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I have not written much about the Matt Nifong debacle unfolding in Durham, NC over the past few months. Other bloggers like Jeralyn Merritt and Tom Maguire have done an excellent job in covering the fiasco, and I've enjoyed keeping up with their work. Today, however, the local Raleigh paper exposes a conspiracy on the part of Nifong to commit prosecutorial misconduct and keep exculpatory evidence from the defendants:
The head of a private DNA laboratory said under oath today that he and District Attorney Mike Nifong agreed not to report DNA results favorable to Duke lacrosse players charged with rape.
Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security of Burlington, said his lab found DNA from unidentified men in the underwear, pubic hair and rectum of the woman who said she was gang-raped at a lacrosse party in March. Nurses at Duke Hospital collected the samples a few hours after the alleged assault. Meehan said the DNA did not come from Reade Seligmann, David Evans, or Collin Finnerty, who have been charged with rape and sexual assault in the case.
Meehan struggled to say why he didn’t include the favorable evidence in a report dated May 12, almost a month after Seligmann and Finnerty had been indicted. He cited concerns about the privacy of the lacrosse players, his discussions at several meetings with Nifong, and the fact that he didn’t know whose DNA it was.
Under questioning by Jim Cooney, a defense attorney for Seligmann, Meehan admitted that his report violated his laboratory’s standards by not reporting results of all tests.
Meehan then confirmed that he and Nifong had intentionally made the decision to keep the information from the defendants in the rape case. This was information that the defendants were entitled to have -- in fact, it's evidence that Nifong was required to give them, by law. Failure to do so violates the laws governing discovery, and conspiring to commit an illegal act with Meehan constitutes a criminal offense.
I doubt that Nifong will arrest himself for criminal conspiracy to violate the Duke lacrosse players' civil rights, but perhaps the Department of Justice might decide to do so. It's become obvious that Nifong has gone out of control on this case, and someone will have to step in and stop him from doing any more harm to either the defendants or the community of Durham. Nifong has shamed himself, his department, and the state of North Carolina. At the least, he should lose his ability to practice law ever again.
And someone had better drop the charges against those college students ASAP. I suspect that the attorneys are busy working on those motions right now.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on December 16, 2006 8:03 AM
» Evidence of Prosecutorial Misconduct Grows from A Blog For All
Can you say prosecutorial misconduct, violations of civil rights, and criminal actions in its own right? Can you also say misconduct by the DNA lab that ran the tests that could prove or disprove the prosecutor's theory of the case? I knew you could [Read More]
Tracked on December 16, 2006 9:53 AM
Tracked on December 16, 2006 10:01 AM
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