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Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Duke Case: Liefong PR

Mike Nifong - LiarMike Nifong was in full frontal lying campaign mode on Tuesday. Nifong used Benjamin Niolet of the News & Observer to issue a campaign press release, designed to do some damage control. Candidate Nifong gives an excuse and tries to defend his decision not to interview the Duke rape accuser. The N&O reported:

"For 27 years, no one has thought it was odd that I had other people do the interviewing," Nifong said in an interview. "For people who have never prosecuted cases to suggest they just can't believe I would do that seems kind of self-serving."
Mike Nifong using the term "self-serving" to describe others is like the devil calling someone a sinner. The brazenly uttered lie - is that Nifong actually manipulated this high-profile politically motivated case unlike any other in his long undistinguished career. For one thing, he was both the lead investigator and the prosecutor.
Capt. Lamb [Durham PD] told officers on March 24 — a scarce eight days into the investigation — "to continue with our investigation, but to go through Mr. Nifong for any directions as to how to conduct matters in this case." KC Johnson
Nifong's lie was pointed out in the article by Joe Cheshire:
When asked for a response to Nifong's comments, lawyer Joseph B. Cheshire V, an attorney for defendant Dave Evans, said the lacrosse case is different from every other case Nifong has handled. Cheshire said it differs because of Nifong's prominent role in the investigation...

"People need to understand he is the lead investigator and prosecutor, which makes it different than his cases in 27 years. If you're an investigator, it is your duty to talk to witnesses," Cheshire said.
However, Nifong's big lie is given credibility by the very title and and subtitle that the News & Obfuscator chose to use for his campaign press release:
Nifong defends interview policy

The prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse rape case says he lets others interview the witnesses in cases
Again the clever tactical use of FUD (Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt) by Nifong, to pretend that he was following his 27-year "Standard Operating Procedures" (SOPs). The problem is that he broke almost every prosecutorial SOP in the book and then lubricated the hoax with blatant lies.

KC Johnson documents more of the broken procedures - Nifong's Procedural "Justice."

One example, KC Johnson cites of Nifong's corruption of the criminal justice procedures involves a case, State v. Dwight Ellis Carrington, that also involved Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Stephens. Judge Stephens presided over the Duke case and he was also the judge who signed off on the March 23rd order requiring the 46 Duke lacrosse team members to submit to photographs and DNA testing. The court order was based on a sworn statement filed by detective Benjamin W. Himan.

1.) State v. Dwight Ellis Carrington

Charge: first-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: February 23, 2005
  • $100,000 bond, reduced to $60,000: February 24, 2005
  • The file contains no mention of the date of the probable cause hearing.
  • Grand jury: April 18, 2005

February 23, 2006: Pleads guilty to felonious restraint.
Rape charge dismissed.

Despite 17 prior convictions for crimes such as DWI, larceny, possession of stolen goods, and forgery, Carrington was sentenced to 27-33 months, with credit for 12 months served.

Judge Stephens—the same judge who OK’d Nifong’s procedurally fraudulent March 23 NTO order—signed off on the plea deal.

KC Johnson concluded:
Rule 3.8, comment 1 of the state bar’s ethics code states, “A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate; the prosecutor's duty is to seek justice, not merely to convict. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice.”

Manipulating procedures to deny Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans the opportunity for a probable cause hearing would seem rather inconsistent with both the spirit and the letter of this rule.
Judge Stephens also pulled duty in a NY Times, Duff Wilson, article by providing a nice pro-Nifong quote:
Meanwhile, Mr. Nifong’s supporters are trying to cast him as an experienced prosecutor and a neophyte politician. He has been a prosecutor for 28 years and says he has handled about 300 felony cases, but he is engaged in his first political race, having been appointed acting district attorney in April 2005.

"He’s a good person, he’s a good lawyer, but he’s in a situation he has never been in before," said Ronald L. Stephens, a local judge who was district attorney before Mr. Nifong.

The Duff "evidence is not enough" Wilson article, as expected, concludes on a positive note for Nifong:
"People who are upset about the lacrosse case, they will be vocal but I don’t think significant,” said Frank Hyman, a former city councilman and longtime political observer, who backs Mr. Nifong. “I think most people are going to recognize this needs to be settled in court and not in the press."
Thanks for nothing Duff.

sources:
Nifong defends interview policy [N&O, Nov. 1, 2006]
Nifong's Procedural "Justice" [KC Johnson]
Duke Rape Case Shadows an Unusual Campaign [NY Times, Nov. 1, 2006]

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