|Nifong Disbarred: Now How About Some REAL Justice in the Duke Lacrosse Case
Posted 06/20/2007 ET
It seems crystal clear that Nifong’s misconduct went well beyond the areas of jurisdiction of the North Carolina Bar. Withholding evidence, fraud and perjury are a few obvious areas in which he could, and should, be prosecuted. Beyond that, what about the nearly $1 million in legal fees paid out by the families of the defendants? The law provides Nifong with somewhat of a shield from civil damages resulting from any mistakes committed in the line of his duties, but the North Carolina Bar committee’s ruling shows clear evidence that he went well over that line. It said that he had manipulated the investigation to boost his chances of winning his first election for Durham County District Attorney (he had been appointed to the job in 2005 after nearly three decades as a lawyer in the DA’s office). In doing so, the committee declared, he committed “a clear case of intentional prosecutorial misconduct” that involved “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” Bottom line: justice in this case mandates the prosecution of Nifong and his reimbursement of legal costs plus damages to the families for the incredible pain and suffering they have experienced and are likely to experience for years to come. As for a jail sentence, if I were the judge he would get sum of the maximum sentences he was seeking for the lacrosse players.
Another interesting possibility, since Nifong branded this as a case of “sex, race and class”, would be his prosecution under the Federal Civil Rights Act. Is there any question that the defendants in this case were targeted because they are white and the accuser is black? And there seems to be little doubt that the lacrosse player defendants were repeatedly denied their rights of due process.
Durham County, of course, did not have a one-man District Attorney’s office. Mike Nifong had over a half dozen aides working with him on the lacrosse players case and each appears to have been complicit in the evidence “cover-up”, and perhaps also fraud, perjury and denial of due process. Justice mandates a thorough, impartial investigation into the role each Assistant District Attorney played in this matter and appropriate prosecutions/penalties for misconduct.
Sometimes, the passage of time has a tendency to purge our memories. Let us not forget the long and outrageous list of insults, threats and abuses which the defendants and their families weathered since early April, 2006. The vicious newspaper ad published by 88 radical leftist Duke professors (the “Gang of 88”) with assumptions that the accused were guilty … along with the typically profound pronouncements about the evils of racist and sexist activity. (Duke Professor William Chafe compared the defendants to the murderers of Emmett Till.) To this day, Duke President Richard Brodhead has not uttered one word against these faculty members who had encouraged a horrible and unfair rush to judgment.
Let’s remember the hostile reception Duke teams got from fans at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University -- students parading around the field with “No Means No” signs. They chanted the slogan throughout the events. Posted throughout Durham were the “Castrate” signs and “Wanted” posters. The entire lacrosse team was portrayed as a bunch of rowdy hoodlums. They hired strippers! Never mind that Duke’s nationally famous basketball team had hired strippers for its team party just two weeks earlier. That was greeted with a “boys will be boys” attitude.
Lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, one of the nation’s best, was forced to resign because of the pressure. He had spent 16 seasons at Duke and won three Atlantic Coast Conference championships. In 2005, his team appeared in the national championship game. Coach Pressler said something to the effect that there were 50 people who knew the truth, and 50 million who thought they knew it … or really did not want to know the truth if it got in the way of a good story. The media that joined the stampede to adjudge guilt included the regulars: New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, the Durham Herald-Sun and the Raleigh News & Observer. Nancy Grace chirped in her accusations from her CNN perch.
And last, but certainly not least, the “Reverend” Sharpton/Jackson team felt obliged to jump into the mix, making their typically idiotic statements. Al Sharpton, appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s Show (Fox News), effectively said that we should believe the girl who claimed to have been raped because “when the prosecutors went forward, they clearly have said this girl is the victim.” When O’Reilly noted that the DNA evidence had shown no evidence of a crime and no link to the arrested lacrosse players, Sharpton responded: “But I think that all of the facts that you have laid out the DA had -- and I know this DA is probably not one that is crazy. He would not have proceeded if he did not feel that he could convict.” It was just another in a long list of incidents where Sharpton has been woefully wrong. Jesse Jackson also felt the irresistible magnetic pull of a publicity opportunity. Like Sharpton, he rushed to the scene to prejudge the guilt of the accused “rich, white” lacrosse players. Jackson even pledged a full college scholarship to the alleged “victim”.
At some point, whoever “frocked” Sharpton and Jackson should realize that these two “Reverends” are perhaps America’s top racists -- in the real sense of the word. The Duke case certainly should be the last straw and merit their “defrocking.”
Although there is some chance that legal action may be forthcoming again Nifong and perhaps his assistants, I will wager that the true “victims” in the Duke case will see nothing more in the way of justice. The lacrosse players, sadly, will not even get apologies from the “Gang of 88”, the radical media or the Sharpton/Jackson team. Their case has taught America a much-needed reminder that those accused of crimes should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
|Mr. Lewis is a journalist and political lecturer/debater. He was a speechwriter in the Goldwater campaign and subsequently a network news commentator for the Mutual Broadcasting System.|