Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Caught By His Own Words

The North Carolina District Attorney’s Conference opens its Fall Association Meeting at the Sea Trail Resort tonight with a seminar on ethics from 7 to 10PM followed by a meet and greet in the lounge. We’re going to go out on a limb here, and guess that Michael B. Nifong is not the featured speaker for the ethics instruction, and perhaps not the most popular fella at the social event.
It is with fitting irony that the start of this event coincides with a new defense letter "sent to District Attorney Mike Nifong on Wednesday and included in the court file,” that appears to have cornered Mr. Nifong in additional ethically challenged statements. Citing Nifong’s motion filed September 20th, his statements in court and his statements while seeking an endorsement from the Friends of Durham PAC, defense attorneys are seeking details of his conversation(s) with the Duke Hoax accuser.

Regarding the new defense request and the apparent lies Mr. Nifong has been caught in, Benjamin Niolet of the News and Observer notes:
“In a recent court hearing, Nifong agreed that under state law, he would have to hand over a written report recounting anything the woman said about the incident. But Nifong told the lawyers in a hearing last month before Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III, that he had no statements to hand over.”
“In a motion Nifong filed Sept. 20, Nifong wrote that the woman told him that she had not taken the drug Ecstacy on the night of the party.”
"’The necessary implication is that, as of the date of our hearing before Judge Smith, you had spoken with [the accuser] about the facts of the case,’ Cheshire and Bannon wrote in the letter."
The Herald Sun further demonstrates the apparent estrangement of Nifong and Ashley by adding the following details:
"In the letter filed Wednesday, defense attorneys cite two pieces of evidence indicating Nifong has discussed the facts of the case with the accuser: a court motion in which Nifong states the accuser told him she had not taken Ecstasy on the night of the party, and comments from the chairman of a local political action committee saying that Nifong said "he's the only one that's interviewed this victim."
"It is clear that you have spoken with (the accuser) about the facts of this case. ... It is equally clear that we still have no reports of any factual statements (the accuser) has made to you in the investigation and prosecution of this case, whether in the presence of others or not," the attorneys wrote."
The defense also said that it had not received any handwritten notes from Durham Police Investigator Benjamin Himan for his activities in the case after May 15; no reports from Himan after June 26; and no reports from Sgt. Mark Gottlieb since July 14. Defense attorneys also asked for any reports on the activities of Linwood Wilson, an investigator in Nifong's office."
Professor KC Johnson stays hot on Nifong's [sea] trail:
"According to the Cheshire letter, Nifong, remarkably, has given the defense no material produced by Wilson. The district attorney, as of March 24, functioned as the de facto head of this investigation. Surely the defense is entitled to the reports of all the people who worked under him."

"Yet again, the district attorney has flouted the Open Discovery Law by refusing to produce evidence until the defense demands it, despite his obligation to turn over all evidence, and to have done so months ago."
A review of the Nifong’s motion cited in the Niolet’s article reveals that Nifong also attests to the accuser’s great recall of the evening in question. One would naturally question how Nifong could vouch for her great recall, without hearing what and how she recalled, and how this claim of great recall could be made in spite of the fact that the only man she identified with certainty in two different line ups as having been at the party was not there.

Other curiosities about Mr. Nifong’s September 20th motion include his willingness to selectively choose his “facts” to support his motion, and his failure to document any of the assertions he makes with anything other than his word.

Recently we wondered whether Mr. Nifong’s “I’m the only one who has interviewed her” statement to the Friends of Durham was true, or whether his statement in court was true. It appears that we should soon have an answer as to which statement was false (or at least some new Nifongese to decipher).

The real question, however, may be, "Why is Mr. Nifong so adamantly insistent on hiding the contents of his conversation(s) with the accuser?"


Anonymous said...

My guess is that Nifong is afraid that he will become a witness in the case. Or, that Precious will be questioned on cross about her conversation with Nifong.

TombZ said...

It seems the meetings' key issue is music piracy, not:

The basics of due process,

Explaining away proof that prosecutorial ethics is an oxymoron,

Increasing confidence in the state and local judicial system,


Campaign fundraising.

Also missing is a seminar for shame and handling embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

Is it my imagination or is Nifong frequently out of town? I can see him in his hotel room cruising the net and reading the letter waiting for him at home.

Anonymous said...

Lets see now. First, there was the runaway bride. Now, its the runaway district attorney.
Happy "Sea Trails" to you Mr. District Attorney. Enjoy it while you can. Be prepared for the hot seat when you get back. Folks ain't happy in Durham.