These comments reveal (in the most charitable possible interpretation of filmmaker Burns) a figure spouting off on a case about which he knows nothing.
First: “We” didn't “fire” Mike Nifong. Nifong was disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar, after a public ethics proceeding that resulted in detailed findings of fact regarding Nifong's ethical misdeeds. If filmmaker Burns has a complaint with the performance of Lane Williamson's panel, he has yet to specify it. It does not appear that, in general, filmmaker Burns believes that unethical prosecutors should go unpunished; why, then, is he apparently so troubled by Nifong's fate?
Second, Burns appears to lament that “we sort of went crazy at how bad we'd been in accusing them.” Again, Burns' use of the royal “we” is puzzling. (To the best of my knowledge, he has never apologized to the lacrosse players.) Many people—the Group of 88, for starters, or entertainers such as Wendy Murphy or Nancy Grace—proudly, even defiantly, refused to apologize for how they mistreated the lacrosse players. Other institutions that rushed to judgment—the New York Times, the Herald-Sun—issued mealy-mouthed apologies trying to shift the blame to other parties, hardly examples of going “crazy” at how “bad” they had been. Still other members of the rush-to-judgment crowd—the likes of Selena Roberts or John Feinstein—tried to avoid apologizing altogether by . . . misremembering . . . what they had said or written in the spring of 2006. Still other commentators—such as the various sportswriters linked here—coupled acknowledgement of the dismissal of charges with continued character assaults against the falsely accused students. The City of Durham, obviously, has never apologized to the falsely accused players. It's true that a handful of people who rushed to judgment—Ruth Sheehan, Jemele Hill—issued what clearly were genuine apologies. But these statements stood out because they were so atypical of the general reaction.
Third, this appearance marks at least the third occasion in which filmmaker Burns described the process of being arrested for a crime that never occurred, suspended from school for two semesters, and seeing a Newsweek cover containing the students' mugshots under the title of “Sex, Lies, and Duke” as being an “inconvenience.” On this occasion, he slightly lengthened the time of the “inconvenience,” from a few weeks to two months.
Finally, note that in the span of 20 seconds, Burns found the time--twice, no less--to identify the falsely accused students' race.]
[Update, 11 Dec., 4.22pm: It turns out that his Phoenix interview wasn’t the first occasion in which Burns had referenced the lacrosse case through the “inconveniencing” lens. Here he was in a November interview with the Collider. Mused the filmmaker,
Do you remember in 2006 the white Duke lacrosse players that somebody had falsely charged? Remember that? Do you know what happened? The prosecutor was fired. The prosecutor was disbarred. The prosecutor went to jail for inconveniencing for a few weeks these white kids from Duke. I rest my case.It’s not clear to me what “case” Burns was attempting to make. Mike Nifong went to jail (for a day) not for “inconveniencing” anyone. He went to jail, for criminal contempt, because he lied to a judge about material evidence. Does filmmaker Burns believe that prosecutors lying in open court counts merely as an “inconvenience” to a falsely accused suspect, as opposed to an assault on the ideals of justice?
Nor is it clear how filmmaker Burns concluded that Nifong persecuted the lacrosse players “for a few weeks.” Each of the three was indicted. For Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, the period of indictment lasted just under a year; for Dave Evans, just under 11 months. In what universe does 11-12 months constitute “a few weeks?”
At least, I suppose, Burns should be praised for referring to college students as “kids” rather than “boys.”]