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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Duke Case: Durham's Priorities?

Durham has real problems - gang problems. How are Mike Nifong and the Durham Police Department able to justify in their minds expending the time and effort on prosecuting a hoax against three innocent lacrosse players, when gang violence is erupting in the Durham courthouse?

If the "Stop Snitching" - code of silence, gang culture has fully taken root in Durham like it appears to, every law abiding citizen in Durham will regret the day the authorities took their eye off that ball to play fools in a hoax.

ABC reported:

The first-degree murder trial of 17-year old Calvin Nicholson is on hold. He is accused of gunning down an 18-year-old Hillside High School student on Bacon Street in 2005. Police say it was gang-related.

Tuesday's courthouse melee erupted on the fifth-floor, after key witnesses backed out of the Nicholson trial. They said they were being threatened.

"An incident occurred when information came up that caused people from one courtroom and gang to come to the other courtroom, where members of a rival gang were involved," said Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

Durham police are investigating the threats, which are a major challenge in prosecuting gang-related trials.

"You can't really conduct trials in an atmosphere, where there is intimidation of witnesses, or where there is fear that something might happen," Nifong said. "The District Attorney's Office is not equipped to protect witnesses in any situation. There aren't any local witness protection programs, or anything of that nature. The fact is people are to some extent on their own, in terms of their protection."
The District Attorney's Office is ill equipped to protect witnesses in any situation or protect the citizens of Durham from gang violence because the office is totally distracted by this lacrosse hoax. Until this hoax is dropped and Mike Nifong is removed from office the Durham District Attorney's Office will be fighting crime with one hand tied behind its back.

Who does not think that Mike Nifong is emotionally involved with this case? His obsession certainly impacts the performance of the entire DA's office.

Nifong is spending his time filing ridiculous legal motions in the Duke case about telephone surveys that involve his wife. Last Friday he spends basically the entire day at courthouse on his hoax. This doesn't count Nifong's countless hours of case related preparation, time obsessing about the case, and time spent dealing with at least seven outstanding defense attorneys. Forget the time he is now investing in his re-election bid against "Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek."

Nifong spends his evenings reviewing what's been said on the Internet about the case and responding to email criticism.

Nifong wasted $23,000 of tax payer money on needless DNA testing at an outside laboratory when the money should have been spend on real public safety matters.

The trial if it is held next year could be the longest in Durham and maybe North Carolina history. How much real crime fighting will Nifong, the DA's office, and the Durham PD be able to focus on while the circus is in town for an extended stay?

The Durham Police Department also needs to look at its priorities. Cracking down on Duke students and intimidating an honest cab driver are clearly not appropriate when gang issues boil over and a courthouse melee erupts during a murder trial and witnesses fear for their lives. How is police time better spent: sending a car by to keep an eye on witness safety or hassling Duke students?

Someone should conduct a survey of Durham residents and ask them what they see as a priority: fighting gang violence/witness intimidation or prosecuting a hoax?

If Nifong really cared about the citizens of Durham he would have handed the Duke case off to a special prosecutor months ago and returned to real crime fighting. The people of Durham need to say - ENOUGH! They are being cheated. The ego and personal issues of the district attorney should not be a distraction from the real priorities of public safety.

source:

Police: Gang Threats Postpone Murder Trial [abc11tv, Sept. 27, 2006]

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