Friday, April 13, 2007

Nifong's Spin Machine and the Refusal to Resign

In the wake of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s public evisceration of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong’s integrity, competency, and judgment, the rogue prosecutor’s spin-miester, attorney David Freedman, went on a media blitz that rivaled Defendant Nifong’s March 27-April 3 non-stop campaign rally last spring. Giving a full interview to ABC News and sound bites to several other media outlets, PR maven Freedman attempted to counter the nationally televised confirmation of his client's egregious misconduct by the attorney general.

Prior to yesterday's strong pronouncement of the three defendants' innocence, Freedman stated that Defendant Nifong trusted Cooper’s judgment and, incredibly, was indifferent to the fate of the young men he wrongfully prosecuted and publicly condemned.
“Freedman said that Nifong “has no interest at this point” in what the attorney general decides.”

"He (Nifong) has complete confidence in the Attorney General's Office that whatever decision they make is the appropriate decision. This should have no effect on the State Bar proceedings," Freedman said.
“He has no personal interest. He’s very professional,” Freedman said of his client. “Whatever the attorney general’s office does with the case he’s fine with. He trusts their judgment. Wait for the process to play out.”
Apparently, Defendant Nifong's trust in the judgment of AG Cooper extended only to the evaluation of the false accusations and not the conclusions reached with regard to his own misconduct. It would appear as well that his indifference applies only to those he has harmed with his hijacked Hoax.
“David B. Freedman, said Mr. Nifong was “devastated” by the attorney general’s criticisms of his conduct. Mr. Freedman said that while Mr. Nifong had “no problem” with the decision to exonerate the players, he was deeply wounded by Mr. Cooper’s attack on his judgment and performance.

“He’s a person who has dedicated himself to public service for 29 years,” Mr. Freedman said in a telephone interview on Wednesday night. “All he cares about is public service.”
Wednesday was a "humiliating" day for Mike Nifong, his lawyer told ABC News.

Nifong, who is the district attorney in Durham County, N.C., was slammed for his handling of the Duke lacrosse case. State Attorney General Roy Cooper called Nifong a "rogue prosecutor" who had exercised more bravado than caution in pursuing three Duke lacrosse players on rape charges.

But while Nifong disagreed with those and other characterizations of his work, he had no issue with Cooper's decision to drop the case, said David Freedman, Nifong's attorney, in an exclusive interview with ABC's Law & Justice Unit.

"He has no problem at all with the dismissal of the charges," Freedman said. "He thinks it was the appropriate decision based on the careful analysis by the special prosecutors."
Despite the attorney general’s confident declaration that, regardless of the rogue prosecutor's motives, the “result was wrong,” spin-miester Freedman attempted to persuade the public that Nifong’s actions and their results were appropriate.
Freedman says it was not a sign of wrongdoing on Nifong's part that it took a year for the three men to be cleared. Many cases, including those that involve innocent defendants, often take that long to be resolved, he said.

"This case played out appropriately for the three players from Duke," Freedman said. "The process may have taken longer than they would have liked, longer than perhaps it should have. But the process worked."

"He pushed the case as long as he did because at that point he believed in this case," David Freedman said, referring to Nifong. "Sometimes it takes time for false accusations to get resolved through the legal system, if that is what happened in this case. It doesn't mean the prosecutor was wrong to go forward."
Freedman’s casual characterization of millions of dollars in legal fees, 395 days of worldwide public condemnation, and unrelenting anguish as having “played out appropriately for the three players from Duke” was unnerving. However, his implied request that the public excuse the terrible injustice, which would have been prevented had his client given a damn about justice, on the basis that despite the evil intentions of Defendant Nifong they were eventually exonerated, is appalling.

Thankfully, the fact that Nifong’s actions have precipitated calls for new legislation (by Cooper yesterday and multiple members of the NC General Assembly recently) to prevent this from happening to anyone else gives hope that Freedman’s spiel will only find takers among the most extreme haters and crackpots.

Adding insult to injury, Defendant Nifong issued a brief pseudo-apology to the victims of his hijacked Hoax today. Without accepting responsibility for his own willful deceptions and malicious prosecution, Nifong attempted to transfer any blame to the false accuser. Refusing to admit actually making any wrong decisions, Nifong left open the possibility of "incorrect judgments," the results of which could be undone by Attorney General Cooper.
"To the extent that I made judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the three students that were wrongly accused," Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong said in a statement released to the media.

"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," Nifong said. "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."
Having waited for Attorney General Cooper to call out his transgressions and coming immediately after his expressions of indifference, Nifong‘s “apology” gives the impression that his real concern is mitigating his forthcoming discipline by the State Bar and avoidance of looming civil suits. While Nifong’s grudging admission that the accusations were false is welcome, were he truly apologetic he would admit the full extent of his misconduct and public deception (the extent of which may not yet fully be known if the strong statements of yesterday’s defense press conference are any indication), surrender his license to practice law, and immediately resign from office as many community leaders are finally demanding.
"Nifong has been seriously damaged by his own actions, by the charges from the State Bar and now from Cooper's report. His problems could cause ripples through other cases being handled by the Durham DA's office. As a result, we think it will be impossible for Nifong to continue as Durham district attorney. It's time for him to resign." -- Durham Herald Sun
“Both City Councilman Thomas Stith and law professor James Coleman said Nifong should resign, and agreed that Durham police have some explaining to do.

“Nifong's resignation "would be in his best interest and in the best interest of the community," Stith said. "We've talked about regrouping and healing and that would be a way to do it, for the district attorney to remove himself from office."

"How can you not [resign], after the attorney general has said that what you did was wholly without basis?" said Coleman, who led Duke University's investigation of the lacrosse team and early on called for Nifong to hand off the case to the attorney general's office.”
“The public cannot have confidence going forward in the actions taken by his office under his direction. And for that reason, it's time for Mr. Nifong to resign,” said defense attorney Bill Thomas, who represented a Duke lacrosse player never charged in the case.

“He's one of the most powerful people in the state (because of) the effect he can have on the common person. If he has lost his credibility, he should no longer have that office, and he has lost his credibility,” said Mark Edwards, another defense attorney.
For his part, the tap dancing Freedman pretended that Durham was pleased with the district attorney whose office has fallen into worldwide disrepute.
“Freedman brushed aside calls for Nifong to step down as Durham County's district attorney. Beth Brewer, a Durham citizen and political rival of Nifong's, filed court documents asking the county's chief judge to remove Nifong from office. The judge in the case said he would wait until the bar process had run its course.

"The people of Durham have elected him to that position. They want him to stay in that position. His office is running well at this point," Freedman said.
Following his private swearing in ceremony in January, Defendant Nifong expressed the desire to be a part of the healing process his hijacked Hoax has necessitated.
"I don't feel that I'm part of the problem. I feel that I have assisted in revealing the problem," Nifong said. "Durham has some healing to do. And I need to be part of that healing process, and I need to have something to do with how we move forward."
If those words were sincere, the first steps for Nifong “to be a part of that healing process,” while fulfilling his “need to have something to do with how [Durham] moves forward,” would be to discontinue the spin campaign and resign immediately.

3 comments:

Foaming at the mouth said...

A quote from the soon-to-be-disbared Nifong at his new job: "Did you want fries with that?"

Anonymous said...

Don't degrade McDonalds' employees
by associating them with Nifong. Most of them are hard working, fair and honest; qualities definitely lacking in Mr. Nifong.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

It's so ironic. Nifong's statement "I have assisted in revealing the problem..." is actually true. Until Nifong stepped in front of the cameras last April, the rest of the world had no idea of the problem that justice faced in Durham.