Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Duke case could derail Nifong's 3-decade career as prosecutor

Aaron Beard:

Forced by allegations of prosecutorial misconduct to recuse himself, the district attorney who drove the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case could end up losing much more than the opportunity to try a case he still believes in.

For Mike Nifong, the missteps of the past 10 months have the potential to end a career that started nearly three decades ago, when he signed up at the Durham County district attorney's office as an unpaid assistant.

"You don't easily recover from something like this," said James Coleman, a Duke University law professor and frequent Nifong critic. "That's what's so unfortunate about this. He had a career - a long career, a reputation of being an honest and fair prosecutor - and for some reason, his conduct in this case was inconsistent with that.

"It's just bizarre. This is the biggest case by far that he's handled and he didn't do a very good job, and I think that's going to haunt him."

When Nifong asked the state attorney general's office on Friday to take over the case of three lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper hired to perform at a team party, he was less than two weeks into his first full term as Durham County's elected district attorney. Now, he must defend himself against ethics charges that could lead to his disbarment.

Should North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismiss the case against Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann - and legal experts have said there appears to be little evidence to support the charges - their families might try to file a civil lawsuit against Nifong.

If and when he returns to the courtroom, Nifong will have to rebuild a reputation tainted by the vast attention generated by the lacrosse case.

"Nothing happens in a vacuum," said Garry Frank, a district attorney in four North Carolina counties and president of the state Conference of District Attorneys. "It's something that he and his office will have to work through. It will be a challenge for him."

The conference offered Nifong a variety of assistance in September - an offer that went unanswered. Frank said Nifong appeared surprised in late December that his colleagues were concerned about his handling of the case, and they later formally called on Nifong to recuse himself.

"Folks that have to do the things we do on a day-to-day basis quickly learn take good advice when you can get it," Frank said. Asked if Nifong erred in failing to do so, Frank said, "the public would have to make a judgment on that."

A more immediate concern for Nifong is the pending ethics charges that accuse him of making misleading and inflammatory comments about the lacrosse team, including calling them "nothing but a bunch of hooligans." A hearing on those charges is set for May.

John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, thinks more ethics charges are forthcoming. The director of a private lab has said he and Nifong agreed to keep out of a report given to the defense results of DNA testing that found genetic material from several unknown men on the accuser's body and underwear, and that none of the DNA matched that of the three indicted players.

Duke Case: Painful "60 Minutes" Should Close Case

As the Duke case implodes

A Rush to Condemn in the Duke & Plame Cases

Legal experts: recusal may lead to dismissal

NY Times Reverses Field on Duke "Rape" Case

Nifong: Pride Goeth Before the Fall

It's time to look at the accuser

Mike Nifong and the Duke Case

Duke/Nifong Hoax: Day #270 - State Takes Over Duke Case

Duke “rape” case: DA Nifong should be disbarred & the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, locked up

Nicholas Stix’ Absolutely Definitive Account Of The Incredible Disappearing Duke Rape Hoax

Michael Nifong’s Spaghetti Factory


At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Duke case" was created by Mike Nifong as a political stepping stone. He had many chnaces to admit his unethical behavior, but once going down that slippery slope, he shown he rather manipulate his way, rather than work his way up to the standards of justice this country has come to expect.

“Conspiracy” is such a hot button, but the Nifong Rape case does fit that word. The stripper isn’t the head of the conspiracy, she only made up the lie to get out of being arrested..again.

Mike Nifong certainly didn’t plan a conspiracy. He went down that road totally ignorant. He saw an opportunity to grand stand a crime he “hoped” really occurred so he could use to grab the media lime light to further his career. Many sexist and racist groups descended unto Durham to grab a piece of the media pie to further their political agendas, But even before the DNA evidence came back, Nifong claimed a “blue wall of silence” even though the boys voluntarily submitted DNA samples and submitted themselves to police interviews lasting over six hours without any lawyers. When the parents recognized the DA wanting to railroad these boys, that’s when the expensive lawyers were called in, but they weren’t called in to defend these boys against the accuser, these lawyers were called in to protect the bys against a rogue DA who had the power of the state of NC behind him.

When the DNA evidence came back not matching anyone on the lacrosse team, this is when Nifong should have tried to calm things, but it was difficult because he had granted of 70 interviews proclaiming the entire Duke Lacrosse team’s guilt and conspiracy to cover heinous crimes. Instead, he further “spun” any information into something that could possibly be plausible, but in order for people to believe his “far-reaching-plausibilities”, he had to hide other evidence. Including ignoring the exculpatory evidence that solidly proves the “prostitute” was lying. At this point weather Nifong’s actions rose to the level of “conspiracy” is questionable, but when he involved Mr. Meehan – manager of the DNA Lab – to break his own lab’s policy to hide exculpatory evidence, this reached the definition of conspiracy.

Nifong seemed to be slipping further down a slippery slope. If he wasn’t forced to recuse himself from the case, it’s not hard to believe that he wouldn’t have correlated the accuser’s story to fit the evidence remaining to create a plausible crime that could possibly be sold to an ignorant jury. The latest version of the “accuser’s” claim explained many holes in Nifong’s case (mustache, ATM pictures, etc…), but it changed the time line so bad that it contradicted statement given by neighbors that night.


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