Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Early Bird

Among the cable TV talking heads who enabled Mike Nifong, one person has largely escaped attention. Wendy Murphy comes across as the caricature of an extremist. Georgia Goslee was candid about her qualifications to comment on the case: “I’m not familiar with the North Carolina statutes.” And Nancy Grace appears to believe that Stalinist Russia had it right regarding civil liberties.

An equally consistent—and outrageous—defender of Nifong was a figure of considerably more heft. Norm Early served 13 years as Denver’s district attorney (1983-1996). He was the frontrunner in the 1991 Denver mayoral election before being upset by Wellington Webb. His name was floated as a possible Democratic candidate for the 1996 open-seat Senate election ultimately won by Republican Wayne Allard. And he was founder and first president of the National Black Prosecutors Association.

Early is also media relations director and consultant for the National District Attorneys Association, an organization that serves as “the voice of America’s prosecutors and to support their efforts to protect the rights and safety of the people.” According to its Bylaws, the group was seeks “to foster and maintain the integrity” of prosecutors around the country, while seeking to “improve and facilitate the administration of justice in the United States.”

Given both Early’s background as a longstanding big-city prosecutor and the NDAA’s mission, the Duke case should be a wakeup call for everyone. Over a nine-month period, the system that Early outlined was one in which prosecutors view all defense attorneys with contempt, while they themselves feel no obligation to follow their own procedures. And in Early’s justice system, the burden of proof is on the defense (whose lawyers, he regularly pointed out, cannot be believed) to prove the defendant (or at least the defendants in a case that Early found politically appealing) innocent beyond any and all reasonable doubt.

The Lineup

Durham city procedures require five filler photos per every suspect. Early, however, seems to have considered these guidelines optional, and saw little problem with the suspects-only lineup concocted by Mike Nifong. Here he was on April 21:

The issue is whether the lineup and the photos that she is shown suggests to her who the culprit is, and one issue would be, did they tell her that there were only lacrosse players, so she’s expecting the person to be there. [They did, but that didn’t seem to bother Early.]

But nonetheless, they’re all white males, it’s not as if though you’re looking for an African American and you have 26 white guys and one African American guy because that would be clearly a suggestive lineup, so we’re talking about all white males. You can’t see their height probably, so that’s not suggestive and if their hair colors are similar, you know, you don’t -- you may not have a suggestive lineup. Showing them for a minute apiece and showing them in that fashion where they’re up on the wall, maybe that is something that has been cleared with their police department on other occasions where judges have said that that procedure is OK.

It wasn’t OK, but on May 7 Early dismissed complaints about the lineup in any event. From defense attorneys’ perspective, he noted, “they don’t think there’s any such thing as a perfect lineup.” Translation: because defense lawyers often complain about lineups, prosecutors can do whatever they want.

Lack of DNA Evidence

In the March 23 non-testimonial order, Mike Nifong’s office asserted, “The DNA evidence requested will immediately rule out any innocent persons, and show conclusive evidence as to who the suspect(s) are in the alleged violent attack upon this victim.” Once the DNA tests came back negative, however, Early seemed to forget that the DA once had viewed DNA as critical. He offered a variety of theories:

  • April 24: “I think that the district attorney thinks they have a case, based upon the victim’s story, that may not be inconsistent with no DNA.” (Actually, the accuser had stated her attackers ejaculated and didn’t use condoms.)
  • May 4: “The prosecutor in this case has been in office for 27 years . . . so the benefit that he has, as a prosecutor, is being able to compare the facts in this case, as he knows them, to the facts in other cases that he’s had as a prosecutor. And he’s able to gauge whether this is a good case or a bad case.” (Actually, Nifong had used discovery of someone else’s DNA to dismiss charges in another rape case.)

Reade Seligmann’s Alibi

Nifong’s facilitators always struggled with this issue. Lester Munson of cnnsi.com suggested that for having the audacity to present an alibi, Seligmann might be indicted for obstructing justice. For Early, Seligmann’s alibi—stunningly—suggested his guilt. Here he was on May 4:

Now, as to Reade Seligmann, maybe he believes that out of all the people at this party, 37 people, she just happens to pick the one who has a “alibi.” And why would he have the “alibi?” Because maybe he felt like he needed one and started manufacturing one.

Dan Abrams, taken aback, commented that “it’s usually the defense attorneys who are obscuring the issues.”

Nifong’s Professional Ethics

Nifong was a man of integrity, according to Early—presumably because he was prosecuting a case that Early found politically attractive. Asked on May 15 whether it was normal for a prosecutor to refuse to consider defense evidence (in this case, the defense proof that Dave Evans never had a mustache), Early was blasé. It was “unfortunate,” he noted,

But let’s remember one thing. None of us know what happened that night. None of us were there, and the fact of the matter is that what we do know has come as a result of what’s largely defense spin, defense attorneys putting information out to the public about this case. It has not been prosecution spin, but defense spin.

What that had to do with Nifong refusing to meet with defense attorneys to consider evidence Early never revealed. In any event, he affirmed on May 22, “we have to presume is that Mike Nifong is a man of integrity and that he believes in his case and that he’s not doing anything malicious here.” Men of integrity, apparently, routinely instruct police to violate their own procedures. And this “man of integrity” was opposed, in Early’s mind by the forces of evil. Here he was on June 11:

The defense attorneys are there to muddy the waters. You can’t expect anything they say to be said without viewing it through their own prism. They’re there to obfuscate the facts. They’re not there to educate the public.

The Accuser’s Inconsistent Stories

In a phrase: no problem. It didn’t really matter that the accuser told each and every police officer with whom she spoke a different story. People should only listen, Early suggested on June 20, to SANE nurse-in-training Tara Levicy.

[The accuser] was talking to an officer that she did not have a lot of rapport with, someone that she didn’t feel comfortable and telling her story to . . . I think she probably felt a lot more comfortable talking to the woman who was the nurse.

Moreover, Early suggested, inconsistencies don’t really matter, as long as she kept saying she was attacked:

That’s the way I would look at this, to see if I can understand what she’s trying to convey in its totality. So in order to see whether or not this is a consistent statement, I would have to see the whole thing and I would also have to see all of what she said to other people in order to piece it together for me to see where the truth rings. Now Mike Nifong, who is the elected district attorney there, who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution in his state has looked at this thing in its entirety and according to his oath, he says I believe this happened.

The Criminal Justice System

Some people might consider what occurred in Durham the signs of an unfair system. On June 27, Early agreed—though not for reasons people might expect.

That is not a fair system. That is an unfair system, which allows defendants never to see the inside of a courtroom, because of the pressure the defense attorneys put on victims and because that pressure is picked up by the media.

Dropping of the Rape Charge

Early did admit that the accuser’s dramatically new Dec. 21 tale gave him pause. But when asked to analyze Nifong’s performance, he just couldn’t say.

I don’t know whether he’s done a great job, an average job, a medium job of handling this case, because I don’t know all the evidence. But what I do know is that the defense has done a very good job of trying to smear the victim and smear Mr. Nifong.

After speaking too much at the start, Early believed that Nifong “has been trying to try his case in the courtroom, which is what he should do. He’s filed his motions. He’s lived up to his obligations as a prosecutor.” Early never said what “motions” he was talking about—in nine months, Nifong filed a grand total of one motion, dealing with the defense poll of the potential jury pool.

Asked on December 30 about the Bar filing ethics charges against Nifong, Early termed the move “outrageous. I think it’s an escalation of the defense’s attempts to get Mr. Nifong to drop the case or get him thrown off the case. I think it’s extremely unfortunate that they are looking at his statements, and not the defense counsel, who have made many comments that were misleading and inaccurate.” He never identified what defense comments were “misleading and inaccurate,” and how the decision of the State Bar—an independent entity—was part of the defense plot against Nifong.

Reflecting on Early’s performance one evening, Dan Abrams remarked, “I’m suddenly hearing prosecutors talking like defense attorneys on this program, that all of the evidence we do know about points away from guilt. And yet all the prosecutors can say is, well, maybe we don’t know everything, maybe there’s more.”

Maybe his comments on the lacrosse case demonstrated how Early prosecuted cases in Denver for 13 years as DA. If so, a lot of innocent people must be in Colorado jails.

50 comments:

bill anderson said...

K.C.,

This S.O.B. needs to be investigated. I have put some very critical comments about prosecutors on the Liestoppers board, and some people have objected. Well, ladies and gentlemen, here is the NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON for prosecutors.

Look at what this man says. He is a disgrace, and for prosecutors to hold this man up as THEIR spokesperson, THEIR voice tells me what I need to know about prosecutors in this country.

This profession does not need housecleaning; it needs fumigation. What an outrage.

Anonymous said...

JLS says....

Well I am back from Atlanta and watching my Gators repeat.

Early is no doubt terrible. To me he has not more credibility than those Prof. Johnson compared him to, Murphy, Grace etal.

But unfortunately almost all the prosecutors commenting on this case have been equally bad. They all absolutely defend the claimed "right" of any prosecutor to try to harm any citizen without the prosecutor having ANY accountability. It certainly does not give me confidence in any prosecutor.

Anonymous said...

Just another crappy lawyer that turned to politics to make a living.

wayne fontes said...

A lot of the enablers total denial of reality reminds me of the Monty Python dead parrot sketch. There can be no level of proof that convinces the die hards. To paraphrase John Cleese

It's not pinin'! It's passed on! This case is no more! It has ceased to be! 'It's expired and gone to meet 'is maker!

'It's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'it rests in peace! If you hadn't framed them it'd be pushing up the daisies!

It's metabolic processes are now history! It's off the twig!

It's kicked the bucket, It's shuffled off It's mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!!

THIS IS AN EX-CASE!!

Anonymous said...

Norm Early, on the first show I saw him on, he came across questioning the facts of the case. I remember, because I had seen him discuss other cases and was impressed with his logical comments. The fact that he was black was noted. But the next night I saw him again and he had done a 180 and said many of the comments you have documented above. I was stunned! He was sounding alot like Georgia . . .
I thought that he had been reminded that he was black and had better toe the line on this case. I lost all respect for him that night. Unfortunately, almost the same thing can be said of Ted on Greta's show. On others issues, I found him to be very good, but on this one he too began sounding like he was sharing Georgia's talking points. Really sad!!!

Anonymous said...

He was just playing the part of Devil's Advocate for these talk shows. He was brought on specifically to take the "pro-Nifong position" as in, "Norm, hypothetically, what could possibly be an explanation?"

That's what these news shows do. Fox News, predictably, is notorious for this.

KC Johnson said...

A quick reply to the 12.50:

None of these quotes were prompted by a question in which Early was asked to speculate hypothetically. In each, he was, or seemed to be, expressing his opinion.

Almost all of the quotes came from MSNBC or CNN; I believe Early appeared only once on FOX.

Anonymous said...

who is the elected district attorney there

That would be the appointed DA, at least at the time.

memomachine said...

Hmmmm.

He was just playing the part of Devil's Advocate for these talk shows.

I'd suggest it is exceedingly strange for a individual former prosecutor to be asked to play the Devil's Advocate non-stop for 9+ months and counting.

Anonymous said...

Yet another shaddy/incompetent prosecutor! Welcome to the BANANA REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES.

Anonymous said...

in spite of understanding the adversary system of justice, I sometimes wonder how defense attorneys defend violent criminals in grusome crimes, especially those involving children.

However, it has become clear many DAs know individuals are innocent, and for political or personal gain prosecut anyway. That is beyind sick, and they do it because they can get away with it. How sick. I shudder to think of all the innocent people serving time or worse.

The trajedy of the case has opened my eyes to the corruption in the criminal justice system. I don't believe for one minute that Nifong never acted with disregard for the facts before or he is simply a rogue DA. Early reinforces this point.

rrhamilton said...

1. Y'all quit picking on Georgia Girl. It's just low.

2. I hate to play advocate for Lester Munson, but I must. KC said of Munson,
Downplaying Reade Seligmann’s alibi evidence, [Munson] asserted incredibly, “The police and the prosecutor will scrutinize this evidence in exquisite detail, and if they find something is askew, that something doesn't fit in the alibi evidence, they will not hesitate to charge Seligmann with yet another crime. That would be obstruction of justice.”

Actually Munson was exactly right: If Seligmann had lied about his alibi evidence (he didn't) then he likely would've been charged with obstruction.

In the same blogpost, KC quoted Munson saying:
[Quoting Munson:] “You don’t see many alibis in criminal cases—it's a very rare thing. Ordinarily, 99 times out of 100, the police have the right guy, and you'll find that most people arrested were involved in something. Getting the wrong guy is very unusual.” Munson offered no evidence to support his extraordinary assertion.

Far from being an "extraordinary assertion", what Munson said was exactly right, as most criminal lawyers will tell you.

3. I've been holding this story back, but since I've had to quote Munson saying "99 times out of 100, the police have the right guy", I think I can tell y'all the story of my one innocent defendant.

As most lawyers will tell you, defense lawyers treasure innocent defendants the way the prosecutors in "A Bonfire of the Vanities" treasure white ones. Though I handled only a few criminal cases, the wheel of fate handed me one of those "1 of 100" that Munson talked about.

I was fresh out of law school, and so was handling some assigned cases to get courtroom experience. So, in this case I go down to the jail to interview my client who'd been charged with selling drugs. She was a 20-something black woman, and she was absolutely petrified by what had happened to her. She claimed she was completely innocent. Of course, I've heard claims of innocence before, but you don't need to be F. Lee Bailey to know this one was genuine.

So, I tracked down the reason she was arrested and found that the police had manufactured the evidence. (I think the "truth" was that the undercover cop who fingered her as a drug-dealer was doing it as a favor for one of his informants.) So, I take my evidence of this frame-up to the prosecution and they basically tell me ... "So what?" They made it clear they would put on perjured testimony from their cop witness.

Well, I might've been a new lawyer, but I had been around the block -- military veteran and newspaper reporter, including some time on the police beat -- so I didn't bat an eyelash. I knew that they knew that with what the county was paying me and with my miniscule experience, I couldn't mount an effective defense. So I called in a favor (actually went into favor-deficit) by asking a more experienced criminal law attorney to take over the case for me. He didn't like it, but he saw the same fact that I did: If he doesn't take the case, an innocent woman will be convicted.

The DA eventually dropped the case, but not before the poor young woman had spent about 3 months in jail. At the end of the case, I saw her briefly in the office of my attorney friend. She gave me a weak smile.

Anonymous said...

re: 1:53

I am about as pro-prosecution as they come, and I do subscribe to a belief that a lot of defense attorneys cross the line. But one thing I've never understood is why prosecutors would just not care about the possibility that they were prosecuting an innocent person. If I were a prosecutor, that possibility (as well as failing to win a conviction for a dangerous guilty criminal) would keep me up at night. And the idea of using perjured testimony to manufacture a case is just sickening. Absolutely sickening. Personally, I don't know how someone could stand hearing something like that and not kicking the everliving crap out of the guy.

Anonymous said...

And it's the same kind of prosecutorial arrogance that keeps these charges in place. The AGs assigned to this case know goddamned well that this case should be dropped, and they know goddamned well that every minute it stays out there it's an injustice to those three. Yet, one of them can go on a vacation. WTF?? Evil. There is no way else to describe it. If these people were members of my family, I would simply disown them. The AGs assigned to this case could make it end simply by telling Cooper, look, I cannot ethically continue with this prosecution. That's what someone with moral courage does.

They won't. Evil.

Anonymous said...

Hey, like they say...if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain.

Poor, misunderstood prosecutors! Once in a while -- who knows how often -- they have to be unjust, downright sneaky and, well, okay - dishonest, simply so that truth and justice (or at least the prosecution), can prevail.

Any who worry about such things should consider this: 99 out of 100 accused claiming innocence are lying, a stat we can trust because prosecutors so often use it, and we can certainly believe that they know all about lying.

Anyway, back to the mountain...

When CGM's various stories failed to fit the mountain of provable elements of this case, CGM and her handlers whipped up a brand-new story. (Much like when those bonehead Iranians first revealed the coordinates of the "Iranian" waters where they'd captured the 15 Brits, and those coordinates turned out, embarrassingly, to be in Iraqi waters -- so the coordinates were withdrawn and changed into new, improved Iranian coordinates.)

Of course, there's a huge difference between Durham and Tehran: the Iranians appear to have a little shame. They've already stated that there will be no trial. Privately, Iranian authorities have reassured the Brits, saying "c'mon, whaddya think this is? North Carolina?"

gs said...

Look's like Judge Hudson does not want to drag up the grand jury issues like leaving out the negative DNA reports. He can not investigate it in a vacuum.

Durham's senior judge will not punish two grand jurors who spoke on national television about the Duke lacrosse case.

"I'm going to let it die," Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson said.

Grand jury HS

Anonymous said...

Early said "I don’t know whether he’s done a great job, an average job, a medium job of handling this case..."

Those are the choices? Great, average or medium? And how does average differ from medium? Not a math guy, eh? Maybe he meant "median".

Sheesh - great thinkin' there bub.

scott said...

Irving Joyner and Norm Early -- two men in different locations, but joined at the hip philosophically.

Separated by 1,500 miles, they both looked inward and simultaneously said to themselves, "this is our chance to get whitey."

Bakerman said...

Early is the tip of the massive Nifong iceburg, one of many so-called “rogue” prosecutors operating under the color of law – it’s a symbiotic relationship between morally corrupt prosecutors, AG’s, and judges.

Exhibit A – My adopted state:

In his explanation to justify the permanent destruction of all post-sentence DNA evidence older than two years, then Florida AG Charlie Crist stated – paraphrasing; “Expediency is more important than innocence (Crist is now governor).” Following is an excerpt of the filing seeking to block the Florida AG’s two year time limit:

I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
Petitioners have filed an emergency petition to invoke this
Court’s all writs jurisdiction seeking to restrain all entities
in Florida from destroying any biological evidence in their
custody that may be susceptible to DNA testing without first
providing written notice of their intent to destroy evidence to
a convicted person and The Florida Innocence Project.

Petitioners also ask this Court to declare unconstitutional
any deadline for filing a Rule 3.853 motion because a deadline
arbitrarily deprives them of their due process rights under the
United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution.

They assert that the two-year time limitation is unconstitutional
because it “arbitrarily denies Petitioners access to the Courts
and therefore to exculpatory DNA evidence which may prove
defendant’s innocence and provide a basis for a petition for
executive clemency; and constitutes an encroachment on this
Court’s exclusive authority to establish rules of practice and
procedure.” - http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:hYZaFVihJlcJ:www.floridasupremecourt.org/clerk/comments/2003/03-1654_ResponseState.pdf+Charlie+Crist+%2BInnocence+Project+%2BDNA+%2BFL&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us

In separate case regarding a wrongful conviction (re: Wilton Dedge), a Florida assistant attorney general told an incredulous appeals court that whether Dedge was innocent didn't matter. “It was more important to enforce deadlines.” - http://www.sptimes.com/2005/06/19/Columns/Deny__delay_no_more_i.shtml

Pick the prosecutor, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, one is same as the other.

Anonymous said...

rrhamilton

Read the article - I believe the references are to Georgia Goslee, not your new best friend forever.

Anonymous said...

K.C.,

Thanks for going after this guy. On one occasion he was quoted in the national media as stating that attorneys for the defense were in egregious violation of ethical standards. Given that no examples were cited, I wrote to Mr Early and suggested that, perhaps, the writer had failed to cite Mr Early's legal citations, and then asked him to please enlighten those of us unschooled in the law. Nedless to say, I did not receive the courtesy of a response.

P. Rich said...

Early. Scum. Moving along...

Time is the ally of those politicians who find themselves in the middle of a dirty little story. The media wakes up for a moment, pens a few column-inches (very few in the case of a Dem scandal) and moves on to the next headline du jour.

Had the investigators of this travesty come back quickly with a very public recommendation to throw out a worthless case, the political fallout would have been greater. Their answer: slow-play it. Vacation scheduled? No problem.

Most of the fix-it time is now being spent carefully crafting press releases and formal submittals while making a final decision or two on the least action that can be taken without exacerbating the situation.

bill anderson said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us, 1:53. You were able to witness a crime up close and personal, and yet there was no one to whom you could report it. That is the definition of Tyranny.

I think that Early has done more than be a "devil's advocate." He is trying to out-devil the Prince of Darkness himself.

Anonymous said...

"Dan, what the problem is? She was shown 40-something white guys and you know they all look alike and everything."-paraphrasing

Now flashback 50 years and reverse skin color.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for prosecutors, in spite of their oath of office, to "cross the line" and seek convictions, rather than justice. It is also not uncommon for police to use unscrupulous techniques, and for our justice system to be inverted into a "guilty until proven innocent" system. This case is unique only in the publicity it has received. In our town, a boy was falsely accused by the police of a relatively minor crime. Never mind that all the reliable witnesses who were at the scene swore he didn't do it, and that the only evidence was the testimony of one unreliable person who was driving by. The boy was advised by his lawyer not to make a statement to the police, because the police would then charge him with obstructing an investigation and perjury, even though his statement was the truth. The only fact that mattered to the police was that his statement did not match their version of the events. Apparently this is routine--one can and will be charged with perjury if one's story does not match the police version, regardless of the truth. Effectively, in a jury trial, the burden is then on the accused to prove the veracity of his version in court.

Gayle Miller said...

Jeannine Piro, former DA of Westchester County, NY was the one who solidified in my mind the completely bogus nature of all the charges when she opined on TV that in her view, Nifong's actions to date (this was in I think May or June of last year) had either been "incompetent - or something more sinister". That, as far as I was concerned, was that! I had multitudes of doubts before that - but she is a very no-nonsense lady and her opinion had weight with me.

Anonymous said...

I am a nc ob/gyn. Some years ago our medical malpractice company had a seminar on "truth". The two lawyers who spoke pointed out that seeking truth was not what a trial was about. I was stunned. Both sides take the documented evidence and expert testimony they can find and spin it anyway they can to win the case. My experience as an expert witness and observer was eye opening. The legal system is deeply flawed, enabled by a large cast of unethical, lying, dishonest, corrupt human beings. They exhibit the raw sinful nature of humanity. In North Carolina unfortunately many of these individuals have managed to get into positions of power. Governor Easley, AG Cooper, Former speaker Black, Basknight, and others run the show. They are brazen, feeling no one can touch them. John Edwards is certainly in this group and his silence on this case is deafening. Speaker Blacks guilty plea hopefully will be the beginning of the downfall of this lot. The blogs have been great. Talk radio in North Carolina has been great. ( www.mattcave.us/) In fact the legislature tried to pass legislation that required talk show hosts to register as lobbyist!. Thanks KC for documenting these individuals and their flaws. They are scared of bloggers.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that we all have the potential to be dishonest or self-serving. Many (hopefully most) of us do our jobs and go through life doing the right thing. But for some reason, the personal character traits that often draw people to the public life are the same characteristics that would enable someone to rationalize dishonest behavior. Once that line is crossed it only becomes easier to compromise one's integrity in order to gain notoriety (or "success") even at another's expense.

I may be getting cynical, but i think far more of our public figures, including DAs and elected representatives, have crossed this line than we care to admit.

Anonymous said...

From Heraldsun.com

DURHAM -- April 13 was set Tuesday as the date for District Attorney Mike Nifong to formally seek dismissal of N.C. State Bar charges that he mishandled the Duke lacrosse sex-offense case.

NOTE THE IRONY...

FRIDAY THE 13th !!

Anonymous said...

8:53 Comment - from Butler's latest

"Top-tier Universities willfully push “diversity” well beyond the point of reason, because this brings about desired results
(...ensuring that social order is preserved. Those who are making the decisions don’t have to live with the very real costs when this goes too far...).

This is the hidden agenda; it is not just that they are accidentally filled with delusional extremists. Duke seeks to become an indisputably top-tier university, and at least those in control see this as the price to be paid.

The diverse applicant becomes more and more desirable over the athletic, the wealthy and finally the merit-ocracy,

Too much substance in an athlete.


panda

MTU'76 said...

Must read. Bill Anderson's latest.

An Open Letter to Roy Cooper: Part II

by William L. Anderson

http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson179.html

P. Rich said...

A general observation:

There's an old saw from the Quality world:

"You will always get the behavior you incentivize."

In the case of prosecutors, if their rewards are based on successful prosecutions, guess what? They will make every effort to get convictions.

To say that justice is their goal, and believe they will seek it when their careers are furthered by something else, is stupid in the extreme. Similar arguments apply to defense attorneys. Human nature doesn't work that way.

No lawyer can, with any frequency, say, "I lost the case because I was concerned about justice being done." and expect to have a viable future. Hasn't happened. Won't happen. This is only one of numerous inherent though somewhat subtle flaws in our legal system.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you have called Norm Early to task. Unlike other commentators,who were usually generic "former prosecutors" or "defense lawyers," Mr. Early was regularly identified as the official spokesman for a major national advocacy group for prosecutors. Therefore, it was all the more inappropriate for Early to have continued to spout Nifong's position months after Nifong was supposed to have stopped talking to the media.

Durham Lawyer

Anonymous said...

To nc ob/gyn at 9:13:00 AM,

What you said about "seeking truth [not being] what a trial was about" is a little off (regardless of what some lawyers may have told you). True enough, neither side in a civil trial is looking for "truth." Each is looking to win. However, the rationale behind the system is that if each side tries very hard to win, the truth will prevail most of the time. Certainly, for the judge and/or jury, a trial should be about seeking truth.

Criminal cases are somewhat different. In theory, the State (the Nifongs and other D.A.s of the world) should be seeking truth, even if it sometimes puts the State at a slight disadvantage to the criminal defense bar (which is pretty damn rare, I suspect). Unfortunately, an adversarial legal system and a democratic political system produce great presures on a D.A. to seek victory over truth, just like the lawyers in a civil case and just like the criminal defense lawyers in criminal cases. Hopefully, the checks on the D.A.'s power (trial judges, juries, appellate courts, and the electorate) will usually work. As a check on governmental power, I prefer our system to that of the French, for example.

Anonymous said...

To 10:24:

I've always heard that the French system was not adversarial, but rather "inquisitorial." Is that correct? And what does that mean? In particular, what are the roles of lawyers in the French system?

Durham Lawyer

rod allison, detroit said...

Early was really bad.

Even when Nifong said he finally interviewed the accuser, and then dropped the rape charge, to get around the newly revealed DNA evidence that he tried to hide, Early made some god-awful, mumbo-jumbo defense of this.

Anonymous said...

Read the WSJ editorial page this morning. (4/4/07) Patrick Fitzgerald deserves a good Nifonging and he is trying to deep six his documentation so that no one can demonstrate what he was up to.

Anonymous said...

66th Annual Peabody Awards Winners Announced

60 Minutes: The Duke Rape Case CBS
A "60 Minutes" team led by correspondent Ed Bradley delved into the allegations of rape against Duke University lacrosse players and stopped a
prosecutorial rush to judgment in its tracks.

Anonymous said...

Early--another unintelligent black in a position of power:

YAWN

That's what this case is all about--affirmative action and black privilege

hman said...

This story about Early fits nicely, it seems to me, with B. Andersons most recent (and excellent) posting.
Here is how: A source of a lot of mischeif from the start of this has been created by commenters saying "DAs do not go forward unless they have something, therefore Nifong must have something." This outlook is obviously widespread and entrenched. Early represents merely an extreme example of it.
So, if the SP is looking for a good way out, they really must take this widespread belief head on. They need to bluntly state that the case was made up out of thin air by a small number of extra-ordinarily corrupt individuals and then enabled by a lot of folks who meant well but were easily led astray by their reasonable assumption that DAs tell the truth.
If the SP makes that plain enough, and perhaps issues an apology, there is a chance that a non-destructive outcome might yet be achieved. If they try anything less than this level of honesty, it will only make this mess worse because people are going to learn, more and more, that it was all a hoax and that many prominent people basically knew that but kept silent.
In other words, attempting a "cover up" is bad politics when there is little they can do to avoid the truth coming out.
The thing is, in this case, a DA plainly did exactly what these pundits said they never do. If the legal establishment listened to me about this, I would tell them to stop pretending otherwise.

Anonymous said...

"We have to presume Mike Nifong is a man of intergrity."

We do? Why? That sounds dangerous. Does this presumption apply to all prosecutors and public officials or just Mike Nifong?

I guess if Early had been a Talking Head during Watergate he would have told us that we have to presume Richard Nixon is a man of integrity. I guess those impeachment hearings and all that running around Woodward and Bernstein did was totally unnecessary. We should have just presumed intergrity and forgotten the whole thing.

This attitude doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the NDAA or prosecutors in general.

Kent Chitwood said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a prosecutor. I am also an NDAA member. I have found it to be a very reputable and honorable organization. I do not know Norm Early. Today, I placed a call to the headquarters of the NDAA and spoke with their media relations director Velva Walker. She stated that the NDAA had in the past contracted with Mr. Early to work with the NDAA. I don't know the exact relationship but I believe the relationship has been severed. If anyone is interested in the exact relationship and the pertinent dates, a call to the organization could clarify the matter. As a member, I intend to write the NDAA an encourage the organization to take a position regarding Mr. Nifong's handling of the "Duke rape case". However, as should be painfully evident to everyone, especially members of the group of 88, commenting on a pending case before you have all of the evidence can be fraught with peril.

Secondly, I have not seen or read the actual interviews with Mr. Early. Based upon K.C. Johnson's blog, it would appear to me that Mr. Early initially gave Mr. Nifong the benefit of the doubt. It also appears that he was deceived by Mr. Nifong as were many others in the Durham community. Clearly, many members of the Durham community were complicit in the deception because of their own agendas. I can't say if this was the case with Mr. Early. If the dates in K.C. Johnson's blog are accurate, then Mr. Early's continued defense of Mr. Nifong as late as December of last year is indefensible. Mr. Early should have realized that there was reason to doubt Mr. Nifong long before December of last year.

Lastly, I consider Durham-in-Wonderland to be an reasonably objective source of information regarding the "Duke rape case". Even though I am a prosecutor and taking into consideration my admonition against commenting on pending cases, if what I have read about Mr. Nifong is true then he should be disbarred. It is that simple. It is my belief that most prosecutors feel this way. In spite of the opinions expressed in the comments to K.C. Johnson's original post, most prosecutors solely seek the truth and are not concerned with wins and losses.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Chitwood,

Nifong should be disbarred and put in jail. Do you support that? Or perhaps you think putting a prosecutor in jail for trying to railroad three innocent men is too high a standard.

Anonymous said...

5:15

yes, nifong should be placed in prison for 15 years for what he attempted to do

unfortunately, black and lawyer privilege obtains in our topsy-turvy world

Bakerman said...

Deck Stacking vs. Truth Telling:

"Many legal outcomes can be explained, and future cases predicted, by asking a very simple question: is there a plausible result in this case that will significantly affect the interests of the legal profession (positively or negatively)? If so, the case will always be decided in the way that offers the best result for the legal profession." – Benjamin Barton, University of Tennessee - College of Law - http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=976478 (via Instapundit)

Anonymous said...

Actually Mr. Early's contribution to the hoax had drawn some highly critical attention from a local paper in Denver called the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle and Mr. Early indicated at a breakfast recently that he wanted to punch out the person he blamed for the editorial. The editorial came out in early January.

Editorial — Glendale Cherry Creek
Chronicle
Norm Early
Destroying DAs’ Reputations

It is sometimes said that the best job in the world for a lawyer to have is being a district attorney, since your only obligation is to seek truth and do honest justice. Most lawyers’ job duties do not necessarily share those same exalted goals.
As a result most citizens, while they do not like lawyers in general, do have a very high opinion of district attorneys. One person who has personally enjoyed a very high reputation is former Denver District Attorney Norm Early. As Denver District Attorney he represented the Denver portion of the Cherry Creek Valley from 1983 to 1996. He was even the leading candidate for mayor in 1991, but was upset by fellow African American Wellington Webb. He has garnered numerous community service and professional awards since going into private practice and was the founder and first president of the National Black District Attorneys Association
But while it takes a long time to build up a great reputation, it takes only a very short time to destroy one. Ever since Mr. Early became the television spokesman for the National Association of District Attorneys he seems hell bent on damaging his own reputation and unfairly besmirching the reputation of district attorneys everywhere.
Instead of holding prosecutors to the high standards to which most district attorneys adhere, he appears to believe that his job is to act like a shop steward for a corrupt union — always publicly justifying the unjustifiable.
He started out by making a fool of himself in the Kobe Bryant rape prosecution by publicly demanding that the press call the accuser the “victim” rather than an “alleged victim” on the apparent basis that charges must be deemed true until shown to be false, reversing hundreds of years of American jurisprudence.
His antics became so bad that fellow former district attorney and KHOW radio host Craig Silverman publicly castigated him, declaring, “Norm Early is a virtual partner on the Kobe Bryant prosecution team.” When that prosecution fell apart, Norm Early’s reputation took a hit, but nothing like what has happened to it in the recent Duke lacrosse rape prosecution.
In that prosecution, in case you have been on a deserted island for the last year, a black stripper/prostitute alleged that 20, then 10, then five, then three white Duke lacrosse players raped her at an off-campus party. The police initially gave her ever-changing allegations little credence. But then Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, in order to win an upcoming election, set about to frame three Duke lacrosse players in order to garner the black vote.
He did so by setting up a crooked lineup process and then criminally hiding exculpatory DNA evidence. He could carry on his corrupt prosecution only with the cheerleading of some members of the media, and on television, his leading enabler was none other than Norm Early.
Crooked lineup? No problem, declared Early on MSNBC’s “Dan Abrams Show.” The process was “not suggestive” at all and in fact must be o.k because, well, a district attorney did it. He once again became so unbearable that the leading commentator on the case, K.C. Johnson, a Brooklyn College professor, declared, “his consistent, vehement, defenses of Nifong have left the uncomfortable impression that Early believes that prosecutors all across the country behave as Nifong has done.”
Well they don’t. Most district attorneys are honest and actually try to do the right thing. When the “victim” in this case amazingly admitted that she could no longer remember if she had been raped, as opposed to sexually assaulted, Early expressed surprise that Nifong didn’t drop all the charges. The answer was clear to everyone, but Norm Early — Nifong is a corrupt prosecutor.
Not only has Nifong’s reputation been destroyed, but also because of Early’s positions on television, the National Association of District Attorneys now appears to some to be a highly disreputable group. It is not a good thing when citizens believe that all or even many district attorneys are crooked, when the same is simply not the case.
For all of us who supported Norm Early for Denver mayor in the 1990s believing him to be an honest and upright individual, his performances on television are highly painful. The Duke rape hoax has revealed heroes like black Duke law professor James Coleman, while exposing goats like Norm Early. For the sake of district attorneys throughout the United States, Mr. Early simply needs to cease being their national spokesman and, for that matter, the spokesman for any group that has any interest in maintaining a good reputation with the public.

— Editorial Board

Anonymous said...

I remember the performance by Norm Early very "early" in this case.

As a huge admirer of Dan Abrams--(love and kisses to you Dan !!!)--I watched his show with interest before he became an executive of MSNBC.

He covered this case in a phenomenal way. Tucker tries, but cannot match Dan.

I recall vividly the appearances by Norm Early and Georgia Goslee.

At first...always....you want to hope that two black "legal eagles" are behaving professionally and that they have an education that "took"....however, we now see them both for what they are in bold relief.

Sad, that.

IMO, beyond Norm Early's disgusting support of the criminal Mike Nifong is his use of the English language.

To wit:

None of us know what happened that night.
None of us were there.......


Debrah

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am damn tired of out-of-state know-it-alls impugning the integrity of Joe Cheshire, Wade Smith and the now late Kirk Osborne.

Mr. Early deserveth our scorn and rebuke.

TaterCon

Anonymous said...

Re: Cherry Creek Editorial:

Wow! What an editorial. Thanks for posting it.

Durham Lawyer

Anonymous said...

Every single word KC has written is true. I saw Early for daus saying this stuff..I have not seen him for a few months - any ideas what has happened to him? Kimberly Guilfoil ranting on Sean and Alans show. Sean told her"You were wrong about Duke" She was stunned. we are suposed to forget this stuff.