Friday, March 02, 2007

The Dog Ate Nifong's Homework

In his letters to the bar, Nifong said he did not intentionally withhold evidence nor did he mean to cause pretrial prejudice through the numerous interviews he gave to the news media between March 27 and April 3.

In one of the letters, Nifong said he feared the bar was "looking for a prosecutor" to punish for the misdeeds of other prosecutors whose misconduct has recently come to light and who have gone largely unpunished.

He offered several explanations for some of the problems that have arisen:

* The lacrosse case arose "during the last few weeks of a hotly-contested Democratic Party primary in which I was seeking to retain my office," he said. "I was not always able to give the case my full attention."
So, because there was an election, the district attorney's office is supposed to operate with less of an eye to protecting the rights of defendants and adhering to the law?
* The volume of material to be copied for each defendant meant that a number of lawyers and support workers were involved in the numbering and copying of pages, he said. "These people were neither concentrating on the actual contents of the documents being copied nor familiar enough with the facts of the case to have known whether anything was missing."
Taken together, this would constitute the dog ate his homework defense. It wouldn't fly in a law school classroom, and it most certainly wouldn't fly in the real world where prosecutors have tremendous power to make and break peoples' lives. It also leans heavily towards prosecutorial misconduct and negligence on his part.
* He said he had never before encountered such determined pretrial resistance. "A well-connected and well-financed (but not, I would suggest, well-intentioned) group of individuals -- most of whom are neither in nor from North Carolina, have taken it upon themselves to ensure that this case never reaches trial."
So, he was out of his league when defense attorneys began questioning the basic fairness of the process to which all defendants are entitled?

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