This morning’s N&O published a powerful editorial commending Judge Smith for sentencing ex-DA Mike Nifong to jail. The editors noted,
Smith was the right judge to consider the issue decided last week. A year ago, during a hearing on the Duke lacrosse case, he asked Nifong if he had any information in DNA tests results that could be useful to the students' case. Nifong did—DNA from other men was found on material police collected from the dancer. But Nifong denied having it, and was unconvincing when he insisted that although his answers in court were incorrect, he didn't intend to lie.
As Smith eloquently explained, last week's contempt hearing was not about the merits of the case but about lawyers telling the truth in court. District attorneys, of all people, need to keep in mind that their first duty is as officers of the court, not advocates for convictions.
Meanwhile, the first round of campaign finance reports are out in the race for the Durham City Council. Incumbent Diane Catotti (pictured below, showing her support last fall for Mike Nifong) received money from one and only one arts and sciences faculty member: Kim Curtis, of political science.* [Catotti did receive funds from a law professor.]
Catotti, teaming with Victoria Peterson on the “Something Happened” ticket, did everything she could to block an independent inquiry of the Durham Police Department’s mishandling of the lacrosse case; and then demanded a hard quota on Whichard Commission appointees. Why? Because the case was not, evidently, about police and prosecutorial misconduct but instead about “race and gender issues.”
Curtis, meanwhile, is the Group of 88 member who—in writing—suggested that two lacrosse players in her spring 2006 class were guilty of (at minimum) conspiracy to obstruct justice. The grades of those two players then . . . coincidentally . . . plunged. One, Kyle Dowd, sued the university, prompting an out-of-court settlement in which Duke adjusted his grade to “Pass.”
Curtis and Catotti: a perfect partnership.