the security guard, and not refusing to leave the Duke University campus grounds. Harr’s statement goes so far as to state that he was complying with the security guards demands that he leave the campus.

A significant point here is that Harr was upset, agitated, and indignant at the unexpected and unwarranted turn of events following the Justice Breyer interview. It was during his confrontation with the security guard that two realizations were swiftly evident to Harr: (1) the actions taken against him were unleashed because he was a supporter of Mike Nifong; and (2) that unless a satisfactory resolution regarding this incident soon followed, that it was likely that he would never be able to return to any of Duke’s properties or venues. That Harr highly valued the programs and events offered at Duke University, and stated so in his letters of April 12, 2010 to defendants Brodhead and Levi, as well as is documented in his complaint, is confirmed by his reaction when he realized the implications of being asked by the security guard to leave the Duke campus. In other words, the damages sustained by Harr by Duke defendants’ actions are significant.

On the other hand, had Harr acted calmly and taken in stride his forced removal from the university campus, then one could more likely surmise that Duke’s mistreatment of Harr was of no major consequence to him. That Harr’s reaction tended to be more volatile is proportional to his perceived sense of loss and the damages he incurred.

What is extremely chilling and disappointing about the legal process thus far is that a magistrate judge would recommend to the Court that the legitimate complaint filed by Harr be dismissed… especially in lieu of the fact that Duke defendants’ actions were premeditated and filled with malice. The university’s response to the kind and complimentary words of Harr was to use the supportive information contained therein to cobble a scheme in which to place its author in jail… an action beyond cruel.

Part 4 – Why this case is important to everyone

The importance of this case cannot be emphasized enough, as its implications go far beyond actions suffered by Harr. This case has relevance for all citizens who go to private property that is a place of public accommodation. Although Duke University is a prime example, being a private institution on private property which holds many events for which it solicits the public to attend its campus buildings, museum, chapel, library, cathedral and other venues, what happen to Harr would have meaning for any private business catering to the public. For example, could a privately owned establishment on private property discriminate against a patron because of his/her belief regarding the death penalty, abortion, or any other controversial topic? Could a privately owned sports bar have a customer removed because his allegiance as displayed by his apparel is for a ball team other than the one favored by the proprietor? These examples are similar to the incident that happened to Harr on Duke’s campus in April 2010.

Duke University knows that it is on the wrong side of justice in this case, but feels that it can trample on the rights of most individuals because it has the media on its side, and to an extent, as recently revealed by Magistrate Judge Sharp’s recommendation, the courts. The media has had full knowledge of the discriminatory acts by Duke early on, but has refused to cover the story. That the mainstream media is under the control of Duke University in this particular instance, and that it can be unfairly controlled by those in powers, is evident. Duke has heavily relied upon the media to keep its disgraceful and embarrassing misconduct against Harr hidden from the public.

As a point of contrast, when two lesbians were asked by a security guard in 2010 to leave a shopping mall in Raleigh, North Carolina, because they briefly showed affection publicly, the media ran with the story… giving it extensive coverage in print and on air. Both locally, and nationally, and where it was even the topic of a cable news program. As a result, the offenders quickly acquiesced to the grievances of the lesbians, who had the full support of the ACLU, Gay and Lesbian groups, and others.

Harr on the other hand was blindsided by Duke University, wherein a premeditated conspiracy was launched against Harr with the intention of putting him behind bars… his offense, being a supporter of Mike Nifong… because of his beliefs, thoughts, and opinions. And not because of any actions committed by him. Yet, the media, acting in unison, has kept this egregious discriminatory act by Duke University secreted away.

Because the U.S. Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp not only sided with defense attorneys for Duke, but felt the need to reinforce its weak defense with lies about facts of the case and misleading statements, it seems to me that Duke felt it has the courts, as well as the media, in its back pocket.

Ramifications of the Motion to Dismiss are far-reaching if Duke University is allowed to abuse it in court. The motion could be used by mammoth institutions and mega-corporations to fend off legitimate and worthy complaints by individuals they have wronged, by relying on the court to dismiss legal actions against them without the arguments even being heard by a jury. This would be the equivalent of giving Goliath a Kevlar body suit with riot headgear before sending him out to do battle with David. Talk about an uneven playing field…

But Harr is not fighting for any advantage, or even a level playing field. All he wants is the opportunity to engage Duke University and its defense team on the playing field. Despite Duke’s many advantages in its pecuniary coffers and legal expertise over Harr, Harr remains confident that he will prevail because he has justice on his side… and he is fighting for the legal rights of all ordinary individuals who have been trampled upon by the big and powerful.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

The misguided and unenlightened hurt themselves

It is such a rarity when politicians tell the truth, especially Republicans, that it is quite refreshing when, on occasion, they do. One incident of actual truth-telling occurred yesterday, when Republican presidential hopeful Mitch Romney, giddy from his thorough trouncing of his party’s competitor for the presidential nomination Newt Gingrich, put his brain on cruise control and allowed his mouth to speak without monitoring its content. In response to a question posed to him during a television interview, Mitt Romney stated that he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” This should be no revelation to anyone who follows politics in this country as no Republican cares about the very poor. Not John Boehner, not Eric Cantor, not Renee Elmers, not Thom Tillis... the list goes on. What is surprising is that he actually said it.

Now Newt Gingrich was quick to pounce on Romney’s statement by stating that he “cares about all Americans.” I have a problem with such a hypocritical statement coming from Newt as it is an insult to the intelligence of all Americans. Everyone with a scintilla of common sense knows that Gingrich no more cares about the poor or the very poor than does Romney or other conservative Republicans. At least Romney put a health care system in his state of Massachusetts that covered the health care needs of most of its residents and was the national model of what’s become known as “Obamacare.” However, Romney exhibits his lack of courage by denying ownership of it because the Conservatives and Tea Partyers started bandying about the term “socialized medicine” when discussing it. Instead of shrieking from it, Romney should have boasted about it. After all, what is the alternative for the poor and needy who lack health insurance… to let them die?

Take the following example: suppose an infant with a high fever showing signs and symptoms of meningitis presents at the emergency room door, and he/she is not covered by health insurance. The Conservatives’ answer is to deny him/her medical treatment and allow him/her to die. This would not occur in a country with socialized medicine; not even a Third World nation. Many of the poor and the very poor, and even the not so poor in this country are lacking health insurance, and yet the Republicans are trashing President Obama’s efforts to provide health care coverage for all by labeling his endeavors as “socialized medicine.”

Socialism is a term that the majority of Americans have been taught to fear. What is so ludicrous is that the millions of Americans who are poor and/or in dire financial straits should be embracing its principles, which place the best interests of society before those of a privileged few. Instead, they are railing against the socialists policies that would work to their greatest benefit. In other words, they are brainwashed to act against their own interests by the wealthy and those in power.

In a follow up, Mitt Romney, whose wealth has been estimated at a quarter of a billion dollars and who pays an income tax rate of 13% (which is substantially lower than that paid by the majority of poor), stated that he didn’t worry about them because of the “safety net” that is in place for the indigent. What safety net? The millions of American citizens who are living on the streets, in automobiles, and in shelters would like to know about these so-called “safety nets.” He must have been referring to the room and board and medical care provided by the Prison Industrial Complex, for in some states it is a crime to be poor. In Wake County and the city of Raleigh, for example, it is a crime to panhandle without a permit… the Wake County permit must be renewed weekly. And the requirements for Johnston County’s panhandling permits are even more stringent, requiring a photo id and a criminal background check.

Food stamps, health care provided by Planned Parenthood, and other charitable programs and agencies have been under an onslaught by Republicans on a national and state level depriving needy Americans and Tar Heelians of the basic necessities of survival. And the GOP members, especially North Carolina’s own Congresswoman Renee Elmers, have been obstructionists in preventing President Obama and some of the Democrats from passing legislation to provide relief for those who have suffered from economic policies that have for so long favored the wealthiest. Without doubt, their motive in dragging down the country in a whole scale manner is to provide enough discontent amongst voters in order to cast blame on the incumbent president and persuade those who are suffering most to elect a corporate friendly GOP presidential nominee.

Americans need to enlighten themselves and take measures to protect the interests of all instead of the few at the summit. Most Americans should support the Occupy movements which call for economic equity and which call for an end to corporate greed. But all too often those individuals ensconced deep within the bowels of the 99% and who are without jobs, shelter, and do not know where their next meal is coming from, are the very ones who are detractors of the very movement that is attempting to come to their aid. They are not enlightened and are victims of a massive Jedi mind trick perpetrated by the avaricious privileged.

When Duke University discriminated against me in April 2010 because of my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, I fought back, and continue to fight, for the protection of the First Amendment Rights of all Tar Heelians. Duke University, relying on its relationship with the media and heavily counting on the courts for help, has been waging an all-out battle to deprive me of my rights. Make no mistake, I am fighting not only for myself, but for all of the millions of residents in this state. Yet, many are misguided by the anti-Nifong propaganda that has flooded the state. Those who have been blinded by the murky media marketing and have failed to see the light are the ones who have taken glee in chiding and mocking me for fighting the good fight. What my detractors fail to realize and/or understand is that our fates are all linked together, and if you value your First Amendment Rights to have independent thought, opinions, and beliefs, then you should be standing besides me in the trenches.

An unenlightened populous will be more likely to elect officials under whose policies they will suffer most, be more prone to attack movements which are paradoxically fighting for their legal and social interests, and are most apt to ridicule the efforts of those making sacrifices on the social justice front lines to protect their liberties.