After recent comments on our blog from Charles, which have been similar to arguments made by other detractors of Mike Nifong for some time, it has become apparent that I need to clarify some very important issues regarding previous statements.
First, when I state that “Mr. Nifong is the only prosecutor to be disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar since its inception in 1933 while other prosecutors who have been guilty of prosecutorial misconduct far more egregious than that which Mr. Nifong has been accused and they have not been disbarred or seriously disciplined”… this is a statement to express the selectivity of the treatment Mr. Nifong received in comparison with other prosecutors. Justice should be delivered equally, and not selectively, as it was in Mr. Nifong’s case with his handling of the Duke Lacrosse case. Mr. Nifong should not be held to a higher standard of practice while other prosecutors are held to lower standards.
Second, when I make the statement in the previous paragraph, I am in no way conceding that Mr. Nifong’s handling of the Duke Lacrosse case was below acceptable standards of practice for prosecutors in the state. I have seen no evidence that Mr. Nifong has done anything dishonorable, disreputable, unprofessional, or wrong with his prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse case. Mike Nifong has a 27 year history of being a prosecutor, and his reputation and service to the state of North Carolina has been sterling.
Third, there has been a lot of talk about how in the Duke Lacrosse case Mr. Nifong has tried to put three innocent young men in jail. First, just because North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper proclaims that they are “innocent” does not mean that they are innocent. Acting as a special prosecutor, the attorney general was out of line in making such a statement. Taking over the prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse case as special prosecutor, it was his job to review the evidence and proceed with the prosecution if he felt that the evidence supported an outcome of guilty. If he felt the case was too weak to be successfully prosecuted, he had the duty to do as all of the other prosecutors in the state and throughout the country have done in the past when faced with a case that had low probability of success… dismiss it. He had no mandate to make a judgment about the Duke Lacrosse defendants, and for him to do so was outrageous, reckless, irresponsible, and unheard of. The second issue regards Mr. Nifong’s mandate. In our system of criminal justice it is mandatory that the prosecutor fight to take away the freedom of the defendant, just as it is the mandate of the defense attorney to preserve it for the defendant. When a prosecutor attempts to take away the freedom of a defendant who is from wealth, privilege and status, it is much easier for the media and public to be up in arms than when the defendant is poor, disenfranchised, and of color. That said, I also aver that there is no evidence to support the claim that throughout his long and stellar career Mr. Nifong has not acted as a minister of justice.
To summarize the position of the Committee of Justice for Mike Nifong:
1) Mr. Nifong was selectively disbarred while other prosecutors who have conducted themselves far more egregiously have not been;
2) Mr. Nifong was selectively presecuted by the state, and the North Carolina State Bar – subjected to treatment that no other prosecutor has undergone, including a jail sentence;
3) The “two wrongs (prosecutorial misconduct)” analogy is not analogous with the State Bar’s selective disbarment of Mr. Nifong because in his prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse case Mr. Nifong did not commit any wrong;
4) The Duke Lacrosse defendants are not “innocent” even though Attorney General Roy Cooper says they are. Such a proclamation was reckless, wrong, and out of line;
5) As a prosecutor in our system of criminal justice, it was the job of Mr. Nifong to try and take away the freedom of defendant(s) he was charged to prosecute; and
6) There is no evidence to suggest that throughout his career Mr. Nifong has not acted as a minister of justice.