Press reports say when he left jail today after serving a one day sentence for criminal contempt involving lying in court, disgraced and disbarred former Durham DA Mike Nifong “ thanked the jail staff for 'the professionalism of which I was treated and the respect which I was shown.’” The entire story is here.
I think it's very likely Nifong will get another chance to thank professionals who keep him incarcerated.
Why do I say that?
I’ll start my answer by reposting Cheshire's News; JinC Comments which was posted May 19. The post ends at the star line, after which I’ll offer some commentary concerning events since May 19 that make it even more likely than it was on May 19 that Nifong will go to prison.
Now let's start with Cheshire's News; JinC Comments
News from Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle:
A six-page internal report on the Durham Police Department's conduct during the lacrosse case has left some calling for an external investigation. …Commentary from JinC:
"I would not be surprised if [an independent investigation] would uncover conduct that was criminal in nature as it relates to obstruction of justice and creation of evidence," Joe Cheshire, an attorney for Evans, wrote in an e-mail. …
Some people reading Cheshire’s statement may be saying: “What else is new? I’ve been saying that for months.”
Yes, haven’t we all. But only one of us could possibly be Joe Cheshire, one of North Carolina’s most experienced and best criminal defense and appellate attorneys, and certainly its best known.
When in reference to the Durham Police investigation, Cheshire says publicly and in a written document that he “would not be surprised if [an independent investigation] would uncover conduct that was criminal in nature as it relates to obstruction of justice and creation of evidence,” what he’s really saying it he feels very sure it will.
At this point, with his client David Evans out of legal jeopardy and actually declared innocent along with Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, Cheshire can only hurt his reputation if he makes such serious charges and they’re not sustained.
Cheshire will also damage his working relationships with honest law enforcement personnel (there are many) if they view him as irresponsibly throwing charges at crime investigators and police.
Cheshire knows all of that, and he doesn’t want to hurt his reputation and working relationships he’s worked very hard to build. He's also a fair person who doesn't cheap-shot.
So we can be very confident Cheshire feels sure criminal acts were committed by members of the Nifong/DPD “team;” and that it can and will be proven to the public beyond a reasonable doubt that the Nifong/DPD “team” committed those crimes.
That, to me, makes The Chronicle’s Cheshire news item hugely important.
What do you think?
The Chronicle story is here.
Now let's look at some of what's happened since May 19.
Nifong admitted during a July 26 apology in court to the players and their families that there never was any evidence of the players' guilt.
Yes, he subsequently went back on that admission during his contempt trial Aug. 30 & 31, but his doing that only adds to his reputation as a chronic liar. Being known as a chronic liar isn't a crime, but it makes it tougher for you to defend yourself when you're accused of crimes and try to convince a jury: "I didn't do any of that stuff. Honest, I didn't."
Also, the brief defense attorneys prepared for Nifong's contempt trial, depositions and contempt trial testimony, all strengthen the case that Nifong's conduct during the "investigation" was criminal.
And, of course, there was Judge Smith's finding at the conclusion of the trial as reported by the AP:
Reading his decision from the bench minutes after the end of two days of testimony, Judge Smith said Mr. Nifong "willfully made false statements" in September when he insisted he had given the defense all results from a critical DNA test.If a prosecutor "willfully" makes "false statements" to a court regarding a case in which he was the de facto lead investigator as well as the prosecutor, it's hard to see how he could not have committed crimes in addition to criminal contempt of court.
And how many times during his live blogging of the trial did KC Johnson call attention to statements other witnesses made that contradicted statements Nifong made?
Now add in the recent request then interim Durham DA Jim Hardin made that the NC Attorney General launch a criminal investigation of the Nifong-led "Duke lacrosse investigation."
What does it tell us that Hardin, the man who in 2005 recommended Nifong succeed him as DA, now recommends a criminal investigation of the Duke lacrosse case after he's had many weeks to study the case file?
It's not 100% certain that Nifong will be convicted of crimes, sentenced, and wind up spending time behind bars.
But it's all very likely to happen. Nifong had to do an awful lot criminal to indict three innocent young men on multiple felonies when he had no real evidence (recall Cheshire's term "creation of evidence").
Nifong then had to do an awful lot criminal to cover-up what he did to get the fraudulent indictments.
I'm betting and hoping Nifong goes to prison for what he did. And I wouldn't rule out that he'll be convicted of both state and federal crimes.
What do you folks think?