Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nifong's Procedural "Justice"

At the tumultuous April 11 NCCU forum, Mike Nifong was sharply questioned as to why he hadn’t made immediate arrests in the lacrosse case. The D.A. issued one of his patented non-denial denials as to whether an ID already had occurred.

As Durham County’s “minister of justice,” it would have seemed that Nifong had an obligation to bring charges, as soon as possible, against those he believed committed a brutal rape. Instead, for nearly two extra weeks—until the next meeting of the grand jury, on April 18—he left people on the street that he had labeled “hooligans,” figures whose “contempt . . . for the victim, based on her race” added “another layer of reprehensibleness, to a crime that already reprehensible.”

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to see why Nifong didn’t move for an arrest as soon as the accuser gave her statement to the police on April 6 (inexplicably, three weeks after her initial police interview). Under North Carolina procedures, his seeking an arrest warrant entitled the defendants to a probable cause hearing.

Could Nifong have met the admittedly low threshold for probable cause? He couldn't afford to take a risk, since he had a primary to win on May 2. He had little or no physical evidence a crime was even committed, much less that the two people he charged did anything wrong. He sought indictments against Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty exclusively on the basis of an April 4 lineup that violated Durham procedures in multiple ways and in which the accuser made myriad unreliable identifications.

Balanced against this “evidence” was Seligmann’s unimpeachable electronic alibi. At a time when Nifong and the police were still describing the crime as lasting 30 minutes (as, of course, the accuser had repeatedly claimed), the DA would have needed to convince the court to find probable cause that Seligmann could have been simultaneously on a video at a Wachovia ATM machine and committing a crime a mile away.

Maybe Nifong could have survived the hearing. And maybe I’m going to be the next Pope.

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Several weeks ago, startling figures emerged that Nifong’s office dismissed 12 of the 25 rape cases of which it disposed in the 2005-2006 fiscal year. The court files for many of these cases raise disturbing patterns relating to Nifong’s denial of a probable cause hearing in the lacrosse case:

  • In each and every one of these cases (presumably the office’s weaker ones, as they ended with outright dismissals or plea bargains), Nifong’s office sought an arrest warrant, with the subsequent requirement for a probable cause hearing. The office went to the grand jury only months later, if at all. The lacrosse case thus radically departed from precedent. Among even the shaky rape-case defendants, Finnerty, Seligmann, and (later) Dave Evans seem to have been alone in the Nifong era in being denied the opportunity for a probable cause hearing*—the only built-in check to Nifong’s power in the charging process.
  • Nifong’s latter-day positioning of himself as a crusader for social justice is chimerical. His office regularly entered into plea bargains resulting in the dismissal of rape charges and the imposition of often laughably light sentences. “I’m not going to allow,” the D.A. said at one campaign forum, “Durham’s view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham.” Yet he seems to have cared little for the “black girls from Durham” when their alleged rapists didn’t fit a profile that would benefit him politically.

---------

The cases divide into two groups. The first group consists of four cases that were dismissed outright. In each instance, Nifong’s office sought an arrest and then proceeded to a probable cause hearing, rather than, as in the lacrosse case, bypassing these two steps and going directly to a grand jury indictment.

Moreover, these four dismissals suggest that the lacrosse case wasn’t the first instance when we’ve seen a rush to judgment by the Durham D.A.’s office. Cases were dismissed because of:

  • a lack of evidence;
  • the accuser marrying her alleged rapist and dropping the charges;
  • the D.A. office’s inability to locate the accuser.

Unlike the current case, when Nifong has stated either he or his administrative assistant calls the accuser several times a week, his concern with “victims” apparently doesn’t carry over to politically useless prosecutions.

The files:

1.) State v. Che Usef Fletcher

Charge: second-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: September 15, 2005
  • $50,000 bond: September 17, 2005
  • Waives probable cause hearing: February 28, 2006

Case dismissed June 29, 2006: “The victim married the defendant.”

__________________________________________________

2.) State v. Herbert Jackson

Charge: first-degree rape

First-degree sexual assault

  • Arrest warrant: March 10, 2005
  • Waives probable cause hearing: May 17, 2005

The case was dismissed on September 20, 2005, when the D.A.’s office said that it could not locate the accuser.

3.) State v. Rigoberto Hernandez

Charge: first-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant/probable cause found: May 27, 2005
  • $250,000 bond
  • Grand jury: August 15, 2005

The case was dismissed on February 10, 2006, when the accuser refused to cooperate with the Nifong’s office.

4.) State v. Hinojosa

Charge: second-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: September 3, 2005
  • Bail: September 20, 2005 (reduced from $50,000 to $12,000)
  • Waives probable cause hearing: January 24, 2006

The case was dismissed for insufficient evidence on February 10, 2006. The court file contains no explanation of the rationale for the dismissal.

-------

In further remarks at the April NCCU forum, Nifong stated that he was compelled to seek indictments and carry the case through to a trial. “Anytime,” the D.A. told the audience, “you have a victim who can identify her assailant, then what you have is a case that must go to the jury, which means, in this situation, a jury will get to evaluate the evidence.”

This claim, of course, was wholly untrue. North Carolina’s general statutes impose no such obligation on the D.A., while Section 3.8, comment 2 of the state bar’s ethics code contradicts Nifong’s description of his duties: “The prosecutor represents the sovereign and, therefore, should use restraint in the discretionary exercise of government powers, such as in the selection of cases to prosecute.”

It turns out that Nifong wasn’t even describing how his own office operated. Eight times over the first eight months of 2006 (or once a month), Nifong’s office entered into plea bargains with rape case defendants. Unlike the four instances profiled above, these cases were still pending: the D.A.’s office wasn’t struggling to locate the accuser, or the accuser hadn’t decided to marry the defendant. Nifong, it would seem, still had “a victim who can identify her assailant.” Yet no jury heard these eight cases—none of which, based on the files, appear to have involved a claim of white defendants raping a black accuser.

In this second group, Nifong’s office sought an arrest and then proceeded to a probable cause hearing in all eight occasions, rather than, as in the lacrosse case, going directly to a grand jury indictment. Therefore, all eight of these defendants—unlike Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans—had an opportunity for a probable cause hearing.

These cases also exhibited two other striking patterns:

  • First, Nifong’s office sought bails considerably lower—and in some cases dramatically lower—than the $400,000 the D.A. sought and initially obtained in the lacrosse case. This disparity occurred even though many defendants in these cases had lengthy criminal records.
  • Second, despite his insinuations of doing everything he can for the accusers in rape cases, Nifong’s office has a tendency to sign off to light sentences—and in some instances outrageously light sentences—in exchange for the defendants pleading guilty to lesser crimes.

It's worth remembering, meanwhile, that while Nifong was regularly dismissing charges like first- and second-degree rape, he was devoting scarce office resources to re-opening deferred prosecutions against lacrosse players for noise offenses, violations of city codes that failed even to rise to the level of misdemeanor offenses.

The files:

1.) State v. Dwight Ellis Carrington

Charge: first-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: February 23, 2005
  • $100,000 bond, reduced to $60,000: February 24, 2005
  • The file contains no mention of the date of the probable cause hearing.
  • Grand jury: April 18, 2005

February 23, 2006: Pleads guilty to felonious restraint.
Rape charge dismissed.

Despite 17 prior convictions for crimes such as DWI, larceny, possession of stolen goods, and forgery, Carrington was sentenced to 27-33 months, with credit for 12 months served.

Judge Stephens—the same judge who OK’d Nifong’s procedurally fraudulent March 23 NTO order—signed off on the plea deal.


2.) State vs. Tommoris Jones

Charges: second-degree rape, assault and battery, communicating threats

  • Arrested: November 13, 2005
  • $53,000 bond: Nov. 14, 2005
  • Waives probable cause hearing: January 17, 2006
  • Grand jury: March 20, 2006

July 5, 2006—pleads guilty to:

  • assault by strangulation
  • assault on a female
  • communicating threats

Rape charge dismissed.

Despite previous convictions for contributing to delinquency of juvenile and misdemeanor larceny, Jones was sentenced to 12-14 months, suspended sentence, and 36 months supervised probation.

3.) State vs. James Bowman

Charges: attempted second-degree rape, breaking and entering, violation of domestic violence protective order

  • Arrested: June 9, 2005
  • Probable cause hearing: August 31, 2005
  • Grand jury: May 1, 2006

August 7, 2006—pleads guilty to:

  • breaking and entering
  • violation of domestic violence protective order
  • sexual battery

Rape charge dismissed

Despite previous convictions for assault on a female and communicating threats, Bowman was sentenced to 13-15 months, suspended sentence, and 36 months supervised probation.

4.) State vs. Michael Brooks, Jr.

Charge: second-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: December 14, 2005
  • Probable cause: December 21, 2005
  • Grand jury: July 17, 2006

August 30, 2006: pleads guilty to assault inflicting serious bodily injury.
Rape charge dismissed.

The court file lacks information on Brooks’ sentence.

5.) State vs. Daniel Cates

Charge: first-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: August 11, 2005
  • $200,000 bond: August 15, 2005
  • The file contains no notation on date of probable cause hearing.
  • Grand jury: October 3, 2005

Dismissed March 16, 2006, on grounds that defendant was serving a 25-year sentence for a different offense.

6.) State vs. James Daniel Shaw

Charge: first-degree rape

  • Arrest warrant: April 6, 2005
  • $50,000 bail, April 7, 2005
  • The file contains no indication of when probable cause hearing occurred.
  • Grand jury: May 16, 2005

March 20, 2006: Pleads guilty to two counts of felonious restraint.
Rape charge dismissed.

Shaw was sentenced to 16-20 months in prison, fined $3283, and received 36 months probation.

7.) State vs. Shamir Louis Rone

Charge: first-degree rape of a child

  • Arrest warrant: August 29, 2005
  • Probable cause hearing: September 20, 2005
  • Grand jury: February 6, 2006

July 5, 2006: Pleads guilty to:

  • 2 counts crime against nature
  • contributing to delinquency of minor

Rape charge dismissed.

Rone was sentenced to 13-17 months, all suspended, and supervised probation for 36 months.

8.) State vs. Paul Ross

Charges: second-degree rape; second-degree sexual offense

  • Arrest warrant: May 24, 2005
  • Probable cause: May 31, 2005
  • $30,000 bond
  • July 5, 2005: grand jury

February 23, 2006: Pleads guilty to crime against nature.
Rape charge dismissed.

Ross was sentenced to 6-8 months, with a suspended sentence for 24 months, supervised probation for 24 months, and a $552 fine.

---------

Each of these cases, of course, had its own dynamics. And looking through court files alone doesn’t provide a complete picture—for instance, of the insufficient evidence in the Hinojosa case; or how Nifong’s office could have recommended such a lenient deal for someone like Dwight Carrington, with 17 prior convictions; or whether a connection existed between the bizarre dismissal of the Cates case (on grounds he was serving a sentence for another crime?) and the emergence of the lacrosse case on the same day.

For the lacrosse case, however, this material reveals one critical item:

  • In all 12 of these cases, which didn’t even have strong enough evidence to get a rape charge to trial, Nifong’s office followed the routine procedure of seeking an arrest warrant and a probable cause hearing.
  • In the lacrosse case, though his “investigation” was complete on April 6, Nifong employed a different procedure, waiting waited 12 days to go to a grand jury.

Rule 3.8, comment 1 of the state bar’s ethics code states, “A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate; the prosecutor's duty is to seek justice, not merely to convict. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice.”

Manipulating procedures to deny Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans the opportunity for a probable cause hearing would seem rather inconsistent with both the spirit and the letter of this rule.

Hat tip: Bethany.

*--changed from original, which incorrectly read "right," not "opportunity."

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brillant, KC. Maybe now we can see why the people of Durham are so eager to have him elected as their new DA. It might be the only place in America where you can commit a rape and get charges reduced and only serve 6 months. Absolutely amazing why he wanted to treat the Duke lacrosse team so com;letely different than the way he has handled anything else. It was just really bad timing for the lacrosse team. He had a primary to win.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, KC! Why can't the News & Observer investigate as carefully and thoroughly as you have to expose the outrageous actions of this DA? Aaron Beard (AP reporter) is as bad, or worse, for his casual "glossing over" of any new information which should be damaging to the case. The MSM has its collective head in the sand about Nifong. God forbid they should have to admit how badly he had them fooled from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/LegalCenter/story?id=2617301&page=1

Anonymous said...

Outstanding KC!!!

I agree-- AP's Aaron Beard appears to be Nifong's PR agent....

Anonymous said...

In the unlikely event that the Duke three are convicted, let's hope that the history of sentences by this DA will prevent the maximum penalties.

(Like I really believe that.)

Thank you for establishing this record. It needs to be widely publicized.

Twaddlefree

Anonymous said...

Shame on the Nifong-Sun and the News&Obfuscator for their lack of journalistic integrity. Kudos to you, K.C., for making up for their diligent neglectfulness! Comparing your powerful breaking news stories on a part-time schedule with the million-dollar full-time staffs at the local Triangle papers, makes me want to leave my paper outside the door and click on a mouse instead!

Anonymous said...

Nifong was probably sure he'd get that felonious restraint plea this time, too....

huesofblue said...

In fairness to the Durham DA's office, there are a lot of reasons that a lot of rape victims don't want to testify at trial. And if the victim doesn't want to testify, it may be that a relatively light plea is the best an ethical prosecutor can do. While Nifong may lack integrity, I think a good number of people in any DA's office pass up more lucrative careers in the private sector to do work they believe in. I don't think they're there to put innocent people in jail and let career criminals back out on the streets with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. In the cited cases, I strongly suspect their decisions were guided by the evidence (the way Nifong should be here). Granted, the cases KC presented don't present a record I'd expect them to be proud of, but I'm reluctant to question the ethics and general competence of the whole department based just on the conduct of their fearless leader in a case that's received exceptional attention.

Anonymous said...

Being a criminal defense attorney, I see nothing particularly wrong with Nifong's handling of prior rape cases. As noted, many times the DA's office is stuck with an accuser who does not want to proceed or with a case that has little evidence to support the allegations.

My problem with Nifong is the way he treated this case so differently from the others. The bond in the Duke case makes no sense what so ever unless you are seeking some drama to play out in the press.

But even more disturbing to me is Nifong's passionate pursuit of this case when he has never even talked to the accuser about her story. Even though I have felt from the beginning that Nifong was in left field with this case, I held out the thought that perhaps he had talked with this woman and her story was so compelling and she was such a good witness that he felt he had to proceed. Now we know this isn't the case.

I don't understand how someone can review the file and work up so much passion about this case. The accuser has given about 5 different stories, there's no DNA, no other witness, no medical evidence, alibis. How can he stand in court and change the time of the attack from 30 mins to about 10 and suggest this is because the alleger is so traumatized. He doesn't know she's traumatized; he's never talked to her. As best we know there is no psychological evaluation. He made that up.

This is purely political. No doubt about it.

Anonymous said...

No one is questioning that there may have been reasons for the final disposition of these cases. What is outrageous on Nifong's part is that he purposely avoided arresting Reade, Collin and David so that there could not be probable cause hearings, as there clearly were for the cases KC has cited. Instead Nifong made sure he obtained indictments from the Grand Jury where defense attorneys, alibi witnesses and exculpatory evidence would not be heard--and where you would not be able to have a record of what was presented to the Grand Jury. The old "indicting a ham sandwich for the death of a pig" adage is clearly the case with the GJ in Durham. And, of course, it was right before the primary for the first two defendents. 2 indictments for the voters, one to go!

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant work. Facts don't lie and these facts show a clear pattern and then a break from that pattern for the LAX case. This could be good info. for a civil case.
Again, excellent!

Anonymous said...

When I read the #7 case that was pleaded:
State vs. Shamir Louis Rone - Charge: first-degree rape of a child
2 counts crime against nature
contributing to delinquency of minor
Rape charge dismissed.

Rone was sentenced to 13-17 months, all suspended, and supervised probation for 36 months.

This guy did something horrible to a child and was set free. Unthinkable!!

KC Johnson said...

To the 5.01 and 6.20:

I fully recognize your critiques.

The main point of this post is the procedural element: that Nifong wholly departed from past practice of his office (and common sense, if he really believed these guys were guilty) to wait for a grand jury indictment, so he could avoid the probable cause hearing.

On the plea-bargain sentences, most or even all might have been appropriate--as you both point out, there's just no way of telling this without access to the full file of the case. But the sentences and pleas are wholly inconsistent with the public image that Nifong has presented since March 27 as a crusader on rape cases.

What was especially interesting to me is that no discernible difference existed between the pre-March 27 and post-March 27 decisions--so it's not as if Nifong could even argue that he suddenly awoke to the seriousness of rape because of the allegations in the lacrosse case.

Anonymous said...

This is excellent, KC!

This is what reporting is supposed to be. If the MSM wonder why viewership and readership have plummented, they only have to look here. Journalists in the MSM are not doing their jobs.

Your work on the Duke case underscores why a solid liberal arts education, complete with critical reasoning, is the best preparation for a career in journalism. You have put the J-school grads to shame.

Anonymous said...

What is something one will never see in Durham H-S? An outstanding article like this, that's what.

The Dude said...

7:00 Good analysis. i was scrooling before posting and had the same thoughts.
While victim's and witnesses may be afraid to testify really is not the point. That is a given circumstance that would always be correct. My take is the plea to lesser charges and suspended sentences. Is this the same Judge? how many Judges are there in criminal court in huckleberry NC?
First degree charges with a minor victim sounds pretty serious. What are the sentencing guidelines for rape in NC. How can a suspended sentence fix anything.

In NJ this would be 10-12 years with a Mandatory 85% served due to the violent nature of the charges. Of course they would plead to lower charges but still would have to serve 85% due to the restraint issues. I don't see any A/P giving less than 6 years and that is with a "shaky victim" and the accused giving relevant information on drug trafficing or murder cases.

What are these LAX players looking at by way of NC sentencing models?

Bail is another issue. Nifong wanted an extremely high bail to catch the media's attention before the election. Just look at all the politicians on tv ads. Everyone that is a lawyer has an ad of how they "prosecuted criminals". This is their job. it is not a public service. How well they do their job is extremely relevant

Anonymous said...

Great work, KC. Can you get this info out to the MSM?

Anonymous said...

A great article which should be printed in the HS, N&O and the Chronicle and most particularly the NY Times. Questions: How many of the offenses cited were black on black crime. It would be interesting given Nifong's comments at NCCU. The facts might show just how racist Nifong really is pleaing down cases of black on black crime. Would the black community not be outraged at this?

Anonymous said...

KC Johnson:

Brilliant analysis. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

great work KC! When the probable cause hearings were waived, it still took several months to almost a year before a presentation to the GJ was made in most of these cases. Why the rush in the Duke case?

Anonymous said...

TO 6:20 you stated there are no witnesses. Yet there are witnesses. The false accuser who stated a rape did not occur, the prosecutors #2 witness Kim Roberts who said it was a "crock" and a rape did not happen. And you have 41 other people at the party who say a rape did not occur. 43 witnesses who know where Reade, Colin and Dave were at all times during the night.

Anonymous said...

KC: Does this show willful intent on the part of the DA to be biased against this case. Along with all the other prosecutorial misconduct, Unconstitutional lineup, lies in court, destroying of exculpatory evidence (police tapes, not even talking to the accuser or the accused, etc. the list goes on and on, can a motion be brought before the judge to dismiss based on his manipulation of his office to use these boys to get elected?

madder than a hornet said...

I hope the merry band of cowards surrounding Brodhead are reading this excellent and detailed analysis of the way justice works in Durham. Wonder if they could post it on the Duke website so parents can see what kind of town they are sending their students to?
Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek

Anonymous said...

Great investigative work, KC.
Something a lot of journalists seem to be not capable of these days.
They can huff and puff that blogs are not nuanced enough, but it appears bloggers are doing the best work, leaving so-called real journalists in the dust.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the rest of you here, but if I was a judge and found out that the accuser had married the defendant charged in a rape case, I would have serious doubts about how the DA and the DPD conduct investigations. Tell me that the case was dropped before the couple entered the courtroom hand in hand.

locomotive breath said...

KC will remember from the ACLU forum at Duke that Larry Holt, Chair of the Durham Human Relations Commission, said a major complaint from Durhamites is the "catch and release" policy of the courts.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching for this since your appearance at Duke. Besides the obvious inconsistencies between these cases and the Lacrosse matter, I was struck about how long some of these cases took to get to a grand jury. Some made in it in five weeks, some in 11 months. In a former existence I was responsible for scheduling criminal cases in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware. We were charged with brining criminal defendants to trial within 120 days of arrest. You obviously cannot try until after indictment. The DA controls the Grand Jury. It says volumes about the lack of justice in North Carolina that judges put no pressure on the DA to indict in a timely fashion. I can assure you that in Delaware, the Attorney General would have been cited by the court for failure to indict in a timely manner. Keep up the good work.--Duke'67

Lardawg said...

Does anyone not think that this will all end sometime after the election (I assume Nifong will be elected) with Nifong piously announcing that: (1) he still believes in the case just as much as he always did and nothing he has seen since March has changed his mind; but (2) the AV is "still too traumatized" to take the case to trial and he is respecting her decision and request not to proceed so he is dropping the charges? Seriously, is there any other likely scenario? At that point, the only way that Nifong will ever be exposed and the lax players' reputations salvaged is if they decide to initiate a civil suit against Nifong.

Anonymous said...

I don't see that happening. I have become very pessimistic after seeing polls that suggest Nifong will be reelected even after the 60 Minutes piece, and the recent information from ABC. Some of these people in Durham are completely out of their minds. (If you doubt me there was a letter to the N&O in response to Ruth Sheehan's editorial suggesting that Mike Nifong was a "great guy", and that the community was united in support for him.)

I think he will win the election. But he has invested his reputation, his ego, his career, and everything he has in trying this case. From what we have heard about him, he is a stubborn fool, and once he makes up his mind, he will not change it. I see him going to trial even if he has to physically drag the false accuser into the courtroom unwillingly to testify.
If he's really counting on jury nullification to get a hung jury, all he has to do is get her in there and have her say a few tearful words, and identify the defendants in the courtroom. If she is a decent actor (and based on what we know of her performance in seeking prescription drugs in the ER while continuing to perform her srip routine, she is quite accomplished as a liar and a fake)
that is really all he needs her to do. I'm sure that her story will not hold up under cross examination, but so what? Again, if Nifong thinks he can slip one or two of his loyal supporters onto that jury, it doesn't matter what she says.

I really think the only hope is for the judge to not allow the identification, and to dismiss after the prosecution presents it's case, because of the total lack of evidence. A trial resulting in a hung jury is a disaster, and clearly would be a huge victory for Nifong. It would show that he has the power to manufacture a case, take it to trial and get a hung jury just because he wants to.

Anonymous said...

KC, careful how you use the word "right" as in "right to a probable cause hearing". Other defendants were obviously permitted or afforded or allowed probable cause hearings but a right is something you can insist upon and isn't something left to the discretion of the prosecutor. Otherwise, excellent work as usual.

Anonymous said...

KC used the word "opportunity", not "right."

Anonymous said...

Oh absolutely. With Nifong being supported by almost half of likely voters in Durham county, Nifong knows that sneaking at least a few of his supporters on the jury is virtually a guarantee. As those supporters appear to support him despite all the information known about the case, it’s entirely likely Nifong’s supporters will ignore all the exculpatory evidence. The accuser presumably can get on the stand and point her finger at the three defendants. Of course three is always a chance she might still get confused and point in the wrong direction, but even that might not matter to Mike Nifong’s supporters on the jury.

KC Johnson said...

To the 12.08--yes, I'll make the correction in text, with asterisk to note change.

Anonymous said...

I posted anon 12:06.

I see one other hope..a venue change could totally nullify Nifong's crafty plan to get some of his supporters on the jury, and get a hung jury regardless of the facts presented. I don't think his smarmy, arrogant, egotistical style will play very well outside of "Wonderland".

Anonymous said...

We must hope that the new judge has the experience, smarts and integrity to see this case for what it is and dismiss the photo ID. Without the ID, there is no case. Given the Durham atmosphere and make up of the population, dismissing this case will take a judge of strong character. So far, non of the judges in this case have met that criteria.

Anonymous said...

In reply to the post by huesofblue, I often have found that people working as assistant prosecutors fall into three categories.

The first involves people who want to practice criminal law, but believe they need to gain experience by working for a prosecutor, learning the ropes, and the like. They are not career prosecutors, but find working there helps their careers when they go to the other side.

The second category is that of individuals who see this work as a personal calling. For example, I know an assistant prosecutor here who is a straight-up guy and does not pursue a case unless he believes (1) that the person being accused actually committed a crime, and (2) he can win in court. These people are dwindling in those places, to be replaced by people in the next category.

This last category encompasses people who are the dregs. They are lousy lawyers who could not make it in private practice. Furthermore, they enjoy bullying people, are not afraid to lie or cut corners, and revel in their legal immunity.

Liefong clearly falls into the last category. Also, I am sure that the other prosecutors in his office recognize what he is doing in the lacrosse case is immoral AND illegal. That they continue to practice there and defend him demonstrates to me that they also are in Category Three.

William L. Anderson

4virginia said...

KC you are obviously becoming our modern Zola. What I really like is just the good digging into issues such as todays post. I wonder if you have looked at the occurance of mass dna screenings in this country and others, England comes to mind. I recall a village where the men were screened there. It seems to me that by being unopposed the mass screening was when things started going off the tracks in wonderland.Keep up the good work. Maybe you can start your own version of journalism school in Brooklyn.

ron said...

Too bad DAs have absolute immunity from lawsuits...

Anonymous said...

I have two comments I want to make/ask.
1.) I have been reading the Volokh blog and the biggest question is why Nifong has not talked to the accused about the case. The main reason given is to remove the possibility of being a witness for the defense. My question is isn't that Nifong's job to pursue justice? SO IF he does get conflicting accounts from the accuser wouldn't that be his job to give the defense the proper information?
2.) Do DA get a get out of jail free card when it comes to civil liability

My spelling is probably horrible sorry typing before I go teach.

Phillip Mixon PhD

In The Name Of The Law said...

I know Shamir Louis Rone, and he would never do somthing like that. The kid had alot going fo himself. I was one of his teachers/football coach. The kid had a good head on his shoulders and he had to drop out of school. I'm not saying that he is perfect cause noone is but, he came to me crying and told me everything that went on that night. I know he was telling me the truth I could see it in his eyes, and to this day I still say he was telling the truth. I see him from time to time he comes and helps out with football practice. He is now going to school and playing semi-pro football. Noone in this world is perfect, not even you. It's funny what the love you for your family can make you do. In closing I would just like to say, he loved his family enough to take a charge of this magnitude for them and dismantle his whole life. I thank young men and women should start telling the truth about their age because in this case thats what happend. (he was 17 and she was 14) They were both minors, and they had no case then so they waited until he was (18) and with that being said please don't judge unless you know the whole story.