October 28, 2006

THIS ISN’T VERY IMPRESSIVE: “The district attorney prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a woman at a team party said during a court hearing Friday that he still hasn’t interviewed the accuser about the facts of the case.”

UPDATE: Reader John Bell emails:

I was a prosecutor for sixteen years before heading out into private practice. From my experience, Nifong is in an awkward position here in regards to interviewing the victim. From what little I have followed on this case, she looks like the kind of victim who has trouble telling the same story the same way twice in a row. The more versions she gives the weaker Nifong’s case. If he interviews her and she strays from previous versions of her story, he generates exculpatory material which goes straight to the defense. If he doesn’t interview her, he looks incompetent. If he does a thorough interview, he runs into all her prior contradictory statements and then has to decide which version of events is the “official” one, boxing him in before trial. Nifong, as I said, is in a bad position, but then, he has no one to blame but himself.

Indeed. And it’s getting worse:

A woman identified as the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape case performed an athletic pole dance at a Hillsborough strip club at the same time that the accuser was visiting hospitals complaining of intense pain from being assaulted.

A time-stamped video shows a woman at The Platinum Club on March 26. The club’s former security manager, H.P. Thomas, identified her as the accuser.

The video, reviewed by The News & Observer, shows a limber performer. The same woman told doctors at UNC and Duke hospitals around that time that she had been beaten and assaulted and was racked with pain.

This case is looking more and more pathetic.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Schedler emails:

OK, it has been nearly 30 years since I did my short stint as a prosecutor. But, I am still perplexed at the notion Nifong is in a “bad position.” It is only “bad” if the objective truth and justice to the parties is irrelevant to your thinking.

As I understand it, the duty of the prosecutor is to do justice, prosecuting crimes being the principle means to that end. One cannot ascertain just how justice will be served unless and until one has the facts in hand. A prosecutor doing his or her duty would interview the complainant & get to the bottom of the matter. If the allegations hold up, then he or she can assess how justice would be served by prosecution. If the allegations collapse under investigation, then justice admits of only one course: dismissal.

Avoiding the facts and leaving innocent people hanging out is, in my view, a disgraceful abdication of duty.

Yes.