Monday, April 23, 2007

Did Nifong Meet With The Accuser Prior To ID, and Indictments?

In the complaint brought against him by the North Carolina State Bar, rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong is charged with, among other things, making false statements to the Court and opposing counsel. (Misrepresentations and False Statements to Court and Opposing Counsel) The subject of those charges are statements Defendant Nifong made to the Court regarding the DNA evidence he conspired with Dr. Brian Meehan to withhold and the substance of his three documented, but non-memorialized, meetings with Dr. Meehan. Meehan is the director of DNA Security Inc., the private lab Nifong hired to conduct further DNA testing after the NC SBI lab's tests showed no DNA matching any of the 46 lacrosse players in or on Crystal Magnum or her belongings.

In his January response to the Bar complaint, Nifong denied making misrepresentations to the Court. However, at last Friday’s hearing on his motion seeking to dismiss some of the numerous charges, Nifong attorney Dudley Witt admitted to Disciplinary Hearing Committee Chair F. Lane Williamson that Defendant Nifong was made aware of the exonerating DNA evidence in April. Witt’s admission appears to make it impossible for the rogue prosecutor to continue to deny that he made repeated misrepresentations to the Court. Williamson's questioning of Witt also debunked Nifong’s ridiculous assertion that he had not analyzed whether Dr. Meehan's finding DNA from multiple unknown men in the accuser's rape kit was material evidence.
I believe your Answer admits that Mr. Nifong knew from meeting with Dr. Meehan that there were positive results for these other individuals. Is that true?


That's correct.


Okay. And there is I think asserted in your Answer to the effect--and I think it's an issue for trial to be heard--which is that Mr. Nifong had not yet focused on--he was looking for evidence to link the players to the accuser's allegations, not--and had not focused on what might be exculpatory.

Witt goes so far as to admit the the State Bar has a valid claim for those misrepresentations.
"They can say that he misrepresented the facts to the court, but they have a misrepresentation claim; that is, they don't have a claim that he was ever ordered by a court to do it."
Witt's admissions appear to belie the denials contained in Defendant Nifong's answer to the State Bar's amended complaint.

247. In response to a question from the Court, Nifong represented that DSI's report encompassed all tests performed by DSI and everything discussed at his meetings with Dr. Meehan in April and May 2006.

247. Defendant incorporates his statements, as more particularly outlined, in the transcript of the hearing before the court on September 22, 2006 in response to the allegations raised in paragraph 247. Any allegations contained in said paragraph which are inconsistent with said transcript are denied.

248. The following exchange occurred immediately thereafter on the Duke Defendants' request for memorializations of Dr. Meehan's oral statements: Judge Smith: "So you represent there are no other statements from Dr. Meehan?" Mr. Nifong: "No other statements. No other statements made to me."

248. Defendant incorporates his statements, as more particularly outlined, in the transcript of the hearing before the court on September 22, 2006 in response to the allegations raised in paragraph 248. Any allegations contained in said paragraph which are inconsistent with said transcript are denied.

249. Nifong's above statements and responses were misrepresentations and false statements of material fact to a tribunal because Nifong had discussed with Dr. Meehan only several months earlier the potentially exculpatory DNA test results and DSI's report did not include these results.

249. The allegations contained in paragraph 249 of plaintiff's Amended Complaint are denied.

While the State Bar has brought charges against Defendant Nifong based on the meetings with Dr. Meehan, his failure to reveal truthfully the substance of those meetings, and his misrepresentations to the Court, the State Bar, and opposing counsel in an effort to disguise the existence of at least one of those meetings and to delay disclosing the substance of them, to date no action has been taken against Defendant Nifong for his similar attempts to withhold the substance of his alternately admitted and denied meetings with false accuser, Crystal Mangum.

At last Wednesday’s press conference, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper fielded questions after declaring that the victims of the Nifong/Mangum Hoax were innocent. Cooper’s answer to one question relayed by phone raises the specter of whether Defendant Nifong made additional misrepresentations to the Court in an effort to prolong his Hoax long enough to ride it to his election victory. In response to whether the district attorney had spoken to the accuser prior to bringing indictments, Cooper stated:
“I don't want to say for sure whether Mr. Nifong talked with her before charges were brought. I know he talked with her at some point, but I don't know the answer to that question. We can find that out for you.
Last Ocober in its article about the just concluded court hearing, the Associated Press reported the astounding news that, despite having brought charges against three suspects, Nifong told the Court he had not yet spoken to the accuser about the Hoax:
The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party said during a court hearing Friday that he still hasn't interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case.

"I've had conversations with (the accuser) about how she's doing. I've had conversations with (the accuser) about her seeing her kids," Mike Nifong said. "I haven't talked with her about the facts of that night. ... We're not at that stage yet."

Nifong made the statement in response to a defense request for any statements the woman has made about the case.

"I understand the answer may not be the answer they want but it's the true answer. That's all I can give them," the prosecutor said after the hourlong hearing.

Defense lawyers said outside court that they found Nifong's statement surprising.

"One of the most interesting things to me of course is Mr. Nifong did admit that he in fact has basically never talked to this woman and has absolutely no idea what her story is, and yet he has chosen to continue to go forward with this case," defense lawyer Joseph Cheshire said.

Nifong said none of his assistants have discussed the case with the woman either and only have spoken with her to monitor her well-being. They have left the investigation of the case to police, he said.

Nifong said he met with the accuser and an investigator on April 11, but didn't discuss details of the case because the woman was "too traumatized." Nifong said the woman didn't make eye contact with him and often seemed on the verge of crying. Their discussion centered around how the case would develop, he said.

"She probably did not speak 15 words during the meeting," Nifong said.
Joe Neff's second installment of the News & Observer’s five part series on the Nifong/Mangum Hoax indicates that, contrary to Nifong’s repeated assertions to the Court, he did claim to have spoken with the false accuser prior to bringing indictments and more importantly, prior to her identification of four “attackers” at the corrupt April 4 identification lottery.
“[Defense Attorney Bill] Thomas said Nifong wouldn't listen: "He said that he had personally interviewed her and had spoke with her at length about this case, and that he fully believed every word she said about this incident, and that he knew a lot more about this case than I did, and that he was going to proceed as he saw fit."

“Nifong was smug and self-assured, Thomas said: "I had 27 years of experience with him, and he was looking me in the eye. He said he had interviewed her, he discussed the details of the case, he believed her and that my view of her as perhaps being a call girl working for an escort service, running around making things up for financial gain, was absolutely false. ... He went on to say what a wonderful person she was. He said she was fully believable, she was intelligent, articulate ... and telling a convincing story about what happened."
Nifong’s statements to Thomas confirm the assertions he made to the Friends of Durham political action committee while seeking their political endorsement before the general election and to the Court in a motion seeking payment for testing.
To Friends of Durham:
Today, we learn from David Smith, chairman of Friends of Durham, by way of the Herald Sun’s William West, that Mr. Nifong has indeed interviewed the accuser.

"And we asked Mike Nifong, and one of his comments was that he's the only one that's interviewed this victim," [chairman of Friends of Durham, David] Smith said. "And he feels confident in his case."
To the Court:

In a motion filed on September 20, District Attorney Mike Nifong states that the Duke Hoax accuser has the “ability to recall in great detail the events prior to and during” her alleged assault. Considering that nearly all of the details she has provided in her police statements, her statements to medical personnel, her “identification” sessions, and her News & Observer interview have been contradicted by her own words, forensic evidence and the statements of other witnesses, it is difficult to imagine on what basis Nifong has concluded that she has the “ability to recall in great detail.”

If DA Nifong is to be believed, neither he, nor anyone else from his office, has asked the accuser to relate her recollections, therefore, the basis for Nifong’s affirmation of the accuser’s great "memory" cannot be his personal evaluation of her sincerity, clarity or credibility with regard to these “details.” It seems absurd that Mr. Nifong would vouch for her “ability to recall in great detail” without ever having heard those details recalled firsthand. His claim also appears to be contradicted by his continual willingness to offer his own contradictions of many of those "details" supposedly recalled.
Defendant Nifong’s statements to Smith, Thomas, and to the Court clearly contradict other statements he made to the Court and opposing counsel. Both sets of opposing assertions cannot be true. Either the rogue prosecutor lied to the Court and opposing counsel when asserting that he had not interviewed the accuser, or he lied to opposing counsel when he told Attorney Thomas that he had interviewed the accuser at length about the case and found her credible, to the court when he stated definitively that she could recall the event that never occurred in great detail, and to the local PAC when stating that he had interviewed the false accuser. While none of these statements were included in the State Bar’s complaint, it would appear that one set or the other merits consideration.

We look forward to NC Attorney General Roy Cooper following through on his offer to find out whether Nifong discussed the case with the accuser prior to indicting three innocent men. For the sake of both the State Bar’s evaluation of Defendant Nifong’s intent and the State's evaluation of possible obstruction of justice charges, the important question of whether Nifong discussed the Hoax with his co-Hoaxer prior to her false identifications and his contempible rush to indict innocents must be answered.


bill anderson said...

Good work, Liestoppers! Here we have yet another set of lies told by Nifong. What you have listed are two mutually-exclusive statements that Nifong has given on the record. Of course, it seems that the courts of North Carolina are more than willing to accept blatant untruths by a prosecutor.

This case goes much deeper than Nifong, but if he is permitted to skate without having to formally address these discrepancies, then the state is not doing its job.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a thorough, engaging review of the case. It was so well-written!