Saturday, September 23, 2006
Sue Rose Higgins has seen the seamy side of life. Days and nights.... just a breath mint away from the likes of Sam Spade… you would think had hardened me to anything. I thought I had seen the lowest of low...guys who make your skin crawl like a hungry baby who spots his bottle across the room. I thought I had seen everything. But then this lousy gig for LieStoppers forced me to spend yesterday in that crowded Grand Jury room down at the Courthouse...and Mike Nifong showed me what lowdown really was. What can I tell you about this man? He was there among his betters, some of Carolina's finest like Wade Smith and Joe Cheshire. Seeing him in a room with those fellas is like seeing a pig in the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby. I know it. You know it. Ruth knows you know it too. And, most of all, Mr. Nifong knows it as well. That's his big problem, I think. The smirks and snarky comments are Nifong's fly-swatter against guys packing real heat.
The local rags won't tell you, but he pretty much folded on the polling flap. That had to be, in Sue Rose’s opinion, just an artful dodge for the press the day before the hearing. You know, like when a girl cries and tells her guy he neglects her, so he don't notice the house ain't clean. Sue Rose has used the dodge herself. So after giving the press that new bone to chew on, Nifong whined a little before the judge and then said "Aw just read it...I don't know of an attorney in North Carolina that would question Wade Smith's integrity" and folded like a well-pressed tablecloth in the side buffet.
Nifong is keeping the latest version of the Fantastic Lies to himself. Mikey said yesterday, he won't share. He didn't want to lay his bulging eyes on any exculpatory evidence from Reade Seligmann before the primary…when he needed those indictments like a starving man needs a trip to Big Boy’s. Now he won't say when or how the Hoax happened. The judge agreed...for now. Does this mean you can go to trial in North Carolina these days not knowing WHAT exactly you "did", WHERE, or WHEN? You will find out at trial, when your accuser tells you? That's like hopping the train for Toledo, and the conductor blows the whistle and barks he might be going to Omaha or Chattahoogee. Mind your business, he tells you, he 'll let you know when he gets there. Guess that's the state of justice in the State of North Carolina today.
After court let out, I found a phone both and some loose change. There's a lady lawyer I helped out of a jam a few years ago. And luckily, Attorney Ima Pald never forgets a friend. I could hear the frazzled tone in her voice when she answered, but the name Nifong snapped her to attention like brand new sergeant spotting a general. "I'll read it all and get back to you," she said. "One thing I can tell you now," she paused and gave a low laugh. "Nifong will never hear those words he spoke about Wade Smith's untouchable integrity...spoken about Nifong himself. That’s the price Nifong paid for his entry ticket into this Hoax. Gotta run. Call you tomorrow."
I took the trolley home and showered. Scotch, soda and soft music didn't settle my mind. I’ve been in this business a long time. Weasels don't surprise me, and a hard heart is an occupational hazard. But Sue Rose curled up in her armchair last night, and cried. Watching Mike Nifong, the District Attorney for Durham County, slap around that esteemed old lady Justice in court again yesterday broke my heart. Even a hard-nosed girl reporter like me has her limits. Where is Sam Spade when his best girl needs him? Where are the pundits, and the politicians, and the crusading journalists when old lady Justice needs them? Anyway, Sue Rose Higgins, the girl reporter is signing off.
You'll hear from me again soon.