Updated - today's items:
Top story: North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys issued a statement that called for Nifong to recuse himself from the Duke Lacrosse case.
Experts: Ethics Charges Could Force Nifong Off Duke Lacrosse Case — Ethics charges filed against the prosecutor at the center of the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case might constitute a conflict of interest that forces him off the case, legal experts said. "It's hard for me to imagine how he can be effective as an advocate, with either the court or a future jury, when he has ethics charges pending against him ... concerning his conduct of this very same case," said Joseph Kennedy, a University of North Carolina law professor. . .
On Friday, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys issued a statement that called for Nifong to recuse himself from the Duke Lacrosse case. Kennedy said Nifong should recuse himself, but added that the judge overseeing the case could also order his removal.
North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys (Mike Nifong is a member):
Press Release at WRAL — ...The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys is of the opinion that it is in the interest of justice and the effective administration of criminal justice that Mr. Nifong immediately withdraw and recuse himself from the prosecution of these cases and request the cases be assigned to another prosecutorial authority.
KC Johnson: Conference of D.A.'s: Recuse — The symbolism of this move is obvious: the state's elected District Attorneys have issued a public statement of no confidence in Mike Nifong.
LieStoppers blog: All Elected NC District Attorneys Issue Joint Statement Against Defendant Nifong — the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys notes that in September it offered the Defendant assistance, including additional Assistant District Attorneys, to help with the prosecution of the Hoax...The tacit refusal by Defendant Nifong to even acknowledge the offer of assistance from the Conference is a clear indication that he is indeed the rogue prosecutor. . .the big news certainly is that his peer group has reached its limits of embarrassment and has finally called him out.
LieStoppers forum: NC Conference of District Attorneys. . .
FreeRepublic: Experts Say Ethics Charges May Force Nifong Off Duke Lacrosse Case
Prof. John Banzhaf, Professor of Public Interest Law, via Friends of Duke University:
Nifong Bar Charge Creates 3rd Conflict of Interest — The formal legal complaint filed yesterday against Durham DA Michael Nifong by the North Carolina State Bar creates a third conflict of interest situation, and could doom the prosecution of three Duke lacrosse players for sexual assault, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf. . .an apparent conflict of interest -- because Nifong could be tempted to slant the way he presents the evidence in order to seek to justify his extrajudicial comments. . .
Another conflict which already exists is based on testimony under oath by Brian W. Meehan, the director of a private laboratory which performed DNA testing for Nifong. . . Nifong faces another clear conflict of interest in deciding how to prepare Meehan to testify in any further proceedings, and how to frame the questions once he takes the stand. . .
Eric Ferreri, News & Observer:
Prosecution witness could testify for defense — Attorneys for three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting and kidnapping a stripper now want to use one of the prosecution's witnesses as their own. Attorneys for defendants David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann filed notice today of their intent to use Brian Meehan, head of DNA Security in Burlington, as their own expert...."Dr. Meehan's testimony will be used to impeach the credibility of the accuser's responses to questions from investigators and hospital personnel in which she detailed her activities in the days and weeks leading up to the alleged events in this case," the 93-page filing reads in part....
related:Editorial, New York Daily News:
WRAL.com: Notice of Intent To Present Expert Testimony (5 page brief of 93-page defense filing)
LieStoppers forum: Prosecution witness could testify for defense
The Duke Three should go free — It has become plainly obvious that a gross miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated against the three Duke University lacrosse players who were charged last spring with raping a stripper at a raucous house party.
Enough evidence has unfolded to conclude that Collin Finnerty of Garden City, L.I., Reade Seligmann of Essex Fells, N.J., and David Evans of Bethesda, Md., are the targets of an irresponsible prosecution by a race-baiting, politically craven district attorney . . .
The North Carolina bar yesterday accused him of misconduct when speaking to the press about the case, which is the least serious of his offenses. Yes, there was a crime here. And Nifong committed it.
related:Aaron Beard, AP/ABC News:
KC Johnson: The Reaction — comment [from a reliable source] - Kemper said...KC . . . Just had lunch with my Bar friend, my original thought that the current complaint would be amended to include the new charges, was wrong. New charges will be filed by the Bar against Nifungu, they are in the works now. He also gave me his copy of the original complaint against Nifungu, send me your mailing address, it's yours!!
Happy New Year!! . . . Kemp
Duke D.A. Charged With Ethics Violations — Ethics charges filed against the prosecutor at the center of the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case might constitute a conflict of interest that forces him off the case, legal experts said.
"It's hard for me to imagine how he can be effective as an advocate, with either the court or a future jury, when he has ethics charges pending against him … concerning his conduct of this very same case," said Joseph Kennedy, a University of North Carolina law professor . . .
Matt Dees, News & Observer:
Nifong broke rules, Bar alleges — Nifong has been lacerated in several quarters for his handling of the case, but the Bar's complaint of pretrial prejudice is the first concrete action that could accomplish what his critics have sought for months -- removal from the case. Moreover, he could lose his license to practice law . . .
Lisa Williams, a former Durham prosecutor turned defense attorney who has known Nifong for 12 years, said she thinks the Bar's accusations create a conflict of interest for Nifong, which state law says is grounds to have him removed from the case, if not from office. "I feel like this is the first shoe," she said Thursday night. "And the second shoe is coming."
Nifong could be disbarred or lose his law license for up to five years if a Bar review board finds him guilty...The Bar charged Nifong with violating four ethical rules multiple times during his interviews. The Bar complained of "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation," conduct "prejudicial to the administration of justice," and comments likely to both taint a court proceeding and heighten "public condemnation of the accused."
N&O - North Carolina State Bar Press Release, Dec. 28, 2006 (.pdf, 2 pages):Column by Rick Martinez, News & Observer:
STATE BAR FILES COMPLAINT OVER PRE-TRIAL PUBLICITY IN DUKE LACROSSE CASE — The Bar's 17-page complaint to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission speaks for itself, said L. Thomas Lunsford II, the State Bar's executive director. 'The state bar is aware of the great pubic interest in this matter. However, we want to be careful not to engage in inappropriate pre-trial publicity. For this reason, we will not discuss allegations in the complaint publicly," said Lunsford.
The State Bar opened a grievance against Mr. Nifong on March 30, 2006. After a careful investigation by the Bar's staff, the Bar's Grievance Committee found reasonable cause on October 19, 2006 to refer the to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for a trial.
The Disciplinary Hearing Commission is an independent administrative court that is composed of 12 lawyers and eight public members. It sits in panels of three to hear complaints in public proceedings, acting much like a Superior Court. Every hearing panel includes a non-lawyer public member. The State Bar's legal counsel acts as the prosecutor in such cases . . .
Will Duke take a look at itself? — The New Year is often a fresh start. Some Duke University faculty members and administrators should take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on their actions of the past year and to reclaim their reputations . . .
If Duke chooses not to probe its institutional actions and statements, it will sweep under the rug a lot of damning evidence . . .
the university should examine whether an obsession with attacking racism, sexism and privilege only contributed to it. It's an examination Duke sorely needs, and one the rest of higher education should pay close attention to.
comment:Chris (Duke student), Outside Report blog:
How very ironic that the News & Observer is pointing a finger at Duke. The same question could be asked of the News & Observer. Will the News & Observer take a look at itself and its extremely biased coverage of the Duke hoax in March and early April? That coverage certainly contributed to Duke and Brodhead's failures and the rush to judgement. The N&O should publicly address that issue too.
Liestoppers forum: Will Duke take a look at itself?
Prof. Michael Gustafson (Duke), DukeEngr93 blog:
Duke Phoneathon (12/22) - These are just lingering questions I have: ...Were students ever told not to contact their parents, and if so, why?... Were students ever advised to speak with officers of the court without representation?... Was an e-mail sent from a lacrosse player's account saying he is going to the police?...
Nifong's Days are Numbered — Among us Duke students and the ones I've talked to, we've been outraged that despite the flimsiest of evidence that this case hasn't been dropped. . .
John in Carolina, Bob Wilson (retired NC journalist):
Stay free, journalists — The Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer are North Carolina’s two largest papers. As journalists say, "They have the means."
So why weren’t either one of them the first paper in the state to call for Durham DA Mike Nifong’s resignation? . . .
Newspaper editors and reporters cannot be cozy with the people and organizations they cover. It just doesn't work. Alas for Bob Ashley's Herald-Sun and Durham, that cardinal rule of journalism has been ignored.
Barstow, Wilson; New York Times:
Prosecutor in Duke Case Faces Ethics Complaint — In addition to the bar complaint, Mr. Nifong is likely to face a separate accusation of prosecutorial misconduct before W. Osmond Smith III, the judge presiding over the sexual assault case. Defense lawyers have said they are preparing a motion seeking sanctions against Mr. Nifong for failing to reveal for seven months that tests had found DNA material from several men, none of them members of the lacrosse team, on rape kit swabs taken from the woman hours after the alleged attack...
Nifong faces ethics probe — The N.C. State Bar filed a complaint against Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong Thursday, accusing him of making unethical media statements in what started out as the Duke lacrosse rape case and evolved last week into a sexual assault and kidnapping case...
attorneys said bar complaints are among the most dreaded nightmares imaginable in a law career. "It's the equivalent of criminal charges as far as your career goes," according to veteran attorney Mark Edwards. "Think of it as similar to an audit letter coming from the IRS." Duke law professor James Coleman, head of the schools' Lacrosse Review Committee, said he wasn't surprised by the complaint against Nifong. "I think that early in the case, his conduct clearly violated the rules," Coleman added. "I don't think any explanation he makes can fly."...
Nifong will be prosecuted by State Bar Chief Counsel Katherine Jean and Douglas J. Brocker, a former deputy State Bar counsel now in private practice in Wake County. A trial date had not been set as of Thursday.
related:Ben Cowgill's Legal Ethics Newsletter:
Jeffrey Meyer, Clearwater, FL, letter to Herald-Sun (published 12/29) — Where is the state bar?
KC Johnson: John Stevenson: Reporter — It would be nice to see the H-S at least go through the motions of journalism.
LieStoppers forum: Media Roundup, Friday, Dec. 29, 2006
Here's how it's done, Mr. Nifong — Like many Duke alumni, I have followed the story of the "Duke rape case" (now the "sexual assault" case) with a growing sense of outrage at the conduct of District Attorney Mike Nifong...I will honor the legal system that Mr. Nifong and I are both sworn to uphold. So I will simply say this:
Mr. Nifong has been charged. The charges against him will be decided in the proper forum, through a process that respects his rights. He is presumed innocent until he is found guilty.It's just that easy, Mr. Nifong. Why couldn't you have shown that much respect for the rights of three young men?
Paul Hollander, FrontPageMagazine.com:
Tawana Brawley and the “Exotic Dancer” at Duke — The recent case of the lacrosse players at Duke University accused of raping a young black woman brings to mind the case of Tawana Brawley, the black teenager who in 1988 made similar charges against a group of white men in Wappinger Falls , NY. In both cases, what turned out to be unfounded charges were widely given credit and generated immense publicity; celebrities and politicians rallied to the cause of the alleged victims, lengthy and costly legal investigations followed, and at last it emerged that the accusations were groundless. In both incidents, the charges were seized upon as self-evident, incontrovertible proof of the incorrigible and ineradicable racism that continues to permeate and infect every pore of American society . . .
related:Bull Dog Pundit, Ankle Biting Pundits:
The Johnsville News: Where is Tawana Brawley?
Nifong In The Crosshairs — My colleague B.T. asked me to use my experience as an attorney and former prosecutor and weigh in on the Ethics Complaint filed against Durham D.A. Mike Nifong by the North Carolina Bar Association (which you can read in its entirely here). Thankfully I have never been on the receiving end of an ethics complaint, but I certainly can offer a little insight. To classify this as a “stunning rebuke” would be an understatement. I am not familiar with North Carolina law or procedure, but in Pennsylvania not once have I ever a seen a prosecutor or assistant prosecutor actually brought up on an ethics complaint for their official duties . . .
related:Michael J. Gayor:
Ace of Spades blog: Former Prosecutor's Take On Nifong Complaint
Duke Case: DEFENDANT Nifong! — At last, on December 28, 2006, the North Carolina State Bar proved it was awake by filing a much awaited complaint in Wake County, North Carolina with its Disciplinary Hearing Commission. Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong is the named defendant in that complaint! HURRAY! The strategy that secured an upset election victory in Durham, North Carolina has a downside! . . .
Analyzing the Complaint — The filing focused solely on his procedurally improper public statements, which the Bar (correctly) contends violated Rule 3.8(f) of the Code of Professional Responsibility . . .
The Timing...That the bar acted publicly—and did so out of the blue, not even waiting for its next scheduled meeting, in mid-January—can only be interpreted as an unequivocal repudiation of Nifong by the legal leadership of his state . . .
Forum topics of note:
LieStoppers: The "Baby" Story was planted! — These people have been thought to be unsophisticated fools but they have successfully manipulated the media many times in this case - and look for it to continue. THE FAMILY was the only source for this BIRTH story (9 months to the day). THE FAMILY. Are the above statements, including Jakkii POINTING out the sinister "implications" of the timing of this Birth - just coincidences? And why has no one in the Media caught this or got the family's number by now? . . .William L. Anderson:related:LieStoppers: NC Bar & Feds: ? Division of Labor — the NC Bar was able to file this complaint with little or no investigation-- just cataloging Nifong's statements and verifying that he made them....Will we see U.S. marshals in the Durham County Court House carting away documents and computers? . . .
Mike McCusker, Crystal Mess: The Nut Didn't Fall Far From The Tree — Is it any surprise that manipulative, opportunistic, lying parents raise manipulative, opportunistic, lying children? I think not. ..The Father told Rita Cosby that the team "don’t have no conscience whatsoever."
An Open Letter to Michael Nifong — Above all, Mike the key is dropping these charges now. Take my advice, please. I may not like you, but I believe that it would be best for everyone involved if you were to punt, including you . . .
Jon Ham (Durham resident and former Durham Herald Sun editor), Right Angles/JohnLocke.org:
Doing nothing about Nifong — Everybody and his brother has finally realized that Durham DA Mike Nifong has been an irresponsible hack in his prosecution of the Duke lacrosse players. Everyone but Congressman David Price, that is. . .
Duke Basketball Report:
Nifong & The Bar — Keep in mind that the bar does not have to publicly disclose disciplinary actions. Doing so while a case is in motion is extraordinary, which suggests the bar is taking this quite seriously...Nifong has become a severe political liability for the state bar. With national ridicule of Nifong extending as far as Saturday Night Live, and with a spotlight on the profession in the state, that's bad enough. But with serious proposals to end the power of the state bar to regulate the profession being discussed - at that point, Nifong goes from an embarrassment, something the bar has managed to overcome more than once, to a dagger pointed at its own throat . . .
Mary Katharine Ham, TownHall.com:
Some good things about Duke Lacrosse for a change — But what don’t you know about the Duke lacrosse team? There’s plenty. 1. Guess what the graduation rate is for the Duke lacrosse team. . . those meat-headed cavemen have a 100-percent graduation rate. One hundred percent. You read that right. 2. Did you know they didn’t just graduate? Many of them even distinguished themselves academically? . . .(+ video) Tour of Things That Did Not Happen in Durham.
John in Carolina: Nifong Hoax LOLs
It Really is Time For A Visit — Duke University has a Board of Visitors. All major universities do, and the members of that board carry the charge of making sure that the university functions in an ethical, honorable and efficient manner that maximizes the reputation and societal contributions of the university as an institution of higher learning. It only appears to the untrained observer watching The Duke Rape Farce of 2006 that this board is merely a fictitious body of mysterious characters akin to The Illuminati . . .
Dan K. Thomasson, VenturaCountyStar.com
Assault case at Duke smells of an overreaching DA — The sensational rape allegations surrounding three Duke University lacrosse players present an almost perfect testimonial to growing concerns about the violence being done to the nation's justice system by ambitious, unbridled prosecutors who apparently have been reared on "ripped from the headlines" television like "Law and Order" in which self-righteous, unyielding district attorneys never lose.
LieStoppers (humor): Defendant Nifong Responds to Charges