Saturday, December 30, 2006

No Confidence In Nifong

Things are going from bad to worse for Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong. From Fox News:
RALEIGH, N.C. — By the time the prosecutor in the Duke University lacrosse case is tried on ethics charges, the sexual assault indictment he sought against three players may have been long since dismissed. The bar association, which filed the ethics charges Thursday, will not schedule Nifong's trial-like hearing for at least three months,
The North Carolina bar association has filed ethics charges against Nifong for his role in violating
four rules of professional conduct by making misleading and inflammatory comments about the athletes, said Thomas Lunsford, executive director of the state bar.
On top of that, Nifong has been forced to reconsider any charges at all in the case.
If the woman who claims the players sexually assaulted her at a party cannot identify them at a February hearing, Durham County District Attorney Mark Nifong has said, he will abandon the divisive case.
First Nifong dropped the rape charges after he withheld DNA evidence that was damaging to his proecution; now the entire case might be dropped.
At the next hearing in the lacrosse case, set for Feb. 5, the defense is expected to ask a judge to throw out the results of a photo lineup in which the accuser — a 28-year-old hired to perform as a stripper at a lacrosse team party — identified her attackers. If that happens, experts have said Nifong would likely be forced to drop charges of kidnapping and sexual offense, and Nifong has acknowledged as much.
This whole charade continues to unravel. Then yesterday
the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys — which does not have any regulatory authority — called on Nifong to recuse himself.
This conference represents all of Nifongs peers, other DA's who can see what this is doing to the reputation of the state's criminal justice system. Nifong kept digging himself deeper with this case. He put his reputation and the prestige of his office on the line and sacrificed it all for his re-election.

So far the best summary of the events in Raleigh is from a defense attorney:
"This is so sad," said Larry Pozner, a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "This case is going to end up with nothing but losers. Everybody who touched it and was touched by it will have lost something, and it is not a shining moment for the criminal justice system."

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