Saturday, September 30, 2006

Nifong Knows

"If [Seligmann] wasn't there, he doesn't have to worry about it."
- Kim Roberts Mike Nifong

It is difficult to decide whether this comment is frightening, ridiculous or both. Delivered so nonchalantly, this statement from District Attorney Mike Nifong sends shivers regardless of how it is taken. While we all wish there were some veracity to Mr. Nifong’s words, it is clear that this statement holds no truth, and is but a thinly veiled, sarcastic threat upon an innocent young man.

Despite Mr. Nifong’s attempts to invent his own, “New and Improved Hoax,” it remains clear that Reade Seligmann could not have been “there,” and yet he still needs to “worry about it.“ Mr. Seligmann needs to “worry about it,“ quite simply, because Mr. Nifong is determined to make certain that Reade “worries about it.“

Willfully, Mr. Nifong continues to hijack this hoax, rather than admitting that Mr. Seligmann’s absence from the scene of the alleged crime proves clearly that the allegations against Reade are false. Back in the spring, when Nifong spoke of his timeline, and claimed that defense didn’t know what his timeline is, did he chuckle to himself, “Heck, how are they going to know my timeline when I don’t even know it?” For Mr. Nifong and his candidacy, a timeline would have been inconvenient then, and to Mr. Seligmann’s detriment, it continues to be an obstacle to be avoided by the District Attorney.

It is blatantly obvious that Mr. Seligmann’s absence from the scene of an alleged crime demonstrates his innocence definitively. One can only assume that Mr. Nifong either knows Mr. Seligmann is innocent, yet willfully persists with his persecution, or chooses deliberately to avoid acquiring that knowledge.

Ideally, one would expect, an investigation into whether or not a suspect was actually present at the time, and at the place, of the alleged crime he is accused of, precedes indictment. It is difficult to imagine that normal procedure consists of making this determination at trial, rather than prior to bringing indictments. It is frightening to think this might happen to you, and ridiculous to think that it might happen to anyone else. Naively, we expected this just didn’t happen in the America we live in.

At a minimum, it seems like bad business to shrug your shoulders, and blindly bring defendants to trial, when a determination of their innocence could have been made through a competent police investigation months before and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars earlier.
Certainly no one expects financial considerations to be the primary objective of a prosecutor, but one might think that a District Attorney might have some obligation to moderate expenses efficiently. This prosecution has the potential to be the most expensive judicial undertaking, and largest campaign contribution, in the history of Durham County, yet it seems readily apparent that at least one, and likely two, defendants were not even present at the exact time and location of the imagined offense.

On the grander scale of justice, this approach to prosecutorial discretion is equally inefficient. One would suspect that the role of a District Attorney, ideally, would include prosecuting genuine criminals, and exclude willfully or blindly persecuting innocent men. Can you imagine if this had been an actual crime, rather than an invented Hoax, and no effort was made to determine whether the suspects charged were actually present? Would people sit still then, as they do now, as predators roamed free, while innocent men endured an ominous false prosecution at the hands of a District Attorney, who found it politically inconvenient to pursue the truth, or to allow a proper investigation?

DA Nifong’s blasé, “Oh well” is reminiscent of Kim Roberts’ brushing off her shoulders with a shrug and a “Sorry Fellas.” Sadly, this attitude of “No worries” if they didn’t do it seems to not be limited to the DA and Ms. Roberts. Far too many people patiently wait to see what happens next, while rationalizing that perhaps, “They can afford those high priced attorneys, so they’ll be ok,” or assuming blindly that “Nifong must have something.”

It is both of the above mentalities that the DA Nifong preys upon. Even if, to some mild degree, you can come to understand this mind set among an apathetically uninformed public, a profit minded participant, or an agenda serving collection of blowhards, don’t you have to question this Laissez-faire attitude from an appointed Minister of Justice?

It is painfully obvious that there was, and continues to be, no effort on the part of DA Nifong to determine if he is indeed persecuting innocent men. Rather than offering a leveled playing field in the interests of Justice, Mr. Nifong chooses to employ parlor room tricks, while hiding behind the overwhelming demands of the office he is poorly suited to manage. When confronted in court about his delaying tactics, he apologizes, then obnoxiously offers as an excuse for his failure to provide timely discovery in the only case that he personally takes responsibility for, a statement to the effect of,
“You know this isn’t the only case we have to handle.” Try using that excuse at your place of employment, and see how it flies. To make it a proper experiment, be certain to insert a sarcastic, “Despite what some people think…”
As late as May 3, admittedly overwhelmed DA Nifong confessed that he has not even spoken to Mr. Seligmann’s attorney, Kirk Osborn. It’s difficult to imagine that it is normal prosecutorial procedure to avoid defense attorneys who want to lay their cards out on the table for you. One might think that even if a prosecutor were 100% certain that a defendant was guilty, he would still want to peek at the opposing attorneys cards, if offered the opportunity. On the other hand, one might also think that a prosecutor with an interest in pursuing justice might want to make some effort to ensure that he was not accidentally prosecuting the innocent person. What valid reason could any prosecutor have for avoiding evidence, whether it was exculpatory or not?

Not only did DA Nifong avoided meeting with the defense attorneys prior to or immediately following indictment, he also took pains to avoid being exposed to other possibly exculpatory evidence. Bizarrely, he expressed no interest in investigating the accuser’s cell phone, which was later revealed to be helpful to establishing the timeline. Rather than allow a procedurally sound identification process, Nifong instructed that a substandard, or worse, method be employed. Consider as well the failure to interview staff from Durham Access after the night of the non-event, and the curious delay that allowed for the destruction of the police tapes.

What is most bizarre about this entire situation is that Mr. Nifong must know that there is no possible way that Mr. Seligmann could have been present at a time when the Hoax could have occurred. The only possible explanation for Mr. Nifong’s lack of knowledge of this fact can only be that he deliberately does not want to know. Certainly if we have the means to disprove the possibility of Reade being present at the scene time and time again, Mr. Nifong does too. Either he knows and persists, or willfully chooses not to know. Can there be any other explanation?


Anonymous said...

In the last century there were a few regimes that developed state terrorism to its highest expression. J. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao all put on ostensibly legal proceedings in which they knew that lots of people knew that they knew it was all crap. The scariest forms of governmental bullying always work like that.
The message delivered is: "If I do not like you I can hurt you and there is no defense."
If Nifong gets away with this, what thoughts will occur to Durham residents about the risks of opposing him in the future?

Anonymous said...

Since Nifong has insisted from the beginning that there were exactly 3 criminals in this case, good faith on his part should have taken the form of an eagerness to learn of exculpatory evidence for any of the accused because it would help him nab the right 3 guys from among the 46.
This is especially relevant when we consider the inescapeable shakiness of the accusers ID of the alleged bad guys.

Anonymous said...

Seligman has been suspended from school, he has been publicly identified as a rapist on countless media and internet outlets, he has been subjected to death threats from racist thugs, his family has been forced to expend probably tens of thousands of dollars (or more) to pay for his defense attorneys -- and yet Nifong has the gall to say that Seligman doesn't have anything to worry about if he didn't do it? If another unethical prosecutor were to indict Nifong's own son for a violent felony he could prove he did not commit, I wonder if Nifong would have such a cavalier attitude about the effects of such a malicious prosecution on his son's life?

Anonymous said...

As hard as it is to believe, DA Mike Nifong is intentionally framing three innocent young men. As the rest of the Durham Power structure sits idlely by, it makes me wonder what are these people hiding?

"Durham we have a Problem"

gc said...

Nice article Liestoppers. Good catch on Kim and Nifong's words. Perhaps Nifong's case is about trying to prove Seligmann is the first man in history to be in two places at once.

BTW, Joan Foster's "The Pots Wife Complains About the Kettle" is much better than Kristin Butler's
"The Pot Called the Kettle Black" in The Chronicle 9/29. Butler's article makes me think this started with Nifong's jealousy for those applicants Duke accepted over him.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with the current attacks on DA Nifong. Yes he IS all that is reported about him. So what? It is the bystanding public who should be blamed: the NC State Bar, the Durham City fathers, the NC Court System (judges), the Trinity Park pot bangers, the the citizens of Durham County, etc. Nifong is a little man with even smaller intellect. Nifong is only doing what the aforementioned is letting him get away with. Your criticism is misdirected.

Have you personally filed a bar grievance? Have you written the State AG? I have. The time spent writing these blogs would better be invested in sitting down at the Dept of Justice with a petition.

Respecfully submitted, WB.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Everybody is responsible, but not Nifong, the man who is actually doing it.
Sarcasm intended.

Anonymous said...

Nifong has made some of the most absurd comments including that if RS didn't do it, he has nothing to worry about is one of many. Couple that with "if one is innocent, one wonders why one needs an attorney." I hope that Nifong gets his day in a defendent. If he did nothing wrong ethically, he has nothing to worry about and he certainly won't need to hire an attorney if he has done nothing wrong.

Learned Hand said...

10:05am post: i understand your frustration. we are all frustrated. you are correct that people should protest as much as possible by writing and complaining to all powers that be.

however, it is actually you who is severly misdirecting your angst and writing abilities. i, too, have written many, spoken to many, and petitioned many. how many responses have you received? me? none, so far. unfortunately, the process will not happen quickly enough for justice by those methods alone. bar grievances are important but can only be filed by few - including attorneys like myself. governmental agencies are like glaciers moving at sea.

in the meantime, the blogsphere, while still new, is the central method for quick dissemination and understanding of crucial events and information. you are fooling yourself if you believe that these blogs and their postings are not read and followed by nifong, the bar, governmental agents and the like.

moreover, nifong is guilty and responsible for his actions and must be held accountable. although you may blame the person who leaves their car door unlocked with money inside, the true blame must be placed on the responsible party - the thief who broke in and took advantage of the situation. the voters, residents, citizens of durham county as well as the government and, even, the duke administration, are all worthy o some blame and need to step up and take action. that said - it is nifong who must pay the price, take the ultimate responsibility, and be held culpable. do not dismiss nor underestimate this man. he is capable of much mischief and has the power and resources to make life miserable for many, including innocent people and unsuspecting students. his actions are calculated and dangerous.

we need to marshall all resources - not disparage some, turning ourselves against each other. you obviously understand the power and usefulness of this medium or you wouldn't be writing.

let's collectively join together and let nifong know the power of democracy and true justice come november.

LieStoppers said...


Thank you for your comments and your willingness to file a complaint with the state bar and to write to the Attorney General. You can trust that your complaint and your letters were not solitary efforts. We agree that both of those undertakings are important parts of the process and encourage others to follow your lead in that regard. Anyone interested in filing additional bar complaints may find the resources here which include a printable bar complaint form, cites and alanysis of Mr. Nifong's violations of the rules of professional conduct and more in our Legal Ethics Links section.

While you may disagree with the effectiveness of the blog in comparison with your efforts, we feel that the 66,000 times this blog has been read over the past eight week demonstrates that the time in creating, managing and writing our blog has had some impact.

In part, Mr. Nifong has been allowed to get away with his conduct because of those who enable it or ignore it. We feel this blog and the others covering the Hoax help to increase the awareness of the injustice.

We hope that you will come to see the value in the blog and the resources they make available to those who are willing to follow your lead.

kbp said...

The cost of this case for the people of Durham might be a good item to dig a little deeper into. Could be an item of iterest to the communities that are left short on the budget every year. I'd include the complete cost of the investigation from the point the AV recanted the allegation.

emmy954 said...

If Nifong is secure in his case, he has NO problem seeing ALL of the evidence the defense has, including that of RS, who, along with CF and DE, did not rape that woman...but Nifong has no faith in this case, so he closes his eyes and puts his hands over his ears, and stomps his feet while yelling, "I can't HEAR you."...he is a repugnant, small, petty man, and his comuppance can't come quick enough...

And to WB at 10:05, remember that the only reason we are still hearing about Nifong's dirty deeds is, in large part, due to the blogs...the MSM has pretty much abandoned this case...I am certain that the Liestoppers crew, along with the other excellent bloggers, can do all that you have suggested while still maintaining an excellent blog, which is going to great lengths to defend the Dukies, as well as lift up the rock that is Durham, to expose all the slithery, creepy things to the sunlight (which remember, is the best disinfectant)...

Anonymous said...

If he wasn't there, he doesn't have to worry about it? Umm, if he wasn't there, he never should have been charged. Nifong is a menace. The legal profession has hit a new low with this guy.

Anonymous said...

Yes. There is another explanation.
Mike Nifiend is evil. Excuse the misspelling of his name. But, I think it is more appropriate.

thomas said...

Nifong judged those boys based on their skin color, lets be honest. To me thats typical racist behavior. Whats strange is that Nifong likes to be racist against people with his wife and mommas skin color to me thats effeminate. We need a new term "femaracist"