ILNews

Prosecutors talk about Nifong disbarment

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Indiana prosecutors worry about heightened suspicion of charging decisions they make as a result of the high-profile disbarment of a North Carolina prosecutor over the weekend.

Talk started months ago as the situation escalated, but banter took a new surge this morning following Michael Nifong's nationally televised disciplinary proceeding Saturday. He was disbarred for violating professional conduct rules in his prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape.

"Around the country and here, prosecutors are talking about the Nifong effect," said Stephen Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. "This is a black mark against all prosecutors."

The North Carolina bar charged Nifong with breaking several rules of professional conduct, including lying to both the court and bar investigators and withholding critical DNA test results from the players' defense attorneys. The commission unanimously agreed that Nifong's actions involved "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation."

The 29-year prosecutor said he would waive any right to appeal the punishment in an attempt to help restore faith in the criminal justice system and the role prosecutors serve throughout the country.

"I can't even express my disgust for this guy," said Cass County deputy prosecutor Randall Head. "Nifong's behavior defies belief, but it's an aberration. Most prosecutors I know make a concentrated effort to avoid problems Nifong created, and I have never known a prosecutor who engaged in the systematic cover up of exculpatory evidence the way he did."

Head said he believes this case will help educate the public about the Rules of Professional Conduct and what prosecutors are not allowed to do, as well as have an impact on how juries view DNA results.

Johnson found a bit of irony in this case, as North Carolina's system is similar to that in Indiana and Hoosier lawmakers spent time this past legislative session talking about the Nifong situation and comparing it to this state's system.

"They missed the point," he said. "What's different is that here, we're more often talking about charges not being filed. That says a lot. Justice is often served by not filing charges."
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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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