Skip to comments.Federal help sought in Duke case
Posted on 10/31/2007 2:51:13 AM PDT by abb
The state wants a joint criminal investigation into the prosecution of players, a lawyer says
The state attorney general has asked federal prosecutors to help conduct a criminal probe into former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong and other government officials involved with the Duke lacrosse case, according to a lawyer representing one of the three exonerated players. Charlotte lawyer Jim Cooney outlined the request in a three-page letter sent to three high-ranking U.S. Justice Department administrators.
The letter was copied to Jim Coman, a special prosecutor for the state who led the criminal investigation that led to the exoneration of the three lacrosse players, Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.
"On behalf of Reade Seligmann and his family, I respectfully request that the government of the United States grant the request of the North Carolina Attorney General and participate in a joint investigation into the events of this prosecution," Cooney wrote in his Oct. 9 letter. It was addressed to Craig S. Morford, acting U.S. deputy attorney general in Washington; Christopher J. Christie, U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Anna Mills Waggoner, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.
In January, Seligmann and his father filed a complaint with Christie, according to Cooney's letter.
By that time, the case against the three players had crumbled in court.
What began with an escort service dancer's allegations of gang-rape at a lacrosse team party in March 2006 ended with Nifong, the Durham prosecutor who brought the case forward, losing his law license and his job.
Cooney was concerned in January, he said, that federal prosecutors based in North Carolina might have a difficult time pursuing a case against law enforcement officials in the state where they worked.
"Because Reade and his family lived in New Jersey, and because many of these acts involved the use of interstate communications which had a direct effect in New Jersey, Reade and his father met with the United States Attorney for New Jersey about these concerns," Cooney said in the letter.
"To put it simply," he continued, "the victims of these potential criminal acts were in New Jersey and it appeared that the federal authorities in New Jersey would be capable of conducting the full, fair and open investigation necessary without any concern of addressing potential conflict of interest issues."
SBI probe requested
In September, Jim Hardin, the acting district attorney appointed to succeed Nifong, asked the State Bureau of Investigation to consider a criminal probe
Cooney's letter said that it was "my clients' understanding that since the time of that referral ... the Attorney General's Office has transmitted a written request for federal involvement in a joint investigation into the events of this case."
Such an investigation would almost certainly target Nifong. Cooney's letter indicated that it could also involve Linwood Wilson, an investigator in the District Attorney's Office under Nifong; Durham police investigators, and Brian Meehan, head of the private DNA lab that excluded key results from a report to defense attorneys.
Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's Office, said she could not comment on the letter or whether a request for federal assistance had been made.
Talley acknowledged that federal prosecutors could convene investigative grand juries, a power the state attorney general has sought from the legislature.
Patrick Auld, an assistant U.S. attorney in Greensboro, said the office had not received a request for help with the investigation.
"We haven't received a request from the A.G.'s Office," he said.
Cooney said he could not comment on his letter, which was obtained through a public records request to the state Attorney General's Office.
But his Oct. 9 letter, which went to two other federal offices, outlines a series of appeals and meetings that the Seligmanns had with federal prosecutors.
The letter also describes the mysterious cancellation of a meeting that had been set for early September with assistant U.S. attorneys from New Jersey, representatives from the Greensboro office and the N.C. Attorney General's Office.
On the eve of the meeting, Hardin, the interim Durham district attorney, requested an SBI investigation into the government officials involved with the Duke lacrosse case.
"Despite repeated inquiries by my clients, they are still unclear as to why these prosecutors -- after having traveled to Raleigh -- were denied permission to even meet with representatives of the attorney general of North Carolina," Cooney said in his letter.
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U.S. Attorney Generals have been used to prosecute much less obvious civil rights violations than the ones represented by this case.
Fo’ shizzle. The feds should have been in Durham a year ago...
I heard this on Channel 11 News as “breaking news” during last night’s 11 pm newscast. While this appears to be good news, we must all wonder why it took 18 months for the Feds to make a move. Much of their investigations have been done for them, and dozens of letters, emails, phone calls and faxes have been sent to them with all sorts of evidence.
There are links to corruption within the local police departments, city government, county government, state government, the local sex industry, the local black community, the universities and even some shady business operations by those with serious conflicts of interest.
It is all there to see, will the Feds actually do something?
Too bad the players were white.
I wonder how the Attorney General is going to feel when the Feds follow the corruption all the way up to the Governor’s office?
Did I miss anything?
LOL! Has Sleeping Beauty awakened?
“Fo shizzle. The feds should have been in Durham a year ago...”
Well, there was no noose so...
If you could see what I look like in the mornings, “beauty” would not be a keyword.
What happened to the accuser????
Did she go unpunished for her accusations???
Wise up, FReepers! White people no longer have civil rights in this country.
The accuser is a drug addicted, alchoholic, bipolar mental case with a history of a mental breakdown and previous false accusations. Exactly how would you expect a conviction in a community like Durham?
Local prosecutors across the nation should wet their pants.
Nigong’s conduct is SOP.
Don’t know....just asking.
All this requires the Feds to actually do some work. There are YEARS worth of prosecutions that can be made here. It is much easier for the Feds to go after pot clinics and gun shows. And of course, they want to send agents to Iraq to make sure the Blackwater guys behave.
I thought it was interesting that at about the time this pot was boiling over he announced he would not be seeking any public office.
“I thought it was interesting that at about the time this pot was boiling over he announced he would not be seeking any public office.”
Easley? He has strong ambitions to be Hillary’s VP choice.
Now THAT would make two good targets!
Turn this story around, and have a psycho DA meet with klansmen and cook up a deal involving an election for lynching three known innocent blacks, and then get re-elected to office with 95% of the white vote, and the FBI would be bang straight down on top of the thing like flies on ****.
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