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April 11, 2007

"THESE CASES ARE OVER... WE BELIEVE THESE THREE INDIVIDUALS ARE INNOCENT"

"No credible evidence that an attack occurred"

Another Update: Video of the best bits at Hot Air.


Update: Text of Statement. Here.

Choice bits follow. All bold and italics added.

The result [of our investigation] is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

The prosecuting witness in this case responded to questions and offered information. She did want to move forward with the prosecution.

However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence, like photographs and phone records, could not be rectified.

Our investigation shows that:

The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser's story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we'll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.

In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Today, we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody.

Now, we have good district attorneys in North Carolina who are both tough and fair. And we need these forceful, independent prosecutors to put criminals away and protect the public. But we also need checks and balances to protect the innocent. This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor. What has been learned here is that the internal checks on a criminal charge — sworn statements, reasonable grounds, proper suspect photo lineups, accurate and fair discovery — all are critically important.

Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands.

Update: Wow. I was wrong. He flat out said they were innocent, and now he's on the serious contradictions in the accuser's claims.

"We believe that this case is the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a serious failure to investigate serious allegations"

An example of "overreaching" on Nifong's part; now proposing additional protections for accused; wants a law to permit Supreme Court to remove case from prosectuor in appropriate cases.

"Nifong's law." He didn't say that, but that's what it will be called. A fitting effin' tribute to this bastard.

-- suggests that people involved in this case (i.e., Nifong, his corrupt investigators) might want to consider issuing apology to Duke 3

-- "any state can have a rogue prosecutor'' -- pretty much calling Nifong that.

These guys really exceeded my expectations. They did themselves great credit, and they've gone a long way towards restoring faith in prosecutors by being so stand-up.

...

MORE: "We have considered that [possibility of pursuing charges against accuser for perjury and false accusation]." HOWEVER, they claim they she might actually believe her lies, and therefore will not purse such charges.

Kind of a mix on that score. It's a cutesy way out of a mess, but it does strongly suggest she's nuts, so that's something at least.

But... refuses to comment on whether or not she's "mentally unstable." Says in the "best interests of justice" not to discuss evidence under seal.

Still, he doesn't exactly vouch for her sanity.

...

Original, erroneous -- and uncharitable -- speculation about what Roy Cooper's statement would be below the fold. I was happily wrong. I'm burying it because speculation isn't really newsworthy anymore, is it?


...

What will be said? Here's the minimum, I think, that needs to be said: "Based on a review of the record, this evidence would not support a finding of guilt on any charge by a jury. Legal ethics require a belief in the likelihood of a conviction in order to carry a case forward.

"Furthermore, legal ethics require a good-faith belief in the accused's guilt on the part of the prosecution in order to carry a prosecution forward. Based on a review of the record, this evidence cannot support a good-faith belief in the guilt of the accused."

That's the minimum that needs to be said. It's also the likely maximum of what will be said; these prosecutors will not have the courage or integrity to simply state the boys are, provably, innocent and that the accuser is, demonstrably, a liar or fabulist.

But in all likelihood they won't even say that. They'll say the accuser no longer wishes to press her charges and that a case based entirely on an accuser's testimony cannot go forward with a reluctant witness. They might say that the evidence could not support a jury conviction even if it went forward, but they won't say what I think at this point they're ethically required to -- that the prosecutors' office does not have the good-faith belief in the guilt of the accused necessary for a prosecution.

They really need to say that last bit. Ethics demand that they do not merely state they can't continue a prosecution due to the accuser's feeling "beaten up" and "abused by the system," but to exonerate the accused by stating clearly that they cannot view the evidence and find a good-faith belief in their guilt.

But they won't. We'll definitely get the part about the accuser's reluctance and the technical difficulty in making the case, we'll probably get a statement that they do not believe the evidence will support a finding of guilt. They'll say what their re-investigation has not determined, but will not positively say what it has determined (i.e., the accuser is a damnable liar).

There's a very large difference between "innocent" and "not guilty." After thirteen months of abuse by a venal politician who just wanted to get re-elected to pad his pension benefits, the prosecutors really owe it to these boys to make the distinction -- in their favor.





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