At a court hearing today to rule on procedural motions concerning criminal contempt charges he lied to the court, Mike Nifong said he wanted to "sincerely apologize to Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty, Mr. Evans and to their families."
His apology included this:
I have read the report released by the attorney general, including his recitation of evidence that I did not have, obtained from his own investigation. I agree with the attorney general’s statement that there is no credible evidence that Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Evans committed any of the crimes for which they were indicted or any other crimes during the party that occurred on March 13 and 14 of 2006 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.I'm sure Nifong's statement lessened somewhat the awful burdens he placed on David Evans, Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and their families.
Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty and Mr. Evans were entitled to the presumption of innocence when they were under indictment. Surely, they are entitled to more than that now as they go forward with the rest of their lives. And that is what the attorney general tried to give them in his declaration that they are innocent.
For that, I'm glad.
But I'm cautious, too.
Is Nifong's apology today his first step in a process in which he'll promptly and fully disclose what he did to wrongly indict the three young men?
Is he ready to tell us how he subsequently worked for more than a year with certain Durham police officers and their supervisors to cover up their attempted frame-up?
Is Nifong ready to tell us not only what he did but who helped him and what they did?
If his apology is meant to be a first step in a full disclosure process, then Nifong has my admiration for stepping forward and at last starting to be honest with his victims - the three indicted players and their families most of all, the other players and their families who were trashed and endangered, the Durham community and the NC justice system.
On the other hand, what Nifong did today may be part of a calculated "time to move on, forget and forgive" strategy.
If that's the case, while I feel his acknowledgment of the players' innocence has value, we still must deal with a man who's working to deceive us in order to avoid both fully admitting what he did and the just consequences of his actions.
And let no one minimize the seriousness of Nifong's actions.
He used police officers, police investigative powers, the resources of the state and his own prosecutorial powers to indict, arrest and attempt to put in jail people who'd committed no crimes.
That's exactly how a police state works, except in police states no one dares to step forward as happened in the Hoax case, when decent people challenged Nifong, the police and their enablers in the media and at Duke University.
I'll post more on this tonight or tomorrow.
A thank you to KC Johnson for posting Nifong's apology in full.