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Stuart Taylor Guest-Blogging Next Week:

I'm delighted to report that Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson, authors of Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, will be guest-blogging next week about their book.

Stuart is a contributing editor for Newsweek, a weekly opinion columnist for National Journal, and a nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution; in the 1980s, he was a reporter and Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times. K.C. is a professor at the City University of New York history department, and author of many books and articles. I've been a fan of Stuart's work for many years, and I've also heard many good things about K.C.; I much look forward to their visit.

vukdog:
There was a decent article in my local paper awhile back basically saying that although Nifong and others screwed up, the players were not as innocent as some would have you believe. I look forward to hearing what Mr. Taylor has to say.

What are the players chances' in their $30 million dollar lawsuit?
9.14.2007 3:10pm
AntonK (mail):
And what newspaper is that? The Jesse Jackson-Al Sharpton Times?
9.14.2007 3:37pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Indeed you should be proud to have Stewart Taylor. He calls them as he sees them-- and sometimes infuriates the left and the right. I look forward to his posts.
9.14.2007 3:53pm
GV:
I'll be interested to hear if Taylor will continue to explore criminal justice issues in the future or if his sympathy extends only when rich, white males are falsely accused.
9.14.2007 3:54pm
vukdog:
Actually it was the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
9.14.2007 3:57pm
x (mail):
then AntonK was right.
9.14.2007 4:13pm
not a trib reader (mail):
vukdog,

your post sounds disturbingly similar to the old "if he didn't do that he did something else."
9.14.2007 4:33pm
vukdog:
Perhaps. Do you think they deserve $30 million?
9.14.2007 4:33pm
Jonas (www):
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune? Wow! That's one of the nation's top 50 newspapers. Those kids who I thought were demonstrably innocent must have done something if the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says so.
9.14.2007 4:33pm
not a trib reader (mail):
first let's not run away from your comment. "perhaps" aside, was your comment like "if he didn't do that he did something else" or isn't it?
9.14.2007 4:38pm
Elliot Reed:
I'm glad to see that the Volokh Conspiracy is taking a stand against witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion. When the victims are rich white men, at least.
9.14.2007 4:59pm
Teh Anonymous:
How long ago is "a while back"? IIRC, for a while reporting about this issue was very confused. Personally, I'd want a link to the text of the article in question before commenting on it.

Certainly the circumstances suggest that the erstwhile accused and other team members might not be nice or prudent or thoughtful - but none of those things are criminal in their own right.
9.14.2007 5:03pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"Do you think they deserve $30 million?"


I don't know if the players deserve to receive $30,000,000. But Durham deserves to be made to pay far more.

Maybe they can cut a deal where the players get $100,000 each in compensatory damages and Durham pays $100,000,000 in punitive damages to the Innocence Project. That would be pretty fair all around.
9.14.2007 5:08pm
vukdog:
The "perhaps" was actually referring to the comment saying the Star Tribune was equivalent to The Jesse Jackson-Al Sharpton Times.

Look, all I said was that the article was decent. There were many disturbing things in this case. I don't have access to the article right now in order to fully respond to your question. The point I was trying to make was not "if he didn't do that he did something else" but more in line with the post by GV above criticizing those who seem disproportionately outraged by the Duke case considering the circumstances of the party and all the other injustice in America.
9.14.2007 5:09pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"I'm glad to see that the Volokh Conspiracy is taking a stand against witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion. When the victims are rich white men, at least."

Taking action to oppose witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion whoever they happen to is heroic and therefore rare, but I suspect there are one or two people some people who post here whose actions fit that description.

Being generally opposed to witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion but only getting active about it when it happens to people like you is selfish and cynical, which makes it normal for numan behavior.

The North Carolina NAACP's position of being opposed to witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion when they happen to people like them but actively supporting witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion when white people are the targets is uniquely vile.
9.14.2007 5:17pm
AntonK (mail):
Vukdog says: Actually it was the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Oh, well that explains it!
9.14.2007 5:20pm
Sean M:
Stuart Taylor is at William and Mary (my school) this weekend to talk about his book and various individual rights issues. I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say.
9.14.2007 5:54pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
There was a decent article in my local paper awhile back basically saying that although Nifong and others screwed up, the players were not as innocent as some would have you believe. I look forward to hearing what Mr. Taylor has to say.


You're not by any chance thinking of this article are you?
9.14.2007 6:04pm
Freddy Hill:
Vukdog, Whether consciously or not, you are channeling the position Nifong's enablers in the media and academia took after the case fell apart. The book thoroughly destroys that argument, unless you think that non-criminal activity such as hiring a stripper, or trivially criminal activity, such as underage drinking in a college party (my goodness gracious, what debauchery!) deserves 30 years in jail.

This behavior, for which the accused and the rest of the team apologized profusely in many occasions, was foolish, but c'mon, this is an academic blog. Who's going to throw the first stone?
9.14.2007 6:10pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Elliot Reed: Well, if you want an example of a Volokh Conspiracy post taking a stand about the seemingly improper prosecution of a poor black man, you might try this post by Orin Kerr about Cory Maye; and that's just the example that comes to mind. Or if you want examples of our posts taking stands against improper prosecutions of various speakers, I'm sure you'll find lots of such examples throughout.
9.14.2007 7:23pm
GV:
Incidentally enough, Professor Kerr went on to represent Maye on a pro-bono basis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Maye.
9.14.2007 7:34pm
MDJD2B (mail):
<i>I'm glad to see that the Volokh Conspiracy is taking a stand against witch-hunts and abuses of prosecutorial discretion. When the victims are rich white men, at least.</i>

So you believe that college kids from upper-middle class families (my understanding is that these kids were not rich) should be railroaded into 30-year prison terms by politically motivated prosecutors on the basis of patently false accusations?
9.14.2007 11:46pm
Michael B (mail):
Taylor is consistently well grounded and informative, meaning, agree or disagree, one can do so on a reasoned, measured basis without having to deal with guile and other meta-mendacities that are all too common in fora high and low.
9.15.2007 8:45am
Michael B (mail):
vukdog,

Back at ya:

What sum do you believe to be viable for the lacrosse players, given the offense?

And given the university's active and passive complicities, via the president and any number among the professoriate at Duke, what agents, public and private, do you believe should be held financially liable?

The offense committed by Nifong and others was grievous, against the players and against basic, Constitutional precepts. The offense committed by the lady in question is relatively minor by comparison, more a sad, pathetic mistake and perhaps something of a personal tragedy. It would be an injustice to make too much of the latter; it would be a greater injustice, an omission of justice, to make too little of the former.
9.15.2007 9:00am
Elliot Reed:
So you believe that college kids from upper-middle class families (my understanding is that these kids were not rich) should be railroaded into 30-year prison terms by politically motivated prosecutors on the basis of patently false accusations?
You may wish to review the fallacy of the straw man. Nifong's behavior was inexcusable and these men were victimized, but other cases where defendants are railroaded by politically-motivated prosecutors don't attract a fraction of the defense these students got (armies of conservatives stepped up to defend them way before it was clear they were actually innocent). I don't think it's plausible that the explanatory factor is the degree of injustice rather than a need to perpetrate a narrative about the nonexistent victimization of rich white men.

Incidentally, while I don't know exactly how much money these students' parents made, I seriously doubt that they were in the ~$80k bracket that constitutes the actual upper-middle-class. People in the 95th income percentile (which, according to Wikipedia, takes a household income of $157,176) are not plausibly in the middle of anything and I accordingly reject the tendency to label them that way. (Of course, the people in the top 1% are still way way way way way way way richer than they are).
9.15.2007 4:18pm
Josh Barro:

ifong's behavior was inexcusable and these men were victimized... I don't think it's plausible that the explanatory factor is the degree of injustice rather than a need to perpetrate a narrative about the nonexistent victimization of rich white men.


If these men were victimized, then how can the victimization be non-existent?
9.15.2007 4:32pm
Michael B (mail):
Elliot Reed,

The narrative perpetrated (***) was the inverse of what you're suggesting. (By contrast and with some notable irony, your version of the "perpetrated narrative" is in point of fact the reality, not a mere "narrative." It's telling that that irony escapes you.) Too, please provide a link or other substantiation in terms of "other cases where defendants are railroaded by politically-motivated prosecutors don't attract a fraction of the defense these students got". Let's compare one concrete case with another concrete example rather than with generalities. This is not primarily about a general history, this is about a specific case where, in point of fact, a narrative was in fact perpetrated.

Finally, a primary reason this case received so much attention was very much due to the MSM's "perpetrated narrative" and people like Jesse Jackson and others getting involved "way before it was clear" any of the charges were viable.

*** It's entirely apropos that exaggerated, post-modern newspeak be used to describe what occured, due both to the university environment within which the narrative was perpetrated and due to the currents of the times in society at large.
9.15.2007 5:05pm
vukdog:
What sum do you believe to be viable for the lacrosse players, given the offense?

I don't know what amount of money will make them whole. You seem to know a lot more about what actually went down in this case than I do. I am looking forward to Mr. Taylor's appearance next week to learn more.

If, at the end of the day, each of these guys walks away with $10 million this ordeal may have been the best thing that ever happened to them. There are people who have lost decades of their lives through malicious prosecutions and wrongful convictions and received far less if anything.
9.15.2007 5:18pm
Michael B (mail):
Again, as with Mr. Reed, linking to a specific case would be helpful, to avoid mere generalities and platitudes. In terms of what I know, I don't pretend to have absolute or irrevocable knowledge, I've weighed what I've read, which has been considerable, as best I know how and yes, it's damningly convincing imho. I keep an open mind in that same spirit, so am open to new information as well. Otoh, simply suggesting we need to be skeptical concerning our general epistemic grasp, our lack of absolute and irrevocable certainty, is not an appreciable or positive thesis in and of itself; also, skepticism needs to be applied in all directions, not merely against those you disagree with. Skepticism, as such, is a general, not a unilateral or unidirectional, corrective.

(And I favor tort reforms, but at this early stage everything is highly speculative in terms of any monies that might be awarded. Still, I do believe Nifong's and others' wrongs, legal and moral, to be particularly onerous and the law should be responsive to that onerous quality. What was trespassed were basic, were absolutely foundational Constitutional precepts in substantial part. Again, the woman's infringements were minor by comparison to Nifong's, the president of Duke, members among the professoriate at Duke and elsewhere, the MSM to some degree as well.)
9.15.2007 7:15pm
vukdog:
Well said, but I disagree about the woman's infringments being minor by comparison.
9.15.2007 9:59pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I believe that the students were not rich - though they may be white. Their *parents* had some dough but I don't think they did.
9.15.2007 11:43pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
I doubt that black accused rapists among the Duke student body would get 88 profs attacking them in print.
9.15.2007 11:44pm
James Lindgren (mail):
What some commenters seem to be forgetting is what prompted KC Johnson to get involved in the first place: the actions of large numbers of Duke faculty in contributing to the railroading of the victims of the Duke rape hoax.

While Nifong's behavior may be the most salient example of a conspiracy to frame defendants in recent years, unfortunately, it is far from the only example. Yet one of the many things that made this particular injustice so compelling is that many of the groups that usually try to protect those who are being railroaded by a corrupt prosecutor were instead cheering--or on balance defending--those who were framing the Duke lacrosse players.

Moreover, the whole circus focused on events at an elite university (after all, we VC bloggers are mostly professors), indeed, a university where one of the VC bloggers teaches.

Given the issues, where things took place, and who was involved, I'd say that VC coverage has been relatively light rather than relatively heavy.

There is too much worrying here (and most other places as well) about the motives of people for exposing the truth and informing readers. One thing that the Duke case should teach us is that we should care much more about what actually happened than about the motives of those who are offering facts or opinions.

Jim Lindgren
9.16.2007 1:42pm
Michael B (mail):
vukdog,

Thank you, though I suspect we largely agree rather than disagree when it comes to the woman involved. I wan't dismissing the seriousness of what she did (even to the contrary), but rather was stressing her wrongs were minor only by comparison to Nifong's, to large numbers among the professoriate, Duke's president's, the MSM's, Jackson's and Sharpton's, others still. The woman's wrongs were serious, but they involved tort and criminal offenses at worst, committed by an individual who seemingly has some considerable uphill struggles to face in life, even if there's little doubt she's contributed to some of her own difficulties and struggles. I'm not a "bleeding heart," nonetheless some measure of forebearance, compassion, social consciousness, etc. is warranted; ultimately, at the personal/individual level, justice and mercy need to be artfully applied with both sober and humane comprehensions in mind. Otherwise "the law" devolves into an undifferentiating bludgeon.

By contrast, and the contrast is both stark and pregnant with meaning, the actions of the president of Duke, members of the professoriate, DA Nifong, members of the MSM, and others, represent the premeditated and variously rationalized actions of well paid, ostensibly mature professionals whose de jure and de facto responsibilities include a comprehensive awareness of Constitutional and societal precepts, along with the practical application of those precepts. Something very basic is at play here, very basic and meaningful at Constitutional and societal levels; in the woman's case the meaning is localized to her and those whom she trespassed.

(And the reason I had suggested a comparison with other concrete examples is needed, rather than with generalities, is not because I doubt other examples exist, nor that I question their significance, but rather due to the fact that such a comparison would yield, would make apparent, factors such as those Prof. Lindgren, directly above, emphasizes.)
9.16.2007 5:12pm