The crawl of justice

We are told that, very soon, the charges against the lacrosse players are likely to be dropped. This long overdue reversal is not surprising-it's hard to conceive that any person with even a modicum of objectivity could fail to realize the charges are false.

This year-long persecution has been a dark exhibition of some of the worst tendencies in humans and the end of the criminal case is a cause for rejoicing.

But the end of the criminal case is only the beginning of the search for justice.

Now is the time to go after the real culprits and to make them answer for their crimes.

At the top of that list is Mike Nifong, Durham's chief prosecutor.

Nifong disregarded, and even hid, exculpatory evidence, as he did everything in his power to pursue a case in spite of all the evidence exonerating the players.

Our justice system is predicated on the idea that we must protect the innocent-what then do you do with a prosecutor who does just the opposite?

You put him in jail. Yes, Nifong should lose his job. Yes, he should be disbarred. Yes, the families should sue him for everything he's worth. But, for justice to really be served, a man who seemingly acted with such malevolence and disregard for people's rights, and who caused so much harm, must answer for these crimes in a court of law.

The alleged victim, too, needs to answer for her crimes. With her changing stories, soundly contradicted by the evidence, and her eventual claim that she did not in fact know if she was raped, there is an open and shut case against her for perjury and obstruction.

Duke University also needs a new president. When students needed him, President Brodhead was not there. When the lacrosse team needed him to correct damning public confusions and misperceptions, he didn't step up. When Nifong's conduct began drawing fierce criticism from all directions, our president's head was still buried in the sand. When his own professors launched attacks in and out of the classroom against our peers, he neither made an effort to rein them in nor come to the students' defense. At the very least, I don't think any of us can reasonably deny that there are better university presidents to be found out there. So let's find one.

Lastly, our professors need to answer for their actions. It is unacceptable for faculty to publish an ad going after their own students during a heated criminal investigation, and fanning the flames of prejudice and mob mentality during the first weeks of this case would certainly qualify.

At the very least, a general censure needs to be issued so the school can take an official stance against their behavior.

Some professors went even further, launching the attacks in their classrooms. These incidences need to be diligently investigated and pursued according to University guidelines of professor conduct-they should not be ignored and swept aside.

In particularly appalling cases, future employment must be examined. Chief among these is the case of non-tenured professor Kim Curtis, who, the available evidence seems to indicate, failed Kyle Dowd simply because he was a member of the lacrosse team.

Duke's goal must be to hire the best professors to be had. I certainly feel justified in saying that Curtis is clearly not one of them. It appears she violated the most basic ethical tenets of teaching and, if there is no other plausible explanation for her behavior (I certainly can't imagine one) she should be terminated, and another, more ethical professor, should be given her slot and a shot at tenure at our esteemed school.

How can we have an elite university if we don't hold our professors to even a mainstream professional standard?

The lacrosse case has from the beginning been a harrowing travesty of justice with anguishing consequences for our peers. With the players at last nearing release from criminal charges, we are reminded that justice is not always swift. Instead, it is often a crawl, gently creeping forward, which, if enough momentum builds, can turn into an avalanche.

Unified, we can marshal this momentum. As this first trickle of justice breaks though the damn of corruption, let us stand together as Duke students and see that just such an avalanche is unleashed.

Let us see that justice is delivered.

Stephen Miller is a Trinity senior. His column runs every other Monday.


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