The evidence against the Duke lacrosse boys was so lacking that the North Carolina Attorney General is proposing a new law to help keep this from happening again:
Our investigation shows that:
The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser’s story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we’ll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.
In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Today, we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody.
Now, we have good district attorneys in North Carolina who are both tough and fair. And we need these forceful, independent prosecutors to put criminals away and protect the public. But we also need checks and balances to protect the innocent. This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor. What has been learned here is that the internal checks on a criminal charge—sworn statements, reasonable grounds, proper suspect photo lineups, accurate and fair discovery—all are critically important.
Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands.
About as strong a rebuke, and as straight-forward a condemnation that you will ever see. I propose the suggested law be called “Nifong’s Act,” so that every time it is discussed the man is publicly shamed.
I’m not necessarily keen on this–I guess I’d want to see how ‘limited’ these circumstances are first. However, I’ve got a better idea–why don’t we just ensure that our citizens are “presumed innocent“, and that they have a “right to a speedy trial“.
I propose that it be called the “Clinton Act”, so that the blame goes where it truly belongs.
We have an outfit that addresses that, called the ACLU. Proud to be carrying their membership card right here.
Great line, SM.
Another possibility could be to discipline or fire DAs who overreach their authority through the standard channels already in place – Censure, dismissal, or disbarring.
Really? We haven’t learned this repeatedly when the someone non-white and non-wealthy gets released after ten or twenty years in prison? What happened to the players sucked, and I feel bad thinking they were guilty simply because they sounded like assholes, but the people who are taking this case as a particular earth-shattering lesson in America justice are either deeply clueless or so caught up in identity politics that they can’t see straight.
That’s nothing–try 35 years for stealing a black-and-white TV in 1970 (while black).
Quick do something! White young men have been wrongly accused! How could this happen here?!
Thomas…you are quite right. What happened to the Duke students is a travesty but this is not a new thing, well, it’s new for upper to middle class white males. And, thank goodness they had the resources to defend themselves. Imagine if they were thrown to the public defenders.
I think this Nifong abuse reenforces the issue still at hand about the politicization of the Attorney Generals. Given that prosecutors have such flexability and power, we have to gurantee that they are fair and professional … NOT a “Loyal Bushie”.
Oh noes! You can’t mean it! Poor NC. In all it’s history it has never had an idiotic/biased pros go after an innocent person. Golly, I do hope they recover from the shock of discovering that sometimes law enforcement officials fuck people over when they fuck up.
I detect the faint whiff of a sound and fury that will amount to nothing. But good luck crafting that law buddy. Make sure it’s really narrow or The NCSC will be out for your blood when it is swamped with petitions from people whining “It’s not faaaaaaair!” But of course, if it is too narrow you would have just wasted a shit load of time because it will never apply to anyone. Or worse yet a judge will very sarcastically point out there are already such procedures in place.
I also wonder if such a law would result in the LAX players spending more time in legal limbo. Rather than just letting the sheer weight of the DA’s idiocy crush the case, they’d have to wait for the SC to issue a ruling. Yeah. That’s smart.
Seriously John, I know you’re mad about this but think about how you would craft such a law and what it would do that isn’t already covered by existing law.
I haven’t decided if I favor it or not.
But as to what some people said earlier, I think it is actually more frightening this happened to a bunch of white, wealthy kids, out in the open for everyone to see.
If it can happen to them, can you imagine the shit people without money or the benefit of different pigmentation are going through?
This is part of the outgrowth of political races for Attorneys (and Judges for that matter). Guys (and gals) start worrying about making sure they get re-elected so they start taking cases, pushing boundaries, fudging the lines, etc. to get sensational cases to win. They start to have the election cycle affect how they act, and Justice suffers.
It’s a shame it happened to these white upper middle class guys, but hopefully it help to shine a light on the trials and tribulations that the less fortunate in this country face everyday.
Oh and Nifong deserves to be disbarred at this point minimum. He seriously abused his position to the point where Government immunity really shouldn’t protect him as it’s going to from prosecution for this situation.
Well, that means maybe we’ll be done talking about this in about 3 months.
Seriously, I don’t, nor have I ever, give a shit about this story. Why Fox News, and by extension, the right wing blogs were all over this, I have no idea.
No imagination needed. I’ve seen it happen, hence my snark about the NCAG vapouring about this particular instance of a pros who didn’t know what the fuck he was doing, or knew what he was doing and didn’t care that it was wrong. I’m sure every non-Caucasian/non-middle to upper class citizen of NC is rolling his eyes like crazy right now. “Overreaching prosecutors? You don’t say!”
If I thought that this cock-up would make people who traditionally don’t have to put up with miscarriages of justice wake the fuck up, I might not find the AG quite such a dumb ass. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think people will continue to howl for Nifong’s head and once he’s gone they’ll be completely unmoved by the next story of some brown guy getting screwed over by the courts.
I don’t have to imagine it; I see it in the news.
Lets see…. that’s two posts so far by Cole about those poor innocent (albeit, racist scumbags) Duke Lacrosse players who were merely charged with a crime — but were never tried based on flimsy evidence, and didn’t spend more than one night in jail. (Anyone want to guess how many more posts Cole gives us on this topic before he finds some other middle class white racist males to obsess about?)
Zero Cole posts about the Wisconsin Democrat who was tried on such trumped up charges by Bush Loyalist Jim Biskupic and convicted — and whose conviction was thrown out by the appeals court (including 2 of 3 GOP judges) IMMEDIATELY after oral arguments because there was no case…. and she spent four months in jail thanks to this bogus prosecution.
In fact, the only time Cole has ever blogged about Biskupic is when he lead a task force looking into voter fraud in Wisconsin. Cole trumpeted Biskupic’s findings…. but now that we know exactly what a partisan hack Biskupic is, perhaps its time for John to revisit that oldie but goodie
been a long time since I was attacked from the left flank for NOT writing a post! Thanks, P. Lukasiak.
I guess by not knowing or remembering who the hell Biskupic is, I am one and the same with Rush Limbaugh.
And by the way, nice drive-by smear of those kids.
my pleasure john. of course, its not about ‘not writing a post’, its about obsessing about a miscarrage of justice that a bunch up racist, upper-middle class males while ignoring the far more insidious case in Wisconsin. Injustice is always going to occur, John. Nifongs happen.
But the import of the isolated Nifong/Duke incident is dwarfed by the systematic and deliberate perversion of justice being perpetrated by the Bush administration — and the Biskupic/Thompson travesty deserves far more attention than what happened with the Duke frat boys.
I think more highly of you than that, John. AFAIK, you don’t go overseas with a bottle of viagra to a country notorious for the availability of underaged prostitutes…. so you a much better person in my book than Rush
are you denying that they are racists? Or that we should ignore that fact because they were unjustly accused of a crime (didn’t do any time, of course…just unjustly accused..)
Yes if only there were some person who would look out for the defendants and protect their rights, we’ll call him the defender. And then maybe we could have another person to settle disptes between the prosecutor and defender. Perhaps give him a a symbol of authority like a black robe. Wow what a great idea!
I have tried, but I simply do not have the time or energy to document every criminal aspect of this administration. If you have some links, throw em up and I will look at them.
Additionally, I have no evidence that it is fair to call the entire team a bunch of racists. I do remember some really disgusting emails from one of the kids after the event, and I have no doubt that there are some racists in the lot, but I think calling someone a racist is pretty serious, and should be reserved for those we are sure are racist.
Like George Allen.
Two of the accused Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were not there when racial taunts occurred.
Can someone explain these talking points to me?
I believe the Duke Lacrosse players requested white strippers and were upset when black strippers arrived.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t comes to mind. Which is why the “just accused, not convicted” thing holds no water. These guys will be tagged with this for life, both because of the scummy stuff that came out that wouldn’t have made the national news without Nifong’s idiocy and because of the people who will never quite admit they were wrong about the case.
But who would have guessed strippers and a couple of dozen drunk guys in a private house could possibly have turned out badly?
As if by eerie Coincidence, I have just finished a post on Biskupic (the Democrats have bupkis), but that is not what caught my eye.
I heard the NC attorney presser on the radio and couldn’t believe my ears – he wants the NC Supreme Court to oversee attorneys? Not that I am a constitutional lawyer (especially the NC constitution), but isn’t that an Executive Branch function? Shouldn’t there be a law letting the governor step in to guide a wacky prosecution?
Of course, unless the NC legislature has the foresight to first repeal the Law of Unintended Consequences, I would be leery of this latest notion. The right to a quick trial seems like a better route.
Wingnut empathy – in accordance with their self perceived status as “victims” in a world where everyone tells awful lies about them except for Rush, Hannity and the FNC.
And now they go and call BS on the Rutgers WBT for playing the “victim card”.
Pots and kettles and all that.
unfortunately, the “scummy stuff” started coming out as soon as the accusation was made and publicized — blaming Nifong for that is an injustice as well.
ultimately, this was a story about racism — an argument ensued after one of the players suggested raping the hookers with a broomstick, and racist remarks were made by the players. And there was at least one other racist incident that occurred as the hookers were leaving.
Absent the racism, I personally doubt that the accusation of rape would have occurred. That’s why it remains critical to include the racist nature of the team when discussing this story— the rape allegation was retaliation for the racism that the hookers were exposed to. No racism, no rape allegation.
yeah, those hookers should have known not to be black when showing up at a Duke University Lacrosse Team boozefest.
funny how you left out a key point — that while Thompson was convicted by the jury, the judge in that case was a Federalist Society wingnut — who, contrary to established precedent, incarcerated Thompson while her appeal was pending. (I’m sure you’d be outraged if Libby’s judge threw Scooter in the hoosegow during his Appeals process…. but, of course, consistency was never your strong suit.)
In other words, the right (no pun intended) judge can twist the law so out of shape that even the thinnest case can result in conviction.
Tom, how often do convictions get thrown out IMMEDIATELY after oral arguments for a complete lack of evidence? By appeals courts with a majority of Republican judges?
When you can answer those questions, the post on your wingnut ghetto might be worth someone’s attention.
You guys (mostly) have it wrong. Yeah, this kind of thing happens to poor folks and black folks all the time, and most of them don’t have the luxury of being vindicated at the end of the day.
But hey, if it takes the plight of three white kids to make people sit up and realize, “Hey, people do get railroaded in this country, those procedural safeguards are kinda important after all” then I’m happy to see it, and I’m not going to waste time lecturing those people on how they suck for not realizing that all along. TZ has the right point when he observes that the ACLU – consistently vilified by Paul L. and all his fellow idiots who stuck up for the Duke boys all these months – is the institution doing the most to make sure that you or I don’t get deprived of our constitutional rights by a rogue prosecutor somewhere down the line.
I’ve been unjustly accused of a crime myself (and I’m like the squarest, most law-abiding person ever) and it sucked a lot. Anyone who thinks this was no big deal because the Duke kids never had to stand trial, or only spent one night in jail or whatever, is kidding themselves. It’s awful to be wrongfully accused because frankly, you have no confidence that justice is going to be done at the end of the day. You’re like “if it got to this point when I didn’t do anything wrong, what stops it from going even further”? It’s serious shit.
I’ve seen blog commentors today say how they don’t think the Duke students went through anything compared to those Rutgers girls. Now look, I totally don’t want to minimize the Rutgers thing, but how fucking stupid can you be.
Let’s leave Michael Jackson out of this, shall we? Please?
Chad N. Freude
The skup on Biskupic can be obtained at TPM.com, but be warned, it’s complicated and reported fragmentarily. This page has a quick summary of the negative take on Biskupic, but it’s a lot more complicated. He was on the US Atty hit list, presumably because he couldn’t find enough evidence of voter fraud by Dems, until the very last moment. If you have a lot of free time, track the ins, outs, and nuances via TPM.
Authoritarian extremists, specifically theo-cons and neo-cons, control the Republican Party. Their liberal counterparts, specifically radical feminists and “civil rights” activists (such as the oh so tolerant Al Sharpton) are working overtime to take over the Democratic Party.
It is vital that they not succeed in doing so, and that the GOP is restored to sanity. As much as I distrust organized political parties, our democracy requires two viable parties.
This whole mess just confirms my belief that Americans need to de-escalate their level of fear. Suspicion doesn’t equal guilt.
Bob In Pacifica
lukasiak: Lets see…. that’s two posts so far by Cole about those poor innocent (albeit, racist scumbags) Duke Lacrosse players…
Racist? Well, we’re not basing this the false accuser’s claims of the players during the not-rape using the n-word, are we? Or perhaps we’re basing it on the other stripper’s stories (four different versions, with at least three untrue and the last after she claimed to have used racial and sexual insults against the players; the last version not confirmed by the neighbor listening over the fence). The only “racist” remark was a line about a “cotton shirt” (apparently a line from a Chris Rock routine) said as the women drove away with $800 for a five-minute dance.
Considering that at least two of the three accused weren’t anywhere near the house when “cotton shirt” was said, I’m not sure if they were close enough to absorb any collective guilt on this one.
Besides, even racists don’t deserve to be falsely prosecuted.
Bob In Pacifica
Or am I mistaking snark for irony within snark?
How long before the Republic Party finds a way to abuse this new law, I wonder?
y’know, i’ve been to my fair share of bachelor parties, and i can’t remember a single one that turned out badly. i dunno, maybe i hang out with the wrong people.
//I have tried, but I simply do not have the time or energy to document every criminal aspect of this administration. If you have some links, throw em up and I will look at them.//
John, I threw a very strong primer about the Wisconsin affair at you yesterday morn.:
This would have been an easy, “just-add-water” way for you to at least familiarize yourself with the controversy and its dramatis personi. You’re a busy guy, I realize, but if the subject is prosecutorial misdeeds, l’Affaire Dukie pales by comparison.
Just sayin’, that’s all.
Hopefully this story will now go away. I never understood why it was anything more than a local story anyway
if, after the initial accusation, the lacrosse players had been whisked away to Gitmo, locked away without charge, trial or representation, waterboarded, stress-positioned, hooded and kept in a cage, would the wingnuts have approved ?
Of course not, that’d be ridiculous–to have that kind of a case against them, first the gov’t would have to pay off an Afghani bounty hunter who turned them in. And you’d probably also want to stick the word ‘al-Qaeda’ somewhere in the accusation, or assert that they were ‘captured on the battlefield’.
That’s because nobody wants to face the real story here.
It isn’t about rich white boys or poor blakc girls.
It’s about prosecutorial abuse, which happens not infrequently, and doesn’t just impact racially charged cases, it impacts all kinds of cases, coast to coast.
We live in a time when people are disposable. In a time when a fair number of people in your local jail have not been tried or convicted yet of any crime, but are referred to routinely by their jailers and by prosecuting agencies as “scumbags” and “dirtbags” and “bad guys.”
In a time when there is political capital to be gained through prosecution, and conviction, of defendants whether they are guilty or not.
Ask yourself two questions: What percentage of people charged with felonies in your district do you think are innocent? And, what percentage is acceptable to you?
Do you know what the actual percentage is? Have you given any thought to the latter of the two questions above? Why not?
I must say this is why I was surprised Nipthong bothered. Where prosecutors are elected (and thereby rely on conviction rates to show how effective they are) they usually don’t touch rape cases unless the case is air tight. For rape air tight means fifty witnesses to the crime, the perp is some scary looking dude and the victim is a nun.
Am I saying good for him? Don’t be stoopid. This case was a dog and now, thanks to his efforts for the next bazillion years when a rape case makes the news people will say “Remember that guy in NC who went after those guys and he like, made everything up?” Therefore the current defendant must be innocent.
One arsehole prosecutor can bugger the entire system.
More importantly, he can bugger your life. It’s about your liberty. This can happen to you. Don’t be fooled by the circus atmosphere in this case into thinking that this isn’t about your liberty. It is.
I learned a LONG time ago that it doesn’t always happen to somebody else.