Civil Liberties

Situation Normal, All Nifonged Up


The other shoe—a rather large hob-nailed boot, in fact—has fallen on Durham DA Mike Nifong in the form of additional North Carolina State Bar charges. A complaint filed this morning charges that Nifong withheld DNA evidence from the defense and then lied about it in court. A more serious charge is hard to imagine.

At the same time, Nifong's personal fix-it man in the Duke lacrosse rape case, investigator/gospel singer Linwood Wilson—the TV movie is so gonna rock—has to be wondering what this all means for him. It was Wilson who rushed to re-interview the accuser in the case on December 21, the day after the State Bar told Nifong it was investigating his comments regarding the DNA evidence.

In that interview with Wilson, conducted one-on-one, yet another departure from sound investigative practice, the accuser radically changed her story to the point where Nifong dropped the rape charges. But the story changes made the lack of DNA evidence less important to the sexual assault charges Nifong held onto. Everyone else on planet Earth, meanwhile, could see the entire story was a fiction.

The upshot is we've moved squarely into the realm of a conspiracy to hijack the criminal justice system and use it against three innocent men. It is great that the State Bar has finally moved itself to act against one of its own. However, actual justice may demand that criminal charges be filed shortly after the remaining charges against the lacrosse players are dropped by the special prosecutor.

Is there the political and institutional will in North Carolina to do that? We should find out shortly.