I have said little on air and written less here about Michael Nifong. I have hesitated to take up the subject because it is difficult for me to conceive of anyone willing to embark on such a course as Nifong has chosen. The dangers posed by a corrupt prosecutor are profound, and not just to his immediate victims, in this case, the undergraduates who he has allowed to be smeared and dragged through this disfiguring process. “Egregious prosecutorial misconduct” is how my friend Scott Johnson of Powerline has termed it, but it has now gone far beyond that.
Nifong has now entered a terrain where very few have gone since the days of blatant criminality on the part of government under Jim Crow: He is a poster boy for corruption and self-serving, lawless ambition. The governor of North Carolina, the president of Duke. the Dean of its Law School and the law school’s faculty,, every decent human being around that campus and that state, and certainly the ABA and not just its North Carolina division should demand not only the dismissal of the charges against the students, but the expulsion of Nifong from his office and the thorough investigation of his abuse of power. Nifong’s blatant disregard of his obligations has indicted not the students but the idea of the rule of law, and the damage he has wrecked has spread far beyond the students and is spreading further with every day that passes.
Someone did a stupid and vulgar thing in inviting a stripper to the house that night, and the accuser seems to have had a sad and hard life.
But the culprit in the affair is Nifong, and it is he who should be made an example of so that prosecutors across the country get a message that they are servants of the law, not its masters.
If anyone has done an in-depth investigation into Nifong’s background, I’d appreciate a link. Somewhere along the line he went very, very bad, and I would like to be able to explain to my law students how that happened as a warning to them about ambition grown very crooked.