Friday

Rape Charges Dropped The Rest of the Case Will Follow Soon

Rape charges were dropped in the Duke case today. Setting the stage for a trial on charges that carry just as much time. It's a perfect prosecutorial trick--one I've seen prosecutors use all the time. Use penalty inflation to your advantage. The classic example in New York (which the Court of Appeals has mercifully finally put a stop to) was to charge every defendant with two kinds of Murder--Intentional and Depraved. That way when the jury acquitted of intentional murder and convicted of Depraved, jurors thought they were compromising, when in fact, the verdict was a distinction without a difference and almost everyone convicted that way got slammed just as hard at sentencing as someone convicted of the intentional murder.

So here, the DA has just fiddled with the charges but not the life-destroying penalties.


Duke DA Mike Nifong

All that said, reading between the lines, I think the case goes away in the next few months. The ostensible reason is that the CW is going to have some doubts about her identification. That will allow the DA to cover his ass just enough to possibly avoid the disciplinary charges I think might be (and probably should be) filed against him.

Do let's bear in mind though: the conduct of the DA here is disgusting, but it is by not means unusual. Sad as it seems, this is how the game is played. Thank heavens we have Duke to hold up a mirror to the system, but woe be to those who make the mistake of believing this unusual.

2 comments:

Anon said...

. . . . The really great thing about Nifong is that that he has been able to garner so much publicity. To the average Joe on the street, prosecutors are champions of truth, justice and the American way. Nifong may be viewed as an aberration, but at least one prosecutor has been exposed.
. . . . I am not quite certain whether it is a good thing that the targets of Nifong’s self promotion are from well to do families. On the positive side, it might be argued that if the government tries to do this to rich folk, just think what happens when defendants are too poor to hire high profile lawyers. (Of course, I readily concede that a dedicated PD is often a far better advocate than her or his well to do counterpart in the private bar. However, there is sometimes a difference in the quality of representation because of the greater resources available to the adequately funded attorney.) My guess is that if the accused in the “Duke Rape Case” had been from a different economic level, we would have heard very little, except about a quick plea bargain that sent the defendants off for a “manageable” term of incarceration.
. . . . Today, we hear that the N.C. Bar has undertaken an investigation of Mr. Nifong. Unfortunately, the only charges in the fray (at least to date) have to do with his public comments. One can only hope that the investigation broadens to the real issue – first, concealing evidence and then even broader inquiry into the oxymoron of “prosecutorial ethics.”
. . . . I pray the case stays in the public eye long enough to make Old Joe question whether Nifong is just one of the many prosecutors (the vast majority) who put self ahead of justice.

Bruno said...

Disciplinary charges were finally filed! As a Southern California PD, I agree with your assessment that this behavior is not unusual. In fact, it is in the lower profile cases that DAs attempt to--and do--get away with murder. As an aside, I never understood the general public's hero worship of DAs. DAs are lawyers. Everyone hates lawyers. Why the exception to the rule?