The North Carolina Bar has filed charges against Durham District Attorney Thomas Nifong. The Center for Individual Freedom's Freedom Line reports:
On December 28, 2006, the North Carolina State Bar filed ethics charges against Durham, North Carolina District Attorney Michael B. Nifong for public statements made related to the so-called Duke University rape case.
As noted earlier on this site and on Karnick on Culture (see articles here, here, and here), the case was a blatant instance of false prosecution from the beginning. The Freedom Line article nicely summarizes Nifong's motives in pressing the entirely groundless case forward:
As most everyone now knows, Nifong was a career prosecutor until he got appointed District Attorney to fill out an uncompleted term. He liked the top job. He decided to run for election to keep it. At the time, he had some competition. He needed a political edge.
Nifong got that edge when, in March 2006, a stripper hired to perform at a party for the Duke lacrosse team claimed she had been gang raped there.
Talk about a prosecutor's political dream. The stripper was black, poor, a single mother working her way through college. The lacrosse players were mostly rich, mostly white, going to that school of privilege and prestige. In the . . . South! (Harper Lee, call your agent.)
Nifong went public, talking, talking, talking. The media, scandal-starved after months of not discovering the dastardly deed or doers thereof to little Natalee in Aruba, took the story global. The Duke University administration, after years of carefully cultivating its reputation to match its ivy-covered facades, looked ever so presumptuously at the prosecutor's edge and decided to jump over it with him. (Now, Duke is clumsily trying to jump back.)
Exactly. There may well be additional charges in the bar association's action, the Freedom Line article notes:
The ethics charges filed against Nifong thus far cover only violations resulting from his public statements. Based on subsequent developments, including collusion with a DNA lab to obfuscate exculpatory evidence, amended complaints and other actions should soon follow. . . .
For those who pay attention to such arcane proceedings, several aspects of the North Carolina State Bar complaint against Mr. Nifong are noteworthy.
First, the State Bar said that it opened a case against Nifong only weeks after the original rape charges were made. Second, the State Bar seems to have initiated the ethics action itself. Third, the complaint is about as public as any could get, while most such actions by state bars are secret.
All three of those initiatives – speed, responsibility, transparency -- are to be commended, because all are so rare.
Your intrepid correspondent, as you will remember, called for Nifong's impeachment and removal from office last May, and for the prosecution of the unnamed accuser and the firing of Duke University President Richard Brodhead at the same time. I branded this "the North Carolina false prosecution scandal" from the start.
It is good to see that the state's bar has finally gone on record as agreeing with that assessment. Now it is up to other state authorities to follow suit. Let justice be done.
From Karnick on Culture.