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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Duke students declared innocent by NC AG

It's about damn time that this happened. As soon as Nifong backed out of the case, and started facing ethics charges, we knew the charges were going to be dismissed. From Yahoo News:

On Jan. 13 of this year, I accepted the request of the Durham district attorney to take over three Durham cases. At the time, I promised a fresh and thorough review of the facts and a decision on the best way to proceed. I also said that we would have our eyes wide open to the evidence, but that we would have blinders on for all other distractions. We've done all of these things.

During the past 12 weeks, our lawyers and investigators have reviewed the remaining allegations of sexual assault and kidnapping that resulted from a party on March 13, 2006, in Durham, N.C.
We have carefully reviewed the evidence collected by the Durham County prosecutor's office and the Durham Police Department. We have also conducted our own interviews and evidence gathering. Our attorneys and SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agents have interviewed numerous people who were at the party, DNA and other experts, the Durham County district attorney, Durham police officers, defense attorneys and the accusing witness on several occasions. We have reviewed statements given over the past year, photographs, records and other evidence.

The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. Today we are filing notices of dismissal for all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.

The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

The prosecuting witness in this case responded to questions and offered information. She did want to move forward with the prosecution.

However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence, like photographs and phone records, could not be rectified.
Our investigation shows that:

The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser's story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we'll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.

In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Today, we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody.

Now, we have good district attorneys in North Carolina who are both tough and fair. And we need these forceful, independent prosecutors to put criminals away and protect the public. But we also need checks and balances to protect the innocent. This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor. What has been learned here is that the internal checks on a criminal charge — sworn statements, reasonable grounds, proper suspect photo lineups, accurate and fair discovery — all are critically important.

Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands.

This case was a dog from the get-go, and largely due to one simple fact -- the victim's story changed more times than John Kerry flip-flops. While the AG admits that due to mental stress and trauma, some aspects of her story would change, but not as badly as her story kept switching. When Mike Nifong admitted late last year that he hadn't even taken a formal deposition from her, yet filed charges anyway, we knew something stunk in this case. Then this year it was revealed that he knowingly and purposefully hid DNA findings that were exculpatory; the findings made the so-called victim out to be a liar. None of the three had any physical, sexual contact with her at all.

There are three good things that are coming out of this case. The obvious pro is that three innocent men are free to go, absolved of any wrongdoing. Number two, Mike Nifong is done as a lawyer. North Carolina will likely disbar him, and he should be refused a job across the country for his actions. They were beyond the pale and extremely partisan. He sought three heads for the sole purpose of bolstering his political future. Lastly, the proposition by the North Carolina AG about the State Supreme Court possibly gaining the power to stop runaway, unethical prosecutors should -- mind you it should -- prevent things like this from occurring again. At least in North Carolina.

Mike Nifong did no service to his profession. As if it weren't bad enough that lawyers are demonized daily (and no slams towards my better half, guys; she's not even in law school yet, but she'll be an excellent counselor) Nifong heaped even more disdain, mistrust, and ridicule on barristers, in general. Not all lawyers are bad. We know a few good ones. But it's the bad apples like Nifong that give every other one a bad name.

Publius II

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