The North Carolina bar filed charges today against Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in connection with the Duke lacrosse prosecution. Nifong apparently has been under investigation since last March. He is charged with making inflammatory comments to the media about the defendants in the case, and with “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation” in connection with the exculpatory DNA evidence that he apparently tried to conceal. Nifong faces penalties ranging up to disbarment.
Our criminal justice system reposes a tremendous amount of discretion in prosecutors. When prosecutors are corrupt, like Nifong or Ronnie Earle of Travis County, Texas, who ruined Tom DeLay’s public career, the consequences can be devastating.
In many states, there are severe limits on how much money can be recovered in tort suits against governmental units. I haven’t researched the law in North Carolina, but it would seem that such a statute is the only plausible defense to what would otherwise be blockbuster lawsuits on behalf of the three wrongly accused Duke students.
UPDATE: The Complaint against Nifong is here. It basically focuses on statements he has made to the media, rather than the much more egregious attempt, as I understand the facts, to bury DNA evidence that pretty conclusively showed that all three defendants were innocent. I’d guess that this reflects the fact that the bar committee has been investigating since March and the DNA issue surfaced only recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Complaint is amended. Via Drudge.
SCOTT adds: K.C. Johnson has also taken a close look at the complaint at Durham-in-Wonderland. As John suggests, Johnson notes that “The filing focuses solely on [Nifong's] procedurally improper public statements…” Johnson anticipates that another complaint may be filed dealing with the suppression of the exculpatory DNA evidence.
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