Saturday, February 20, 2010

Greg Taylor’s wrongful murder conviction is no isolated incident in North Carolina

The well publicized events in recent months which culminated in the exoneration of Gregory Flint Taylor, wrongly incarcerated for 17 years of a life sentence, fails to express the true magnitude of the problem of wrongful murder convictions in the state of North Carolina. Fortunately the death penalty was not imposed for Mr. Taylor, however, the number of people wrongly incarcerated in capital murder cases is staggering. That is one reason that the former director of the Durham based nonprofit Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL), attorney Ken Rose, is one of the state’s leading advocates for doing away with the death penalty.

Ken Rose’s heroic actions in leading the appellate defense of Levon “Bo” Jones is chronicled in the book “The Last Lawyer,” by John Temple. Jones was sentenced to death for a 1987 murder despite no confession, no informant testimony, no physical evidence, no fingerprints, and no DNA evidence. Through the efforts of Ken Rose and others on the CDPL team, Levon “Bo” Jones was eventually found to be innocent of the murder which nearly cost him is life. Jones is one of but close to a dozen North Carolina inmates who have been on death row, but were later exonerated. Alan Gell, who was successfully prosecuted by prosecutor David Hoke (in large measure due to withholding exculpatory evidence from Gell’s defense attorneys), is another. In fact, the Tar Heel State is third, trailing only Illinois and Louisiana in the number of death row inmates ultimately found to be innocent.

Statistics over a six year period, beginning in July 1, 2001, show that there were 2,612 potential capital first degree murder charges filed. Of these individuals, 396 were later exonerated, a breakdown of this group is as follows: 272 charges were dismissed without leave to reinstate the charges; 9 no true bill was found; 40 no probable cause was found; and 75 were found to be not guilty. (Information from a report by NC Indigent Defense Services entitled: “FY07 Capitol Trial Case Study: PAC and Expert Spending in Potentially Capitol Cases at the Trial Level – December 2008,” and contained in the NC Indigent Defense Services website.)

This averages out to more than sixty innocent people arrested and charged in potential capital cases every year, and accounts for more than 15% of the potential capital cases. And, as you can imagine, they all served time in jail. Unfortunately the media does a poor job in educating the masses about this issue, and the public outrage is thereby minimized.

The death penalty should be removed as a sentencing option if this state and this country is be considered one of civility and compassion. It’s one thing to wrongfully take 17 years of a man’s life, but quite another to wrongfully take a man’s life.

79 comments:

Heather said...

I agree that the death penalty is too prone to fault and misinformation to use. The potential for wrongful execution is there, and even one wrong execution is far too many. Congratulations to Greg Taylor and the innocence commission for a job well done. However, having said that, I am proud of North Carolina - the state I live in. At least we are looking in to cases that may involve people who have been wrongly accused. That's more than many other states are doing. You need to go after states that do not even conduct follow up investigations on wrongly accused capital offense inmates instead of going after states that do. Take a minute to look at Maryland, whose death row is known for its racism and false executions. You should be praising the state of North Carolina for being able to admit when it is wrong - because that is more than most states will do!

taylorgso said...

As the tale unravels, we have statements that the wording of the lab reports "is language that is acceptable to the scientific community." Unfortunately not many jurors are scientists. These procedures are like taking a scratch test for Tuberculosis and being sent (in the old days) to a sanitorium for 17 years, when followup tests revealed there was no TB after all. I'm afraid this is the tip of the iceberg. The system is designed for convictions, not for finding the truth. Yes, NC has inacted many laws regarding police investigation procedures, but a lot still needs to be done, particularly as it pertains to prosecutors, who are able to lie to juries with no fear of accountability.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for sidney:

Precisely what nifong attempted to do was lie to a jury without fear of accountability. Unfortunately for nifong his intended victims, 3 innocent men falsely accused by cgm of raping her, had the means and will to fight back.

Niow nifong faces accountability and crazy etc. sidney yries to shield him from it.

Tell us, crazy sidney, are you aware of some misconduct on nifong's part about which you are not telling us?

unbekannte said...

Even the devil can quote scripture to his own advantage..

The man I call crazy etc. sidney has devoted this blog to savaging three innocent men and their families. crazy etc. sidney thinks they are guilty of a alleged crime which never happened, an alleged crime to which no evidence ever linked them. He believes they are guilty based on the word of an accusing witness who had severe credibility problems.

That is a crusade for gross injustice, nothing noble, nothing worthy.

Walt said...

"The death penalty should be removed as a sentencing option if this state and this country is be considered one of civility and compassion. It’s one thing to wrongfully take 17 years of a man’s life, but quite another to wrongfully take a man’s life."

I went to law school in Indiana and practiced in Ohio and Indiana before coming to North Carolina. If you asked me before I moved to NC if I was a death penalty supporter, the answer was an unequivocal yes.

In nine years of practice in North Carolina, I have come to the conclusion that NC prosecutors cannot be trusted with the death penalty. Conduct such as exhibited by Mike Nifong completely ignoring the evidence, withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense, like Nifong, Hoke and Graves did, using incomplete scientific reports as Ford and Willoughby did convinces me beyond a doubt that the death penalty should be off the table in North Carolina.

Walt-in-Durham

Brod Dickhead said...

Syd, Syd, Syd,

How very disappointing! I was sure your next post would be about the most recent goings on in the Lacrosse Case. But no!

What exactly are you trying to say in this post Sydney?

Everyone in the civilized world knows that NC DA's are corrupt power crazy zealots who use the law to promote their own ends. In this post you seem to be agreeing with us. (Some bad fried chicken straightened your normally addled intellect?).

Your post merely reinforces the fact that your alter ego was merely doing what comes naturally to NC and especially Durham DA's - use the case for your own political/power advantages.

Mikey's only problem (as far as you and he are are concerned) was that he got caught before he could inflict the ultimate huge damage on the three lacrosse players. WHATEVER HE DID WAS BAD ENOUGH however!!! I won't besmirch their character by mentioning their names in this racist revisionist blog.

You bleat constantly in this blog about how poorly Mikey has been treated, using the ridiculous comparison that other NC DA's have done far worse. How utterly pathetic you are.

You still haven't told us what Mikey's past relationship with 'Precious' Mangum [remember her - you know the street scum that has recently been arrested and charged with inter alia: attempted murder. child endangement, arson,....?]. It is known that his wifey Cy Gurney was tight with the family.

You haven't told us why he did not recuse himself from the case immediately. Oh sorry, I forgot - he wanted to be elected Durham DA, was trailing in the poles, and this was too good a metanarrative driven opportunity to miss.

You still haven't told us why Miley thought he could get away with his crime. Maybe being king of the traffic court for so long messed with his mind.

You still need to tell us what he offered Brian Meehan, to with hold information about the eculpatory DNA.... remember Brad Bannon in the court hearing Syd? Remember Officer Himan' expletive during the DNASI meeting "We're F****d"?

As they say in the classics Kharma's a bi**h.

Hopefully your next post will be about CGM. Your readers want to know why Mikey "initially said he doubted press reports about Mangum's arrest".

There is so much more we need to know Sydney!!!

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

I do applaud your views on the death penalty.

I wish more people had read JRR Tolkien. There is a dialogue in Fellowship of the Ring between Gandalf and Frodo over Gollum. Frodo says the vile creature deserves death. Gandalf replies, Yes Gollum deserves death. Many who live deserve death. Some who die deserve life. Can Frodo give them their kife back. If not, Frodo should not be so eager to deal out death in retribution.

Our legal system has safeguards built in to prevent wrongful prosecution of the innocent. As taylorgso points out, those safeguards fail when prosecutors circumvent them.

nifong deliberately circumvented just about every built in protection we have to avoid wrongful prosecution, presumption of innocence, probable cause, exculpatory evidence, rights of the accused, open discovery just to name a few. And he did it all just to WIN AN ELECTION AND SAVE HIS JOB!!!(it is highly likely Freda Black would have fired him had she won). You defend his actions, directed against three innocent caucasian Duke Lacrosse players.

You are not out for justice for anyone. You wanted a gross miscarriage of justice for three innocent men. No, you did not want to end their lives. You sure do want to thoroughly destroy their lives.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

To my last post, I add this.

Nifong attempted to circumvent one of the most fundamental protections against wrongful conviction, one of the most heinous acts of misconduct a minister of justice can perpetrate. Via his "mild" pre indictment statements, he tried to deny them a fair trial.

If you deny what I say about those statements, then why don't you show us what he said. The initial State Bar Complaint is an available source.

unbekannte said...

more incivility for crazy etc. sidney:

You regret that the Duke defendants never spent any time in jail. Are you saying they should have spent time in jail, although there was no evidence that the crime cgm falsely accused them of ever happened?

You have said referred repeatedly to cgm being wrongly referred to as a false accuser. Are you saying the accusations she made were true?

It is quite obvious you do believe the Duke defendants were guilty.

Nifong Supporter said...

To Heather:

Thank you for your comments. Your point is valid, and I agree with that North Carolina at least has another avenue in place by which to have the wrongly convicted gain freedom unjustly taken from them.

Former Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, and NC Center on Actual Innocence director Christine Mumma deserve a great deal of credit for the implementation of this wonderful program.

Nifong Supporter said...

To Taylorgso:

I couldn't agree with you more. The criminal justice system is definitely stacked against the defendant. And you are absolutely correct that prosecutors feel that they are able to lie, withhold evidence, etc. without fear of having to be held accountable. This is backed up by the fact that since its inception in 1933, the North Carolina State Bar has only disbarred one prosecutor... Mike Nifong. And he was disbarred because, as Rhea Evans said, "He picked on the wrong families..."

Now I happen to strongly believe that Mr. Nifong was acting well within acceptable standards in the Duke Lacrosse case. He did not rush to judgment, as it was more than a month and a half after the commission of a crime before an indictment was handed down. He handed down the indictment based on the accuser's 100% certainty in the photo lineup. He did not withhold any evidence. He did not lie to the court, and when the accuser later stated that she couldn't be sure whether or not she was raped, he dropped the rape charges. The Duke lacrosse team had a terrible reputation of drunken behavior, public intoxication, and urinating in public. The president of the University had even warned coach Pressler to rein in his players.

The prosecution of Greg Taylor, however, is a prime example of prosecutorial misconduct at its best. If any prosecutor in NC history deserves disbarment, it is Tom Ford. But the State Bar and the media will protect him, unfortunately.

Nifong Supporter said...

To Walt:

As you know, we disagree about Mike Nifong's actions in the Duke Lacrosse case, but we find common ground when it comes to the death penalty.

Would you say also that Tom Ford's actions against Greg Taylor were far more egregious than Mr. Nifong's in the Duke Lacrosse case? See my previous comment for more info.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

You again promulgate many lies about the Duke cse.

nifong did not operate within any resemblance of acceptable standards for any prosecutor. He had no evidence of the actual commission of a crime. What evidence he did generate was exculpatory. He did not provide timely reports on the evidence to the Defendants, as he was legally obligated to do. He concealed certain evidence from the defense which was exculpatory, that the only DNA found on cgm DID NOT match that of any Duke Lacrosse player. cgm DID NOT identify any Duke Lacrosse player with any resemblance of certainty. She was presented a photo array of men who had already been exonerated by the exculpatory evidence nifong attempted to conceal. She picked three at random. She had been unable to identify two of them on previous occasions. She had been unable to describe the third as one of her assailants. She said one, who had never had facial hair, hache at the time of the alleged assault. Two had unimpeachable evidence they were not at the party at the time of the alleged rape.

Pre indictment, nifong made public statements which undermined suspects' rights to remain silent, to be represented by counsel, and to be presumed innocent. He undermined any chance they had for a fair trial in Durham.

Basically, nifong did it all because, and I repeat, HE WANTED TO WIN AN ELECTION AND SAVE HIS JOB!!!. He gets no credit for dismissing the rape charges in December of 2006(do you still say cgm has always maintained she was raped). Even without interviewing cgm in March of 2006, he knew he had no probable cause to suspect any Lacrosse Player of any crime. If he had been anything other than a rogue prosecutor, he would have dismissed the case in March of 2006.

Again, what relevance do the actions of other prosecutors have to the Duke case? nifong's violations are clear to everyone, except for those willfully blind. nifong was judged and found guilty on the basis of his own actions.

He got a much fairer hearing than the one he intended for the innocent, falsely accused Duke Lacrosse Players.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

The Coleman report pretty much debunked the allegations that the
lacrosse players were a wild, unruly bunch. Again you lie>

What are you going to lie about next? Are you going to follow with the discredted allegation that a
"no snitch code" was the reason Lacrosse players did not give any incriminating evidence to nifong?

They gave no information of any crime to nifong because there was no crime. cgm falsely accused the Lacrosse players of raping her.

unbekannte said...
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unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

David Evans' Mother is RAE Evans, not Rhea Evans. How long does it take you to get even easily learned facts straight?

February 21, 2010 5:27 PM

Edited Feb 21, 2009 5:28 PM

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Let's look at cgm's 100% id which, you now admit, was the only evidence nifong had.

Before any id procedure, cgm reported to medical personnel that her assailants had penetrated her and ejaculated on her. The medical record noted in multiple places that cgm had said no condoms were used.

Before any id procedure, there was the rape kit. State crime lab yielded no evidence of rape. The state crime lab found no material, blood, semen, saliva, which would have been left in the attack described by cgm.

There was a non testimonial order which required caucasian Duke Lacrosse players to give DNA samples. nifong made statements to the effect that DNA would either incriminate or exonerate. What ever did that mean other than if an individual's DNA matched DNA found on cgm, he would be incriminated. If his DNA did not, he would be exonerated.

nifong hired dnasi to do more sensitive testing on the rape kit. dnasd DNA from multiple males, which on the surface might have been evidence of a gang ape. The DNA was old DNA and DID NOT match any Lacrosse player. Nifong then declared the DNA evidence insignificant.

cgm's descriptions of her alleged assailants were that they were short and stocky. Colin Finnerty is tall and lean. On two attempts, cgm was not able to identify David Evans or Reade Seligman. Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligman both had alibis, evidence they were not at the party at the time of the alleged rape.

nifong ordered a third id procedure for cgm. The lineup included only caucasian Lacrosse players, men who had already met nifong's criteria for exoneration. The lineup included no fillers, a violation of procedure. It was conducted by mark gottlieb,who was involved in the investigation. The lineup should have been conducted by an officer who was not knowledgeable about the investigation, not at all aware of who the suspects were. mark gottlieb had a documented history of bias against Duke students. The lineup was biased against the suspects when it should have been neutral. cgm's id of the 3 Defendants could not, by any stretch of the imagination, have been neutral and unbiased.
cgm's id was flimsy(are you familiar with that word, sidney?).

No way would a reasonable fair prosecutor have tried to get an id that way, let alone go forward with a prosecution. Why did nifong?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Suppose a rapist's defense lawyer summed up his case to the jury this way: other rapists have committed crimes more egregious than the one my client is accused of.

Should that kind of defense result in an acquittal of the rapist? Not if there is evidence which proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Do you not agree?

The evidence of nifong's misconduct was abundant and overwhelming.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Of what exculpatory value to nifong was evidence of other prosecutors' misconduct?

Did other prosecutors' misconduct exonerate nifong? Did other prosecutors' misconduct in any way prove nifong had not committed misconduct?

Why should any judicial proceeding be decided on the merits of evidence against anyone but the defendant?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Hypothetical situation for you:

A man is on trial for murdering another man. Is it appropriate for his attorney to introduce evidence that someone else murdered three other men? Of what exculpatory value would such evidence be to the defendant?

What if the Duke Lacrosse players had gone to trial for the alleged crime for which they had been falsely accused. Michael Jermaine Burch had been accused of two rapes. What exculpatory value would that information have been?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

nifong did make pre indictments to the effect that a rape had happened, that it had been racially motivated, that Duke Lacrosse players had committed the crime. How did that presume innocence? How did that encourage any Lacrosse player to come forward? If it did not presume innocence, then how was it acceptable practice for nofong to make that statement?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

nifong made public statements to the effect that the perpetrators had rich daddies who would hire expensive lawyers to get them off. He made a statement to the effect that one would not need a lawyer if one had done nothing wrong and had not been charged.

How did those statements presume innocence? How did those statements comply with one's right to be represented by counsel?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

nifong made statements to the effect that Lacrosse players had knowledge of who perpetrated the alleged rape. How did those statements presume innocence?

unbekannte said...
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unbekannte said...
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unbekannte said...
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unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

cgm claimed that Dave Evans had a mustache at the time of the alleged rape. Photos of the Lacrosse team showed no Lacrosse player had a mustache at the time.

How did that make cgm"s id of David Evans reliable?

Incidentally, David Evans' mother is Rae, not Rhea, Evans. You should get your facts straight.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

cgm had been unable to describe Colin Finnerty as one of her alleged assailants. How did that make her subsequent id of Co;in Finnerty reliable. Colin Finnerty also had evidence he was not at the party at the time of the alleged rape.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Reade Seligman had evidence he was not at the party at the time of the alleged rape. How did that make cgm's id of Reade Seligman reliable?

NBot even nifong believed that the Seligman family paid off Moez Elmostafa.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

cgm claimed her attackers had penetrated her and had ejaculated on her. The medical record had multiple notations that no condoms had been used.

State crime lab exam of the rape kit showed no evidence of material that would have been left in such a rape, blood, semen, saliva. How did that make cgm's allegations credible?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

nifong made statements to the effect that condoms had probably been used. Why, then, after the State crime lab results did he engage dnasi to find DNA on the rape kit material?

nifong claimed to have read the medical report before he made the statements about condoms. The medical report noted that condoms had not been used. Why, then, did nifong claim condoms had probably been used. Does this or does this not suggest nifong was lying?

unbekannte said...
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unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

cgm was unable to id David Evans or Reade Seligman on two previous occasions. How did that make her subsequent id's of Reade Seligman and David Evans reliable?

February 22, 2010 3:41 AM

Edited Feb. 21, 2009 4:04 AM

unbekannte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

To sum up, nifong had exculpatory evidence. He had reason to question cgm's allegation of a rape. He did not have reliable identification of any perpetrator. What justification did he have to proceed with a prosecution of any Lacrosse player?

If he had no justification to proceed with a prosecution, how was he acting in accord with accepted standards of procedure for a prosecutor?

Is a prosecution of a defendant without probable cause not prosecutorial misconduct?

How does evidence of other prosecutors' misconduct exonerate nifong from committing prosecutorial misconduct?

February 22, 2010 4:02 AM

reposted Feb 21, 2009 4:08 AM

unbekannte said...

some advice for crazy etc. sidney:

It is indeed a noble thing to blog against prosecutorial abuse. When you defend nifong, one of the grossest abusive prosecutors of all time, you contaminate your cause irretrievably.

It is like you are in a war. You condemn your enemy for using a certain poison gas. Then you take out his poison gas factories by dropping the very same poison gas on them.

What are you really blogging about. I doubt you would have been so upset about prosecutorial abuse had the innocent, falsely accused Lacrosse players been convicted and imprisoned.

I believe you are angry and spiteful and you tell your lies because the Lacrosse players were not convicted, because AG Roy Cooper ended the case because he believed the Lacrosse players were innocent. I remind you that, by your own admission you are not knowledgeable about the evidence Mr. Cooper reviewed.

I believe you are so spiteful because you wanted the innocent, falsely accused white boys punished. That speaks a lot about you in a very loud voice.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

The result of DNA testing revealed DNA on cgm's person which did not match the DNA of any Lacrosse player. nifong, via his tatements, had designated the Caucasian Lacrosse players as susppects.

How was that information of no exculpatory value to the suspects?

nifong was obligated to give the REPORT of information obtained via the nto to the suspects or to their attorneys in a timely manner. Did he do so? If so, then why was the information about the non Lacrosse player DNA not public until 9 months after the case started?

February 22, 2010 3:39 AM

Edited Feb 21, 2009 4:07 AM

Originally edited Feb 22, 2010 4:07AM

Re edited and reposted Feb 22, 2010 5:05 AM

unbekannte said...

One more bit of uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

By your own admission, nifong had nothing to go on save the id's made by cgm at the third lineup. The id's were not reliable. The whole id process was tainted.

If you think my information about nifong's statements is inaccurate, then why don't you post the correct information.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc: sidney:

nifong made a statement to the effect that Lacrosse players remaining silent on advice of counsel may have been good legal advice but not good moral advice.

How did that statement presume innocence? How did that statement respect an individual's right to counsel?

February 22, 2010 3:33 AM

Edited February 22, 2010 5:13 AM

Justcie4Nifong=Jail Time said...

NC should abandon the death penalty. Except for Mike Nifong, Mark Gottlieb, John Burness, and Dickless Brodhead. Oh yeah, and Houston Baker and Tara Levicy.

Walt said...

"Would you say also that Tom Ford's actions against Greg Taylor were far more egregious than Mr. Nifong's in the Duke Lacrosse case?"

No, I would not. It is not clear that Ford knew the actual content of the SBI report when he prosecuted Taylor.

What I would say is Willoughby, your favorite DA it seems, is approaching Nifong's level of contempt for justice. Not his incompetence though. Willoughby apparently knew the full extent of the SBI report before the hearing before the three judge panel. I find it reprehensible that he did not act then.

Of course, that is exactly what Nifong did. Knowing of exculpatory evidence, he proceeded anyway. In that regard, there is little difference between Nifong and Willoughby.

For reasons I have never understood, you give Willoughby a pass while concentrating on Ford. Is it because Willoughby's conduct is too similar to Nifong's?

Walt-in-Durham

unbekannte said...
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unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

You put much importance on cgm's id of the three Lacrosse players. I concede cgm did tell mark gottlieb she was 100% certain on two id's and 90% certain on the third. I ask you, why do you think that evidence impeaching her credibility is of no importance here?

I have written about it. First, SBI testing of the rape kit revealed no evidence of rape, and by cgm's description, there should have been evidence. DNA recovered from cgm's person did not match any Lacrosse player. the ecord noted that condoms WERE NOT used. In these circumstances, contrary to your expressed belief, a rape could not have happened without leaving evidence, especially DNA evidence.

If, as was claimed, the Lacrosse players removed evidence of the rape, how did they fail to remove the non Lacrosse player DNA?

cgm could not describe Colin Finnerty as one of her alleged assailants. In two previous attempts, she could id neither Dave Evans or Reade Seligman.

She said David Evans had a mustache at the time of th Photographic evidence showed no Lacrosse player had a mustache.

Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligman each had solid evidence showing they were elsewhere at the yime of the alleged attack.

Judging from all the evidence impeaching cgm's credibility, it was hardly standard practice to go forward with the case. nifong should have admitted before he ordered the third lineup, he had no credible evidence. He should have dismissed the case then and there.

To say he dismissed the rape case in December is hardly a sign of his integrity. Rather, one should say that by December he had let this baseless, unjust prosecution go on for nine months.

Further, he did this after concealing exculpatory evidence and lying to the court about it.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

nifong made a statement to the effect that the Lacrosse team was aware of what happened after three of their number disappeared into the bathroom, that he was disappointed that none of their number was man enough to come forward about it.

Nifong made a statement to the effect, why was no one on the Lacrosse team asking why am I covering up for a bunch of hooligans.

I concede, nifong was trying to get witnesses to come forward. I ask, did these statements presume innocence?

What kind of information did nifong want. Did nifong want information which exonerated the Lacrosse team. Judging from his handling of the exculpatory DNA evidence, I say, No he did not. In seeking only inculpatory evidence, was nifong presuming innocence?

nifong threatened to file charges of aiding and abetting against Lacrosse team members who did not come forward. nifong was trying to force witnesses to give him only information which would make his case. Does that presume innocence?

Nifong engaged in witness intimidation, Other abusive prosecutors cited by crazy etc. sidney engaged in witness intimidation. No honest, objective prosecutor engages in witness intimidation.

In this respect, crazy etc. sidney, how can you maintain nifong's abuse of power was less egregious?

February 22, 2010 9:05 AM

edited Feb 22, 2010 9:13 AM

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Why do you complain that the three Lacrosse players never spent a day in jail. You lament that other prosecutors' abuse was more egregious than nifong's.

If the innocent, falsely accused Lacrosse Players had been convicted, what would that have accomplished? Nothing I can think of, other than make nifong's abuse of power much more egregious than it actually was.

Think about it, sidney. nifong's abuses might have been less egregious because AG Roy Cooper blocked the conviction and imprisonment of his intended victims.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Let's get back to cgm's "90% to 100%" certain id of the Lacrosse players.

Do you not agree, the DA's job is to find the truth. Does that mean he should seek out exculpatory as well as inculpatory evidence. Did nifong seek out exculpatory evidence when he had that third lineup conducted. No he did not.

Is that why you so fanatically avoid mentioning all the evidence which should have led nifong to question the credibility of his main witness?

Nifong Supporter said...

To Walt:

Tom Ford, if you wildly concede that there was circumstantiale blood evidence on the truck (which could have come from a squirrel), that is hardly reason to rush to judgment (arrests made within 12 hours of the crime) and charge someone with first degree murder, especially in light of the fact that no physical evidence tied Greg Taylor to the victim or the victim to Greg Taylor's car. What Ford may not have known about blood evidence at the initial trial, he surely knew when he tried to fight against Greg Taylor's release.

Tom Ford merely sought a quick conviction, and he thought Greg Taylor would turn over and implicate his black companion that evening. But, fortunately for justice, Greg Taylor exhibited a lot more courage, morality, and integrity than Ford could scrape up in a lifetime.

Ford, in my estimation, is one of the worst of the worst prosecutors in the annals of North Carolina juris prudence.

Mike Nifong, on the other hand, did not rush to judgment, as is commonly and erroneously stated... no indictments were handed down for more than a month and a half after the crime. And, in December 2006, when the accuser stated that she couldn't be certain that she had been raped, Mr. Nifong dropped those charges. This is the action of a prosecutor who truly acts as a Minister of Justice.

I do not know where you get the idea that I am a fan of Colon Willoughby, because I am not. He wasted time, money, and made an innocent man face excessive time wrongly incarcerated by fighting against Taylor's release. This, he did to protect Ford from criticism in his initial prosecution, in my opinion. Not unlike the Attorney General's Office trying to protect prosecutor David Hoke by retrying Alan Gell despite irrefutable exculpatory evidence.

Nifong Supporter said...

To unbekannte:

Thank you for enlightening me about the proper spelling of the first name of Dave Evans's mother. Now and then, I must admit, you do make a positive contribution to this blog site.

DeHall said...

Dr Harr -- You keep repeating your mantra "...Mr. Nifong was acting well within acceptable standards in the Duke Lacrosse case..... He did not withhold any evidence. He did not lie to the court..."

Can you identify one legal expert who agrees with your opinion?

Walt said...

"Mike Nifong, on the other hand, did not rush to judgment, as is commonly and erroneously stated... no indictments were handed down for more than a month and a half after the crime."

Syd, that simply ignores the facts. Nifong, from the time he admits learning of the case went on TV and to the media with his guilt presuming media availabilities. Sixty plus times he made himself available to the media to claim guilt. If that's not a rush to judgment, I don't know what is.

"And, in December 2006, when the accuser stated that she couldn't be certain that she had been raped, Mr. Nifong dropped those charges."

Was that version four, five or six of the story she told? That was eight months after he obtained the DNASI results that cleared the lacrosse players, en masse. Not only did Nifong rush to judgment, he ignored the facts in his rush to judgment.

"This is the action of a prosecutor who truly acts as a Minister of Justice."

If he had done it in April or May, 2006 sure. But not in December. Remember, even Nifong admits that he had no credible evidence.

"I do not know where you get the idea that I am a fan of Colon Willoughby, because I am not."

Because you continuously blame Ford when it is Willoughby who made the decision to go to the panel of judges knowing that the SBI report was inconclusive for blood. You always give Willoughby a pass in your zeal to blame Ford.

"Not unlike the Attorney General's Office trying to protect prosecutor David Hoke by retrying Alan Gell despite irrefutable exculpatory evidence."

Sydney, it continues to amaze me that you put fort the two wrongs make it right argument. Just because the State was wrong to retry Gell does not make it right for Nifong to try the innocent lacrosse team members. If it was wrong to retry Gell then it was wrong to prosecute David Evans, Reade Seligman and Colin Finnerty.

Walt-in-Durham

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

you said no indictments were handed down in the Duke case until a month and a half after the crime. ?you got it wrong - not the first time this has happened. There was no crime in the Duke case for which indictments should have been handed down. nifong himself has admitted there was no credible evidence of a crime.

nifong could have sought arrest warrants for the three Defendants. That would have resulted in a probable cause hearing. At a probable cause hearing, the Defense could have presented exculpatory evidence. nifong's attitude on exculpatory evidence is well known.

There was no forbearance on nifong's part. The Defendants could not present evidence at a grand jury hearing. nifong did not want any exculpatory evidence introduced.

Was that an act of a fair, objective prosecutor only interested in justice. Did that attitude towards exculpatory evidence presume innocence?

unbekannte said...

more unciviity for crazy etc. sidney:

Is that anemic retort the best you can come up with?

unbekannte said...

For DeHall:

Two men were arguing over the composer Antonio Vivaldi. One said Vivaldi composed several hundred concertos. The other said Vivaldi composed the same concerto several hundred times.

crazy etc. sidney has authored the same blog many times over. Yet he thinks he is making some kind of valid point.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

In support of Walt in Durham, I say again:

In March of 2006, within three weeks of the case breaking, before any indictments were handed down, nifong made statements to the effect that a crime had happened, that it had been perpetrated by members of the Duke Lacrosse team, that it had been racially motivated. He made statements to the effect that the Lacrosse team included eyewitnesses to the crime who were not coming forward.

crazy etc. sidney, could you explain how those statements could be anything but judgmental.

Those statements were not examples of nifong presuming innocence on the part of the people he had designated as suspects. What in the case justified nifong's denial of the presumption of innocence.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Consider nifong's statements regarding lawyers. Why would any one need a lawyer if he were innocent and had not done anything wrong. the Lacrosse players had rich daddies who would hire expensive lawyers to get them off.

Those were guilt presuming statements made within 18 days of the party on Buchanan Avenue.How can a guilt presuming statement be anything but judgmental?

Please explain.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

You are saying Tom Ford threatened Gregory Taylor with prosecution if he did not incriminate another man.

nifong did threaten Lacrosse players with prosecution if they did not provide him with evidence incriminating other Lacrosse players.

Were there differences. Obviously.

But there was a gross similarity in that both prosecutors used their power to coerce testimony which would make their cases, testimony which would convict someone innocent of a big time felony.

That does nt show a whole lot of difference between nifong and ford.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Once more I ask: what do other cases have to do with the Duke case?

How does evidence of another prosecutor's abuse show nifong's performance was within acceptable standards of behavior for a prosecutor?

JSwift said...

Sidney,

I agree with your judgment on prosecutorial abuse in many cases. I further agree that serious flaws in the system require that the death penalty be dropped as a sentencing option.

However, I disagree with much of your analysis. You reach your conclusion regarding prosecutorial abuse exclusively on whether a conviction subsequently is shown to have been wrongful. A more useful criterion would be whether the prosecutor made a genuine effort to comply with the letter and spirit of applicable rules and guidelines. As I have noted previously, rules and guidelines have been adopted to avoid mistakes to the extent possible. However, honest mistakes unfortunately can never be eliminated completely.

For example, Ronald Cotton’s conviction was overturned when subsequently available DNA evidence demonstrated that the identification was faulty. Despite your criticism I have seen no information on the Innocence Project website or elsewhere to suggest that the prosecutor was guilty of misconduct. He relied on identification from an accusing witness whom he reasonably thought to be credible. The identification process apparently met all guidelines. Nevertheless, she was wrong. Mr. Cotton’s conviction was tragic.

You demonstrate an egregious inconsistency with Mr. Nifong. You state that Mr. Nifong did nothing wrong—even though he proceeded with a case for which he concedes he had “no credible evidence.”

Mr. Nifong designed an identification procedure that violated material guidelines and cannot be defended as reliable. He violated the rules. You ignore these flaws only with Mr. Nifong.

He relied exclusively on an accusing witness who had failed to provide credible descriptions of her attackers, had failed to make any identifications in two earlier procedures (neither of which had met all guidelines) and had provided a constantly changing set of allegations that were inconsistent with physical evidence, medical evidence, other witness statements and other versions of those allegations. You ignore these flaws only with Mr. Nifong.

He relied on the statements of Ms. Mangum, who apparently made allegations in order to stay out of a substance abuse facility. You ignore these conflicts only with Mr. Nifong.

The investigation intimidated witnesses, offering plea bargains to those whose statements changed. He violated the rules. You ignore witness intimidation only with Mr. Nifong.

He agreed with DNASI to exclude certain results from its report, in violation of company and industry standards and in violation of state law for open discovery and non-testimonial orders. He was required to turn over ALL evidence when he received it. An agreement to violate standards so that the information was not “received” is inconsistent with those requirements. You ignore these violations only with Mr. Nifong, pretending that the information was not exculpatory (the requirement is “all”) and that he was only required to deliver it sometime prior to trial (the requirement is shortly after receipt).

Mr. Nifong allegedly had responsibility beginning on March 24 for the DPD’s failure to conduct a bona fide investigation. They failed to interview witnesses, investigate evidence in their possession or known to exist, read reports and to make any attempt to reconcile inconsistencies in the evidence. Despite a weak case that depended on the inconsistent allegations and flawed identifications of a tainted witness, they made no attempt to “solve” the alleged crime or to determine whether a crime had actually taken place.

They merely selected defendants and indicted them. You ignore a prosecution with tunnel vision only in this case.

JSwift said...

Your support of Mr. Nifong can be defended in three ways:

First, you could claim that misconduct is triggered by a wrongful conviction. A prosecutor is permitted to proceed without “credible evidence” and to delay proceedings with impunity. Requiring that defendants indicted without “credible evidence” put their lives on hold for more than a year and to spend millions of dollars defending themselves against bogus charges is consistent with the activities of a prosecutor.

You have defended Mr. Nifong with the statement that: “The admission by Mr. Nifong that no credible evidence existed does not necessarily exclude the possibility that a credible case could be built against the defendants.” This statement justifes any prosecution, no matter how baseless. Moreover, because the defendants were never convicted and did not spend time in prison, Mr. Nifong did not do anything wrong.

Second, your support can be defended if you agree with the statement attributed to Chan Hall: he wanted to see Duke students prosecuted “whether it happened or not. It would be justice for things that happened in the past.” In other words, the justice system is not used to determine guilt and innocence in specific cases. It is used to exact payback.

Third, you may claim that affluent defendants do not deserve the same protections as other defendants. Poor defendants are unfairly disadvantaged because they do not have the resources to adequately defend themselves. Because affluent defendants have the resources, the prosecutor must be able to regain his unfair advantage through other means. In other words, the objective is not a system of fairness, one in which the rights of the accused are balanced against the power of the state, but a system in which all defendants are treated equally unfairly.

I do not understand why some seem to blame the lacrosse defendants for the flaws in the system.

The state has unlimited resources and has stacked the rules in its favor. The grand jury system is a cruel joke, virtually guaranteeing indictments. With indictments, probable cause hearings are not required. The right to a speedy trial does not exist. The prosecutor astonishingly is able to hand pick the judge who will preside over the trial and can proceed at his own pace. The defendant has no right to force a hearing on substantive motions until discovery is complete. Yet, there are no rules for timely discovery. Although the Gell case resulted in an open discovery law, those requirements have few teeth; many law enforcement officials have responded by documenting less of their activities in writing. Incredibly, the response of NC DAs to the Duke frame was to attempt to weaken the open discovery law.

The prosecutor can bleed poor defendants financially and force plea bargains, even when he has no evidence.

I am sympathetic to the claim that the Duke defendants' ability to retain competent counsel was a significant factor in determining the outcome. Nifong would not have been forced to recuse himself without Bannon's discovery of the unidentified DNA and the agreement by Meehan and Nifong to exclude that information from the DNASI report. Without his recusal, the case would have proceeded to trial or been dismissed on a "technicality" if the April 4 "identifications" were disallowed. There would have been no declaration of innocence.

Those who resent the defendants' ability to defend themselves from baseless charges miss the obvious point. Poor, minority defendants who have been railroaded in unfair trials are not made better off because affluent, white defendants suffer the same fate. They are made better off when the system is changed to ensure their rights. There has been no effort to use the Duke frame to gain allies to make these changes.

unbekannte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Referring back to JSwift's last comment, you did say that a prosecutor could make a case without any credible evidence.

Credible means believable. Credible evidence is believable evidence.

How could nifong have proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if he could not present anything believable to either establish the crime or to incriminate the defendant?

Your thinking is kind oe oxymoronic.

February 23, 2010 5:14 AM

Edited Feb 23, 2010 7:17 AM

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

More about cgm's id of David Evans:

The wanted poster, showing all of the caucasian members of the Lacrosse team, distributed by the Crimestoppers organization in Durham showed no member of the Lacrosse team had a mustache.

Does that support or impeach cgm's 90% id of David Evans?

Should nifong have checked those photographs before asking the Grand Jury to indict David Evans?

Have you ever checked that poster to see if David Evans had a mustache?

Nifong Supporter said...

To JSwift:

What is so tragic about the Ronald Cotton case is that he was picked up off the street and placed in a lineup. There was nothing else to implicate him in the rape, other than that he was an African American male as was the rapist.

In the Duke Lacrosse case, the accused were at the scene of the crime, when the alleged crime took place, and were identified with 100% certainty by the accuser. We are not aware of other evidence that links the accused to the possible crime because the Attorney General has it sealed and it was never presented in court.

JSwift said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Walt said...

"In the Duke Lacrosse case, the accused were at the scene of the crime, when the alleged crime took place, and were identified with 100% certainty by the accuser. We are not aware of other evidence that links the accused to the possible crime because the Attorney General has it sealed and it was never presented in court."

Syd, there you go again. Not one word of truth to your statements.

First, there was no scene of the crime. Remember, no credible evidence. That means, there was no crime to have a scene.

Second, there was no crime. Again, no credible evidence. That's what Nifong himself said, and for once, he is right about the contents of the file. Crystal told, by my count, five (5) different versions of the story. Newsweek sent a reporter to dig through all the police reports, she has counted ten (10) versions of the story told by Crystal. No other witness corroborated any of Crystal's versions of events. Not one.

Third, Crystal's so called identification came after two previously failed attempts with the same photos. The three innocent men she identified do not match the descriptions she gave in her various stories.

Fourth, the only parts of the file that are sealed are Crystal's medical records. Those are sealed not by the Attorney General, but by order of the Superior Court. (As well they should be because those records contain matters which relate to mental health treatment.)

Nifong behaved worse than the prosecutor in the Cotton case in that he picked three demonstrably innocent men and prosecuted them without any credible evidence and with no probable cause.

Walt-in-Durham

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Again, you lie when you say cgm identified her attackers with 90% to 100% certainty. That lineup was not conducted in accord with police procedures, was unduly suggestive, i.e. rigged so cgm would identify someone, and consisted of individuals who had already been exonerated by the evidence.

Further, nifong knew, at the time the lineup was conducted, there had been no crime.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

The case file would again become public if nifong and durham would defend themselves instead of trying to have the lawsuits dismissed.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

cgm said David Evans had a mustache at the time of the alleged assault. Photos prove that no Lacrosse player had a mustache at the time.

How do you explain that? How does that not question the validity of cgm's id.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Did it occur to you, nifong should have made all his evidence available to the defense team. He should have made all his evidence public before the AG ever got involved. He was legally, ethically, Constitutionally obligated to release that evidence. Why did he not do so before he asked Mr. Cooper to take over the case?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

nifong himself admitted he had no credible evidence to charge the innocent, falsely accused Lacrosse players with a crime. Why do you believe AG Cooper has any credible evidence of their involvement in the alleged crime?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

You now admit the crime was an alleged crime. If there is no proof of a crime, how can it be any more than alleged?

If a prosecutor has no more than an alleged crime, what justification does he have to conduct a lineup? The obligation of a DA who prosecutes is to first prove the crime then to prove the accused committed the crime.

So, what justifies naming suspects before proving a crime.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

You have said cgm alleged she was raped, that she always maintained she was raped.

The historical record is: at the Duke access center she said she was raped; then she told Sergeant Shelton she was not raped; at DUMC she said she was raped. During this time, nifong never personally interviewed her.

9 months later, nifong did interview her and she said she could not remember being penetrated. Bofore tha was the tainted, improperly conducted, improperly suggestive lineup in which she said she was raped

Months after that, when her memoir was released upon the public, she said she was raped.

In one sentence, her replies to the question, Were you raped, were successively yes, no, yes, yes, no, yes.

How can any reasonable person believe that is a credible allegation of a crime?

unbekannte said...

more uncicility for crazy etc. sidney:

Back to the crime which you now admit was only alleged(you have never offered any evidence to the contrary).

cgm gave details about the alleged crime, that she was penetrated and ejaculated on by multiple accusers who did not use condoms. The condom part is noted in multiple places in the medical record(maybe you will allege that the "carpetbagger jihad" ordered DUMC to kowtow and put those notations into the record).

A rape like cgm's alleged rape(remember, it was only alleged at this point) would leave DNA and other material on the victim. Forensic examination of the rape kit revealed no evidence consistent with the rape cgm alleged.

So, how could that kind of evidence justify accusing any Lacrosse player of a rape in this case? Why was cgm's boyfriend not a suspect? The rape kit exam turned up evidence that this man had intimate contact with cgm.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc: sidney:

I have read that the improper, unduly suggestive lineup resulted in four id's, not three. Why did nifong not indict and charge the fourth man? Why did nifong indict and charge David Evans when cgm's id said he had a certain obvious facial feature which was never there.

I ask again, if nifong really did view the photos of the Lacrosse team, why did he not question cgm's id of David Evans.

A competent prosecutor would realize he had a better chance of making his case against David Evans if he could verify David Evans had once sported a mustache. A rogue prosecutor would realize lack of a mustache would cast doubt.

Did nifong deliberately fail to verify David Evans mustache or lack thereof? Throughout this case nifong showed a marked reluctance to introduce exculpatory evidence into the case, e.g.withholding of the exculpatory evidence of non Lacrosse Player DNA onn cgm's person.

unbekannte said...

more incivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Maybe nifong did not charge the fourth man id'ed by cgm because he, himself, early in the case when there was no evidence, that three Lacrosse players had taken cgm into the bathroom.

nifong might have further damaged his credibility had he charged a fourth Player.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

If there is indeed evidence establishing the occurrence of a crime, it would exonerate nifong, would it not? Why hasn't nifong's lawyer asked the Federal Court to order the unsealing of the case file so nifong can exonerate himself? If nifong can exonerate himself, then why not do it instead of wasting money to have the case dismissed?

Is the answer that there is no evidence of any crime in the file - except for crimes committed against the innocent, wrongfully accused Duke Lacrosse Players?

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Once again, sid, you got it wrong.

You said the accused were at the scene of the crime and were identified by cgm with 100% certainty.

cgm identified David Evans with 90% certainty. She said David Evans had a mustache at the time of the alleged rape. The picture she looked at to id David Evans showed no mustache.

Did nifong look for a picture of David Evans which showed a mustache? Had he found such a picture it would have increased the certainty of cgm's id to more than 90%. Has any such picture emerged?

On the other hand, pictures of David Evans without a mustache discredit this particular cgm id. For this id to be significant, nifong would have had to prove David Evans had a mustache. Remember, the prosecutor i.e. nifong had the burden of proof.

Neither Reade Seligman nor Colin Finnerty were present at the scene of the alleged crime at the time it was alleged to have taken place. Each could prove his absence from the party at the crucial time. The only thing nifong tried to do to impeach Reade Seligman's alibi was to arrest Moez Emostafa, an alibi witness for Reade Seligman. That says nifong could not impeach Reade Seligman's alibi.

So, by your own unintended indirect admission, the cgm id's were not credible id's, and the fact that she made them was not incriminating. Therefore, nifong had no justification to indict any of the accused.

Maybe now you can show us by logic and common sense that the indictments were justified.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

Once again, sid, you got it wrong.

You said the accused were at the scene of the crime and were identified by cgm with 100% certainty.

cgm identified David Evans with 90% certainty. She said David Evans had a mustache at the time of the alleged rape. The picture she looked at to id David Evans showed no mustache.

Did nifong look for a picture of David Evans which showed a mustache? Had he found such a picture it would have increased the certainty of cgm's id to more than 90%. Has any such picture emerged? Did nifong not seek out such a picture because he knew no such picture existed? nifong showed himself reluctant to introduce exculpatory evidence into the case. Pictures of David Evans without a mustache were exculpatory. They raised doubt about cgm's id.

For that id to be inculpatory nifong had to prove David Evans had a mustache. Remember, the prosecutor i.e. had the burden of proof.

Neither Reade Seligman nor Colin Finnerty were present at the scene of the alleged crime at the time it was alleged to have taken place. Each could prove his absence from the party at the crucial time. The only thing nifong tried to do to impeach Reade Seligman's alibi was to arrest Moez Emostafa, an alibi witness for Reade Seligman. That says nifong could not impeach Reade Seligman's alibi.

So, by your own unintended indirect admission, the cgm id's were not credible id's, and the fact that she made them was not incriminating. Therefore, nifong had no justification to indict any of the accused.

Maybe now you can show us by logic and common sense that the indictments were justified.

unbekannte said...

more uncivility for crazy etc. sidney:

It took you long enough to use the word alleged. It was longer than the time it took you to learn the name of David Evans Mother.

Now, when are you going to learn the meaning of exculpatory, due process, presumption of innocence, Brady versus Maryland, open discovery, accepted behavior for a prosecutor?