Monday, June 11, 2007

Defendant Nifong's Day of Reckoning

"Society exists for the purpose of securing justice to its members, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. When it fails in this, the item is carried on the ledger with interest and compound interest toward a day of reckoning that comes surely with the paymaster. We have heard the chink of his coin on the counter, these days, in the unblushing revelations before legislative investigating committees of degraded citizenship, of the murder of the civic conscience, and in the applause that hailed them from the unthinking crowd." Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914)

The "unthinking crowd" no longer cheers the swaggering, self-aggrandizing District Attorney from Durham. When he slinks before the Bar tomorrow, one doubts MSNBC's Susan Filan will entertain us with drivel about how "confident" Defendant Nifong appears. The inflamed "civic conscience" that won for him his election, now burns with the embarrassment at being publicly "played" and pandered to...on a national stage. Nifong will face his peers in the strong presence of the three young men whose citizenship he "degraded", whose lives he upended, for his own petty political needs and a small pension upgrade. So much evil and heartache for such a low-rent "reward." Well, it's time for Mike to face the Paymaster. There are many in line with large cosmic "accounts" on the ledger and payment has finally come due.

First in the "Paymaster's" line, of course, are Collin, Reade, Dave and their families. How fitting that they will watch as Nifong flails in the dock, their innocence shining a commanding courtroom counterpoint to his lies. Lacrosse teammates have "payment" due as well, for the wretched year and repeated assaults on their reputations and character. But there are others on the ledger. Nifong's Hoax came with a heavy cost to many, many folks. In some cases, there is no currency or coin or contrition that can even the score.

I think of Mr. Elmostafa, the newcomer to this country who idealistically tried to do his civic duty and tell the truth. What a welcome to American jurisprudence to encounter Nifong's "capo", Linwood Wilson, and find your civic "reward" is the expense of defending yourself at a trumped-up mockery of a trial.! For Mr. Elmostafa's miserable treatment, for the misrepresentation to him of our countries ideals, Nifong's bill comes due today.

I think of Coach Pressler who endured the loss of a well-loved job, vilification from his peers, and threats to his family, all as a result of the Mangum-Nifong "Fantastic Lies." For all that he suffered so Nifong's political campaign might succeed, it's Payback Time.

Real rape victims and honest D.A.'s have a huge accounting to present as well. The blow to their credibility and the public loss of confidence in each is a sum too tremendous, perhaps, to tally. If the rumors are true that Nifong traded indictments for political endorsements, it is sickening to think of the scope of damage one selfish, wicked act can set in motion. There can be no compensation from Nifong that can allay the loss of confidence felt now in courtrooms everywhere. How many jurors have the specter of the "Crystal-Nifong-Meehan Scam" somewhere in their subconscious as they start to assess a case? For that burden to our justice system alone, Nifongs owes a bundle.

And here's an invoice from any of us who still believed last March that the New York Times was "the newspaper of record", that TV "commentators" knew a whit about the subject of their comments, that the NCNAACP was an unbiased advocate for truth, that the ACLU stood at the ready for Everyone's rights, or that Duke University professors believed in a presumption of innocence for their own. Mr. Paymaster, a few dinero for our deep disillusionment, please.

Now we await Nifong's "defense." How in keeping with the courtroom bully mentality we observed, that he remains defiant and somehow push on. His friend, Woody Vann, seemed to assert recently that Nifong had a spotless career before he decided to morally implode.

"It's how he's going to be remembered," Vann said. "Nobody knows anything about the previous 28 years. "

Yet, nobody knows about the cases he won before the Hoax ... or how he won them. Nobody knows how many corners he cut or how much evidence he hid or never sought. Nobody knows how many deep-seated resentments he harbored, similar to his antipathy to Joe Cheshire and Freda Black. Nobody knows how many delusions he's believed, like influential people wanting to "own" the DA's office or Animal Control Board conspiracists or multitudes of evil bloggers out to get him. Nobody knows, Woody, not even you.

And, Woody, what can be Nifong's defense when, after a devastatingly detailed review of the case, North Carolina's own Attorney General has scorched him as a rogue prosecutor and, by inference, a state sponsored scoundrel.

"Truth is truth To the end of reckoning. William Shakespeare, "Measure for Measure", Act 5 scene 1

There is no truth in Defendant Nifong. But, as we warned months ago, truth would not forever be denied in this case. On this rare occasion, there were sufficient resources to ferret it out. But the largest debt owed by Nifong today... is to those less financially favored defendants, before and after this case. They deserve to see this malicious district attorney, who endorsed lies, games, and gangster tactics, be disgraced and disbarred. They deserve the right to believe that justice is NOT a commodity sold to only the highest bidders. We must reverse the justified misperception that unprofessional tactics supported by the vast resources of the State, "the richest Daddy of them all," can only be countered by the wealthiest among us. To the extent that has been true, it is those with the least resources among us who MOST need to see Nifong removed. And they need to know, as Reade Seligmann exhorted us, that the lasting legacy of the Hoax should be our renewed commitment to real reform, not just in North Carolina, but in courts across our nation.

Welcome to the dock, Defendant Nifong.

The "Paymaster" has arrived.. we hear his chink of coin on the counter.

Your day of reckoning has come.


bill anderson said...

Great column! I dearly hope that this bar trial is only the first of many trips to the legal woodshed for Nifong and the others. There are plenty of people who must meet the bar of justice, and Nifong is only one of them.

Indeed, time to pay!

Anonymous said...

One of your greatest works!


Anonymous said...

How ironic- Nifong, the the DUke Three is on trail and in the hot seat.
Justice prevails!

Anonymous said...

Let freedom ring
let the white dove sing
let the whole world know that
today is a day of reckoning
let the weak be strong
let the right be wrong
roll the stone away
let the guilty pay
it’s independence day

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Joan and LieStoppers - thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great - Expresses so well, my exxact feeling in this mess. NYT b;owing its cover and the rest can only be good for the country.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, quoting Steinbeck in an appropriate context:
"“In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”
If the Bar can be equated to the people (or as an extension of such), these grapes are leaden as the vintage begins today.

Stephen said...

The finest article I have read since following this case from the very beginning. Dr. Anderson has written eloquently as well, but this one is absolutely superb. Exceptional post.

Anonymous said...

Sweetmick says to Stephen: What has been so inspiring since march 2006 are the hundreds of "greatest ever" articles and posts. This is but the latest greatest ever.

stephen said...