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DA Mike Nifong on Trial for Ethics Violations in Lacrosse Case

Durham, N.C. District Attorney Mike Nifong faces the music today for his conduct during the debacle that became the Duke lacrosse players' non-sexual assault case.

The ethics trial is being streamed at WRAL.com and you can watch live here.

The bar prosecutor's side:

"This didn't have to happen and the horrible consequences were entirely foreseeable," State Bar Counsel Katherine E. Jean said during her opening statement. "The harm done to these three young men and their families and the justice system of North Carolina is devastating."


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N.C. Attorney General Releases Duke Lacrosse Findings

When the North Carolina Attorney General declared the three charged Duke Lacrosse players innocent of sexual assault and stated there was no credible evidence to support that any attack had taken place that night, he promised he would be releasing a report.

The report was released today. You can read it here (pdf).

His findings:

  • The accusing witness’s testimony regarding the alleged assault would have been contradicted by other evidence in the case from numerous sources;
  • The accusing witness’s testimony regarding the alleged assault and the events leading up to and following the allegations would have been contradicted by significantly different versions of events she told over the past year;
  • No testimony or physical evidence would have corroborated her testimony;
  • The accused individuals were identified through questionable photographic procedures;


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NY Times Public Editor Examines Paper's Duke Coverage

New York Times Public Editor Byron Calame today examines the paper's coverage of the Duke Lacrosse players false sexual assault charges.

At one point he discusses whether the false accuser should be named now. He concludes:

Times editors discussed whether “to stick to our policy of not naming accusers in sexual assault cases,” Mr. Keller told me, “and decided to do so.” My first instinct was that The Times should strongly consider adopting a policy of naming false accusers. Then I decided that the mental health of the Duke accuser and the failure of Mr. Nifong to limit the harm she caused by doing his job responsibly combined to keep this case from being a good one on which to debate such a policy change. But I hope Times editors will soon consider holding a discussion, free of deadline pressure, about what purpose the tradition of not naming sexual assault victims serves when their accusations are proved to have no merit.

I disagree. The moment the charges were dismissed, upon the Attorney General's finding there was no credible evidence to support her claim that any attack occurred that night, she became a false accuser. Her name should be published so that she can no longer hide behind the victim label. Mentally ill or not, she caused incalculable damage to the lives and reputations of three innocent young men, who will be traumatized by the ordeal for years to come.


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"60 Minutes" Examines Duke Lacrosse Case

The three innocent Duke Lacrosse players and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper appeared on "60 Minutes" tonight. Coper explained how the many stories of the accuser in the Duke lacrosse players alleged sex assault case fell apart.

DA Mike Nifong's actions were so inexcusable. As for his apology the day after the players' exoneration, it's too little too late.

As player Dave Evans said, "Rape will always be associated with my name." He'll always be known as one of the charged players.

At least, thanks to Roy Cooper, it will be followed by "he was innocent."

Now its time for Nifong to take his lumps -- either in the disciplinary hearings or in civil lawsuits by the players or both.

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Duke Accuser: Should She Be Named Now?

Fox News, Scripps Howards newspapers and others are now naming the accuser. Fox has published photos of her.

Should she be named now? Her name, Crystal Gayle Mangum, has been all over the internet for many months, as have details of her prior criminal record.

I have never approved of the media policy of withholding the name of the accuser while publishing the name of the accused.

Nonetheless, I have insisted that on TalkLeft and on the TalkLeft Duke Forums (on which more than 59,000 comments have been posted on more than 1,200 threads) her name not be used.

Tonight, I'm ending the ban on the use of her name on both sites. She has officially been declared not to be a rape victim. She is a false accuser. She has no right to be shielded any longer.

I'll also have an op-ed in tomorrow's Washington Examiner on the case, titled "The Travesty of the Duke Case." It focuses on how the Duke case should forge a new frontier to protect those who are wrongfully accused.

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Duke Lacrosse Defendants Cleared: They are Declared Innocent

The North Carolina Attorney General's office is making its announcement on the outcome of its investigation into the Duke lacrosse players alleged sex assault case.

You can watch live here.

I'll be live-blogging.

What reason will they give? Will it be lack of evidence to support the charges, a conclusion that the accuser was lying, or that the accuser has asked them not to proceed (a la Kobe Bryant)? Or something else?

I hope they say more than "after conducting through interviews of all involved and the witnesses, we have concluded that we are not likely to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

In other words, will they have the guts to exculpate the players or will they hide behind the "not provable" scenario? (Update: Yes they do, Kudos to the AG's office.)

Ok, live-blogging below the fold.

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Decision Likely in Duke Lacrosse Case Tomorrow

Tomorrow appears to be the day the North Carolina Attorney General's office will announce its decision on whether to drop or proceed with sexual assault charges against the three former Duke lacrosse players.

Smart money says the case will be dismissed. Two of the defendants, Reade Seligman and Colin Finnerty traveled to Durham today, and the press is swarming around.

Question: If the charges are dropped because of lack of evidence or because the accuser won't cooperate, what should be the remedy for the boys? Their lives -- and that of their families -- have been turned upside down and into a hell for the past year. Their schooling has been interrupted, their reputations trashed.

Duke's reputation has taken a hit. The lacrosse team season was cancelled. Unpleasant racial issues surfaced.

I put much of the blame for this travesty of a case on D.A. Mike Nifong. If he hadn't glommed on to the media and made outrageously inappropriate comments in the beginning, jumping to the support of the accuser before the facts were in, much of the damage could have been avoided.

I think the State Bar will hold him accountable, but it still can't undo the damage.

Update: I'll be live-blogging the AG's press conference in a new thread. Or, you can watch it on your computer's here.

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Duke Defense Lawyer Kirk Osborn Has Died

Kirk Osborn, one of the chief lawyers for accused Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligman, has died, following a massive heart attack on Friday.

Osborn was a respected lawyer who had been in high-profile cases for years. He had participated in a number of death penalty cases and his wife said he was most proud that he had never lost a death penalty case.

R.I.P. Mr. Osborn, and I'm very sorry that you didn't live to see your client vindicated, as I expect he will be when the Attorney General's office concludes its investigation.


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N.C. Attorney General Denies Duke Lacrosse Charges to Be Dropped This Week

Rumors have been rampant this week that the North Carolina's Attorney General's office would be announcing the dismissal of all charges against the three accused former Duke Lacrosse players.

The Attorney General's office now says, "Not so fast." It's not true...at least not this week.

Our review of the case, including reviewing documents and conducting interviews, is continuing," Talley said. "[A] decision hasn't been made. ... We expect our review of the case to wrap up within the next few weeks and ... no announcements about the case by our office have been scheduled."

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Duke Lacrosse Defense: DNA Results Still Incomplete

Lawyers for the three charged Duke lacrosse team players filed a 39 page motion (available here, pdf) today arguing that they still have not received complete DNA analysis in the case.

In the motion, defense attorneys do not blame the special prosecutors for the issues because they said they did not have any direct knowledge of the withholding of evidence.

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Grand Juror in Duke Case Expresses Second Thoughts

One of the grand jurors in the Duke Lacrosse players' alleged sexual assault case says he now has second thoughts. Two of the grand jurors appeared on Good Morning America. They couldn't discuss what happened in the grand jury, so they talked only about their impressions since.

"Knowing what I know now and all that's been broadcast on the news and in media, I think I would have definitely … made a different decision," he said to ABC News.

"I don't think I could have made a decision to go forward with the charges that were put before us. I don't think those charges would have been the proper charges, based on what I know now," he said.

The second grand juror disagreed.

"I don't know for sure whether she was raped, you know, because of everything that … came out," he said. "I'm not sure, to tell you the truth."

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More Trouble For Nifong

Michael Nifong is having a bad month.

The North Carolina State Bar filed a second, more serious round of ethics charges yesterday against the district attorney in Durham, N.C., accusing him of “systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion” in the sexual assault case against three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team. ...

Much of the new ethics complaint focuses on Mr. Nifong’s handling of private DNA testing and his remarks to a judge and bar officials about it. Those tests were arranged by Mr. Nifong after a state laboratory found no semen, blood or saliva from lacrosse players on or in the woman or on her clothes. Using a more sophisticated test, the private laboratory found DNA from multiple men on the woman and her underwear, but none from any of the lacrosse players.

Mr. Nifong and the lab director decided to tell defense lawyers only about the positive matches, including a link to the woman’s boyfriend, in a summary report of the DNA work, said the bar, a state agency that regulates lawyers in North Carolina. The negative findings, which the bar said “tended to negate the guilt of the accused,” were included only in laboratory reports not given to defense lawyers for more than six months.

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Duke Lacrosse Case on "60 Minutes"

The DNA expert in the Duke Lacrosse case will be on "60 Minutes" tonight admitting to "big errors" in the case.

The forensic expert hired by the prosecutor in the Duke rape case says he made a "big error" in judgment by not stating in his report that the only DNA he found on the accuser was from several men who were not on the Duke lacrosse team.

....Meehan acknowledged that he has never omitted potentially exculpatory evidence before. "We haven't done that before," he tells Stahl. "In retrospect, I should have done a better job of conveying that information."

Always good to hear a mea culpa. Now, if we could only get one from D.A. Mike Nifong.

The full transcript is here.

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Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Steps Down

Update: The State Attorney General, Roy Cooper, announced Saturday his office will take the case from Nifong.

Mike Nifong, the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse player's alleged sexual assault case has asked to be removed and for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said Friday in an e-mail that District Attorney Mike Nifong sent a letter requesting the special prosecutor.

As to what this means for the case, I'd say delay, a long one.

A hearing on the defense motion to suppress the accuser's identification of the players is scheduled for February 5. The state attorney general must now appoint a special prosecutor who will need a substantial amount of time to familiarize himself or herself with the case.

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Duke Lacrosse Case Update

There's lots of news in the Duke lacrosse player's alleged sexual assault case, which continues to crumble at an astonishing rate.

  • The accuser told yet another version on Dec. 21. The statement was turned over to the Defense on Jan. 4. In it, she says Reade Seligman was not one of those who sexually assaulted her. DA Mike Nifong knew this before he dropped the rape charges, yet didn't drop charges against Seligman. And that's just the beginning of the new inconsistencies. You can read the original suppression motion here and yesterday's supplement here.
  • "60 Minutes" will do a follow-up story on the case Sunday night (Jan. 14).

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