Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bar Strips Nifong Of His Law License

by Joseph Neff and Anne Blythe - June 16th, 2007 - News & Observer

After 15 months of waging war in the Duke lacrosse case, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong raised the white flag Saturday and surrendered his law license.

Nifong gave up minutes after a state panel ruled that the Durham District Attorney had intentionally and repeatedly lied and cheated as he prosecuted three former lacrosse players on rape charges.

Disbarment, the toughest penalty a lawyer can face, and nothing short of disbarment fit the magnitude of Nifong's offenses, said the Disciplinary Hearing Commission, which serves as judge and jury to lawyers charged with wrongdoing.

"It's been truly a fiasco," said chairman Lane Williamson in his ruling.

Saturday marked the first time a North Carolina prosecutor has been disbarred for courtroom cheating.

The first time? That is the problem. What is horrible is that this kind of cheating goes on all the time. Just during this case, reporters have mentioned similar problems in past cases that were not significantly different, other than that these defendents had the money to fight.

We have a horrible problem with incarceration of young black males for drug offenses. Though the intent of the laws was to incarcerate drug dealers, the vast majority of the men whose lives are destroyed in jail are drug users, not dealers. And what has been accomplished? Nothing. The drug culture rampages out of control in spite of all the incarcerations, or maybe even because of them. Many of these young black men are abused as egregiously as the Duke 3. They simply don't have the money to fight.

Our court system is out of control. I am frustrated because I don't think for a minute that Nifong losing his license will do anything to clean up the problems with our let's make a deal, revolving door farce of a system.

Nifong needed to lose his license, but we must make sure it does not stop there. We need many more of these out of control prosecutors to lose their license. And go to jail. That is what I want to see. This was egregious beyond belief, but truly evil things happen constantly. When are they going to disbar the SECOND North Carolina prosecutor?

That is the real problem. Anyone who thinks this is the first time this should have happened has not watched our court system recently. That no one has ever been disbarred before is the reason that Nifong almost got away with it this time.


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