Monday, May 15, 2006

Where's the AG?

North Carolina's attorney general is Democrat Roy Cooper; under the state's somewhat peculiar prosecutorial structure, he has authority to take control of the Duke lacrosse case away from Durham DA Mike (Ahab) Nifong. It seems as if the time has come for Cooper to act.

ABC reports that today Nifong has obtained an indictment against a third player, David Evans, in the Duke case, who was identified by the accuser with 90% certainty. The accuser also claimed that the player had a mustache. Yet the defense says that it possesses photos from the day of the attack and several days before showing that the player had no mustache. As Ralph has pointed out, the defense could be lying--but this claim isn't a terribly difficult one to verify. Nifong, of course, has not sought a subpeona for the photos, and there's no sign that he requested copies of the photos from defense lawyers. Evans' attorney told WRAL, "I tried to meet with the D.A. this morning, and he was unavailable."

More to the point is this item from the ABC report: "In a hallway confrontation today at the Durham County courthouse, Nifong laced into defense lawyer Kerry Sutton in an expletive-laden tirade where he complained angrily about last Friday's defense news conference." This is not the behavior of a normal prosecutor. Nifong--he of the 70 press appearances in the weeks following the alleged attack--has also recently demanded that the press stay off his floor in the DA's office, while, for reasons that remain unclear, delaying handing over promised material to the defense by at least 33 days, until mid-June.

It's possible that Nifong possesses heretofore unrevealed evidence showing that a rape occurred in this case. But there's no evidence that a district attorney who launches into a public "expletive-laden tirade" against one of the most prominent defense lawyers in his jurisdiction (and one who actually backed Nifong in the primary) is capable of serving the interests of justice. Cooper should act now.

Update, 6.21pm. Defense attornney Jeralyn Merritt posts the following: "This was the most compelling and believable public statement of denial I have ever heard. Dave Evans' parents should be so proud of him. If this accuser is lying, she must be held criminally liable for ruining these young mens' reputation. This has seemed to me to be a bogus case from day 1. If she lied, what a travesty for all of the team members and for true rape victims everywhere."

[Originally posted in Cliopatria.]

No comments: