Accountability for Durham, NC voters

Normally I am skeptical of big ticket lawsuits, but I am making an exception for the three Duke students unjustly prosecuted by Mike Nifong, whose wrist-slap 24 hour jail sentence is an affront to every American potentially the victim of another rogue prosecutor. The AP reports they are seeking a settlement for $30 million and if they don't receive this sum plus a package of reforms designed to prevent another miscarriage of justice, they will sue.

Last year, the City of Durham's revenues were just shy of
176 million dollars, so the lads are only seeking 17% of one year's expenditures. When juries are asked to send a message to defendants, such as a corporation which negligently harmed people, by punishing them with a high damages award, 17% of yearly revenues is not an unthinkable penalty. Anything under 5% of revenues does not even qualify as "material" in an accounting sense.

The 2007 State of the City address by Durham Mayor William Bell contains these words:
"The efficient delivery of our core city services should always be at the top of our goals and there should be no compromise in the delivery of these services. Our citizens and tax payers have every right to assume that this will be done and we as elected officials and city employees should be held accountable to meet these goals."
Not just the pols and the employees, however, deserve accountability. The voters of Durham elected Nifong as DA because he pandered to their desire for race and class vengeance on the wealthy white Duke students. Cutting city services and/or raising taxes on them to finance a settlement or judgment strikes me as perfectly appropriate.

Earlier, the students settled out of court with Duke University, whose behavior was not criminal like Nifong's. The terms of the settlement preclude revealing how much they got, but it must have amounted to millions. Duke's budget in 2004-5 was 1.426 billion dollars, over 8 times that of Durham. To reach the level of accounting materiality, the 3 students would have had to receive over 70 million dollars from Duke.

I doubt very much that they got that much. But the figure offers some guidance for thinking about the total they did get. It was enough to seal their lips.

The more the better. These boys and their families went through hell. Both Duke and Durham need to be motivated to end their atrocious behavior. And to stand as examples for others.
Normally I am skeptical of big ticket lawsuits, but I am making an exception for the three Duke students unjustly prosecuted by Mike Nifong, whose wrist-slap 24 hour jail sentence is an affront to every American potentially the victim of another rogue prosecutor. The AP reports they are seeking a settlement for $30 million and if they don't receive this sum plus a package of reforms designed to prevent another miscarriage of justice, they will sue.

Last year, the City of Durham's revenues were just shy of
176 million dollars, so the lads are only seeking 17% of one year's expenditures. When juries are asked to send a message to defendants, such as a corporation which negligently harmed people, by punishing them with a high damages award, 17% of yearly revenues is not an unthinkable penalty. Anything under 5% of revenues does not even qualify as "material" in an accounting sense.

The 2007 State of the City address by Durham Mayor William Bell contains these words:
"The efficient delivery of our core city services should always be at the top of our goals and there should be no compromise in the delivery of these services. Our citizens and tax payers have every right to assume that this will be done and we as elected officials and city employees should be held accountable to meet these goals."
Not just the pols and the employees, however, deserve accountability. The voters of Durham elected Nifong as DA because he pandered to their desire for race and class vengeance on the wealthy white Duke students. Cutting city services and/or raising taxes on them to finance a settlement or judgment strikes me as perfectly appropriate.

Earlier, the students settled out of court with Duke University, whose behavior was not criminal like Nifong's. The terms of the settlement preclude revealing how much they got, but it must have amounted to millions. Duke's budget in 2004-5 was 1.426 billion dollars, over 8 times that of Durham. To reach the level of accounting materiality, the 3 students would have had to receive over 70 million dollars from Duke.

I doubt very much that they got that much. But the figure offers some guidance for thinking about the total they did get. It was enough to seal their lips.

The more the better. These boys and their families went through hell. Both Duke and Durham need to be motivated to end their atrocious behavior. And to stand as examples for others.