Mike Nifong was disbarred today. Poor Mike Nifong.
Actually, I have very little sympathy for him in this situation.
Nifong made a series of statements that served to further inflame an already touchy situation. He ascribed a racial motivation to a crime on very specious evidence. He made accusations of rape based on the word of one witness and no corroborating evidence. Worst of all, he allowed his personal goals to interfere with the pursuit of justice. By doing this, he cost a group of young men a full year of intercollegiate competition.
“The circumstances of the rape indicated a deep racial motivation for some of the things that were done. It makes a crime that is by its nature one of the most offensive and invasive even more so.” So said Nifong in March 2006. He said this based on the fact that some of the players (none of the three who were later indicted) allegedly yelled racial slurs at people walking past. Hmm…
In that same statement, as well as in others, Nifong started from the assumption that Evans, Seligmann, and Finnerty were guilty. He seemed so intent on defending the “witness”, who was supposedly stripping to “pay her way through college” (where have I heard that before? Oh, wait) that he swung completely to the other end of the spectrum (and yes, that is a mixed metaphor) and threw out all semblance of logic and law. “It doesn’t mean nothing happened. It just means nothing was left behind.” Wha???
The sad thing is, it almost worked. There were protests against the lacrosse players’ racism, accusations that if the racial roles were reversed the players would have been quickly jailed. Nifong won reelection, and the Duke lacrosse team – one of the top teams in the country – had their season cancelled.
Nifong is done. He deserves to be. Nifong did what was natural – a promising case was thrown into his lap, and he tried to use it to his greatest advantage – but in this case, what was natural was wrong. Justice has been served; it’s a pity that in this case, it had to be an ouroboros.