February 02, 2007

Top Prosecutor Charged With Misconduct

Once again we see corruption within the judicial system expressed as yet another elected state attorney is caught unethically manipulating evidence to win a conviction. Mike Nifong, the prosecutor who made national headlines last summer while pursuing rape charges against three Duke University lacrosse players has now been formally charged by the North Carolina State Bar Association with numerous ethics violations, including making misleading and inflammatory statements to the media and deliberately concealing exculpatory evidence.

According to the recently filed Bar complaint, state attorney Nifong’s conduct amounted to “systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion.” In early January Nifong was removed from the nationally publicized case after a first set of ethics complaints were brought against him. Subsequently, the rape charges lodged against the lacrosse players were dropped when the accuser, a woman hired to “entertain” at a private party, conceded that she was not sure if she even had sex, non-consensual or otherwise, with anyone.

These latest revelations of unethical prosecutorial misconduct in this sensationalized case came out last month when the director of DNA Security, Inc., a private company contracted to process the DNA samples in this alleged rape case, admitted that state attorney Nifong had instructed him to only include actual DNA matches in the report that was released, this deliberately and illegally concealing the fact that the DNA tests conducted actually found no matches to any of the three Duke University players who were charged in the alleged rape, supporting their claim that this crime never happened and was a deliberate fabrication.

Perhaps even more troubling is that – the only reason formal ethical complaints were brought against this particular state attorney was because this was a nationally publicized case. But what of the many cases of prosecutorial misconduct that have actually resulted in innocent men and women being wrongfully convicted and even condemned to death, due to prosecutors deliberate concealment of crucial evidence? In Florida, at least 25 men and women were wrongfully convicted and condemned to death only to later be exonerated by the Courts and released. By far the most common cause of these inconceivable miscarriages of “justice” is prosecutorial misconduct – yet not even once has a Florida prosecutor responsible for unethically convicting and condemning an innocent man been brought up on ethics charges in the Florida Bar.

Every one of us should be extremely concerned about the widespread corruption that plagues the judicial system today. I would encourage you to please fully read the content of “Southern Injustice: The New face of Bigotry & Injustice in the South.”