Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Crystal Mangum should continue to legally represent herself

Word count: 1,850

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.

After reading the blog, click on the link at the end to view directory (which now contains an extra button to view the documents filed with the court on November 30, 2012.)

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. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Petition for Writ of Mandamus to dismiss “Larceny of chose in action”

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Word count: 1,004

Posting of this blink marks the 594th day of Crystal Mangum’s wrongful incarceration on bogus and trumped up charges of first degree murder and “Larceny of chose in action.” Throughout her lengthy incarceration, neither of the two attorneys representing her even made the simplest of efforts to dismiss the larceny charge. Had I been representing Mangum in this criminal case arising from the self-defense stabbing incident in the wee hours of Sunday, April 3, 2011, I would have filed a motion to dismiss the “Larceny of chose in action” charge on day one.

First, it is obvious that not only is the charge not supported, but that it was diabolically used in conjunction with the “felony-murder rule” solely for the purpose of validating the murder charge status to first degree. It was the intent of the malicious prosecutors to carry out this vendetta prosecution against Mangum as payback for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case… this is clear and without doubt.

Problems with the “Larceny of chose in action” charge against Mangum can be categorized as follows:
(1) elements of the charge were not met by Mangum’s actions;
(2) timeline of the charge related to the incident suggests that it was not made in good faith;
(3) indictment of the charge in conjunction with the murder charge two weeks following the incident strongly supports that it was made to bolster the first degree status of the murder charge;
(4) nothing in the prosecution discovery even states that Mangum stole cashier’s checks; and
(5) it is illogical for the charge to apply to cashier’s checks in which the payee and remitter” are registered.

Beginning with the “Larceny of chose in action” charge, two elements must be met. First, in this case, the cashier’s checks must be stolen, taken and carried away, or taken by robbery. This did not occur, as Reginald Daye in an interview with Sgt. Marianne Bond on the first postoperative day said that “he gave her the checks to hold on to.” In fact, his intention was for her not only to hold onto them, but to turn them over to the apartment manager on Monday, April 4, 2011, during office hours… a time during which he would be at work as a house painter. Daye correctly knew that she even had deposited them in her purse for safekeeping… as was recorded by Sgt. Bond in this same police report.

The second element of this little known/rarely used law is that it is not merely enough to be in unlawful possession of the cashier’s checks, but that she be required to use them to for the payment of money or the delivery of specific articles that are the property of another person or corporation. This never occurred… this was never attempted… and the prosecution knows this to be a fact. In fact, Mangum never forged, altered, or manipulated the cashier’s checks that were in her possession for days.

If Durham prosecutors made the “Larceny of chose in action” charge in good faith, it would have been brought sometime within the proximity of the incident. Prosecution maintains Mangum took or stole the cashier’s checks on April 3, 2011, but made no such larceny charge until more than two weeks later, concomitantly with the murder charge. The timeline of the simultaneous indictment of the “Larceny of chose in action” charge along with the murder charge furthermore bolsters the premise that its sole purpose was to use it to justify elevating the murder to first degree.

In the November 16, 2012 issue of The Herald-Sun, in an article titled, “Confusion reigns at Mangum court appearance,” for the first time in recorded history, it states in writing that Mangum was charged with “.. stealing two checks from him (Daye).” However, no where in the prosecution discovery in any of the police reports and interviews does it state that Mangum specifically stole “checks,” “cashier’s checks,” or “money orders.” The only references to theft in the prosecution discovery have to do with the theft or unlawful taking of “money” or “rent money.” And, the taking of money or cash is a disqualifier when it comes to the “Larceny of chose in action” charge.

Finally, the “Larceny of chose in action” charge can be assumed by a reasonable person to apply to a blank check or blank cashier’s check, and not one wherein the payee and remitter are denoted… as in the case against Mangum with the apartment listed as payee and Daye as remitter. If unlawfully taken or stolen, a blank check has the potential of being easily and illegally converted to cash for the criminal benefit of the holder who unlawfully obtained it. It is this situation in which the “Larceny of chose in action” Class H felony is applicable. However, if a cashier’s check is filled out with payee and remitter named, its theft or physical loss is of no consequence as the remitter still retains the ability to redeem its value even without the check in his possession. Likewise, it is unreasonable for anyone to steal a check that has been filled out as to payee and remitter since that check’s value can only be converted by the payee or remitter, and not by the thief.

The only reason that Prosecutors had the nerve to bring this ridiculous charge against Mangum to satisfy the murder charge’s first degree standing, was because they were well aware that it would not be challenged by Mangum’s defense attorneys. And it wasn’t. Over more than a year and a half, neither of Mangum’s defense lawyers bothered to file a motion to dismiss this merit-less charge… and that is ineffective legal representation at its best.

In the criminal case against Crystal Mangum, which is nothing more than a house of cards built on a foundation of quicksand, the “Larceny of chose in action” charge will undoubtedly be the first underpinning of this criminal travesty to go. 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fraudulent motion filed in Duke case falsely attributed to Mangum

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Word count: 730

It has been said that people tend to believe what is true that which they want to be true. This is the case with many of the commenters to this blog site… the Nifong/Mangum detractors and ill-willers, and the Carpetbagger Jihadist agenda sympathizers and colluders. The outrageous motion filed on October 29, 2012 in the U.S. District Courthouse in Greensboro, NC, which undoubtedly was meant as a mischievous fraternity-style prank has been overwhelmingly embraced as being an authentic and true Mangum-authored legal motion by those aforementioned detractors.

A cursory glance by anyone even remotely familiar with the Duke Lacrosse case of 2006 and its aftermath would easily conclude that the claims were not even intended to be taken seriously… yet, it was stamped and entered into the Durham civil case files as though it was legitimate. Those perpetrating this hoax did so in order to ridicule and disparage Mangum, and possibly to poke fun at her for her decision to take control of her destiny and legally represent herself.

Those responsible for the fraudulent filing of the motion in a Federal Court, however, do not realize the seriousness of their actions in using the U.S. Postal Service to mail the document which contains at least two forgeries. This does not represent a harmless joke, but it is a federal crime with dire consequences to those who authored and sent the legal motion. We’re talking F.B.I. serious.

The filed Motion to Intervene, which was fraudulently designed to make it appear as though Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser Crystal Mangum wrote it, mocked the state and the North Carolina justice system. The author(s) of the document had the audacity to file such an outrageous satirical Mangum-centered piece because the state and the media has laid the groundwork for such sophomoric behavior because of its slanted and singular rulings in the Duke Lacrosse case and the criminal cases against Mangum. The prejudicial reporting on those cases by the biased mainstream media has abetted in creating a circus legal atmosphere in which it is fair game to take pock shots at former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong and Ms. Mangum with impunity.

Considering the current case against Mangum for example, what is one to think when a medical examiner provides a fraudulent autopsy report for the purpose of charging Mangum with a crime while covering up medical malpractice on the part of Duke University Hospital staff… and when a trumped up larceny of chose in action charge is used to ratchet up the murder to first degree through use of the devious “felony-murder rule”? Along with the unjust disbarment of Mike Nifong and legal persecution of Mike Nifong, it is no wonder that the North Carolina justice system has become the laughing stock of the nation.

Although this filing was meant as malicious entertainment and was not taken serious by those well acquainted with Mangum, Nifong, the Duke Lacrosse case, and cases related to them, evidently one of Reade Seligmann’s attorneys is trying very hard to believe the motion is legit. Giving credence to the document as coming from the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser, attorney Richard Emery suggested that Mangum is “as delusional now as she has been from the outset of this case.” This statement by Mr. Emery is itself a rush to judge the document’s veracity, and in an unprofessional and malicious way uses it to viciously malign Mangum with accusations that are not supported by fact.

Although the article that appeared in The Herald-Sun did contained an error of fact in stating that the three Duke Lacrosse defendants were exonerated, it deserves kudos for publishing the article to let the public know how low those in the anti-Nifong/Mangum camp will stoop to malign them. Even though the article did not contain a quote or comment from Mangum denying any role in that filing, Ray Gronberg has assured me that a follow-up article will give her side of this bizarre occurrence… date of publication around November 2-3, 2012.

It is rare that the mainstream media will expose the hateful and evil transgressions against Nifong and Mangum, and my hat goes off to The Herald-Sun for its news article in unveiling the false and malevolent document, which might have otherwise gone unchallenged throughout the Duke case as being a truthful part of the legal dialogue.