Sunday, February 25, 2007

John Stevenson, Blog Hooligan?

In the latest instance of the old media following up on items first presented on the blogs, we find ourselves in the rare position of being grateful for a John Stevenson article. Quite frequently, we have been critical of Mr. Stevenson and the Snooze Room as a whole for their tilted coverage of the Hoax. Today, Stevenson takes a baby step towards redeeming himself as he follows up on research first presented by the Blog Hooligans at the LS Forum, then incorporated into Beth Brewer‘s 7A-66 affidavit, and published here at LieStoppers.
In noting that the infamy of Defendant Nifong’s misconduct has become so well accepted that it has been noted on multiple occasions by multiple US Circuit Court judges, Mr. Stevenson helps to build local awareness of the extent of disrepute the disgraced District Attorney has brought to his office, to Durham and to the entire criminal justice system.
Stevenson writes:

“Internet bloggers and cable television pundits have long attacked Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong over his handling of the Duke lacrosse sex-offense case.

“But Nifong only recently came under scrutiny from some of the loftiest legal sectors in the land.

“Early this month, he was adversely mentioned in rulings from two out of 12 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, with one judge alluding to him as a prosecutor "run amok" because of the felony indictments he obtained from a grand jury last year against three Duke lacrosse players.

“Lawyers view the development as highly significant, since federal appellate courts are at the pinnacle of American jurisprudence, falling immediately below the U.S. Supreme Court in the overall scheme of things.

"I am not aware of any other case from the circuit courts that single out a prosecutor by name to exemplify prosecutorial misconduct," veteran attorney Bill Thomas said Friday. "It is an extremely unusual circumstance. I have never seen it done before in my career of more than 25 years."

“In addition, the online "Urban Dictionary" -- self-described as a compilation of slang words -- has added "nifonged" to its collection of derogatory terminology.

"Nifonged describes the railroading or harming of a person with no justifiable cause, except for one's own gain," the dictionary says.

"It is someone being taken advantage of unfairly by someone without scruples or morals."

“According to the dictionary's Web site, the new word was created "in disdain" of Nifong and "his screwing of 3 Duke University Lacrosse Team members and [his] helping to inflame a tense racial situation for his own glory, ego and political gain." …“Nifong has declined to comment on the situation in recent weeks, except to insist he enjoys more public support than media accounts might indicate.

“In one recent and judicially significant development, his name appeared in a Feb. 2 ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The appeals judges concluded by majority vote that international money-laundering suspect Humberto Fidel Regalado Cuellar had received a fair trial and didn't deserve another one, even though certain profiling testimony erroneously was admitted against him.

“Not everyone agreed, however.

“Judge Jerry E. Smith wrote in a dissenting opinion that the case involved "a prosecution run amok."

"Mike Nifong, another prosecutor apparently familiar with the 'win at any cost' mantra, almost surely would approve," Smith added. “Insinuating that Nifong did the same thing to defendants in the lacrosse case, Smith said the government set out to "get" Cuellar for anything it could.”

“The other high-level mention of Nifong also came Feb. 2, this time from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“The 6th Circuit's reference to Nifong was more of a footnote than that from its sister circuit. It simply pointed out that Nifong faced serious N.C. State Bar charges "for reasons including improper commentary about the defendants and evidence" in the lacrosse case.

"The desire to pander to public opinion has apparently become a 'higher authority' for some prosecutors than their duty to follow their code of professional responsibility," the court said.

“The latter remark did not refer specifically to Nifong, but rather was a general allusion to prosecutors who -- in the court's words -- "continue to disregard the ethical duties of the legal profession in order to increase their 'batting average' of death sentences and other convictions."

While we are grateful for Mr. Stevenson’s contribution to bringing awareness to local readers of the Snooze Room of the depth of disrepute Nifong has brought to his office, we must note that Stevenson’s conversion remains incomplete. Although, Stevenson does present the height of the Nifong Cite to his readers, he does make an attempt to question the propriety of such remarks by Circuit Court judges.
“But some contend Smith went too far in his reference to Nifong.
"I think it's improper for any judge to comment on the merits of a pending investigation," Durham Judge David Q. LaBarre said last week.
"That's aside from the fact that he would have no first-hand knowledge of the situation beyond what he read on the Internet or saw on TV. One would wonder what motivated him to make that comment."
Despite the concerns raised in Stevenson’s article regarding the propriety of the Circuit Court judge’s remarks, the mere mention of Nifong in the court’s ruling speaks volumes for the disrepute associated with the disgraced District Attorney.


Anonymous said...

Nifong wanted to be famous and now he will be forever.

Anonymous said...

The mocking of Nifong by federal judges might have been extreme were it not for the incontrovertible evidence and confession of withholding DNA evidence from the defense. This is a prima facie crime, whether or not another prosecuter chooses to pursue it, and the judges so noted.

kbp said...

Thanks Liestoppers!

This is the man that called all of us "the bloggers and armchair amateurs". It is very ironic he's using material from the same group he was calling names just a few months back.

To defend the HS some, it could have been a big worry for them to report all the news early, considering some there knew how the judicial system had always worked in Durham. They prolly anticipated Mikey would slide through this mess.

Anonymous said...

The mocking of Nifong by federal judges was extreme and improper. Nifong is almost certainly a horrible character, but the federal judges (like most of us) are relying on hearsay reports of the media, bloggers, and the like. The media was wrong about the three lacrosse players and, for all the judges know, the bloggers and others could be wrong about Nifong. The federal judges' highly prejudicial comments are the products of a rush to judgment that is very unseemly. Furthermore, the comments are most likely the smart-ass comments of the judges' respective law clerks. The judges likely know little or nothing about Nifong, second hand or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Rush to Judgement?

Nifong has become a verb of scorn. It fits him perfectly.

Anonymous said...

"hearsay reports of the media, bloggers, and the like"

Nifong's "misdeeds", e.g. conspiring to withhold exculpatory evidence and lying repeatedly to the court and the NC State Bar concerning same, are VERY well documented-- in court transcripts and the Bar complaint. His numerous extrajudicial comments that helped make Nifong a household/courthouse name are just as well documented in news reports and in the Bar complaint. Not hearsay... Just because he hasn't been convicted yet, doesn't mean the evidence isn't in the public domain (it most certainly is).

Howard said...

Have any of you considered that Nifong's repeated statement that he has far more public support than is generally believed, may be true? The racist Black part of Durham supports him, that two bit junior college masquerading as a real university (UUNC???) which continually attacks the lacrosse players through every venue that will have them, represent a large and hostile constituency.

He might well win another election. Look at the Black Caucus in our Congress cheering Jefferson and rewarding him with committee assignments. Anybody who "sticks it to" whitey is a hero. Guess what Nifong is to these clowns?

Guy Fox said...

Honestly, I can see Mr. Stephenson's point, but Nifong's misdeeds are painfully obvious to anyone, unless you happen to be a racist, a true man-hating feminist, or a law professor at NCCU.