The Plaintiff's attorneys wasted little time in filing a response to Nifong's January 15 terse motion for dismissal with this filing of January 29.
First, Nifong asserts that the Amended Complaint fails to state a claim against him upon which relief can be granted. See Motion, ¶ A. However, the Consolidated Opposition summarizes the detailed allegations against Nifong and the other Defendants—including Nifong’s involvement in the fabrication of false inculpatory evidence, the concealment of evidence of Plaintiffs’ actual innocence and the lack of probable cause against them, the intimidation of witnesses, and the making of false and inflammatory public statements regarding Plaintiffs’ supposed guilt—all of which resulted in the wrongful seizures of the three innocent Duke students and caused them to suffer substantial economic, emotional and physical harm, irreparable reputational harm, and millions of dollars in legal fees. See Consol. Opp. to Defs.’ Mots. To Dismiss the First Am. Compl. (Docket No. 51) (“Consol. Opp.”), at 2-17 (summarizing allegations against Nifong and other Defendants). As the Consolidated Opposition explains, these allegations satisfy the elements of the federal civil rights violations and state-law torts alleged against each of the Defendants, including Nifong. 1
Second, Nifong argues that he has absolute immunity from these claims because, he contends, all of the actions alleged in the Amended Complaint “were done in his role as District Attorney.” Motion, ¶ C. However, Plaintiffs’ Consolidated Opposition explains the relevant standards relating to absolute prosecutorial immunity and makes clear that, contrary to Nifong’s argument, the mere fact that a defendant holds a prosecutorial title or position at the time of his alleged misconduct does not mean that he is entitled to absolute immunity. See Consol. Opp. at 23-26. Rather, courts apply a “‘functional approach,’ which looks to ‘the nature of the function performed, not the identity of the actor who performed it.’” Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259, 269 (1993) (internal citations omitted); Suarez Corp. Indus. v. McGraw, 125 F.3d 222, 230 (4th Cir. 1997) (“[T]he scope of absolute prosecutorial immunity has been narrowly drawn.”).
Noting a recent Supreme Court decision they stated,
The Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week in Van de Kamp v. Goldstein, ___ S. Ct. ___, No. 07-854, 2009 WL 160430 (Jan. 26, 2009), reaffirms this functional immunity analysis and reconfirms that Nifong is not entitled to absolute immunity for his investigative misconduct and public statements. Van de Kamp involved claims that supervisory-level prosecutors had failed to properly train and supervise lower-level prosecutors to disclose impeachment material in their criminal trials, and to create a database of information relating to trial informants. As the Court explained, the allegations in Van de Kamp addressed an entirely different situation from a prosecutor’s “investigative . . . tasks,” “advice to police during a criminal investigation,” or “statements to the press,” to which “absolute immunity does not apply”:
The Court made clear [in Imbler] that absolute
immunity may not apply when a prosecutor is not acting as
“an officer of the court,” but is instead engaged in other tasks,
say, investigative or administrative tasks. To decide whether
absolute immunity attaches to a particular kind of
prosecutorial activity, one must take account of the
“functional” considerations discussed above. . . .
. . . .
In the years since Imbler, we have held that absolute
immunity applies when a prosecutor prepares to initiate a
judicial proceeding, or appears in court to present evidence in
support of a search warrant application. We have held that
absolute immunity does not apply when a prosecutor gives
advice to police during a criminal investigation, when the
prosecutor makes statements to the press, or when a
prosecutor acts as a complaining witness in support of a
warrant application. This case, unlike these earlier cases,
requires us to consider how immunity applies where a
prosecutor is engaged in certain administrative activities.
PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN OPPOSITION TO
DEFENDANT MICHAEL B. NIFONG’S MOTION TO DISMISS
As for what's next for the disgraced, disbarred, and former DA Nifong may we suggest the fetal position sucking his thumb.
Also see LieStoppers Forum for discussion of Motion
Hat Tip: sdsgo, Tidbits, and Quasi