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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nifong/Mangum Hoax — June 17, 2007

Updated — today's items:

Aaron Beard, AP/ABC News:
Disbarred Duke Prosecutor's Future Dim -- Disbarred Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Faces Troubled Future; Players Likely to File Civil Suits -- His law license lost and reputation in tatters, Mike Nifong seemingly can fall no further. But the disgraced prosecutor who committed "intentional prosecutorial misconduct" in his pursuit of the Duke lacrosse rape case faces an uncertain and likely troubled future.

The falsely accused players and their families, having racked up millions of dollars in legal bills, appear likely to file civil lawsuits against the disbarred prosecutor. Their attorneys want a judge to consider holding Nifong in criminal contempt for lying to the court.

"Some people will take that as being mean-spirited and kicking somebody when they're down," defense attorney Joseph Cheshire said Sunday. "But we believe that this issue is enormously important and it carries significant precedent and (the judge) ought to be the one to make that decision because it happened in his court." ....
KC Johnson: Beard on Nifong
Bar Hearing Video Highlights:
Nifong Day 4 - Nifong on Wilson PLAY DUMB [7:24] -- Nifong is asked if his investigator Linwood Wilson ever recorded interviews before? Nifong does his best Forrest Gump impression. Discuss: KC Johnson

Nifong Day 3 - Brad Bannon: Who really cares about Nancy Grace [5:37]
discuss: KC Johnson

Nifong Day 1 - Victoria Peterson [2:48] -- Victoria Peterson, co-chair of Nifong's citizens' committee, breaks into a WRAL live broadcast after she was expelled from the courtroom for trying to intimidate Mrs. Finnerty. discuss: KC Johnson

Nifong Day 1 - You got to SHOUT it [3:01] -- Investigator Ben Himan's "smoking gun" testimony of a March 27th meeting with DA Nifong and Sgt. Gottlieb that went over the many problems of establishing probable cause of the crime of rape. Nifong replies: "We're f**ked." discuss: KC Johnson
Susan Filan, legal analyst, MSNBC:
Nifong's punishment is extreme, appropriate -- Let this case serve as a cautionary tale to all prosecutors who handle cases which receive media attention -- Even when he resigned at the eleventh hour live from the witness stand to the surprise of his own staff and attorneys, he didn’t get it right. I think it was a ploy that cost him. It was a gross manipulation of sympathies. Sympathy of the public, sympathy of the bar committee reviewing his misconduct and perhaps even of those who he accused. But I think it just showed him to be tricky. Why surprise your own lawyers? Why wait until the last minute, when the hearing is virtually done, when your testimony is almost completed, to say what everyone needed to hear months ago? ...

I believe his tears were genuine, but I think he cried for himself, not for the damage he did to the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system, nor the damage to the three innocent young men whom he had indicted, nor the damaged reputation of Duke University or the sport of lacrosse. There are so many victims in this tragic tale of shattered lives. Not the least of whom is Nifong’s own teenage son who attended Friday’s hearing at his father’s request, only to see his father skewered on the witness stand, culminating in tears and resignation. Why put your own son through this? More of a ploy to gain sympathy, leniency, if not pity? ...
Nifong's wife and son watch him as he resignsComment: Nifong's use of his own son as a "pity pawn" at his bar hearing was shameless, especially given the extremely weak position he knew he was in. It was the Mike Nifong twist of a recent scene from the TV drama "The Shield," [best show on TV now with Tony S. gone] where Vic Mackey, the character played by Michael Chiklis, refused to use his children as "pity pawns" at a possible career ending review board hearing. From the June 5th episode:
But of course Vic [Mackey] is pretty seriously distracted at the moment because he's hours away from his final review board hearing and forced retirement. After the whole season of setup, this review board hearing took an interesting left turn. It all turned out to be (from a dramatic point of view) a setup for one of Vic's best displays of nobility, the kind of thing that makes you have to root for him.

The only shot he turns out to have is a cheesy politician move suggested by Aceveda. His shot is to play to the board member with a beloved autistic grandson by bringing in his autistic children to the hearing. Vic isn't a bit thrilled with this idea, obviously. But Corrine dutifully showed up with the children in tow, all dressed up nice and ready to support Daddy. But when they call them in, Vic just cannot bring himself to use his children as pity pawns like this -not even to save his career. So after all the maneuvering and buildup, Vic walks out the door without talking to the board at all. After these six seasons of following Vic Mackey, there's a lot of sacrifice and even integrity to this simple act. Season 6, Episode 10 "Spanish Practices"
Joe Neff & Anne Blythe, Newsobserver:
Outcome turned on close calls -- The Duke lacrosse case has twisted and turned in wild directions over the past 15 months. According to defense lawyer James P. Cooney III, the case might still be in Mike Nifong's hands if not for a fingernail and a single vote.

The fingernail points to how lucky the defense was to find DNA evidence hidden by Nifong, the district attorney.

"We literally stumbled across it while looking for something else," Cooney said...

In trying to understand the test results, Brad Bannon, one of Evans' lawyers, spent weeks combing through 1,844 pages of technical documents. In those pages, he discovered that Nifong had withheld the private lab's finding of DNA from at least four unidentified men in and on the accuser...

The single vote came nearly two weeks later, when the Grievance Committee of the N.C. State Bar took the unprecedented step of filing a complaint against Nifong for misconduct...

Grievance Committee Chairman Jim Fox cast the deciding vote, Cooney said.

"Without that single vote," Cooney said, "this case could still be going terribly wrong."
Toby Coleman, Newsobserver:
Leaders say penalty will improve lawyers' image -- Mike Nifong's nationally televised dismissal from practicing law Saturday was also an effort to restore some luster to the tainted image of justice.

Lawyers, and prosecutors in particular, have been taking a beating in recent months as the rape charges Nifong pressed against three former Duke lacrosse players fell apart and the prosecutor was accused of misconduct.

After a five-day disciplinary hearing on Nifong's handling of the case, defenders of the profession hope the public will judge lawyers and the justice system on the way they drummed Nifong out instead of the way Nifong treated the Duke lacrosse team...
Joe Neff, Anne Blythe & Mandy Locke, Newsobserver:
Nifong stripped of law license for lacrosse case misconduct -- After the hearing, the three players and their families exchanged hugs and goodbyes. The mood in the courtroom was one of relief after more than a year of stress and uncertainty.

"We take no joy in this proceeding," said David Evans, father of Dave.

"There are no winners in this," said Kevin Finnerty, Collin's father.

Nifong did not speak at the hearing Saturday and declined to talk afterward. Just before he gave up his bar license, he sat with his arm around his wife, Cy Gurney, both in tears.
Sal Marinello, BlogCritics.org:
Mike Nifong: Duke DA, Disgusting, Disgraced, and Disbarred --Last year when the Duke rape story broke there were all kinds of people coming out of the woodwork to claim that the privileged, elitist attitude at Duke was the reason the entire lacrosse team was involved with raping and imprisoning a black stripper. Now that we know the whole thing was a sham, will these folks step up and take responsibility for wrongly yelling fire in a crowded movie theater? ...

Despite the fact that this case was shady from the beginning, members of Duke’s faculty were ready to pounce on their own students. These adults, who are supposed to have cooler heads, seized upon the very uncertain account of events as the opportunity to blame the elitist atmosphere at Duke for the rape, and for a boatload of perceived problems that existed in the school and in the community that surrounds the university...

When confronted over their obvious rush to judgment these professors were unapologetic in their actions...
LieStoppers blog:
Up Next For Nifong -- "I don't think any of us are done with Mr. Nifong yet," said Jim Cooney, Seligmann's attorney...
Duke lacrosse prosecutor disbarred -- "We are in unanimous agreement there is no discipline short of disbarment that would be appropriate in this case, given the magnitude of the offenses we have found and the effect upon the profession and the public," Williamson said. (Read the ethics complaint)

Williamson said that racially inflammatory remarks Nifong made last year "were to further his political ambition." ...

"Dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation"
CNN Poll [lower left]: Do you think Duke lacrosse case prosecutor Mike Nifong should face criminal charges? Current tally: YES 81% -- 34226 votes; NO 19% -- 8236 votes. Total votes: 42462.
Editorial, Herald-Sun:
Nifong brought fall on himself -- In retrospect, what no one could explain -- possibly not even Nifong himself -- was his motivation. How could a prosecutor with 28 years of experience continue to pursue a case with so little substance?

There was no DNA evidence. There was no physical evidence of any kind. The accusing witness had proven unreliable. At least one defendant had an airtight alibi. And yet Nifong pressed onward. It was not only indefensible. It was incomprehensible.

Those who gave Nifong the benefit of the doubt, who thought he must have had some evidence on which to build a case, wound up shocked and disillusioned. Nifong's egregious mishandling of the case caused widespread damage, not only to the players and their families, but also to Duke University and to the entire Durham community.

Sadly, we feel sure this is not the final chapter, that there will be more damage to come.

Nifong's resignation was certainly the right call. One can debate the State Bar's action on the grounds of consistency. Other prosecutors also charged with serious crimes have received much lighter punishment.

But finally, the penalty had an air of inevitability. Nifong brought it on himself, and from now on, all prosecutors will have to be mindful not to follow his example.

LS forum: The Utter Hypocrisy of the Hurled-Scum, Editorial is the last straw
SPORTS REPORTER = weak on facts
Mike Lupica, NY Daily News:
Weep for the next victim -- Shooting From the Lip --Finally in the end, there was the pathetic sight of Mike Nifong, career hack, prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, weeping as he quit his D.A.'s job, apparently under the impression that anybody cared. You know who Nifong is? He's the guy we're going to talk about the next time a woman who really has been raped steps forward as an accuser and bravely asks for justice. There is a lot we will never know about what happened at a lacrosse party at an off-campus house, one where the entertainment was supposed to be a couple of "exotic dancers."... There are so many people to feel sorry for here.
Chrish, NewsHounds.com:
Nifong Gets Disbarred – Goldberg Trashes Liberals -- Jarrett wanted to know where the 88 Duke professors were - the professors who “were applauding the demonstrators who affixed the pictures of the players on wanted posters and who convicted these guys.” Jarrett, visibly frustrated, lamented that “these are the professors who are teaching our children.” (Comment: Yeah, Greg, these are the professors who are employed by Duke Unversity and not Fox News. And BTW, Greg, their statement addressed concerns about racism on the Duke campus with language such as “If it turns out that these students are guilty” so where is the “convicting”?)...

Goldberg whined about the New York Times that “runs stories every time someone looks funny at somebody else at Guantanamo and ran 65 stories about Abu Ghraib” but didn’t “run any crusade over this.” (Comment: there is no comparison between American torture and the Duke case and what made this rape case worthy of a “crusade?”)...
Marcella Chester, abyss2hope/rape survivor:
Mike Nifong Ethics Trial & Disbarment Reaction -- What I have seen none of these people acknowledge is the harm Nifong did to this alleged victim and the harm he did to all rape victims. They either refuse to see the harm or they simply don't care about it or too often they celebrate the harm to alleged victims as long as no defendants are harmed in the process.
Jeralyn Merritt, TalkLeft blog:
The Lesson in the Mike Nifong Debacle -- According to the Innocence Project, DNA exonerations have exposed official misconduct at every level and stage of a criminal investigation....

Guilt sells in America, Innocence doesn't. The Duke case is an exeption. We need to apply what we've learned from the Duke/Nifong case and make sure there is an Innocence Commission in every state.
Larisa Alexandrovna, At-Largely: Nifong disbarred, but not Gonzales
Duff Wilson, NY Times:
Prosecutor in Duke Case Is Stripped of Law License -- A state ethics panel on Saturday disbarred Michael B. Nifong, the Durham district attorney who pursued a false accusation of sexual assault against three Duke University lacrosse players, shortly after Mr. Nifong said through his lawyer that he thought disbarment was appropriate...

David B. Freedman, one of Mr. Nifong’s lawyers, said in an interview, “He wants this over. He wanted the process to play out and to receive a fair hearing, and he believes he has received a fair hearing and accepts the findings of the commission.”

Mr. Freedman said Mr. Nifong had been “devastated” by the testimony.

Mr. Nifong declined comment, but his wife, Cy Gurney, said, “It’s a day of resolution — for us and hopefully for the court system.”

After Mr. Nifong offered to be disbarred, the ethics panel said it still had to decide on a penalty, and 40 minutes later it issued a scathing opinion...
comment: The New York Times buried the Duff Wilson article on page 21 of the first section of the Sunday paper. Articles about erasing tattoos and the 50 year old East German "rattletrap" plastic Trabant car were given more prominence. No pictures were included with the Wilson story.

KC Johnson:
Sunday Hearing Roundup -- Duff Wilson continued his slanted coverage of the case right up until the end. Covering an unprecedented event—the stripping of a sitting DA’s law license for misconduct in his highest-profile case ever—that culminated with a dramatic, eloquent, and extemporaneous address by Disciplinary Hearing Commission chairman Lane Williamson, who was the first person quoted in Wilson’s article?

Nifong attorney David Freedman.

Who was the second person quoted?

Nifong’s wife, Cy Gurney....
Brocker’s closing was a masterful performance—a highly organized summary of the case complete with visuals outlining Nifong’s myriad, mutually contradictory, excuses on why he didn’t turn over the exculpatory DNA evidence....
In his Friday testimony, Nifong eight times referred to Mangum as the victim...
Scott Johnson, Power Line blog:
What about the gang of 88? -- And yet Nifong's misconduct was not the only professional misconduct that occurred in connection with the case. Who can forget Duke's Gang of 88 radical professors that supported the on-campus lynch mob that issued "wanted" posters of the lacrosse players? In good postmodern style, the Gang of 88 has attempted to put its past under erasure (Professor Johnson commented here), but Duke students who exceed the Gang in maturity and responsibility remember. When he checked in with one member of the Gang of 88 last fall, Professor Johnson reported...

Steven Reynolds, All Spin Zone: Justice? Irony? You Make the Call!
Disciplinary Hearing Committee Chair F. Lane Williamson -- Text of comments made by DHC Chair F. Lane Williamson at the conclusion of Defendant Mike Nifong's trial:

Thank you for your patience. The hearing committee has deliberated and we are in unanimous agreement that there’s no discipline short of disbarment that would be appropriate in this case given the magnitude of the offenses we have found and the effect upon the profession and the public.

I do want to make some remarks as to why we reached our conclusion. This matter has been a fiasco. There is no doubt about it. It has been a fiasco for a number of people, starting with the defendants and moving out from there to the justice system in general. We’ve heard evidence over the last several days of how that came about. Though we are lawyers and a school administrator — we’re not psychologists — you have to ask yourself, “Why? Why did we get to the place that we got?” ...

TalkLeft: The Disbarment Ruling

other sources:
KC Johnson: Williamson Remarks -- full text of Lane Williamson's remarks...
NY Times: Comments of Disciplinary Panel’s Chairman -- Following is a transcript of the comments of F. Lane Williamson, chairman of the disciplinary panel that voted unanimously to disbar Michael Nifong, as recorded by The New York Times...
Forum topic(s) of note:
TalkLeft: The Next Step: Criminal Contempt Charges Against Nifong

LS forum: Will the NAACP apologize?, 82 points still listed
Steven D. Michael, the president of the N.C. State Bar, issued the following statement on the Disciplinary Hearing Commission’s action today disbarring Michael B. Nifong, the former prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, for violations of the State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct:

“I am satisfied that justice was done in the Nifong case and am proud to say that our system of self-regulation worked well. Mr. Nifong received a fair trial. All interested parties – but especially the citizens of North Carolina – were finally able to see all the evidence relating tothis extremely unfortunate case of professional misconduct...

“In my experience, misconduct of the sort Mr. Nifong engaged in is very rare and not at all typical of prosecutors in our state. We deeply regret the serious harm caused to these youngmen and their families. We hope the decision today will lessen the likelihood that anything like this will happen again...
Comments on the disbarrment of Mike Nifong --
"When your last name becomes a verb in an unpleasant way, it's very difficult." — David Freedman, Nifong's attorney.
"In our judgment, this moved from mere incompetence into a cold-blooded frame as last year wore on." — Jim Cooney, cleared player Reade Seligmann's attorney.

News & Observer:
Prosecutors react to Nifong's dismissal --Mike Nifong's nationally-televised dismissal from the legal profession Saturday also was an effort to restore some luster to the tainted image of justice.

Lawyers, and in particular prosecutors, have been taking a beating in recent months as the rape charges Nifong pressed against three former Duke lacrosse players fell apart amid revelations of prosecutorial misconduct...

"I think it speaks for itself that the system has worked," said Garry Frank, the president of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys and the DA for Alexander, Davidson, Davie and Iredell counties...

"I think it should give people confidence that the state bar has now apparently learned how to accept its responsibilities to govern the actions of lawyers, and in particular prosecutors," said Mary Ann Tally, a defense lawyer who has followed the State Bar's handling of misconduct cases. "It seemed that in the past they had just turned a blind eye." ...
John in Carolina:
Duke Helped Nifong -- statements from Duke’s president – his name is Richard Brodhead but he introduces himself as “Dick” - made Reade Seligmann and the other players look like they weren’t cooperating with police.

Brodhead issued his statements at a time when the Durham Police and our major newspaper, the Raleigh News & Observer, were telling people the players weren’t cooperating.

Sure, that was all false. Brodhead and any trustee who cared to know knew that...

Duke's Dick Brodhead went nine months before he could ever bring himself to say a single word critical of Nifong...
Michele Alexandre, BlackProf.co:
A Tale of Two Victims: Who Speaks for the Thousands of Innocent Non-Whites Prosecuted Wrongfully? -- Anyone who has worked or participated in the American justice system can’t help but to feel utter bewilderment at the announcement of Mike Nifong’s disbarment...
Blogger News Network: Nifong Disbarred Over Duke Rape Case

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