Join Date: May 2005
Casino cash: $109331
Nifong is not evil, just a moron
Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong and the lead investigators in the Duke lacrosse case have different recollections of the first time they huddled at the Burlington laboratory that provided DNA testing for the prosecution.
Durham police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Investigator Benjamin Himan each listed in their case notes that they were at DNA Security on April 10, a week before any indictments in the case.
And Himan noted that Nifong was present at the meeting with Brian Meehan, head of the private lab.
But in a letter to the N.C. State Bar released this week, Nifong said he could not recall the event, although he acknowledged that a meeting occurred.
"I can only report that I have no recollection of that meeting and that I have no documentation or other evidence that I ever attended such a meeting," Nifong said in the Jan. 16 letter.
Nifong's letter was included in a voluminous filing Wednesday to the State Bar.
The bar, which oversees and disciplines lawyers in this state, charged Nifong in December and January with ethics violations related to his handling of the Duke lacrosse case.
Now the veteran prosecutor is in a fight to save his law license.
In his personal responses to the bar accusations, Nifong gives a glimpse of the case he planned against three former Duke lacrosse players -- David Evans, 23, Collin Finnerty, 20, and Reade Seligmann, 20.
Each is charged with kidnapping and sexual offense. Their accuser, an escort service dancer, said she was gang-raped at a lacrosse team party last spring.
Nifong said that in a photo line-up done April 4, the accuser had identified Finnerty and Seligmann as her assailants "to a certainty of 100 percent." She had identified Evans to "a certainty of 90 percent," he said.
"For me, this case was an eyewitness identification case, one in which I was looking for DNA evidence that either corroborated that identification or refuted it," Nifong said.
In January, Nifong asked the state attorney general to take over the case. Since then, special prosecutors have pored over the evidence and interviewed witnesses.
The timeline of Nifong's first meeting with Meehan could help clarify when the prosecutor first learned of the existence of DNA evidence from men not on the Duke lacrosse team.
Charges were filed against Finnerty and Seligmann on April 17.
In a Dec. 28 letter to the bar, Nifong said his first meeting with Meehan was April 21, four days after the first indictments.
It was then, Nifong said, that he learned of the presence of DNA on the accuser's clothing and body from men other than the tested lacrosse players and the accuser's boyfriend.
But in the Jan. 16 letter to the bar, Nifong wrote about a May 12 meeting in which Meehan provided a report to the prosecution.
"He also discussed with us the results of the tests he had performed since our April 10, 2006, meeting," Nifong said.
The bar has accused Nifong of withholding the evidence favorable to the accused and then lying about it to judges and the bar.
But Nifong said he did not see the test results as necessarily favorable to the defense.
"They neither suggested that no assault took place nor that the assault was committed by someone else," Nifong said.
In a December hearing, Meehan acknowledged that he and Nifong agreed to exclude evidence in the initial DNA report.
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."
* 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."
* 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."
Pardon me if I don't accept the "I have no recollection" defense.