Monday, July 31, 2006

Duke lacrosse: Charlotte Observer says "a special prosecutor"

This morning's lead editorial in the Charlotte Observer offers Durham a "solution:" a special prosecutor.


DA: I erred in blabbing to media about the case

Meanwhile, District Attorney Nifong has delivered himself of this confession: He talked too much about the case early on. Well, no kidding.

It was hard not to read something about Mr. Nifong's characterization of the defendants as "hooligans" who he was sure had committed rape. "My handling of the media coverage of this case has occasioned substantial criticism, some of which is undoubtedly justified," Mr. Nifong was quoted by the AP as saying. "I both underestimated the level of media attention this case would draw and misjudged the effect that my words would have. That having been said, this case remains a Durham problem and it demands a Durham solution."

Here's one solution: a special prosecutor, which Commissioner Cheek (see previous item) says he would have appointed to handle the case. (bold added)
The appointment of a special prosecutor is long overdue. As Duke Law Professor James E. Colemen Jr pointed out in June:
Whatever the truth is, Nifong can no longer personally restore public confidence in the prosecution of this case.

Someone with professional detachment and unquestioned integrity must review the case and determine whether the evidence against the three students warrants further prosecution. That would serve the best interest of the alleged victim, the three defendants and public.
Well said, Professor. And thank you for speaking out on behalf of justice.

Nifong still has many supporters.

The Raleigh News & Observer, for example, continues to back Nifong editorially although its reporters and news editors now support him less enthusiastically than they did in the swaggering days of March, April, and May.

Back then, the N&O's "news team" joined with Nifong in telling the community the accuser was "the victim" and framed the lacrosse players as a group made up on three brutal rapists and their teammates who were covering up for them.

The N&O even arranged to distribute in its Apr. 2 edition hundreds of thousands of copies of the "vigilante" poster which, among other things, helped Nifong as he campaigned in Durham and in media to paint the lacrosse players as heartless criminals. But I doubt the N&O would reprint the "vigilante" poster now even if it was sure it would help Nifong and Duke's President Brodhead would offer no objection.

Nifong's hometown newspaper, the Durham Herald Sun, also supports him editorially. In fact, H-S editor Bob Ashley recently told readers how much he's looking forward to the trial of Duke students David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

A special thanks to historian and blogger KC Johnson who tipped me to the Observer's editorial.


Anonymous said...

Good for The Charlotte Observer. Perhaps the Charlotte newspaper could take over coverage of the Nifong affair from its fellow McClatchy paper, the Raleigh no-News&Observer. Perhaps borrow Joe Neff and use a bunch of Charlotte reporters to go after the news and ask the questions ignored by the fellow McClatchy paper.