Race/Gender

Nifong disbarred: justice is served, if only in small doses…

Mike Nifong made America a worse place. He stirred up a racial firestorm in a town where blacks had longstanding reason to mistrust the white power structure. He cynically played on the community’s resentment of white privilege incaranate at Duke University. He somehow made martyrs out of affluent white athletes who were anything but the choirboys they’re pretending to be.

And bottom line, he blatantly ignored evidence and abused his authority in pursuit of political ambition.

Today, though, we have evidence that sometimes just things happen to bad people:

N.C. Panel Disbars Duke Prosecutor
By AARON BEARD 06.16.07, 5:40 PM ETA disciplinary committee said Saturday disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong would be disbarred for his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape – a punishment the veteran prosecutor admitted was appropriate.

“This matter has been a fiasco. There’s no doubt about it,” said committee chairman F. Lane Williamson.

The North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with breaking several rules of professional conduct, including lying to both the court and bar investigators and withholding critical DNA test results from the players’ defense attorneys.

The committee, after deliberating for a little more than an hour on Saturday, unanimously agreed with the bar on almost every charge – including the most serious allegations – that Nifong’s actions involved “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” (Story.)

Sadly, some punks down Durham way have probably learned the wrong lesson from the decision, but I guess that’s a small price to pay for a good dose of justice.

I hate to wish people ill, but it’s okay if if I wish them exactly what they deserve, right?

19 replies »

  1. Cuz I can’t pass up a rhetorical question for the sake of amplifying it 😉

    To wish them anything less would be a desire to deny them full humanity, imho (I think Kant would agree, just more verbosely and not in a way I’m comfortable with). Justice and mercy should be balanced, but nothing good could come of coddling or shielding someone from just desserts. Besides, if we’re open to justice for ourselves (oh, that *could* be harsh in my case, heh) I see nothing wrong for wishing it for/on someone else…it’s just a matter of consistently applying the golden rule :>

  2. At the expense of sounding disingenuous and also hijacking this thread, there has been a question that has bothered me from the beginning.

    Throughout the whole fiasco, the media referred to the complainant as “a stripper”. Does her profession have anything to do with the merits of the case? Certainly it explained why she was there, but it seemed to me that they never mentioned it in that context. It seemed more of a judgment upon her credibility or playing to those that think that strippers and hookers can’t be raped, per se.

    Would she have been portrayed differently had she not been an exotic dancer, or perhaps if she was white?

    Am I reading too much into it?

  3. Cases like this always worry me.

    A whole load of men together and a woman selling ‘visual sex’ and…events can get out of hand….

    She’d be ripped apart…and then again in Court.

  4. Rori: Her race certainly allowed the press to make some hay – what a great story, you know: black student from low on the food chain stripping to make a living raped by white elites. How very colonial. You can almost see Tom Wolfe packing his notepad and catching the next bus to Durham to begin plotting out his next novel.

    On the other hand, Durham and Duke kinda ARE that sort of situation. So there’s an element of life imitates art here, I think. Reporters didn’t really have to bend the details to get them to fit the template.

    If she hadn’t been black, at least, this would never have been a national story, period. It was the racial context of Durham that made it one. The stripper part added some spice to it, but it was the black/white that made it sell.

    Elaine: I get the sense that the accuser, as we say back home, ain’t quite right. It sounds like this is a woman with some serious problems. Yeah, she’d get ripped apart in court, although this particular woman deserves it.

  5. I agree with Sam that the racial context of Durham, NC, is what gives the story its national oomph. I also agree, having lived here the entire time (less than 2 hours from Durham) that what we had here is a politically ambitious D.A. looking to catapult himself to, perhaps, the attorney general’s office in NC – which has proven a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion in more than one case (including the current NC governor) who just went over the line – politicizing the case and, when it began to fall apart, improvising himself into fabricating…and ruining his career in the process.

    I disagree with Sam about his cheap shot at the accused Duke athletes. No, Duke’s lacrosse players aren’t choir boys – neither are any other school’s. And the student athletes at Duke aren’t any more affluent than those at Wake Forest, Johns Hopkins, UVa, UNC, or any of the other national powerhouses in the sport. Lacrosse is a sport that seems to thrive in pretty elite corners – UPenn and Cornell are perennial powers, for example. Haven’t noticed any of their student athletes getting kicked.

    So if it’s going to be about “affluent white athletes,” then probably it’d be better to stick to the story – the issue was “white athlete” and “Black stripper.” And if we’re going to devalue the importance of “stripper,” then we should devalue the importance of the word “athlete.” So we’re left with Sam’s very accurate point – the issue was about black and white – about racial divides….

  6. Sam:

    Just so we’re clear – I do not support/like lap dance clubs and strip joints whether male ones or females ones…

    It saddens me that anyone feels that to make a living they need to trade in sex. The sex trade is often littered with sad, lost souls, victims of abuse and people with little or no education. Mental problems are often associated with individuals who gravitate towards the environment.

    Paying money for cheap thrills…I’d rather eat an ice-cream. I’m just glad that not ALL men/women think they are a wonderful addition/contribution to society.

    Having said that…Dance troups are fine and I enjoyed the film The Full Monty (not for the stripping at the end) but for showing why they did it…poverty can lead/seduce individual/s into selling what they have. So body first…next soul?

  7. This whole Nifong episode was a classic case of a Democrat pandering to his Democrat-voting base and subverting justice to achieve an end. Just as the Democrats tried to rewrite existing Florida law to steal the 2000 election, Nifong disregarded the law to get re-elected in a largely black district.

    In most states, prosecutors are required by law to pursue justice. That means you don’t prosecute the innocent to appeal to voters.

    Nifong destroyed his own career, which is a fitting result seeing as how he tried to destroy the lives of innocent young men to achieve his own goals. Justice is served!

  8. Sam

    I dare to say that you aren’t a choir boy. No one has claimed to be a choir boy. No one is required to be a choir boy in order to receive justice.

    Your own disappointment in the eventual truth is both obvious and sad.

  9. I’m sorry to have confused the issue by suggesting that the world isn’t black and white. But if you somehow concluded from my post that I’m disappointed in what happened to Nifong, then you’re simply not reading very closely. I was on the record calling for his head MONTHS ago – this prosecution smelled to high heaven within a week or two of the story breaking and I said so.

    That said, Duke athletics – and the lacrosse program in particular – have been problematic for some time, and one of the unfortunate side effects of Nifong’s criminal campaign against the truth has been that it allowed some not-so-great people to play the martyr card, and in the process perhaps set back some long-overdue reform.

    I’m disappointed, all right, but not about what happened to Nifong. I hope they aren’t done with him, either – he deserves worse than disbarment…

  10. This case should be an opportunity to address a very serious issue in this country. Nifong’s behavior isn’t as unusual as most would like to think. It’s actually quite common place. The difference is that Nifong was stupid enough to do it to people who can get million dollar loans for their defense. There’s no doubt in my mind that any poor or lower middle class defendents would have been convicted in this case no matter what their race.

    The testimony of those against Nifong was almost as chilling as his own behavior. It was never a question of guilty or innocent. It was only a question of can we convict. It doeesn’t speak well of the culture of the justice system.

    Those who should be using this case to highlight the issue don’t seem to want to touch it. Why not? My own opinion is that class, race and gender warfare trumps all.

    Lacrosse team issues or not, the behavior of Reade has been quite impressive to me. You might want to note that he left the party before the trouble and his first comment upon being cleared was to point out exactly what I’ve said here. He pointed out that they were the lucky few with the money to fight for their freedom.

  11. I’m the LAST guy to dismiss class issues – in fact, I think my post LED with just that. And the big reason that Nifong needs to burn is that he capitalized on the black community’s longstanding frustration with these racial inequities, then left them dangling. If they didn’t trust a white official before, where does that trust level rank NOW?

    You’re no doubt right that this kind of thing happens all the time. I would say that in this particular case even a rookie public defender might have gotten the defendants off, though, because there was plenty of DNA and NONE of it pointed to them. May be wrong here, but it seems to me that this is moment where Nifong transmogrified from “corrupt” to “insanely stupid.” A lot of ambitious prosecutors out there are corrupt enough to have pursued this travesty, but most would have had sense enough to cut and run when that DNA evidence came back.

  12. Sorry but I’ve lost my faith in public defenders. They are grossly overworked with many hundreds of cases at once. I’ve come to the conclusion that you either take the plea deal they work out or you are on your own.

    There have been some local cases which led me to this conclusion. The men were convicted of serious crimes with even more evidence of innocence present. They spent years in prison before being freed.

  13. Sam-
    I would like to see whatever you have seen, that tells you that these Duke athletes are or were as you allege, ‘not so great people’. Where’s your proof? Do you know these young men personally? I played lacrosse in school myself. Does that make me a ‘white elite not-so-great person’? Are you just making a sweeping generalization here? I mean, come on. I would have hired a stripper for a party, I’d watch her do her thing, I’d laugh, cheer, and drink beer. At the end of the night (or at the very beginning, depending on her contract policy) I’d pay her, and may even call her a cab. I certainly wouldn’t rape her with my buddies from the team. She provides a service, for which she is paid a fee. I don’t see the wrong in it. It’s legal, correct? What the accuser did and what Nifong did was and is, in fact, illegal. Making false statements and withholding evidence is widely recognized as breaking the law. Those two people deserve to be sued extensively, and prosecuted to the fullest. They should lock Nifong up and forget where they put the key for what he tried to do. I hope the great state of North Carolina gets sued extensively also. The taxpayers need to feel the pain on this one, to ensure they make better decisions on who they put into public office in the future. The media deserves civil justice as well, especially that Nancy Grace person. What a silly Southern idiot. I cannot wait until CNN realizes what a wack job she is, and takes the appropriate measures. All the little coppers that just did as they were told to do, should be fired. Only a substantial purge of bad people from the NC justice system should suffice. Many heads should roll from this, as these others were Nifong’s enablers and bear partial responsibility. Duke should be sued as well, but they played it smart and already volunteered their millions to spare themselves a much larger damages award from actual litigation.
    This is something that could have happened to any young white athletes in the Duke boys’ situation, especially in the rabid, fervent, willy-nilly politically correct atmosphere that we have in the US where everybody wants to see a white guy go to jail, regardless if it means a perversion of justice to achieve that end. It’s not their fault that they’re white, really- I know you don’t believe that, but it’s true.

  14. Well, let’s see. I’m white myself. I’m not even remotely PC. My feelings about people going to jail are based on whether I think they’re guilty, not what color they are. And as I THOUGHT I made clear, I’m way past the artificial either/or idea that only one party can be guilty or that if you’re innocent of a particular allegation it somehow makes you Mother Teresa.

    As for Duke, don’t take my word for it. By all means, start with the nationally syndicated Duke grad in the first link.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/28/AR2007052800929.html
    http://articles.news.aol.com/sports/_a/dukes-handling-of-lacrosse-mess-has-been/20041202125109990001
    http://www.newsobserver.com/1185/story/424766.html

  15. While it is true that Nifong got what he deserved, there is another party who has really not been mentioned much at all, namely the stripper. While Nifong certainly took the ball and ran with it, he was not the one who snapped the ball. Where is the outrage against the person who started the whole thing? Is it being racist to suggest that the initial accuser, who knew the whole thing to be a complete fabrication from the beginning since she started it, to be let let off without even a tsk, tsk? I realize that she is a new mother, of a child started probably within 2-3 days of the supposed attack, and that it may be considered a hardship on the child to be deprived of its mother. On the other hand, it may be the best thing you could do for it, as said mother has certainly demonstrated her moral character.
    By the by, being a stripper does not automaticly make one a “sad, lost soul, victim of abuse and people with little or no education”.
    Sometimes its just a matter of someone who has a good body and the ability to pick up some dance moves who wants to spend a few years making good money without too much intellectual effort. While this line of work may not be for everyone, some enjoy it, so I am told.

    Sam, sorry I missed you while you were in Winston-Salem. If you find yourself back here again sometime, for some reason, let me know.

  16. Hey, I’m incredibly outraged about the accuser, Sam, but there are multiple issues there.

    1: False accusations aren’t about race.
    2: No matter how guilty she is, it doesn’t excuse Nifong. There’s no either/or here – it’s a both/and.
    3: Based on what I’ve read, I’m not 100% sure we’re dealing with a responsible woman. I’d have to know more, but she damned sure sounds like somebody with deeper problems. Don’t make it right, but something seems a little off.

    Glad to see you’ve found us. Even better to hear from you.

  17. My name is Rhonda Fleming and here is a brief account of what I have had to go through to seek justice for my beloved brother……..Feel Free to contact me!
    Here is my latest attempt at JUSTICE, only to have Chief Crabtree tell me “It’s been handled!” As in, THROWN IN THE GARBAGE!
    Durham County Sheriff’s Office
    Complaint Form for Citizens
    Nature: MISCONDUCT OCA #:
    Citizen’s Name: Rhonda Fleming Race & Sex:W/F
    Home Address:
    City: Cleveland State: Ohio Zip:
    If applicable, please list other complaints and/or witnesses: Paul Martin and TJ Mellown

    Officer/Employee involved: TJ Mellown Division: Sheriff Dept
    Officer/Employee involved: Paul Martin Division: Sheriff Dept
    Location of incident: Durham Sheriff’s Dept
    Date & Time of incident: May 11, 2005-July 16, 2005 3PM
    Complaint received by: Date:
    Forwarded for resolution to: From:
    Re-Forwarded for resolution to: From:
    Summary of Incident (__ Additional information attached.)
    From the moment my brother was found executed, we, as in my mother and I have been lied to, threatened with legal action for calling about details of his death, and for calls to make a report of fraud on behalf of my brother’s wife to obtain his body, and estate. Mr Mellown lied about there being an autopsy, failed to do an investigation to protocol, and he and Mr Martin have been insulting, abusive, and hang up on us when we call. I have tried NUMEROUS times to file a complaint, my letters go in the garbage, and my calls get hung up on! The conduct of these two “officers” are unethical, and have been verbally abusive to us, and about my brothers death. It took Mr Mellown over a year to send us a single report, after my mother and I both sent by certified mail our requests for documents under the FOIA, and the now Public Records Act. We have been told there were numerous pictures and video of the crime scene on a computer disk, but they refuse to comply or admit the existence of them. I consider the actions of these 2 to be criminal acts, such as threatening me, lies about the crime, and the manner of investigation that was botched and shoddy to say the least! I wish these men to be held accountable, and am forwarding this document to the media and other public officials for resolution.

    Resolution: (__ Additional information attached.)
    Citizen notified by Phone _____ Mail _____
    Officer submitting form to Chief Deputy: Date:

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