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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
mrdux BS: Jail for former DA Nifong? (17) RE: BS: Jail for former DA Nifong? 26 Jun 07

An overzealous prosecutor thrown in jail for his overzealousness -- there's a certain delicious irony about it. If he committed a crime under NC law, I'd love to see him prosecuted.

The truth, though, is that Nifong did what many, if not most, prosecutors do with allegations of sex crimes: he took the word of the complainant as the unassailable truth and righteously charged ahead, regardless of how skinny the evidence might have been. As Dave Feige put it in an article in Slate: "The cardinal rule of sexual assault complaints is 'believe the victim,' and since anyone who complains is deemed a victim, even a semi-credible complainant can generate an arrest and prosecution in the absence of physical evidence, additional witnesses, or even a prompt accusation." It's true that he went way over the top with it, but Nifong was supremely unfortunate to have gone after the well-heeled, well-connected and extremely well-represented defendants that he did in this case. The usual result is far different: by the numbers (from the Slate piece) of some 2012 cases overturned by appellate courts for prosecutorial misconduct since 1970, only 44 of the prosecutors ever had to answer any questions from their ethical boards. In Illinois, of 381 murder convictions overturned for prosecutorial withholding of evidence, not a single prosecutor was publicly disciplined, let alone disbarred.

The other sobering thing about it is that it's extremely rare for a case to be untracked pre-trial like this. More often than not, a case like this goes to trial. Had Nifong taken this case to trial he could have won and could have gotten convictions, the factual innocence of the defendants notwithstanding, in which case he'd be portrayed as a hero instead of the unethical slimebag that he (losing does change the spin on things).

My guess is that the prosecutrial community has so distanced itself from Nifong at this point that he could be drawn and quartered and the pieces fed to the fishes, and even that wouldn't act as much of a deterrent or instill the slightest shred of fear in most prosecutors.


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