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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Duke Hoax: Day #256

Updated - today's items:

Mike Nifong is in the hot seatGreg Fulton, Time.com:
Is the Duke DA Guilty As Charged? — Now that the North Carolina State Bar has filed a 17-page, 41-count ethics complaint against District Attorney Michael Nifong's handling of the Duke rape case, there's a different kind of New Year's countdown taking place in Durham: when and under what circumstances will Nifong leave office.

The Dec. 28 ethics charges are expected to be expanded when the state bar's grievance committee meets again Jan. 18. Like a grand jury, the committee meets periodically; the current ethics charges stem from its most recent meeting in October and cover public statements Nifong made about the case last March and April. At its next meeting, the committee will deal with revelations from a Dec. 15 court hearing in which the state's DNA expert admitted he and Nifong agreed to keep secret from the defense early DNA results showing no Duke lacrosse player could be implicated in an attack upon one of two exotic dancers hired for the March 14 house party...

LieStoppers:
The Human Piñata — The hits keep coming for the human piñata, Defendant Nifong. Yesterday, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys issued an unprecedented statement denouncing Nifong’s hijacking of the Hoax. Today, Time Magazine asks whether Defendant Nifong is guilty as charged while reporting that the North Carolina State Bar intends to file additional charges against the Defendant. The editorial board of the News & Observer has finally demanded that Nifong recuse himself from the case. Perhaps the most telling sign that Nifong is nearing rock bottom comes from the Hoax defense attorneys, who called another one of Defendant Nifong’s bluffs on Friday by filing notice that they intended to call his own experts as witnesses for the defense...
Editorial, News & Observer:
Removal timeGiven serious N.C. State Bar accusations against Durham's D.A., he should remove himself from the Duke lacrosse case. For a while, it was called the Duke lacrosse rape case, and that was in the beginning of this long, unfortunate saga. A woman hired to dance at a party attended by Duke University lacrosse players said she was sexually assaulted. The story, which has played out since last March, has also fueled race and class issues -- the woman is black and not affluent at all, whereas the players are white and from privileged backgrounds. Allegations that the party-goers used racial slurs have been made.

At stage center has been Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, an experienced prosecutor who was, as it happened, seeking election to that office for the first time. Nifong professed utter confidence in his case, and in the truthfulness of the woman's accusations. He gave multiple interviews to that effect. And, he won his election. Three former lacrosse players stand charged. Now it has come to this: The N.C. State Bar on Thursday accused Nifong of violating ethics rules with statements he made in numerous media interviews about the case. This has prejudiced justice in advance of trial, the Bar in effect says. . .

The State Bar's action only adds to the clarity of the right next step: Mike Nifong must leave the case.
comment: How can the News & Observer be so reckless? They should wait until they have more cover before they ask Nifong to remove himself from the case. A week ago they said it was "Nifong's Move." It was up to him to decide what to do next, but the N&O was worried that Nifong's initial "statements about the men seemed to cross the line of prosecutorial propriety." However, the News & Observer had previously documented, through their own reporting, all the main points that the State Bar made in its complaint against Nifong. They just chose to ignore their own reporting.

The News & Observer doesn't want the job of examining their own public officials. Leave that dirty work to others. Last Saturday, they passed the buck again:
From here on out, Nifong needs to be fair and cold-eyed in evaluating evidence as it continues to come to light and in assessing the strength of his case. He properly is being watched, and his conduct will need to be examined by the N.C. State Bar if the case continues to break apart.
This so called "case" has been breaking apart for over eight months. Back in the fall was the time to stop watching and start acting. But, the buck never stops at the News & Observer. For the News & Observer, it is always someone else's problem or responsibility to condemn injustice or "probe ... institutional actions and statements." Maybe when the Feds indict Nifong on criminal charges the N&O will feel it's safe enough to ask for his resignation. The editors of the News & Observer are sad sack sheep.

related:
LieStoppers forum: The N&O could've done a lot better, 12/30 Editorial
Editorial, The Star-Ledger (NJ.com):
The prosecutor is guilty — The Duke University lacrosse story started out as a tale of college boys gone wild but has devolved into a story of a prosecutor gone bad or worse. Increasingly it appears Durham, N.C., District Attorney Michael Nifong, who was in the midst of a bid for re-election last spring, seized upon the case -- guaranteed to make headlines -- with little regard for finding out what really happened when a woman hired to entertain a lacrosse team at an off-campus party said she was gang-raped...

No date has been set for a hearing, but Nifong faces possible disbarment if the ethics charges are found to be true. In the meantime, he should be removed from the case. North Carolina law allows the trial judge to drop charges, remove lawyers from a case and, in the extreme, remove a district attorney from office for "willful misconduct." Serious consideration should be given to the latter.
related:
KC Johnson: "The Prosecutor Is Guilty" (see comments)— After long ignoring the grossly unfair treatment of a resident of its state, Reade Seligmann, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger weighed in this morning with a blistering editorial about Mike Nifong, whose behavior, the editors contend, can only be explained as “the product of incompetence, overzealousness or outright misconduct.”

latest Kemper comment/rumor at Wonderland:

KC, My Bar friend at lunch, er drinks, told me that at least one of the 32 Bar Counselors has written the other Counselors and wants to amend the current complaint against Nifungu to include the DNA outrage. To include a new charge would require a majority of the Counselors to agree. His thought was that they will wait and issue a new complaint. Mikey's ship is sinking VERY fast. I say again, THE LONG KNIVES ARE OUT!! Ho Ho Ho is off to jail he goes!!

Editorial, The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Time for Duke spotlight to shift to Nifong — This isn't just bad judgment. It's a shocking abuse of power. Given his plain motive – Nifong won re-election by depicting himself as the crusader who wouldn't let privileged white kids get away with brutalizing a young black woman – it is also despicable in its raw demagoguery. All this is why we look forward to the Durham DA having his own day in court.
Prof. John Banzhaf, Professor of Public Interest Law, GWU, via Friends of Duke University:
2 NC Docs Could Cinch Nifong's Personal Liability — Two important documents just filed in Durham County DA Michael Nifong's home state -- a formal disciplinary complaint filed by the North Carolina State Bar, and a demand by the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys that Nifong recuse himself -- not only further decrease the chances that the remaining sexual assault charges will ever be tried, but also dramatically increase the chances that Nifong will be found personally liable for prosecutorial misconduct, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf...
Eric Ferreri, News & Observer:
Defense claims Nifong's witness — Attorneys for three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of assaulting and kidnapping a stripper are staking a claim to one of District Attorney Mike Nifong's witnesses. Attorneys for defendants David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann filed notice Friday of their intent to use Brian Meehan, head of DNA Security in Burlington, as their own expert...
related:
TalkLeft: Defense Files Notice of Intent to Call Meehan as Witness

NifongNews 14 Carolina/AP:
DAs group says Nifong should step down — The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys said Friday the prosecutor at the center of the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case should recuse himself. The conference, which has no regulatory authority, is made up of all the state's elected district attorneys...

Recently Nifong has said little to the media and Friday was no different.

"I'm not really into the irony of talking to reporters about allegations that I've talked to reporters," Nifong told News 14 Carolina.

Michael Gaynor:
Duke case: When the end began — Mr. Nifong's pernicious performance in the Duke case has been the antithesis of what a professional prosecutor is supposed to do. Mr. Nifong appointed himself lead investigator in the case and then willfully refused offers to take polygraph tests, treated the dubious gang rape claim as true, ignored the truth, fooled a grand jury, tried to frame the defendants, concealed exculpatory evidence, poisoned the potential jury poll, exacerbated racial tensions, defamed people and generally postured and scapegoated with relish...

KC Johnson:
The Last 200 Hours — The last 200 hours have witnessed a tumultuous turn of events in the case. . . Mike Nifong dropped rape charges . . .the state bar publicly filed an ethics complaint . . . the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, Nifong’s peers, announced 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 . . . The defense filed a motion to summon Brian Meehan as its own witness...
related: LieStoppers forum — The 12 Days of Nifong's Christmas
John Stevenson, Herald-Sun The Organ:
Defense to use Nifong's witnesses — Defense lawyers in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case indicated Friday they would use some of the prosecutor's own witnesses against him, including a DNA lab director who recently admitted under oath that he and District Attorney Mike Nifong agreed to withhold information favorable to three indicted suspects. Meanwhile, the State Conference Of District Attorneys late Friday called for Nifong to recuse himself from the case....

Victoria PetersonAlso Friday, a group of Durham citizens reportedly filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Justice Department asking for an investigation of the lacrosse case. The complaint contends the alleged victim had her civil rights violated by lacrosse players' use of racial epithets and alleges that Duke has failed to respond properly to half a dozen campus rapes "over the past several years."

It also calls for hate crime charges to be lodged against Finnerty for his recent conviction in Washington, D.C., on charges stemming from a confrontation with a gay man. Activist Victoria Peterson issued a press release announcing the complaint and said she faxed and mailed copies to the Justice Department on Friday. No one at the Justice Department's press office or civil rights office was available Friday to confirm that the complaint had been filed. Peterson would not disclose the other members of the group.
News & Observer:
Civil rights complaint filed in lacrosse case - A statement distributed by [Victoria] Peterson alleges that the accuser's civil rights were violated when lacrosse players tossed racial epithets at her and another exotic dancer the night of the alleged assault. The complaint also contends that officials at Duke University have failed to prosecute several rapes reported on campus. Peterson, an unsuccessful City Council candidate and political organizer, has been speaking publicly about the racial and political subtexts of the case since the allegations surfaced in March.
related:
LieStoppers: Complaint to AG about a player
TalkLeft: Victoria Petersen complains
Andy Maciejewski (Newport News, VA) letter, Herald Sun:
Stubborn and misguided — He [Nifong] is a disgrace to the law profession, and if he had any dignity left at all, he would do the right thing and step down from his office. If I were a citizen in Durham I would be ashamed that Nifong represents me as district attorney. I look forward to the day the rest of the charges are either dropped or the defense makes Nifong look like an idiot in court and the jury finds not guilty on the remaining charges. . .

Stephen Boone (Garland, Texas) letter, Dallas Morning News:
DA Should Be Punished — District Attorney Mike Nifong's brutally corrupt prosecution of the Duke University lacrosse players for his own political benefit – when he had every indication the charges were false – deserves more than just removal from office. He should serve prison time...

Alan, Esq. blog:
The Walls Close in on Nifong — It is absolutely shocking that an entire organization of DA's have now publicly turned on Mike Nifong. If the prosecutors have turned on one of their own, it's all over. Frankly, Nifong has no more options. He cannot continue to prosecute a case where he himself is now facing the loss of his license. He also cannot simply drop the charges in the face of his own ethical dilemma. He must recuse himself from the case and allow another DA to allow this case to die the death it deserves...

John Schwade (Durham resident & psychologist at a state prison) TheDurhamNews.com:
Tenuous identification in rape case leaves a very weak case — Now that we know what Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong knew about the questionable evidence in the case of the Duke Lacrosse 3 prior to winning the Democratic primary in May and the general election in November, it is judicious to consider whether Nifong's pursuit of the "black vote" and his misunderstanding of black voters are the primary reasons he elected to prosecute the case and still insists that, if the black accuser identifies the white defendants as her alleged assailants at a February hearing, "I have an obligation to put that to a jury." . . .

Nor is there black solidarity with vengeful racists, false witnesses or prosecutors who subject defendants to trial when the evidence of their guilt is dubious. If, as it now appears, the only prosecution evidence is the no-wrong-answer identification procedure and the evolving testimony of the accuser, the remaining charges should be dismissed.

Marcella Chester, abyss2hope: rape survivor...blog:
Where Are The Ethics Complaints Against Lawyers Who Attack Alleged Rape Victims
(see comments) — If a prosecutor should be held to a high ethical standard, why aren't defense attorneys who make similar types of comments about alleged rape victims held to this same high standard? Don't the defense attorneys and other attorneys who have spoken publicly against this alleged victim risk prejudicing any criminal trial? Or is it okay as long as the prejudice only smears the character, credibility and reputation of alleged victims?...

Forum topics of note:

LieStoppers: Babe of the Hoax, Vote for your favorite
LieStoppers (humor): M. Nifong on Mike Nifong, *INTERVIEW*
related: Mike McCusker: Tony Soprano, You Kill Me!
Yesterday's (12/29) items:

John W. MashekOpinion - John W. Mashek, U.S. News & World Report:
D.A. in Hot Water Over Duke Rape Scandal - The runaway prosecutor in Durham, N.C., has been exposed for his dogged pursuit of the lacrosse players at Duke University. He has made a mess for himself. The North Carolina Bar Association needs to take a long and careful look at his handling of this nationally covered and unsavory matter. Are there any African-American leaders willing to speak out about the stripper's faulty story? There is only silence from such luminaries as Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Perhaps whites are fearful of being accused of racism if they venture a harsh opinion. Jackson and Sharpton seem ready to pounce immediately if there is any accusation of racial abuse....

Lara Setrakian, ABC News:
DAs Call for Prosecutor in Duke Lacrosse Case to Step Down In yet another moral blow to Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys called for the prosecutor to step down from the Duke lacrosse case. The group, which represents district attorneys from across North Carolina, said in a statement 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."

"It's extraordinarily unusual and it means a great deal," said Joshua Marquis, a district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore. The district attorney group also called for the case to be reassigned and handed over to "another prosecutorial authority."
related:
LieStoppers: NC Conference of District Attorneys — Nifong should recuse himself
FreeRepublic: DAs Call for Prosecutor in Duke Lacrosse Case to Step Down
Cash Michaels, Wilmington Journal/BlackPressUSA.com:
DUKE RAPE CHARGES DROPPED; DEFENSE REFUSES TO RELEASE SURVEY RESULTS
In the aftermath of the Durham District Attorney unexpectedly dropping first-degree forcible rape charges in the controversial Duke lacrosse sexual assault case, the NC NAACP insists that "there be no rush to judgment,” adding, “We must face the truth, and the justice that the truth demands."

Meanwhile Joseph Cheshire, one of the most prominent members of the Duke Three defense team, in an exclusive interview with the Carolinian/ Wilmington Journal newspapers, defends the defense motion that a “fair trial” cannot be conducted in Durham because of an alleged racial polarization, though he refuses to release the defenses’ telephone survey results to back that up....
related:
LieStoppers forum: 12/29/06 Cash Michaels Article
TalkLeft: 12/29/06 Cash Michaels Article

Friday, December 29, 2006

Duke Hoax: Day #255 - NC DAs ask Nifong to Recuse Himself

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.

North Carolina Conference of District AttorneysWRAL:
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.

related:
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

John F. Banzhaf III, Professor of Public Interest Law, Geo. Washington Unvi.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. . .

Brian MeehanEric 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:
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
Editorial, New York Daily News:
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:
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
Mike Nifong with his dogAaron Beard, AP/ABC News:
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 . . .

Mike Nifong with his familyMatt 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):
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 . . .
Rick MartinezColumn by Rick Martinez, News & Observer:
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:
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.

related:
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?...
Chris (Duke student), Outside Report blog:
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...

Mike Nifong and familyJohn Stevenson, Herald-Sun The Organ:
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:
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
Ben Cowgill's Legal Ethics Newsletter:
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?

Tawana BrawleyPaul 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:
The Johnsville News: Where is Tawana Brawley?
Bull Dog Pundit, Ankle Biting Pundits:
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:
Ace of Spades blog: Former Prosecutor's Take On Nifong Complaint
Michael J. Gayor:
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! . . .

KC Johnson:
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:
spokes-cousin Clyde Young a.k.a Cousin JakkiLieStoppers: 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? . . .
related:
Greta Van SusterenMike 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."
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? . . .
William L. Anderson:
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 . . .

Mike Nifong's future?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 HamMary 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.
related:
John in Carolina: Nifong Hoax LOLs
RedState.com:
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

N.C. State Bar files Ethics Complaint against Mike Nifong

"Nifong engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation" — The North Carolina State Bar v. Michael B. Nifong, Dec. 28, 2006
Updated - today's items regarding the State Bar Complaint:

Mike NifongAaron Beard, AP/CBS News:
N.C. Bar files charges against Duke D.A. -- The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case, accusing him of saying misleading and inflammatory things to the media about the athletes under suspicion.

The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment. The complaint could also force District Attorney Mike Nifong off the case by creating a conflict of interest...

The ethics charges will be heard by an independent body called the Disciplinary Hearing Commission, made up of both lawyers and non-lawyers. A date for the hearing has not yet been set...

The bar cited 40 quotations and eight paraphrased statements made to newspaper and TV reporters, saying many of them amounted to "improper commentary about the character, credibility and reputation of the accused" or their alleged unwillingness to cooperate. Most of the comments were in March and April, in the early days of the case.

N.C. State Bar files Ethics Complaint against Mike Nifong
related:
TheSmokingGun.com: Ethics Rap For Duke Prosecutor + Complaint Documentation - In a stunning rebuke to the North Carolina district attorney handling the Duke University rape case, the state bar today filed an ethics complaint against the prosecutor, claiming that he has made numerous press statements that were "prejudicial to the administration of justice" and also "engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation." The North Carolina State Bar's complaint, a copy of which you'll find below, is filled with dozens of comments D.A. Mike Nifong...

N&O (another copy of complaint - .pdf format, 17 pages):
The North Carolina State Bar v. Michael B. Nifong - Complaint

NCBar.gov (slow link-swamped by traffic try Google cache):
Overview of The North Carolina State Bar's Disciplinary Procedure
-- next step - trial before panel of three (one non-lawyer) selected from Disciplinary Hearing Commission (DHC) comprised of 12 lawyers and eight members of the public...
What Is the Disciplinary Hearing Commission? (Google cache)

John Steele (UC Berkeley School of Law), Legal Ethics Forum:
Nifong Officially Charged with Ethics Violation -- The paragraphs are often short, which may be done to force Nifong to admit the key facts of what he said to whom. I'm also guessing that the recent evidence about the DNA report forced the North Carolina State Bar to accelerate its internal decisions about what to charge, and when. Finally, I'm guessing that, as I stated above, there will be at least one amended complaint filed against Nifong before too much time passes. The circumstances surrounding the DNA report, the statements to the judge that all discovery had been made, the failure to provide discovery, and perhaps even the absurd methodology of the lineup will be included in a subsequent complaint.

KC Johnson: The Complaint -- This filing is the beginning of the end of Nifong’s career as Durham D.A. ...
KC Johnson: The Hammer Drops

LieStoppers blog: State Bar Moves Against Nifong -- With District Attorney Nifong due to be sworn into office on January 2, it appears that one of his first tasks as duly elected DA will be to face a trial himself.

John in Carolina: NC State Bar, KC and God’s mills
Forum topics of note:

LieStoppers: A Reading of the Bar Complaint, It's only the beginning -- This entire sorry mess is going to very seriously undermine the credibility of, and public confidence in, the following institutions or institution-wannabies, at a minimum: 1) our criminal justice system (including in particular, North Carolina'); 2) the motives and tactics of feminist rape activists; 3) the academic and educational power given to agenda-driven academics, particularly those in the social science fields; 4) the integrity and even-handedness of various organizations purporting to promote racial equality, such as the NAACP; and 5) the media as an objective, even-handed and reliable reporter of facts. And this consequence - the undermining public confidence and trust in these institutions and institution-wannabes? It's a good thing.

Reactions to news of complaint --
LieStoppers forum: WRAL announces Ethics complaint filed
FreeRepublic: State Bar Files Complaint Against Mike Nifong
TalkLeft: State Bar Files Complaint Against Mike Nifong
CNN:
Duke lacrosse prosecutor faces ethics complaint -- The chairman of the disciplinary commission will assign a three-member panel (including one non-lawyer) to hear the case, and the panel will set a trial date. Punishment can range from a letter of warning to disbarment. The Disciplinary Hearing Commission comprises 12 lawyers and eight members of the public...

Reuters: NC prosecutor faces ethics complaint in rape case

Andrea Weigl, News & Observer:
State Bar seeks to discipline Nifong -- The N.C. State Bar is seeking to discipline Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong for pre-trial statements he made to the media about the criminal investigation involving Duke University’s lacrosse team. The State Bar’s complaint filed today against Nifong alleges he violated rules that prohibit prosecutors from making statements that may prejudice the defendants and the court case....The 17-page complaint details many of the statements Nifong made to various media outlets since March about the case. The complaint concludes that Nifong should have known his conduct was "prejudicial to the administration of justice" and that "Nifong engaged in conduct involving "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." Nifong could not immediately be reached for comment.

WRAL:
State Bar Files Ethics Complaint Against Mike Nifong -- The North Carolina State Bar has filed an ethics complaint against Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong. The complaint accuses him of breaking four rules of professional conduct when speaking to the reporters about the high-profile case. Among the rules, the bar complaint says Nifong violation is a prohibition on making "comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accuser."

Another of the rules Nifong was charged with breaking forbids "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation." ...

In a statement, the bar said it opened a case against Nifong on March 30 -- a little more than two weeks after the party -- and that after an investigation, it found reasonable cause on Oct. 19 to refer the case to the bar's Disciplinary Commission for trial...

Mike McCusker, Crystal Mess:
MICHAEL B. NIFONG, Attorney, Defendant. -- He is going to be disbarred. He is going to jail. Let the games begin. "MICHAEL B. NIFONG, Attorney, Defendant" has such a lovely ring to it, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Duke Hoax: Day #254

Updated - today's items (prior to State Bar Complaint news):

Tom Delay - mugshotTom Delay (former congressman), TomDelay.com:
Durham Bull — The legal burlesque underway in North Carolina has to stop before there’s an even more sordid end to this grotesque display of prosecutorial misconduct. The ‘rape’ case lodged against three Duke Lacrosse players turns more fetid each day. The latest apparent malfeasance on the part of the District Attorney stems from his alleged withholding of exculpatory evidence that would have earlier (and more quickly) exonerated the young men of rape charges, which have now been dropped...For any one touched by the criminal justice system, the Duke case is a reminder of how our civil liberties can be abused by a prosecutor with something in mind other than the administration of justice...

Now, reputations are tarnished. Lives ruined. Fortunes lost, and all without even the barest shreds of evidence that would tilt the scales of justices toward guilt for the accused...

A look across the country over time reveals a disturbing pattern of behavior on the part of DA’s that smacks of the same abuse of power that should worry every citizen who expects justice to be blind and impartial. In Durham, North Carolina the blind-folded Lady Justice will look more like a one-eyed Cyclops until the prosecutors are called to account before the bar.

Editorial, The Decatur Daily (Alabama):
Prosecutor needs to re-evaluate Duke case — "If she says, yes, it's them, or one or two of them, I have an obligation to put that to a jury." So said Durham, N.C., District Attorney Mike Nifong, explaining his decision to go forward with the prosecution of a trio of Duke University lacrosse players, and revealing nothing but prosecutorial cobwebs under the national spotlight...It is time Mr. Nifong re-evaluated his case. His misguided effort to perform in the spotlight is backfiring, and none of those involved will benefit from his performance.

Editorial, StarNewsOnline/WilmingtonStar.com (SE North Carolina):
Disgraceful Nifong should depart — Mike Nifong has demonstrated that he is not ethically or professionally fit to prosecute a littering case, much less the sexual assault case involving three Duke lacrosse players. We know the players are guilty of hiring two strippers for a party. Whether they are guilty of anything worse is something we may never know....

Hiding behind paper hung over the windows of his office, Nifong issues written statements and refuses to talk with North Carolina reporters. Yet Thursday he gave a three-hour interview to The New York Times.

Nifong doesn’t owe an explanation to the readers of a national newspaper. He owes an explanation to the people who elected him. He owes it to the people of this state. But he owes them more: his resignation.

comment: Mike Nifong was born and grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Wilmington Star now demands his resignation.

related: FreeRepublic — Disgraceful Nifong should depart

KC Johnson: Wilmington Star Demands Resignation — The Wilmington Star has become the first North Carolina newspaper to demand Mike Nifong’s resignation as district attorney...
Editiorial, The Sun News/myrtlebeachonline.com (S. Carolina):
Justice Thwarted? — What was Duke case prosecutor thinking?...This extremely high-profile case has seen many miscues, including differing accounts by the supposed victim. The defendants have maintained their innocence. Federal and N.C. authorities are probing Nifong's handling of the case. At best, there is reason for skepticism about justice being well-served.

Greta Van Susteren, Fox News:
Pressure Mounts on Mike Nifong — partial transcript from "On the Record," December 27, 2006...Congressman Walter Jones joins us by phone...
related:
LieStoppers forum: IMO, Greta believes the Woman was Raped, Review the tape...
LieStoppers forum: Greta is stuck on Stupid, 12/27
Michael Gaynor:
Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann are Wendy Murphy's victims too — In the name of balance, USA Today (which apparently learns faster than Ms. Murphy) published as an Opposing View to its editorial an article by Ms. Murphy...Ms. Murphy fancies herself a victims' rights advocate, but in the Duke case [Evans, Finnerty, and Seligmann] are the victims and Ms. Murphy, a victimizer.

LieStoppers:
Busy Bodies —You just can't please adolescent sons or some addled Hoaxers either. From Melanie Sill to Herald Sun letter writers, the understandable concern of the national audience as they watch a malicious prosecution conducted unchecked before their eyes is meeting scorn and derision. This Lacrosse Hoax is none of our business. Get a Life. This is just, well, in the words of their now notorious D.A. Nifong . . . a "Durham problem that demands a Durham solution." Here are a few of my personal favorites offered by a few Durham natives and potential jurors. . .found, where else, than on the opinion pages of the "Nifong Herald Sun."...

Friends of Duke Univ./Letters to Herald-Sun:
Charles W. Nash: Nifong must be ousted — Not only has Nifong used the office of district attorney for political gain, but ruined the lives of three innocent people. Do the right thing, Durham, get this guy out of office before more bad things happen. You could be next!

Uldrick Edwards: Here come lawsuits — I think District Attorney Mike Nifong is unaware of how stupid he is making Durham and the entire South look. He should drop the obvious trumped-up case, sit down, shut up and pray he keeps his job...

Ricardo Castells: Editorial was frayed — Your recent editorial on the Duke lacrosse case comically concluded with the comment that the accuser's "credibility is rapidly fraying." The truth of the matter is that her credibility has been completely frayed for months, and so has your newspaper's for serving as Nifong's de facto cheerleaders. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
WRAL:
Poll: Should Prosecution Continue? — Do you think prosecutors should continue to pursue kidnapping and sexual assault charges against three Duke University lacrosse players now that they have decided to dismiss the rape charges?..83% No (4000+ votes)

John in Carolina:
Swearing DA Nifong — According to Nifong’s office, the swearing in is scheduled for Jan. 2 at 8 A.M. in Courtroom #1 on the fifth floor of the Durham County Courthouse...
related:
John Stevenson, Herald-Sun: Top stories of 2006 - No. 4: District attorney race hotly contested —The year 2006 brought a Durham district attorney election like no other, sparked by allegations that three Duke lacrosse players raped an exotic dancer at an off-campus team party in March. Fans of ballot-box drama got more than they bargained for. The process dragged on through two voting cycles rather than just one. In May came a Democratic primary, in which chief prosecutor Mike Nifong faced challenges from lawyers Freda Black and Keith Bishop...
KC Johnson:
Mike Nifong, on the Rape Evidence — four statements [about alleged victim being raped] all occurred before the accuser gave her oficial statement to police, on April 6, so Nifong could not have been referring to that statement when he made the above four remarks.

KC Johnson, InsideHigherEd.com:
The Academy and the Duke Case — The response to what could now be termed the “non-rape” case will not go down among the academy’s finest moments. Three issues seem to me particularly noteworthy....1. Concerns about McCarthyite behavior tend to depend on who is targeted....2. In the contemporary academy, some students are more equal than others....3. Groupthink has its effects...

KC Johnson:
A Switch in Times? — The Times published three articles on Mike Nifong’s latest manipulation of evidence—dropping the rape charge, changing his theory of the crime, maintaining the other charges. The first of the three listed “Duff Wilson and David Barstow” as authors. The other two flipped the names, with Barstow designated lead reporter. The difference in quality as a result of the shift was notable...
related:
Wilson, Barstow; NY Times (12/22): Rape Charges Dropped in Duke Case
Barstow, Wilson; NY Times (12/23): Charges of Rape Against 3 at Duke Are Dropped
Barstow, Wilson; NY Times (12/24): DNA Witness Jolted Dynamic of Duke Case
Mike McCusker, Crystal Mess (12/24): Duff Benched, Times On Offense
KC Johnson: December 15 Hearing Transcript — TalkLeft: "A long read but quite interesting. Contains Meehan's testimony, motion for paternity testing, discovery issues, pretrial motions, court calendar, etc."

Mark Coultan, The Sidney Morning Herald (Australia):
DNA conflict may spell end to US rape case — THREE lacrosse players accused of raping a stripper may be closer to being exonerated, but the District Attorney appears to be headed for more trouble....Defence lawyers want him to drop all the charges, accusing him of altering his case as new material emerges. He has also been accused of prosecuting the case to gain political support in the black community. He was facing a contested Democratic primary election when he laid the charges and was re-elected last month...

chappaquiddick.org:
Mike Nifong Is Profile in Cowardice For 2006
related: LieStoppers forum — Nifong Wins Cowardice Award
Forum topics of note:
LieStoppers: Attempt to fake DNA evidence?, a missing fingernail?

FreeRepubic: Duke "rape" case Radio Spot Script for 12/29 — This story calls into question the integrity of our judicial system.

FreeRepublic: Duke Alumni Speak Out
related:
Duke Chronicle forum: Fire President Brodhead, to the duke president, 88 losers
Updated - Yesterday (12/27):

Tom Knott, The Washington Times:
D.A.'s political agenda prolongs Duke rape case — The travesty of the Duke University lacrosse case is descending to absurd depths, mostly because North Carolina's Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong is up to his neck in muck and has no choice but to cling to the varied recollections of the accuser without the benefit of DNA evidence. Actually, there was DNA evidence, but none linking the three players to the woman. The three -- Reade Seligmann of Essex Fells, N.J., Collin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., and David Evans of Bethesda -- seemingly became ensnarled in the case because of an egotistical district attorney with a political agenda. This was the story with long legs last spring. It so fit the liberal sensibilities of the old media: a black accuser and three white defendants of wealth and privilege. Perhaps it fit the D.A.'sthinking as well, and it undoubtedly played to his professional advantage....

David R. UsherDavid R. Usher, IntellectualConservative.com:
The Hazards of Duke: Proof of Endemic Legal Corruption — In early April, I was the first analyst to call the Duke case a fraud... The real issue in this case has yet to be discussed. Corruption within the legal system is endemic. The Duke case is merely a peek inside Dunderbeck’s Machine. There have been 17 complaints filed with the North Carolina Bar about Nifong in this case. Despite a wide body of public evidence indicating a history of possible ethical lapses by Mr. Nifong, the North Carolina Bar Association has done nothing to intervene in the complaints filed with the Bar...Certainly, if any case would ever evoke prompt disciplinary action, the Duke Lacrosse case is the Gold Standard...

KC Johnson:
Durham "Justice" — Two small, but revealing, anecdotes from this morning's N&O...
related:
NewsObserver.com: Free on bond, man could face habitual felon count — A man charged with killing two people last year and described by an assistant district attorney as one of the most dangerous people in Durham is free on bail after being arrested again Thursday...

NewsObserver.com: Man is charged with rape, incest — A 48-year-old Durham man was arrested and charged Tuesday with a number of sex crimes against his stepdaughter over a two-year period, according to warrants. The suspect's identity is being withheld to protect the identity of the victim...
Harvey Johnson Letter, News & Observer:
Where's justice? — If this is what the public gets from its District Attorney's Office when the nation is watching and the defendants have the financial resources for the best legal counsel, then we should pause and think what this civic lesson is teaching us. What then do we get for justice when the media are not watching and the defendants have few if any resources to assist them in a trial?

Gayle Miller blog:
What is Mike Nifong Smoking? — Greta Van Susteren had an in-depth look at this case on her program over the weekend and has been following the botched investigation and insane indictments closely. I think that Jeannine Piro said it best when she opined that Nifong is either incompetent or “something more sinister”...

Duke Basketball Report:
Latest Lax News — When we talked about the lacrosse case the other day, we mentioned corruption in Durham in general. We'd forgotten a couple of recent things: a fire in a city landfill which hadn't had a state license in over two years and issues in the solid waste department lead the list. And also, as we linked the other day, positive tests for lead in houses were not reported. In this case, a child actually suffers from lead poisoning. The problems in the justice system are part of a bigger picture, both in Durham and the state: Mike Nifong is not the only prosecutor to be caught abusing the system.

Joe McDade, The TexasYank blog:
The latest on Duke — Mike Nifong has been dishonest, crooked and, at times, just plain weird.

LieStoppers (humor): New Video - Peculiar One

Al SharptonGuest Editorial by Al Sharpton, TheNoseOnYourFace.com, 12/26 (satire):
Al Sharpton: Mike Nifong Is A Rookie Race-Baiter — When The Nose On Your Face asked for my thoughts on the Duke rape case, I hesitated. First, they already have Ike Turner as a guest columnist, and I don't want to mess with Mr. Turner. I've seen what that crazy black man can do when he thinks a brother is movin' in on his space, be it a b-tch or a guest column...Mr. Nifong simply committed every single mistake a rookie race-baiter can make....Mr. Nifong has set-back race-baiting at least a decade...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Duke Hoax: Day #253

Updated - today's items:

Editorial, USA Today:
As Duke rape case unravels, focus turns to prosecutor — D.A.’s questionable conduct means he should step aside or be replaced....Rushing to judgment...Bringing charges based on flimsy evidence...Sitting on evidence...Nifong's performance raises so many troubling questions that it's time for the North Carolina Bar Association to investigate and for Nifong to step back from the case. If he won't go voluntarily, a judge should replace him...

Wendy MurphyWendy Murphy opinion, USA Today:
Opposing view: Job 1: Protect the victim — It’s only reasonable to be skeptical and just to wait for all the facts. For nine months, we've heard only from defense attorneys in the Duke case, and they've refused to release certain evidence. The prosecutor cannot reveal evidence without risking sanctions (such as dismissal of charges) for tainting the jury pool. The defense lawyers are not subject to similar punishment, which is why they can speak more freely. But it doesn't mean we shouldn't be skeptical about what they're hiding...the prosecutor withdrew the "rape" charge, which under North Carolina law consists only of penile-vaginal penetration. Other penetration crimes are covered by the remaining equally serious "sexual offense" indictment. This may have been a brilliant move, because with no rape charge, the victim's sexual past is irrelevant — and the cause of justice is spared a salacious and distracting sideshow.

related:
LieStoppers blog: Wendy Murphy Strikes Again — In a horrible distortion of fact, that should surprise no one who was witnessed her continual disdain for truth on cable pseudo-news shows throughout the duration of the Hoax, New England School of Law professor Wendy Murphy presents a defense of District Attorney Nifong’s continual deception in an op-ed published by the USA Today....Murphy incredibly asserts the Nifong should be rewarded for respecting the defendants rights rather than punished for violating them...

Thankfully, the USA Today did not run Murphy’s op/ed alone but rather presented it as a counter argument to its own call for the removal of DA Nifong. That the counter argument is presented by a crackpot such as Wendy Murphy is telling, as is the fact that her postion is bolstered by the same distortions that have been used to perpetuate the Hoax from day one.

Steve Verdon (Senior Editor), OutsideTheBeltway.com: Bizzaro World Law Professor — Wendy Murphy a law professor and former sex crimes prosecutor comes up with one of the lamest defenses for Mike Nifong. First up she postulates some damning evidence…or in more simple terms she makes up stuff...

LieStoppers: Hag of the Hoax
LieStoppers forum: ARRGGGHHHH, Wendy Murphy!!!
TalkLeft: Wendy Murphy comments on the rape charges being dropped

Stuart Taylor Jr. & KC Johnson, Wall Street Journal (sub. required):
A Dirty Game — It's no secret that hugely disproportionate numbers of the innocent people oppressed by abusive prosecutors and police in this country are African-Americans. Now one of the most outrageous cases of law-enforcement abuse is unfolding in Durham, N.C., home of the Duke lacrosse case. And African-Americans are leading the cheers for the oppressors. Why? The poison of identity politics, plus class hatred of the prosecutor's three main victims, well-off white men falsely accused of rape by an unstable black "exotic dancer," and a deeply dishonest district attorney...
related:
LieStoppers forum — The Wall St. Journal, by Stuart Taylor and KC
LieStoppers forum — Media Dec. 27th, WSJ & more
FreeRepublic - A Dirty Game

John in Carolina — Taylor & Johnson’s WSJ op-ed
Stephen Bainbridge (law professor at UCLA) — Duke Rape Case Unravels; Plus, what will Dick Wolf Do? — But on to another aspect of the case. Taylor and Johnson point out that "two weeks ago we learned--only because dogged defense lawyers cracked a prosecutorial conspiracy to hide evidence of innocence...Will DA Nifong get hit with ethics charges? With violating the players' constitutional rights....how will Dick Wolf play this story? Everybody knows that the disclaimer run before every Law and Order episode is bogus...
ABC11 TV/WTVD:
Letters About Nifong Piling Up With Attorney General — Outrage and frustration about how the Duke Lacrosse case is coming forward in droves from ordinary citizens, who for months have been writing the state's top prosecutor urging that District Attorney Mike Nifong be removed from the case and reprimanded....There is clearly a common thread one finds when flipping through these nearly four hundred letters and emails sent to Attorney General. Almost without exception they blast Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, calling him a menace to the justice system and even a crazy man.

Larry Klayman, PRNewsWire.com:
Duke Grad Larry Klayman Files Ethics Complaint Against Duke Prosecutor Nifong — Today, Larry Klayman, former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, U.S. Senate candidate and now in private practice, filed an ethics complaint against Michael Nifong, the Durham District Attorney who has abused his official position in the investigations and indictments of certain Duke Lacrosse players. The complaint, filed with the Grievance Committee of The North Carolina State Bar, tracks a USA Today editorial of the same date which lays out the charges against Nifong.
related: TalkLeft — Duke Grad Larry Klayman Files Ethics Complaint
William L. Anderson:
Duke and the Politics of Rape — At this writing, the Bad Ship Michael Nifong is taking on water, and the passengers are looking for the lifeboats, yet charges against David Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann still stand. The Duke "Non-Rape" Case is now the Duke "Non-Kidnapping and Non-Sexual Assault" Case, but for the time being, Nifong still is trying to use the government court system as a vehicle to commit real kidnapping of three innocent young men.

But while the charges of rape are gone, one must remember that this case came about because of the politics of rape. In my lifetime, rape has changed from a crime against an individual to a crime against a class of people: women. The issue behind this sea change is the ongoing battle of individualism versus collectivism...

NC State Rep. Stephen LaRoqueWRAL:
Lawmaker Wants State Power to Check on District Attorneys — State Rep. Stephen LaRoque, a Republican who has been representing Greene, Lenoir and Wayne counties, said Tuesday that he thinks the state attorney general needs to be given authority to investigate actions by the state’s 39 district attorneys. LaRoque appeared Tuesday night on Fox TV’s legal affairs show with Greta Van Susteren to push his argument.

LaRoque says the attorney general's office, not the state bar, should be the one to investigate misconduct charges against a district attorney.
related:
FoxNews: North Carolina Politician Demands Nifong Investigation - partial transcript from Greta's "On the Record," December 26, 2006
LieStoppers forum: Stephen LaRoque on Greta...
Editorial, Washington Times:
The Duke Case — District Attorney Michael Nifong is losing more than supporters these days. He's losing a case and, if he's not careful, potentially his career. Late last week, Mr. Nifong announced that he was dropping rape charges against the three Duke University lacrosse players whom he had previously labeled "a bunch of hooligans." What remains of Mr. Nifong's case are charges of sexual assault and kidnapping, yet even those are based on little more than the victim's testimony, which has proven to be woefully unreliable...

Letters to Editor, Herald-Sun/FODU:
Larry Nolan Stewart letter: Botched Investigation
Kris Christensen letter: We're Past Vigilantism
Rodney Turner letter: Where the Blame Lies
Bob Wells letter: Waiting for lawsuits
Junius A. Davis: This farcical tragedy
Ian D. Goddard: Hide the mess
Alexander Howard III: People outside Durham have a duty to speak out
related: TalkLeft - Letters to H-S
La Shawn Barber:
2007 Prediction: Mike Nifong Will Drop All Charges — The next hearing in the Duke case is scheduled for February 5, 2007, and I plan to be there to witness what likely will be rogue Durham County district attorney Mike Nifong’s last stand.

I predict that at the hearing, he’ll drop the remaining charges — kidnapping and sexual offense — against Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann, and David Evans.

Kathleen ParkerKathleen Parker, Orlando Sentinel:
Parody at Duke: Rape case less than a slam dunk — Given recent events in Durham, N.C., concerning the alleged Duke University lacrosse "rape" case, it is now possible to declare parody dead. How does one parody a parody?

All is not lost, however. We can celebrate the addition of a new verb to our American lexicon -- "to Nifong." When the moment calls for activities that need no elaboration, we already "Bobbitt," "Bork," and "Lewinsky."

Now we can "Nifong" someone when we want to trump up criminal charges based on flimsy evidence allegedly for political purposes. In short, when we want to screw up someone's life.

related:
KC Johnson: To Nifong — Somehow I doubt that having his name remembered as a perjorative verb was how Mike Nifong thought this whole affair would wind up when he was riding high in late March.
FreeRepublic — Duke Rape Case Has Become a Parody
KC Johnson:
Dead on Arrival — Over the past nine months, Mike Nifong has distinguished himself as a figure incapable of thinking much about the long-term consequences of his actions...Upon hearing of Nifong's latest maneuver, Jackie Brown, one of the most astute observers of Durham politics around, concluded about the D.A.: "He's dead. Put a fork in him, he's done." Between now and February 5, perhaps Nifong and the Troika will come up with another way to manipulate the evidence so as to keep the case alive. But Brown is right--the “no-rape” theory is dead on arrival.

Forum topics of note:
TalkLeft: Rank Your Favorite Constitutional Violations!
Yesterday (12/26):

Kristin Butler, Duke ChronicleKristin Butler, Duke Chronicle:
The Gathering Storm — what we do know is this: Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans still face prison terms of up to 24 years if convicted of sexual offense and seven years for kidnapping. Their legal woes are anything but over.

And they are up against an embattled prosecutor whose behavior is growing more erratic, not less. Last spring, Nifong was making inflammatory, deceptive and even demonstrably false statements on national television. This month, he was forced to admit his role in a decision to conceal exculpatory evidence from defense counsel. What new outrages will 2007 bring? How much more damage will he be allowed to do?

I'd rather not find out. We can probably all agree that nine months of (nationally televised) disgrace have been more than enough for Durham's town and gown. And yet we are virtually guaranteed more abuse before winter's end, since the next pre-trial hearing isn't even scheduled until Feb. 5. Which brings us to the question at hand: Who is going to stop this guy?...

Madeleine Brand, National Public Radio (audio):
Sudden Shift in Duke Rape Case Raises Questions — Rape charges were dropped Friday against three Duke University lacrosse players who had been accused of attacking an exotic dancer. The three still face kidnapping and sexual offense charges.

Many wonder why D.A. Mike Nifong is pursuing the case at all. The indicted players have all maintained their innocence, and no DNA from the players was found on their accuser. National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor is writing a book about the case and talks with Madeleine Brand.

Jamie Glazov, FrontPageMagazine.com:
Nifong’s Folly — Frontpage Interview's guest today is KC Johnson...no prosecutor with any integrity would continue with this case—but if we have learned nothing else over the past nine months, Mike Nifong is not a man of integrity....continued hypocrisy of the NAACP...

Editorial, delcotimes.com (Delaware County/Philadelphia):
Duke case no model for American justice — The so-called "Duke rape" case is no longer a rape case. Those charges have been dropped by Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong after it was revealed that his office withheld exculpatory DNA evidence that showed the accuser had recently had sex with some men but not any of the Duke lacrosse players she accused of raping her....The case is a mess and has been for months even before Nifong opened himself up to legal charges of prosecutorial misconduct...Mike Nifong has shown by his actions and behavior during this case he is everything that a prosecutor should not be.
related: TalkLeft — Editorial: Duke Case No Model for Justice

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