Nifong Trial: Retribution, Resignation and Revelry
Congratulations to the defense lawyers for getting Mr. Nifong to agree to Judge Smith. Once Judge Smith compelled Mr. Nifong to produce the underlying documentation, Mr. Nifong was doomed.
June 15, 2006 was great: (1) Reade Seligmann really let people know what rogue prosecutor Michael B. Nifong did and why he should be disbarred, removed from office, criminally prosecuted and sued; (2) Mr. Nifong finally announced that he would resign, implicitly acknowledging his guilt, in the vain hope that he would be spared disbarment; and (3) Stefanie Williams celebrated delightfully on the LieStoppers board as the Nifong ethics trial continued toward his inevitable disbarment.
BUT, there were elephants in the room. There was no discussion of the motive for Mr. Nifong's malevolence misconduct. The only malignancy mentioned was his prostate cancer. Nothing about his desperately playing the race card and manipulating enough Durham County, North Carolina black Democrats to keep the job he announced today that he would give up. And no effort to identify his enablers, as though he alone was responsible for the egregious prosecutorial misconduct.
The Duke case is a Democrat scandal. Democrat Governor Michael Easley never mentioned that Mr. Nifong had lied to him about not running for election until AFTER Mr. Nifong won the election. Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper was silent and apparently impotent until Mr. Nifong asked him to replace him as Duke case prosecutor. (Yes, Mr. Cooper finally said that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans were innocent, but the North Carolina Attorney General's office took too long to do that.) Democrat Durham Congressman David Price stayed in the North Carolina NAACP's good graces by doing nothing to stop a travesty of justice.
But the Bush Administration failed too. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to order a federal investigation. Note to AG the AG: Depriving persons of their federal civil rights is worth looking into, even if the deprived persons are well-to-do or even wealthy whites falsely accused by a black ex-convict stripper and persecuted by a shamelessly opportunistic white Democrat prosecutor desperate for black support to keep his job. Ironically, Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama supported North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones' call for a federal investigation.
After today, Mr. Nifong is the "dead man walking."
Perhaps Mr. Nifong could have beaten the ethics charges if he had the right legal representative: Stefanie Williams of Garden City, New York and the University of Maryland, enthusiastic lacrosse player and manager, frequent LieStoppers poster, 21 year old figuring out whether to propose to Reade Seligmann or Brad Bannon and early, ardent and articulate defender of the falsely accused members of the 2005-2006 Duke University Men's Lacrosse Team (even though she's attending rival University of Maryland).
Ms. Williams is not perfect, but she may be perfectible: ",,,yes people, I am liberal. But I'm not an idiot. And the 88 and all the other psychos who just think race class and gender determine everything do NOT represent me."
Ms. Williams is witty as well as thoughtful and insightful:
"I like that [Nifong] had enough time to go through the process of serving a 3 yr old warrant and looking at a video for the [Elmostafa] case, which was like, a misdemeanor? Yet he couldn't find the time to, ya know, talk to the accusing witness of a gang rape for 9 months."
"TARAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa the inSANE nurse"
"Character witness: Once, an old lady dropped her purse on the street, and um, um, Mr. Nifong, he picked it up, and um, he um, gave it back to her. And um, he could have just, um, left it there, or um, stolen it, but um, he gave it back and um. GO MIKE NIFONG!"
"As long as we were convinced of the person's guilt, regardless of you know, EVIDENCE, it totally shows truthiness!" (Sarcasm)
"It wasn't a policy, it was how Nifong conducted himself. He completely ignored facts, evidence, and alibis based on his inner belief that 'something happened' despite not even reading the case or interviewing the complaining witness...he just knows, he just knows when his belief should be carried all the way to court despite expenses, time, pain, and suffering. Every complaining witness deserves their day in court if Mike believes them, even if the accused was on the other side of the country at the time of the alleged crime.
"OH, MY, GOD.
"I am never moving south. Ever."
"If I shut my eyes, I imagine this lady blonde, chewing gum, and twirling her hair around her finger and just not shutting up. A bimbo, an 'I dont know when to shut the hell up' bimbo."
Ms. Williams expressed suspicion of the Nifong legal team:
"I'm starting to wonder if Nifong's lawyers are just as [word indicate upset deleted] at him as the rest of the legal world for making lawyers of all colors look like complete [expletive deleted] and moronic, incompetent railroaders, and are trying to get him disbarred as well.
"They basically had him admit he was guilty of making the comments that didn't comply with standards...I mean...honestly, what are they hoping for? a slap on the wrists? suspension? come on..."
Ms. Williams succinctly summed up the Nifong defense:
"So the entire hoax was contrived by:
The Duke Lacrosse Team for having a party/strippers; the original responding officer for not identifying a rape victim; Tara Levicy for not taking a tox report;
the guy in his office, Saaks, for drafting the letter he okayed;
the printer; the media for cutting his statements short; the public for feeling racial tensions he had to respond to; his own mouth for saying things he was thinking, but saying them incorrectly; and his TV, for not telling him what he was saying.
"Mike Nifong was just an innocent pawn!"
In addition, Ms. Williams offered a medical excuse that some Durham jurors could accept: "His prostate cancer had a brief resurgence, in his brain, and he uhhh, had random black outs where he made random comments he didn't mean, and then he didn't know because the cancer magically disappeared, he overcame it because he was so strong, and then he decided to never watch tv (because tv fries your brain and his brain was sensitive at this point) and he never knew what he was saying when the cancer was affecting his brain.....IT'S ALL SO CLEAR RIGHT NOW"
Ms. Williams would not have represented Mr. Nifong, even if she was admitted to the North Carolina bar, but she would have done better than Mr. Nifong and his legal team, since she has a sense of humor (and her deceased dad was a lawyer).
Ms. Williams finds Mr. Nifong and false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum the villains of the story, of course.
Ms. Wiilliams on Ms. Mangum: "ALLEGED, ALLEGED, ALLEGED. HOW ARE WE FORGETTING THIS WORD. SHE WAS NOT A VICTIM, AT THE TIME SHE WAS AN ALLEGED VICTIM, AND SHE IS NO LONGER A VICTIM, SHE IS A LYING CRAZY LADY WHO PUTS VIBRATORS IN HER VAGINA FOR COUPLES TO WATCH FOR MONEY AND STOLE A TAXI....MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
[Note to Ms. Williams: The North Carolina Attorney General's office decided not to prosecute Ms. Mangum for what it decided was a false report. But there has not been a determination that Ms. Mangum is crazy. Amazingly, the folks who insisted a Durham jury had to try the bogus kidnapping, rape and sexual offense charges have not complained that a Durham jury should decide if Ms. Mangum is despicable or delusional. Could RACE explain that?]
Ms. Williams on Mr. Nifong:
"I hate this man. How Mrs. Seligman is not jumping across the bar and strangling him/beating his head on the marble, speaks volumes of this woman's strength. I would be clawing his eyes out."
"What a sick, sick, sick, sick, man. How did he get a degree?"
"This makes me so happy. SO happy. He is so incredibly screwed."
"EZPB on TL is trying to say 'if you can see where he's coming from, Nifong's actually a really nice guy'
"Yeah? And Hitler loved dogs and treated his pets real well, let's overlook that whole Holocaust thing...he was really a good guy, and if you can just try to see it from HIS point of view, you'll get it...
Ms. Williams wanted to interrogate Mr. Nifong herself, NOT defend him:
"Why did you make these comments? Why did you lie about the boys' cooperation?
Why did you try to intimidate them? Why did you feel the need to include racial aspects? Why did you ignore Reade's alibi? Why wouldn't you meet with defense counsel? Why would you not include the multiple male DNA in the report? Why would you laugh at someone who said they had an alibi? Why would you proceed with a case you knew was a lie? Why would you skewer these boys? Why did you hate these boys so much? Why did you change the story? Why did you act like a 2 year old and hang up on Bannon? Why did you say 'you'll regret telling me your alibi' and change the story a week later and act like it still happened? Why are you psychotic? Is the wart on your head cancerous? Are you in a love affair with the accuser, Crystal Mangum, and if so, is that why you defended her lies so vehemently?
Can you demonstrate the choke hold you assured was used during the attack?
Can you tell me which of the many versions of Crystal's story you thought held the most weight? Was it the 'in the air' rape?
What do you think when you hear how you almost ruined a 20 year old man's life, a life that was destined to be so great? [Note to Ms. Willians: IS still destined!]
What do you feel when you think someone could have done this to your son and put your family through this hell for a year without any concern?
Would you want your son's rights and reputation to be ignored and ruined because of an overzealous, greedy, lying sack of [expletive deleted] who was politically motivated?
"Oh the questions I would ask this [expletive deleted]."
Ms. Williams was perplexed by the privacy excuse given for not reporting the presence of multiple male DNA in or on Ms. Mangum for males who were NOT members of the Duke lacrosse team:
"Everyone knew exactly who the 46 lax players were (thanks to fonger, the wanted poster, and public info). Whose privacy would be violated, if the 10 samples of DNA were unidentified, therefore no names were attached to them?
"I don't get that whole excuse. Everyone knew the 46 laxers DNA was submitted, and those names were easily able to be found online. How would saying " 10 more samples of male DNA were found in an on the accuser" drag anyone through the mud, when those 10 samples were from individuals who were not part of the lax team, not people who had given samples, and to be quite honest, no one knew WHO they belonged to?
"I don't get it."
Possibility: Ms. Mangum and the North Carolina NAACP might not have wanted that information made public!
Ms. Williams admittedly doesn't understand how Mr. Nifong's mind works:
"So the 'presentation of photographs' wasn't a 'lineup' it was used to see how Crystal interacted with each of them, yet it was used to pick out her assailants and then used at the GJ to indict 2 guys....
"...but it wasn't a line up, just trying to 'figure out where everyone was'.
Ms. Williams noticed a new Nifong at the hearing:
"WRAL called Nifong witty and humorous in the beginning of the case (I don't know about you, but I find racially inflammatory false statements hysterical) and now he is humble on the stand.
Ms. Williams was outraged at the suggestion that Mr. Nifong's suffered like the indicted players and their families:
"He thinks for one SECOND he and his family went through an OUNCE of the pain those three families went through?
"At what point did he fall to the floor and say 'my life is over'?
"At what point did a lying ***** cause him to fall to his knees crying over the injustice and false accusation of his son?
"When did the NBPP threaten his life or the life of his child?"
"Whatever mistakes I made in this case are my mistakes" (though not the mistakes of which the Bar accused him).
"My community has suffered enough."
My actions in the case were "honorably intended but had unforeseen consequences."
"Throughout my time...throughout the years that I have served as a prosecutor in NC, I have always tried to do the right thing. In this case, I was trying to do the right thing. Much of the criticism that has been directed against me in this case [is] justified. The allegations against me that I am a liar are not justified. I felt that it was important to come before this commission and to defend myself against the allegations."
"It has become increasingly apparent during the course of this week, in some ways that might not have been apparent before, that my presence as a district attorney as Durham does not serve the cause of justice."
So testified Mr. Nifong, in an desperate attempt to salvage his law license and a smidgen of reputation.
In a much less publicized case of prosecutorial abuse in days gone by, it might have worked.
But Reade Seligmann had taken the stand and demonstrated and testified to some of the pain and suffering that he and his co-defendants and their families had suffered.
Did the families tell about ALL the damage inflicted?
I doubt they ever will, publicly.
In testifying, Reade Seligmann not only prepared himself to move on, but repaid a debt to the late Kirk Osborn, the bold attorney who represented him initially, when the lacrosse players were being figuratively lynched not only by potbangers, but by much of the mainstream media. Suffice it to say that the defense lawyer who moved to have Mr. Nifong removed from the case was Mr. Osborn (a motion only the boldest of defense attorneys practicing in Durham County would dare to make), but a motion that needed to be made because Mr. Nifong was railroading people for his own political and personal purposes and the case had to be won in the courtroom of public opinion before the indictments against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans would be dismissed. Note: That motion was NOT withdrawn so long as Mr. Osborn was Reade's lead counsel, but when that honor passed to James Cooney, the motion was withdrawn by Mr. Cooney as a good will gesture, albeit a futile one.
Mr. Nifong will be disbarred, on the merits and for the sake of the reputation of the North Carolina State Bar.
But that should be the beginning, not the end.
The biggest elephant in the room during the hearing was ugly racial (even racist) politics played by Mr. Nifong to win a Democrat primary and keep his job.
Let's be clear instead of politically correct: but for the Duke case, Freda Black would have won that Durham County District Attorney Democrat primary easily. It was a three-way race; Freda was the only woman; there was a black man running; and Mr. Nifong was way behind and not a hero to Durham County's black community.
The Duke case gave Mr. Nifong the opportunity to win, barely, by playing the race card, and he did it, making outrageous (and blatantly unethical) public comments that worked for him politically.
Other elephants in the room are the folks in the District Attorney's office, the Durham Police Department and the Durham court who helped Mr. Nifong.
Judges Stephens and Titus sat on Mr. Osborn's removal motion and Judge Titus issued the unconstitutional gag order on potential witnesses that the North Carolina NAACP wanted and Judge Osmond Smith modified appropriately after he took over the case.
The presence of multiple male DNA in or on false accuser Crystal Gail Mangum was not shared with the defense by Mr. Nifong, of course, but it WAS not the best kept of secrets.
I wrote on June 30, 2006, in "Duke Case: Does the prosecutor need prosecuting":
"Mr. Nifong should have wondered about the credibility of the accuser when the DNA samples were eagerly provided, or at least when the DNA found inside the accuser was determined not to have come from any of the Duke lacrosse players but from several other males.
"And the DNA results should have led Mr. Nifong to conclude that the indictments should be dismissed.
"But, Mr. Nifong, for whom the black vote was decisive in his Democrat primary win last April, [should have been May] still has to face the voters in November, and pretending that he has a case may seem preferable to admitting an egregious mistake.
"The key question now is not whether any of the Duke Three are guilty of any of the charges against them — they are not — but whether Mr. Nifong is reckless and stubborn, or worse.
"Mr. Nifong should be polygraphed. Ironically, he may be one who should be prosecuted."
I repeated it in a September 8, 2006 article.
Eventually Brad Bannon discovered that I was right about it.
Congratulations to the defense lawyers for getting Mr. Nifong to agree to Judge Smith.
Once Judge Smith compelled Mr. Nifong to produce the underlying documentation, Mr. Nifong was doomed.
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.