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
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.