Duke University has won a victory which, in our view, has the long-range potential to hinder inquiry and scholarship into current events, and the short-range impact of hassling a history professor who co-authored a book about the false claims of rape at a 2006 team party and the way three players were set up for prosecution by a now-disbarred District Attorney.
The book, “Until Proven Innocent,” takes the Brodhead Administration to task for its handling of the crisis: its failure to support a fair trial for the students, its failure to control an element of the faculty that was marching behind a “Castrate” sign and even giving athletes failing grades for no reason. The book was right; President Brodhead later mustered the courage to stand at a law school conference and apologize. At least apologize in part, though not to the people who were offended.
The judge — in a federal courtroom in Maine because that’s where the professor, K.C. Johnson of Brooklyn College, now lives — put a severe damper on Duke’s desire for a wide-ranging, aggressive fishing expedition with Johnson.
During the coming deposition — in other words, during preparation for trial in a case where he is neither plaintiff nor defendant — Duke can question Johnson only about what players told him, and not about interviews with their parents. And the questions must relate to two-week period at the very start of the crisis.
We would imagine that Duke wants to know what the players told Johnson so it can keep that information in reserve, and if a player says something now that contradicts what he may have said earlier, try to impeach his testimony. This is the kind of legal work you get when you are a client with deep pockets, willing to spend any amount for fees and expenses.
The corrupt District Attorney was, of course, Mike Nifong. On Tuesday morning, we learned that one of his assistant d-a’s, Freda Bowman Black, was charged with drunk driving after she made a sudden swooping u-turn, crossing a double yellow line on NC 751 and cutting off another vehicle. She was Nifong’s Nemesis, and he fired her just prior to the lax case, but it’s just another example of the type of person and depth of stench in Nifong’s operation.