The post below noted that every time Nifong speaks publicly on the case, he unintentionally winds up providing fodder for future ethics charges. A Neff/Niolet article in today’s N&O confirms the fact.
My post looked at the impossibility of Nifong’s claim that his activities on the quadruple homicide case (where an arrest didn’t occur till October 16) affected his efforts to conceal exculpatory DNA evidence in the lacrosse case.
The N&O story, meanwhile, examines how Nifong’s statements to the Times contradicted his own previous explanations of his actions:
In open court on December 15, Nifong affirmed that he hadn’t even heard of this issue until two days before, when the defense filed its DNA motion.
Dr. Meehan’s testimony gave the lie to this claim; and so in an impromptu press conference after the session, Nifong fantastically suggested that he had agreed to withhold the evidence to protect the privacy rights of the same lacrosse players he previously had referred to as “hooligans.”
Now, as the N&O notes, Nifong has moved on to explanation number three. I doubt either the court or public opinion will find this explanation any more credible than its predecessors.
Nifong’s more serious problem, Neff and Niolet recognize: “Since May, Nifong has repeatedly misrepresented his actions in filings and in face-to-face dealings with judges. Nifong has repeatedly said that he disclosed everything about the DNA evidence.”
Especially damning are comments that—now that we know the facts—look transparently evasive, from the September 22 hearing. In response to questions from Brad Bannon, Nifong stated that in conversations with Meehan, the two only discussed the contents of Meehan’s (cleansed) report. Judge Osmond Smith asked: “So his report encompasses it all?” Neff and Niolet recount the rest of the exchange:
Nifong answered haltingly: “His report encompasses ever -- because we didn’t -- they apparently think that everybody I speak to about, I talk about the facts of the case. And that’s just, that would be counterproductive. It did not happen here.”
Smith repeated his question: “So you represent there are no other statements?”
“No other statements,” Nifong said. “No other statements made to me.”
Nifong has misrepresented the facts so much in this case that it appears he no longer can keep his stories straight.
Neff and Niolet also provide a summary of Nifong’s crumbling case. They note that, with his admitted lack of any scientific evidence, “his case relies on the words of the accuser, an escort service dancer who has told her story on at least 10 occasions to nurses, doctors and investigators. Her accounts have changed with every telling.” Moreover, the district attorney has now dismissed what had been a consistent aspect of the accuser’s tale—that she was vaginally raped.
Moreover, Neff and Niolet bring word of scientific skepticism of Meehan’s incredible explanation for a lack of DNA evidence involving the accused players: “A person can rob a bank and never leave a fingerprint. It doesn’t mean they didn’t rob the bank.” The N&O interviews Arthur Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, who termed it “next to impossible” for the accuser’s story to be true and no DNA from her alleged attackers to be left behind. He said, “The odds are tiny to zero that you’re not going to find any sample from anybody. It gets hard to imagine that some kind of forced or unwanted activity took place.”
The Herald-Sun, meanwhile, used the occasion to mention, for the first time, Jim Coleman’s legal critique of Nifong’s actions. An article penned by John Stevenson noted that Coleman has compared Nifong to the captain of the Titanic: “Actually, what’s happened is that he’s sort of rearranging chairs on the deck. I mean, his ship is going down.” Nifong, he continued, is “making a mockery of the criminal justice system in this county.” Coleman correctly observed that Nifong is “in way over his head in a case that’s in the big leagues, and the bush league stuff that he does, trying to hide evidence and stuff like that, that doesn’t work against good lawyers.”
As for a final outcome of the case, the result is a foregone conclusion. “I think in this case,” said Coleman, “there’s probably nobody in
The H-S also revealed that not only had Nifong failed to inform Police Chief Steve Chalmers of his decision to drop the rape charges—but he also had neglected to tell Mayor Bill Bell.
An AP story by Aaron Beard reveals that another figure has stepped off what Liestoppers has dubbed the “short bus” of Nifong enablers. Former Denver DA Norm Early has served as chairman of the National District Attorneys Association; his consistent, vehement, defenses of Nifong have left the uncomfortable impression that Early believes that prosecutors all over the country behave as Nifong does. But he now has changed his view. “I don’t understand why all the charges aren’t being dropped at this time,” said Early. “It’s such an incredible credibility problem that you wonder how the prosecution could rehabilitate her on the other charges.”
And the Charlotte Observer proposes a Christmas gift for Mike Nifong: “The complete ‘Law and Order’ series on DVD, to study during the holidays.”