The high-profile case has been dogged by missteps. The accuser has altered her story several times. A police lineup was rigged when only team players' pictures were shown. One of the defendants appears to have an ironclad alibi. A DNA lab executive testified recently that he and Mr. Nifong had agreed for months not to release information that DNA found on the accuser and her underwear had come from other men, not the defendants. Two weeks ago Mr. Nifong dropped rape charges because the accuser was uncertain about some details. The defendants still face sexual offense and kidnap charges.
Like the N&O, the Washington Post, and virtually every other newspaper in the country, the Observer undestands, as Nifong does not, that he "has a duty not only to prosecute crimes but also to get at the truth and to inform his constituents about the state of criminal justice there. That includes the responsibility to speak honestly but carefully about heinous offenses that are especially troubling to the community."Based on his decision to have a secret swearing-in this morning, it seems unlikely that Nifong will do the right thing. Perhaps it's time for a federal inquiry to help him make the decision?