With the legislative session in full swing, here’s hoping that at least a few legislators read the Wilmington Star. Looking back on the case, the paper from Mike Nifong’s hometown detected an inexcusable condition: that even with the State Bar filing ethics charges against Nifong, “nobody could take the case away from him. State law says only a DA can ask for a special prosecutor.”
Nifong, of course, eventually bowed to the inevitable and asked off the case—which, the Star correctly argued, “has made North
Nifong’s misconduct, however, leaves a question: whether legislators “will give the AG (or possibly the Chief Justice?) authority to take over cases that district attorneys cannot be trusted to handle. They could call it ‘Mike's Law.’” No move, the Star concluded, “could be more important than starting to restore
WRAL reports that Governor Easley could be called as a witness in the State Bar's proceedings against Nifong. Why? Former prosecutor Dan Boyce explained that Easley's statements could confirm a financial motive for Nifong's misconduct.
The pension for a D.A., Boyce noted, is much higher than the pension Nifong otherwise would have received as a longtime assistant. If, in fact, maximizing his pension was one of Nifong's motives for ignoring his ethical obligations, the Bar would be justified in imposing a harsher penalty on the disgraced district attorney.
In this week’s version of the “only in
The story continued that the City Council is busily deciding how to spend this unexpected windfall. One unsolicited recommendation: keep some in reserve. It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to figure out that the city is going to be on the losing end of some civil suits over the next few years.
It wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect that the outcome of the Duke case at least would have provided a deterrent to potbangers at other colleges and universities on campus: as the Duke rush-to-judgment crowd has been discredited (even as they refuse to admit they did anything wrong), activists at other campuses surely would want to avoid the same fate, and work harder not to rush to judgment themselves.
John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, also noticed the connection. In the Duke affair, he observed, “there was undisputedly a rush to judgment on the sexual-assault allegations—a rush to judgment that has seriously damaged the credibility of prominent news outlets, columnists, commentators, and legal ‘experts.’ Perhaps the most-damaged institution is Duke itself. A large segment of the faculty didn’t just jump the gun. They turned their ideological blunderbusses on the supposed link between the supposed crime and a host of social ills, caring little who or what took collateral damage.”
And now, “activists at
Along these lines, Thomas Sowell, one of the first commentators to publicly express skepticism about the Duke case, penned another thoughtful column on the matter last week. As the case collapses, Sowell detects an important lesson: “However reprehensible District Attorney Mike Nifong’s words and deeds have been, it is a mistake to see in this tawdry episode just the vileness of one man.”
People who should have known better—the media, certain quarters of the Duke faclty, civil rights groups—instead rushed to judgment. To Sowell, “the haste and vehemence with which scores of Duke professors publicly took sides against the students in this case is but one sign of the depth of moral dry rot in even our prestigious institutions.”
Sowell hopes that the unraveling of Nifong’s case will “be a wake-up call, both for blacks and liberals, on how easy it is for their emotions to be manipulated by a third-rate demagogue with a flimsy fraud. The time is long overdue for those who consider themselves ‘thinking people’ to start thinking.”
James Ammons, chancellor of North Carolina Central, announced last week that he’ll be leaving the post to take a comparable job at Florida A&M, his alma mater. This affair was a no-win situation for Ammons: with students like Chan Hall appearing to reflect mainstream campus opinion, the complainant describing herself as an NCCU student—even if no one on the campus seems to have ever seen her—and Nifong using the campus as a political springboard in both the primary and general elections, Ammons could hardly comment on the procedural fraud.
Ammons deserves credit for avoiding any inflammatory statements. At the very least, he didn’t make a bad situation worse—which, by the standards we’ve seen in
Susan Estrich is one of the few victims’ rights advocates whose credibility wasn’t tarnished by the lacrosse case. In her initial comments on the case, she sided with the accuser—but she very quickly reversed course, first faulting Nifong for his procedural misconduct, then labeling the accuser a “liar.” She did so, she said, for two reasons: a respect for procedure; and a concern for future, legitimate, victims.
Estrich turned to the latter theme in a column last week, lamenting, “Those of us who have been fighting for dignity for the victims of sexual assault understand that we are facing a backlash in this country. We will pay the price for Mike Nifong’s mishandling of the Duke lacrosse case, and we know it.”
Estrich continues “The Duke case accuser it now seems clear, lied about being sexually penetrated by the three students who should never have been charged with rape – and would not have been, had prosecutor Mike Nifong followed the applicable rules in his own office. But that doesn’t mean all rape victims are suspect, or give police or courts the authority to treat them that way.”
Estrich argues that “the message that needs to be sent to victims, particularly with all the publicity that has attended the Duke case, is that they will be treated with respect if they call the police and their complaints will be addressed seriously.”
Unfortunately, with NOW effectively siding with Nifong and victims’ rights groups posting “talking points” from Wendy Murphy on their websites, it seems like the people who most need to listen to Estrich are her fellow victims’ rights advocates.
Add the Wilson Times to the list of
Yesterday's post listed some of the heroes of the affair, but missed one obvious person: Kevin Cassese. In the weeks after the restoration of the lacrosse program, he helped keep the team together, with good morale and solid recruiting—all while preparing for the Lacrosse World Games for Team USA, playing for Major League Lacrosse, running camps of his own, buying a home, and planning a wedding.
He stood by the team, as the assistant and then the interim head coach, and when he was appointed to the interim position affirmed his belief in the characters of the players he was coaching—at a time when few were willing to speak up publicly.
The Amanda Marcotte affair has attracted notice in political circles, generating a lengthy writeup in Beltway Blogroll from National Journal. Indeed, Beltway Blogger Danny Glover terms the episode "the first blog scandal of the 2008 campaign."
"Marcotte's attempts to airbrush her past," Glover observed, "are fast becoming a black-eye for Edwards, even as he earned raves yesterday for a speech at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting in Washington . . . As often is the case in politics (and blogging) -- and as a prominent blogger like Marcotte should have known -- the cover-up is worse than the crime. And it doesn't help that Marcotte has been both dismissive and defiant in response to her critics."Intriguingly, Glover also noted that Marcotte seems to have a habit of airbrushing items from her blog--in this case an announcement from former Pandagon blogger Jesse Taylor about his joining the campaign of now-Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.
Writing at Overlawyered, Walter Olson summarized the issue succinctly:
John Edwards's life in the law and experience with the justice system is his major resume item dating back beyond the past few years, as well as the major reason this site has given his career extensive coverage. Moreover, the Duke case, which looks ever more like the Scottsboro Boys case of our era, has been convulsing his own state of North Carolina for month after month. Edwards' dodging of the case—his apparently successful stifling of any urge to speak out at the plight of the falsely accused—might on its own stand as merely cowardly. Marcotte's hiring, on the other hand, throws an even less attractive light on it, rather as if, in the Scottsboro Boys days, an on-the-sidelines Southern senator took on as a major spokesperson someone who'd been yelling the Boys' guilt from the rooftops in the most crudely prejudicial language.As far as I can tell, the Edwards campaign has made no comment on either Marcotte's writings or on her tendency to airbrush controversial opinions from the record.