My close circle of friends know that I’ve harbored some intent thoughts regarding the Duke Lacrosse case. For the past year, I’ve said that yesterday’s outcome was inevitable. This case was never going to trial and the accused were going to walk away free men, albeit after draining their parent’s savings accounts on legal fees.
This case is an absolute, living, breathing example of how the justice system can be skewed and abused by rogue prosecutors. Mike Nifong went beyond embarrassing his office and squandering the resources of the citizens of Durham County; his efforts have resulted in creating an infamous persona that will define David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann for the rest of their lives.
I wonder if anyone has really thought about this. What will come of these three young men when the television cameras are gone? Their educational endeavors have been interrupted … permanently. We’re talking about three young men who have barely been on this earth two decades. They are supposed to be experiencing the youth of their lives, not piecing them back together. They’ll never be able to escape this – “Google” their names and see if you learn anything about the good they’ve done in their lives.
This case was tainted from the very beginning. Mr. Nifong decided early on that he would play “investigator and prosecutor”, which virtually diminished the role of law enforcement in the case. This isn’t just illogical; it’s unethical. But, it doesn’t stop there. Nifong suppressed evidence, which in essence amounts to hiding it from the defense.
His failure to disclose DNA results, as well as witness information that benefited the accused, was premeditated and should cost him the privilege to ever practice law, again. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper put it best, when he said, “This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor.” Nifong has been charged with several ethics violations, in regard to his handling of the case.
At the minimum, this case serves as an example of what can and will happen when we rush to judgment. At most, it reflects the lasting damage that can be done to lives and reputations, when the self-serving desires and intentions of politically appointed officials surface. Mr. Nifong owes these gentleman and their families much more than an apology. In fact, he owes them something he could never give back … their lives before March 13, 2006.
In the end, we would all probably agree that Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann, along with their teammates, made some poor choices on that March night. However, they’re not “hooligans” (Nifong-ism) or more importantly, “criminals”. It really appears that the only person to do anything wrong in this entire fiasco, is Mr. Nifong. And, he knows it.
The fitting result to the travesty known as the “Duke Lacrosse Scandal” would be that Mr. Nifong will never again be able to enter a court room and practice law. Gosh, I hope this happens …
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