D.A. Nifong: My Political Need Trumps Wise Police Strategy
It shocked many when Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Michael D. Nifong claimed that he had not spoken to Crystal Gail Magnum, the accuser in the Duke case, about any of her versions of what happened to her at the 2006 Duke Men's Lacrosse Team Party last March.
Many suspect Mr. Nifong of lying about that.
I think Mr. Nifong spoke the truth that time (although, given his history, he's not to be trusted).
I believe he was truthful about that because it fits nicely with what is undisputed.
Example 1. Mr. Nifong rejected the offers of the co-captains to take polygraph tests.
Example 2. Mr. Nifong refused to consider evidence of innocence before seeking indictments.
Mr. Nifong opted to be willfully blind (figuring that would immunize him from responsibility for prosecutorial abuse, or at least reduce his culpability).
Like many, he ASSUMED that Ms. Mangum really was raped (in his case, for political and personal reasons, he needed to believe it) and he did not want to have his assumption disproved before Election Day 2006 under any circumstances.
A fair and impartial minister of justice?
Of course not!
A shameless political hack who should be rejected by the Durham County voters, removed from the Duke case, sued by the Duke Three and disbarred?
On October 17, The News & Observer reported big news in Durham, North Carolina: "Suspect is indicted in 4 killings The November 2005 slayings in Durham rocked the city. More arrests may be ahead".
The suspect, Rodrick Vernard Duncan, was indicted on October 16, the day after "60 Minutes" broadcast its Duke case expose.
NOT what I am told by a Durhamite in position to know.
Part of Mr. Nifong's strategy to deflect attention from the Duke case by "solving" "the execution-style slaying of four men that rocked Durham nearly a year ago."
Mr. Duncan was "in federal prison on drug charges."
Indicting him was easy.
Getting him off the streets to protect the public was not a concern.
Indicting him on October 16 was premature.
As the newspaper article pointed out, the case is far from solved:
"[Durham Police Chief Steve] Chalmers released few details about what led investigators to their suspect. He would not say whether he thought the indicted man was the shooter or whether he was in the townhouse when the slayings occurred. He said Duncan and some of the victims were acquaintances.
"'Multiple individuals are involved in this,' Chalmers said, adding that more arrests could be coming. 'Certainly we will not speak to the roles each played.'"
Was arresting a man already in prison before identifying and arresting the others alleged involved in the gruesome murders a brilliant legal strategy or a political strategy by candidate Nifong, timed to combat the impact of the "60 Minutes" expose?
Mr. Nifong claimed he did not watch the "60 Minutes" expose (if he didn't, his wife Cy did and taped it too), but I am told by a well-placed source that Mr. Nifong was so concerned about it even before it was broadcast that he demanded from the Police Detectives that someone be arrested for the killings on Monday, October 16.
Voila! An imprisoned man was indicted on October 16.
Mr. Nifong told the press: "In the 28 years that I have been in Durham County, this is, by far, the most egregious single act of violence that has occurred in this county. And I don't recall having heard or read about anything prior to my arriving here that in any way approaches this in terms of overall violence, destruction of human life. And I think to approach this as anything other than a death penalty case would be inappropriate."
As with the Duke case, Nifong announced he planned to try the case himself.
The timing is NOT a coincidence, but it was a big head's up to anyone involved in the murders.
The News & Observer:
"The murder charges come two weeks before Duncan is to be sentenced in federal court on drug charges to which he pleaded guilty July 5.
"Duncan has been in federal custody since April 5. He was in jail in Forsyth County on Monday, authorities said, but would be brought to Durham to be booked and processed."
Mr. Duncan was not going anywhere. He was not a threat to the public.
Chief Chalmers told The News & Observer , in the words of The News & Observer, that Mr. Duncan "had been identified as a suspect months ago," and that "there was not an immediate rush to indict him."
Chief Chalmers continued: "This is the kind of case you want to make certain that you develop all of the leads and that you have all the information and evidence you can prior to making your arrest,. Since he was already in federal custody and not a threat, certainly there was no rush in his situation except for making this happen before he was sentenced."
Come on, Chief. The self-appointed "lead investigator" in the Duke case made it a rush because "60 Minutes" was on his case. More arrests are expected, and the authorities tipping their hand before they could arrest everyone who should be arrested was political strategy, not police strategy. People in federal prison can be indicted by state authorities, and federal sentencing was two weeks away.
Mr. Nifong is a public menace who should be prosecuted, not prosecuting.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.