You had a district attorney coming out and making potentially unethical statements, saying he believed a crime occurred, which he should not do. He should not be commenting on the evidence. He took an adversarial position from the start.
We had a situation recently in
Winston-Salemthat could have been racially divisive represented, , black football player, white female student. If the D.A. who was actually a former Duke lacrosse player himself, Jim O'Neill, had taken the position and come out strong like Mr. Nifong had that something definitely occurred and sort of played the race card, it would have been very racially divisive . . . Wake Forest
It's not the D.A.'s job to get a conviction. It's the D.A.'s job to make sure justice is done, to make the truth is found out and rather than rushing and doing indictments two weeks before the primary is held, he should carefully—and because once you charge someone with offenses like this—I do a number of sex offenses—once the charge is brought, that's something that will tar these two students the rest of their lives, whether the charges are dismissed, whether they're acquitted, there will always be questions about that and it's just a D.A. should take his time and make a careful determination and look at all of the evidence and if he hadn't taken such a strong stand, he would have been able to view this evidence and the timeline beforehand before making this—going to the grand jury.
As Blythe points out, very few attorneys have extensive experience in representing defendants before the state bar, so Nifong’s options presumably were limited.
Freedman told Blythe, “My opinion was just based on media reports," Freedman said. "As an experienced trial lawyer, I should know better than to base my comments just on what I had read.”
At first glance, this seems like a reasonable explanation for his statements. But in this specific context, it makes no sense. Freedman was being asked about the propriety of Nifong’s comments to the press.
From where else would he get information on what Nifong said? Nifong, after all, can’t credibly claim to have been misquoted, since many of these statements came on live national television.
In a follow-up e-mail to me, Freedman added that “I have had the opportunity to review numerous materials and I am no longer of the opinion I previously voiced.”
He didn’t say, however, what new information has some to light that has made him believe Nifong’s comments were not “potentially unethical,” or why a DA should not “take his time and make a careful determination and look at all of the evidence,” or why Nifong should have been “saying he believed a crime occurred.” I guess we’ll have to wait for the trial to hear Freedman’s explanation—which should be entertaining, if nothing else.
But then again, lots of people in
Lawyers, of course, represent people of whose acts or potential acts they disapprove all the time. Usually, however, people don’t hire lawyers whose own previous remarks could be used as the opening statement for the prosecution.
But then, as we all know, Mike Nifong operates according to his own rules.