Monday, June 11, 2007

Blame the Bar

As we advance toward tomorrow's hearing, it’s worth keeping in mind the defenses that Mike Nifong already has offered regarding his dubious behavior—as a possible preview of what we’ll see starting tomorrow.

When he’s not tried to blame his problems on faulty information from the Durham Police, Nifong has lashed out at the State Bar. In his December 28 letter to the Bar, the embattled district attorney asserted, “For some time now, the ‘word on the street’ in prosecutorial circles has been that the North Carolina State Bar, stung by the criticism resulting from past decisions involving former prosecutors with names like Hoke and Graves and Honeycutt and Brewer, is looking for a prosecutor of which to make an example.”

In other words, Nifong is being held to a different standard than other North Carolina prosecutors.

In early March, one of Nifong’s last bastions of support—the Herald-Sun editorial page—picked up the theme. Pointing to the Gell and Honeycutt cases, the H-S reasoned, “In both cases, prosecutorial misconduct robbed defendants of years of their lives. For their misdeed the prosecutors were punished by taps on the wrist—or nothing at all. Nifong certainly made mistakes, as he concedes, but no one has been wrongly convicted, and no trial has been held.”

And this theme resurfaced in an article yesterday by the H-S’ John Stevenson, who spoke with a longtime Nifong supporter, Mark Edwards:

The State Bar, he suggested, needs to repair its image after taking virtually no action against two other prosecutors who withheld evidence favorable to a murder defendant nine years ago, sending the defendant to prison for years. The defendant, Alan Gell, later was acquitted in a new trial.

According to Edwards, Nifong “may have to pay not only for his own sins, but also for the sins of those who went before him.”

The basic line: what Nifong did wasn't that bad, and the Bar has treated him unfairly.


gak said...

If this guy (Nifong) gets his ticket pulled, does that mean he looses his pension???

bill anderson said...

What can one expect from a megalomaniac sociopath? Look for Fongfest to become Liefest.

It will be everyone's fault but Mikey's. Oh, yes, he will admit to "mistakes," but what he did was willful and goes to the very heart of the system. And he is not the only one who looked to do wrong. There are a number of people at the Durham Police Department and Duke University Medical Center who share his guilt.

Anonymous said...

Hey, whatever he did was bad enough.

Anonymous said...

If my memory serves me correctly, weren't the discovery laws quite different when Gell was wrongly convicted? This was before open discovery laws in NC.
from a non-lawyer/retired professor

Anonymous said...

Let's assume that this is true: Nifong is the sacrificial lamb. So...what's his point? Every prosecutor employs discretion in selective prosecution. Now he is hoist on his own petard.

Anonymous said...

This morning, even the Herald-Sun editorial page called for Nifong to "step aside".

Michael said...

My kids mention this from time to time: when one person is getting something more than the other and the other complains about it so that he can get the same benefit, frequently the response is to remove the benefit from everyone.

What Nifong did was bad enough and I'd be happy if he just paid for bad enough. Unfortunately he might not see it that way.

Of course I guess the fair thing to do would be to retroactively punish the prosecutors in Gell. Those prosecutors got off by grace or luck but they should have received far more. Nifong is just getting what he deserves.

Anonymous said...

If the other prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence, bring them before the bar as well. I don't know if there's a statute of limitations.

But that still doesn't absolve Nifong of his crimes; he had many chances to take the evidence and drop the case.

Space Puppy

Anonymous said...

In many ways the BAR has no credibility. The initial complaint they brought against Nifong was based on statements he made to the media early on in the case. If the allegations actually had some credibility, he wouldnt be dealing with the State Bar over this issue. If the State Bar thought this was such a problem, something would have been done alot earlier. The complaints for these actions only seem to be a way for people to jump on the lacrosse bandwagon after it was clear the charges were false.

To me the bar only should be dealing with the withholding of evidence because that is what this case is clearly about.

I still wonder why the accuser seems to be getting away with what she did.

Anonymous said...

JLS says....,

re: anon 9:36

Exactly, can anyone imagine Nifong having sympathy to someone caught up in a crackdown when his office decided to be tough on some long ignored NC statute?

Had his office suddenly decided to ticket people for going even 1 MPH over the speed limit, anyone believe the head jerk of traffic court would have cut people in general slack? I don't.

BTW, what Nifong did was far far worse than what the Gell and other prosecutors did. All those prosecutors might have done is cause one innocent man to be convicted and maybe executed. Nifong simmultaneously corrupted the Duham legal and electoral process. Nifong corrupted to legal system to steal a political office that he would not have othewise won.

Anonymous said...

They (Nifong / DPD / Duke med)...They are all about to turn on each other like starving hamsters in a cage...

Gary Packwood said...

JLS 9:57 says....

...BTW, what Nifong did was far far worse than what the Gell and other prosecutors did. All those prosecutors might have done is cause one innocent man to be convicted and maybe executed. Nifong simultaneously corrupted the Duham legal and electoral process.
I'll vote for attempted corruption of the Durham legal and electoral process over an execution.

The US constitution allows for attempted corruption to be reversed but has no control over death by execution.

You made Nifong into a Huey Long, Louisiana governor, US senator, and favorite son.

Anonymous said...

9.58 writes: "They (Nifong / DPD / Duke med)...They are all about to turn on each other like starving hamsters in a cage..."

Yep, the worms are a turning, folks. The moment has arrived and I have my popcorn at the ready. The Show is about to begin in earnest. And I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

The prosecutors in the Gell case ahould be disbarred; however, in this case the bar now has on its plate worldwide exposure of Nifong's criminal behavior after the new discovery measures were put into effect.

No wiggle room.

Nifong will be disbarred not only because it is just, but because not doing so would bring even more derision on the NC justice system.

Besides, everybody likes something.....but almost nobody likes Mikey.


Anonymous said...

KC posts: The basic line: what Nifong did wasn't that bad, and the Bar has treated him unfairly.

I wonder if brodhead is saying exactly the same thing about nifong. Of course in support of his own students brodhead said that even if they are innocent, what they did was bad enough (or someting supportive like that). And then again I am sure brodhead is saying nifong is innocent until proven otherwise, while he said his own students should go to court to prove their innocence. I truly think durham has had too much drug trafficing going on and a lot of it is getting into the drinking water.

Anonymous said...

9:51 --

"I still wonder why the accuser seems to be getting away with what she did."

Mental problems. As Roy Cooper said, she may actually believe all the different stories she's told. Even if she doesn't, it would be far harder to prove that than proving that Nifong, Addison, Gottlieb, et al. had enough evidence to know that her stories could not be blindly believed.

Anonymous said...

Nifong took the delusions of a mental patient and used her and the event for his own purposes. he is the perputrator of all this.

Cedarford said...

Pointing to the Gell and Honeycutt cases.....

It is reasonable to point out that the Bar really screwed up in those two cases and to help restore it's tattered credibility about past overprotection of unethical, downright evil lawyers who were part of the "special Club of good 'ol boys with special protections from the law" - now have to throw the book at Nifong.

But what can Nifong really say? He knew they were waiting to make an example of some lawyer asshole after being shredded in public on the Gell case - then insisted on doing everything in his power to show on a national stage he was just that lawyer asshole. So dramatically, so egregiously, that his behavior is still inexplicable.

And it is hard for the public or legal system to have much sympathy.

Its like a town had major scandals with cops and prosecutors hammered mercilessly about two influential people caught driving stinking drunk who were let go by indulgent cops or charges dismissed by fellow elites and later caused fatal accidents. Then a 3rd influential town scion is found drunk, SUV in a ditch, with a half-drunk bottle of Old Crow and a 15-year old girl. Who then complains that 2 others got a pass so it is only "fair" to excuse his behavior in the face of the past 2 scandals.

Sorry, it just doesn't work that way.

scott said...

Isn't it obvious that the intent of passing the legislation concerning evidence as it relates to discovery was that from that point forward prosecutors would be held to a higher standard than those in the Gell and other cases were?

Apparently it is obvious to all except Nifong, his attorneys, his other enablers, and employees at the H-S.

Holding Nifong accountable is simply the application of the higher standard.

What happened to prosecutors previously is irrelevant as it appears NC had no standard in place.

What happens to Nifong will allow NC residents to determine if the presumptive standard on this topic actually exists as anything more than words on paper.

Anonymous said...

Blaming his problems on the Bar. Wow.

It's going to be a bloodbath. He shows zero remorse for his actions, and refuses to accept liability therefor. Nifong would have been better served with a mea culpa, and begging on one knee for forgiveness. As it stands, they are sharpening their knives for when he sits in front of them.

Oh well.


miramar said...

While Nifong may be held to a different standard than other dishonest DAs, the reason is very simple: Nifong himself created a cause celebre because of his inflamatory statements to the press, and as a result a lot of people are now going to be watching the proceedings very carefully. He was perfectly happy to create a national scandal when it seemed to help his reelection/pension bid, but now he appears indignant about the outcome. Sorry, Mike, the toothpaste is out of the tube. Good luck getting it back in.

Gary Packwood said...

miramar 2:38 said...

...Sorry, Mike, the toothpaste is out of the tube. Good luck getting it back in.
Oh I think there is just a little squiggle of toothpaste out of the tube so far.

If I was a member of the Board of Trustees of Duke, I would be hoping that all of the toothpaste comes out so ...I could be just 'shocked SHOCKED' and then ...join together with the other trustees and start...scrubbing.

bill anderson said...

One thing about the Gell case is that Hoke and Graves came into it fairly late. From what I have seen of them since the Gell case, they have been exemplary in their duties and I doubt that either of them are in the same class as Nifong.

That being said, they still should have been disbarred or at least severely punished, since a case involving the death penalty demands the most serious kind of attention. There can be NO DOUBT in the minds of prosecutors as to guilt and innocence, and clearly there was doubt in the Gell case.

But Nifong simply used his office as a club, and nothing else. Graves and Hoke did not secure the indictments, whereas Nifong did. He knew what he was doing, and did it anyway.

And it is irrelevant as to what the bar did or did not do to Hoke and Graves. Nifong knew he was stepping over the line, and lying to judges simply cannot be tolerated. (Even if judges are louts like Ronald Stephens.)

Anonymous said...

Titus and Stephens did not mind Nifong lying to them - why do you?

Anonymous said...

Nifon is right in going down with his flags flying. No one is going to like him anyway, he needs to have pride in himself.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I'm shocked! Shocked! Nifong didn't blame the family dog?