Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nifong: A Rogue and A Coward


Stating that his failure to dismiss the false charges himself indicates he is not a rogue prosecutor who proceeded unchecked, District Attorney Mike Nifong released a formal response to the end of his hijacked Hoax. Despite offering vague and deceptive responses to the State Bar's formal charges, the rogue prosecutor claims that his willingness to turn the case over to the Attorney General, due to the conflict caused by his misconduct, further indicates that he had nothing to hide. Demonstrating an extreme ability to rationalize, Defendant Nifong appears to attempt to claim credit for the eventual exoneration of the innocent men he wrongfully prosecuted by revising history to suggest that he decided to seek an independent review in the interests of justice rather than self-preservation. Although the Attorney General cited only facts that were known not only to Defendant Nifong but also to the public at large in announcing his decision, Nifong further attempts to distort perceptions by offering, falsely, that exoneration came only after new facts came to light in the course of further investigation. In closing, the coward attempts to assign blame unto the false accuser rather than accepting responsibility himself. His statement in full appears below.
OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY
State Of North Carolina
Michael B. Nifong District Attorney Fourteenth Prosecutorial District
201 East Main Street, Sixth Floor
Durham, North Carolina 27701
Tel. (919) 564-7100 Fax (919) 560-3220


MEDIA RELEASE
April 12, 2007

As you know, on yesterday, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that his office had made the decision to dismiss the remaining charges in what has come to be known as the Duke Lacrosse Case. While I certainly take issue with some of Mr. Cooper's comments, I want to make it clear that I have every confidence in the investigation into the case that was conducted by his office. I have known Jim Coman and Mary Winstead for more than two decades. Both their legal abilities and their commitments to justice are beyond reproach. Obviously, they have had access not only to all the evidence that I had, but also to additional evidence that I have not seen which they developed during their twelve weeks of independent investigation. I have every confidence that the decision to dismiss all charges was the correct decision based on that evidence.

At the same time, it is important to remember that the Attorney General had the opportunity to review this investigation and to make this decision because I requested that he do so. [Copies of my letter making that request and the Attorney General's response thereto are attached.] It is also important to remember that I turned over to him every document, every photograph, every piece of evidence of any kind that had been turned up in the Durham Police Department's investigation of these cases and in my office's review of that investigation. If I did not want to subject either that investigation or my own performance to such scrutiny – if, in other words, I had anything to hide – I could have simply dismissed the cases myself. The fact that I instead chose to seek that review should, in and of itself, call into question the characterizations of this prosecution as "rogue" and "unchecked."

Finally, it is, and has always been, the goal of our criminal justice system to see that the guilty are punished and that the innocent are set free. We all want that system to work perfectly. At the same time, we all know that no system based on human judgment can ever work perfectly. Those of us who work within that system can only make the best judgments we can based on the facts available to us with the understanding that those judgments may have to be modified as more facts become known. That is the process I used in these cases, and that is the process the Attorney General used in these cases. To the extent that I made judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the three students that were wrongly accused. I also understand that, whenever someone has been wrongly accused., the harm caused by the accusations might not be immediately undone merely by dismissing them. It is my sincere desire that the actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining injury that has resulted from these cases.
For the sake of comparison, here's a sincere, selfless, and powerfully fearless apology from ESPN's Jemele Hill:
I never wrote it, but I felt it -- which is just as bad. I said it in private discussions with friends, some of whom tried to get me to see the whole picture, not just the picture I wanted to see.

My being a black woman, my knowing too many athletes who treat women like items to be purchased in a vending machine, and my witnessing enough athlete rape trials where accusers are overwhelmed by their fame and fortune -- it all tainted my perception and made me doubt your innocence.

I feel stupid now.

Will the media spend as much time clearing the names of Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann as it did publicizing the crimes they were accused of committing?

I could blame Durham County district attorney Mike Nifong, but that would be too easy. Oh, he's a lout, no doubt. He played upon the emotions of a community and its long-held hostilities, and put his reelection bid above morality and common sense. He played all of us and should be punished with nothing less than disbarment.

I could blame Jesse Jackson, who I have hoped for years would disappear to a faraway land where CNN won't follow. As usual, Jesse showed up and showed out. He incited the masses and then left everyone else to sort out the wreckage. And if Jesse wants to gain an ounce of the credibility he no longer has, he would find the nearest camera -- and we know he's good at that -- and express sorrow with all the sincerity he can muster. But the day Jesse apologizes for causing a scene is the day Rosie O'Donnell wears a muzzle.

But if there is anything to be learned from Don Imus' fall, it's that real apologies are never accompanied by rationalizations.

So to Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, the three Duke lacrosse players whose lives were mangled by an unsupported rape accusation, I say two of the hardest words in the English language:

I'm sorry.

It's not enough, and I won't pretend that it is. For the last year, your lives and those of your families have been more difficult than any of us can possibly imagine. I'll never know what it was like walking around normal society labeled a rapist. I'll never know what it's like to lose everything -- your school, your program and your life -- because of one unproven accusation.

You deserve all of that back and then some, but unfortunately, you won't get it. You have every right to not trust anyone and think less of people. Duke University abandoned you. An overzealous prosecutor tormented you. A community, a nation, didn't believe you. Journalists everywhere, sensing ratings and salivating over the salaciousness of black strippers and white athletes, chose to keep you under attack.

Not that this is a contest to see who was wronged the most, but the Rutgers women's basketball team at least received justice, because Imus was suspended and dropped by MSNBC, which simulcasts his morning show. Plenty of people are outraged on their behalf.

But who is outraged on your behalf? What justice will you receive? Will the same networks that willingly aided in destroying your reputations now give you airtime to vent your frustrations? Will Jessie Jackson now offer the three of you a free scholarship like he did the "victim," since he helped assist in your battered reputation?

Maybe the only modicum of fairness you have received is that the News & Observer in Raleigh decided to print the name of your accuser. I don't normally advocate that the names of alleged victims be printed, but it feels right in this instance.

I know I'd certainly like to ask your accuser a few questions, even though she stood by her story as North Carolina's attorney general vehemently proclaimed your innocence. Does she understand she has tanked not only her credibility, but that of other women, too? Does she understand the next time a woman comes forward with an allegation this serious, all of our minds will scroll back to this case, and we will be less inclined to believe her? Does she know women with legitimate sexual-assault complaints will look at this furor and decide silence is best?

I can't deny that your race, gender and class have everything to do with how you were treated then and how you are treated now. Some people believe white men are exempt from sympathy and incapable of being maligned, so they will not swallow their pride and offer you the decency you should have received in the first place. Yes, you made an unwise decision to entertain strippers at a residence, but that just makes you guilty of being like 90 percent of college males.

There will be a lot of finger-pointing in the coming days and weeks about whose fault all of this was. The media will analyze each other. Civil-rights leaders who claim to be against all injustice will stay silent. Hopefully, you will be able to regain a fraction of the life you once had.

I'm glad the story of your innocence and the Rutgers situation unfolded the same week. If anyone felt a sense of victory over Imus' rebuke, they should look at what happened to you and know it will be a long time before we can truly celebrate.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article by Jemele Hill. Very impressive apology.

Anonymous said...

What a powerful message! Kudos to ESPN's Jemele Hill for having the courage of her convictions. A welcome breath of fresh air. I hope this gets the attention it deserves, but disappointed there is only one comment other than mine.

Anonymous said...

Ms Hill is to be commended for her candor. However, I don't think Mangum's erratic dissembling, intentional or not, casts any shadow at all on black women in general.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

Great article by Jemele Hill. It took true courage to say what she said. And, as always, to the darkest pit of the federal prison system with Mike Nifong. I was wrong earlier today when I said he should receive three days in prison for each day of torment he inflicted on Seligmann, Finnerty, and Evans. I think that since he was jonesing to put someone in prison for 30 years, let someone be sent to prison for 30 years, and let that person be him.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Just sent an email to Ms. Hill commending her for her courage and integrity. Thanks, LieStoppers, for letting me know about her.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this should be sent to Nifong, with a note that says "this is a real apology--yours doesn't even come close!"

Anonymous said...

Her apology felt sincere; however, the Rutgers incident hardly compares to the Duke case. Oh, Rutgers team! If you had just let Duke win that game, none of this would have happened. Just kidding!!! Give credit where credit is due. The Rutgers team beat the overall No. 1 team in the tournament (Duke) en route to the Finals. Congratulations on a great season!

Anonymous said...

As a prosecutor, Mike Nifong is aware of the fact that expressions of contrition by a defendant are often considered when passing judgement.

Could Mr. Nifong's apology be disingenuous? Certainly nothing that we have seen in his character would indicate this!

Mike in Nevada

joe sweet said...

How ironic is it that of all the writers, talking heads, editorial boards, race-baiters, pundits, hucksters, administrators, and law enforcement personnel who got this case so unbelievably wrong, that one of the few public apologies we see comes from one, ESPN's Jemele Hill, who was not even an offender!

How fitting, and not surprising!

Anonymous said...

Did I see a Cooper Sucks note in the trash can? LOL

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jemele Hill, for an outstanding apology and excellent writing.

Anonymous said...

Re: Nifong's claim that the AG had new and additional information upon which to base his decision to dismiss the charges: What a crock. I certainly hope that the SPs are star witnesses at the Bar hearing, so they can point out that Nifong had all the information he needed to drop these charges, or not indict in the first place.

I think it will be shown that any information that Nifong didn't have was due to his own WILLFUL ignorance. Best example: Seligman's alibi evidence that Nifong refused to look at. The AG said the case was an example of failure to verify. In other words, Nifong failed to do due dilgence before dragging these young men and their families through the mud. And that's the generous interpretation.

Durham Lawyer

Anonymous said...

Just wait until next week when the State AG releases their full investigative report. Nifong, your worst is yet to come. Each day of your remaining life will be a living HELL !

Anonymous said...

Rae Evans said,

"Mr. Nifong, you've picked on the wrong families. And you will pay every day for the rest of your life."

How prophetic!

Anonymous said...

Oh, so that's what a "trapped rat" sounds like !

Anonymous said...

http://firesherylbroverman.blogspot.com/

annon said...

We don't want to forget one key group of pathetic enablers that will never appoligize. Aptly named THE HATE 88

They need to be summarily fired for bringing disgrace to Duke University.

Abe, Stan (Art, Art History, and Visual Studies)
Albers, Benjamin (University Writing Program)
Allison, Anne (Cultural Anthropology)
Aravamudan, Srinivas (English)
Baker, Houston (English and AAAS)
Baker, Lee (Cultural Anthropology)
Beckwith, Sarah (English)
Berliner, Paul (Music)
Christina Beaule (University Writing Program)
Blackmore, Connie (AAAS)
Jessica Boa (Religion & University Writing Program)
Boatwright, Mary T. (Classical Studies)
Boero, Silvia (Romance Studies)
Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo (Sociology)
Brim, Matthew (University Writing Program)
Chafe, William (History)
Ching, Leo (Asian & African Languages and Literatures)
Coles, Rom (Political Science)
Cooke, Miriam (Asian & African Languages and Literatures)
Crichlow, Michaeline (AAAS)
Curtis, Kim (Political Science)
Damasceno, Leslie (Romance Studies)
Davidson, Cathy (English)
Deutsch, Sally (History)
Dorfman, Ariel (Literature & Latin American Stds.)
Edwards, Laura (History)
Farred, Grant (Literature)
Fellini, Luciana (Romance Studies)
Fulkerson, Mary McClintock (Divinity School)
Gabara, Esther (Romance Studies)
Gavins, Raymond (History)
Greer, Meg (Romance Studies)
Glymph, Thavolia (History)
Hardt, Michael (Literature)
Harris, Joseph (University Writing Program)
Holloway, Karla (English)
Holsey, Bayo (AAAS)
Hovsepian, Mary (Sociology)
James, Sherman (Public Policy)
Kaplan, Alice (Literature)
Khalsa, Keval Kaur (Dance Program)
Khanna, Ranjana (English)
King, Ashley (Romance Studies)
Koonz, Claudia (History)
Lasch, Peter (Art, Art History, and Visual Studies & Latino/a Studies)
Lee, Dan A. (Math)
Leighten, Pat (Art, Art History, and Visual Studies)
Lentricchia, Frank (Literature)
Light, Caroline (Inst. for Crit. U.S. Stds.)
Litle, Marcy (Comparative Area Studies)
Litzinger, Ralph (Cultural Anthropology)
Longino, Michele (Romance Studies)
Lubiano, Wahneema (AAAS and Literature)
Maffitt, Kenneth(History)
Mahn, Jason (University Writing Program)
Makhulu, Anne-Maria (AAAS)
Mason, Lisa (Surgical Unit-2100)
McClain, Paula (Political Science)
Meintjes, Louise (Music)
Mignolo, Walter (Literature and Romance Studies)
Moreiras, Alberto (Romance Studies)
Neal, Mark Anthony (AAAS)
Nelson, Diane (Cultural Anthropology)
Olcott, Jolie (History)
Parades, Liliana (Romance Studies)
Payne, Charles (AAAS and History)
Pierce-Baker, Charlotte (Women's Studies)
Pebles-Wilkins, Wilma
Petters, Arlie (Math)
Plesser, Ronen (Physics)
Radway, Jan (Literature)
Rankin, Tom (Center for Documentary Studies)
Rego, Marcia (University Writing Program)
Reisinger, Deborah S. (Romance Studies)
Rosenberg, Alex (Philosophy)
Rudy, Kathy (Women's Studies)
Schachter, Marc (English)
Shannon, Laurie (English)
Sigal, Pete (History)
Silverblatt, Irene (Cultural Anthropology)
Somerset, Fiona (English)
Stein, Rebecca (Cultural Anthropology)
Thorne, Susan (History)
Viego, Antonio (Literature)
Vilaros, Teresa (Romance Studies)
Wald, Priscilla (English)
Wallace, Maurice (English and AAAS)
Wong, David (Philosophy)

Anonymous said...

clearly, Mike is making the point that the DPD did the investigating and he worked off their sorry stuff. Getting into a spitting contest with the AG does not appear to be a good idea. Another thrilling day tomorrow - who knew that Imus would be jumpimg in between Duke Case and ANS?

Anonymous said...

In addition to the alibi evidence Mr. Nifong refused to see, the numerous variations on the accuser's basic story, revealed by the SPs interviewing of the witness, also provided the AG with additional evidence Mr. Nifong could not have known about. The story did not and could not hold together, despite the best efforts of the SPs to stitch the pieces into coherence.

Observer

Anonymous said...

God Morning, Mr. Nifong. Well, Friday the 13th is finally here. What an auspicious date for a hearing before the North Carolina Bar.

You must know that the people of America are behind you 100%. We really admire your honesty, your integrity, and your sense of justice. Good look on your hearing today.

I have a feeling that it is going to be another wonderful day for the annals of justice.

Anonymous said...

Jemele Hill thank you for that heart felt apology. DDP

HumboldtBlue said...

I read Hill's piece yesterday as well and was as moved as the rest of you, primarily because in those first days following the accusations, I too, harbored ill feelings towards those young men.

Please folks, read what former ESPN contributor Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star has written as well, both in reference to Duke and to Rutgers. I called him and left a message regarding his work, he's well worth your time, he also writes a column for AOL.com.