Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nifong's Folly

One of the key players in the Duke rape case, District Attorney Michael Nifong, requested to recuse himself from the case, and the North Carolina Attorney General's office has agreed to take over the case for him. The AG's office has said it will take a while to sort through the evidence and has promised not to comment on the case during this process.

On the one hand, Nifong getting out of the case is good because now the three Duke lacrosse players may get a fair shake. When you accuse someone of sexual assault, you walk a fine line legally because once you make the accusation, it's impossible to take back. Lives are ruined by false accusations of sexual assault, just as they're ruined by false accusations of child molestation. You can be legally exonerated, but there will always be that lingering doubt that won't ever go away.

On the other hand, Nifong may be trying to get off easy by asking to be removed from the case. After all, he got what he wanted from the situation, namely reelection in a predominantly African-American district. And he used more than a little class warfare to do it. Now that he's won reelection, he doesn't really need the Duke case anymore, so he was looking for a way to get out without losing the case he made famous. So, he hands off the case and walks away. Sure, this could open him up to legal consequences, such as being sued by the students and their families or being disbarred, but it doesn't really matter. He's made his name and can file bankruptcy, thus protecting him from having to pay anything. And now that he's well-known (for the wrong reasons), he might even score a spot on talk shows as a "legal expert."

The sad thing is that Nifong may actually get away with ruining the lives of many just to make his life a little more cushy. I'd say he's bound for a life of guilt, but then again, he IS a lawyer...

No comments: