RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — Ethics charges filed against the prosecutor at the center of the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case might constitute a conflict of interest that forces him off the case, legal experts said.
“It’s hard for me to imagine how he can be effective as an advocate, with either the court or a future jury, when he has ethics charges pending against him … concerning his conduct of this very same case,” said Joseph Kennedy, a University of North Carolina law professor.
The North Carolina bar filed the ethics charges Thursday, accusing District Attorney Mike Nifong of violating four rules of professional conduct by making misleading and inflammatory comments about the athletes under suspicion. (Read the full complaint (pdf))
It’s about damned time.
To really understand what’s going on in this case, you have to understand all the crap that Nifong has pulled to get the case this far.
The six boys were in fact picked out of a photo line-up… a line-up consisting of all the Duke lacrosse players. And that line up was actually the third one. In the first two linups she didn’t pick the right boys, even though they were also made up of just the Duke lacrosse team.
Two separate DNA tests done on each of the players completely rule out sex between any of them and their accuser that night.
Investigators found DNA from several male sources in the body and underwear of the alleged victim in the ongoing lacrosse rape case. None of the samples matched those from members of the 2005-2006 men’s lacrosse team, according to papers filed by defense attorneys Wednesday.
Defense lawyers said the new information, found by a private laboratory hired by the prosecution, was not disclosed until October–several months after the initial DNA reports came out.
Nifong did his best to suppress the exculpatory evidence, however. From the Duke Chronicle:
The director of a local lab said in court under oath Friday that he violated his company’s protocol when he did not disclose all the results in DNA testing related to the Duke lacrosse case.
Dr. Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security in Burlington, N.C., told a packed courtroom he withheld the names of the people that DNA testing excluded from matching genetic material found in the body and underwear of the alleged victim after she claims she was raped March 13.
Meehan said he was “just trying to do the right thing” in protecting the privacy of all the players, even though he handed down his report May 12, more than three weeks after Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty had been indicted for rape. He also said the failure to report this favorable defense evidence came from an agreement between himself and Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.
Statements of the accuser are inconsistent. She has told at least four contradictory stories about what supposedly happened that night. She has accused five boys of raping her, and three boys of raping her. She claimed there were four strippers at the party, then only two strippers at the party. She was choked and beaten, she was only choked.But Nifong continues to prosecute them anyway, the facts be damned.
The bar cited 41 quotations and eight paraphrased statements made to newspaper and TV reporters, saying many of them amounted to “improper commentary about the character, credibility and reputation of the accused.”
— Referring to the lacrosse players as “a bunch of hooligans.”
— “I am convinced there was a rape, yes, sir.”
— “One would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and had not done anything wrong.”
Nifong also is charged with breaking a rule against “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” The bar said that when DNA testing failed to find any evidence a lacrosse player raped the accuser, Nifong told a reporter the players might have used condoms.
According to the bar, Nifong knew that assertion was misleading, because he had received a report from an emergency room nurse in which the accuser said her attackers did not use condoms.
Back in June, Robert KC Johnson of George Mason University’s History News Network reported that Nifong was being dishonest about the case in the media.
Today’s hearing in the Duke lacrosse case did nothing to increase confidence in the integrity of the investigation. Mike Nifong admitted in open court that no toxicology report existed—despite having previously hinted to Newsweek that the accuser had been given a date rape drug.
The rape charges have now been dropped, though Nifong continues the prosecution of the players on charges of kidnapping and sexual offense.
It sure seems to me that given the evidence in the case, and the evidence of Nifong’s misconduct, ethics charges are not enough.
He has gone over the edge in the prosecution of six boys that only a rock wouldn’t know to be innocent of a crime that doesn’t seem to have ever happened, given the evidence (and lack thereof). He’s ruined their reputations and attached a stigma to them that will follow them for the rest of their lives, just to promote some personal agenda.
He has deliberately mislead the media when speaking to them on at least 48 documented occasions, about a case he had no business discussing to the media as a District Attorney to begin with.
Having known that what he was publicly saying was not the truth, he should have his ass sued for every penny the boys can get.
And he should be disbarred and fired.
I expect that will not be long in coming, and I for one am happy for the accused.
And if the stripper has a brain in her head, she’ll immediately start screaming to anyone who will listen, “The Nifong-Devil made me do it”.
1. Note that 3 players are charged, though as many as twenty were at one time accused.
The defense has complained that the stripper has given authorities at least a dozen different versions of her story. Among other things, she has given conflicting accounts of the number of attackers — anywhere from three to 20 — and the ways in which she was supposedly assaulted.(source – USA Today)