It's past time to drop all charges in the Duke lacrosse case.
Just before Christmas, Mr. Nifong dropped rape charges after the accuser said she "could no longer testify with certainty that it occurred." But the three men remain charged with kidnapping and first-degree sexual offense, which carry equally severe penalties. Mr. Nifong should drop those charges as well.
It's been clear for months that Mr. Nifong's case -- to the extent he has a case -- is riddled with flaws that raise serious questions about his motives and ethics. The accuser's story has been inconsistent and unreliable -- and that was even before the latest interview with the prosecutor's office, in which, according to his filing, she said she could no longer be certain she had been penetrated with a penis. The physical evidence was scant at best; the identification procedure -- the woman was shown photographs of only Duke lacrosse players -- was shockingly shoddy; one defendant seems to have an alibi.
In recent weeks, Mr. Nifong has admitted that he failed, as required, to turn potentially exculpatory information over to the defense: test results that showed the presence of semen from several other men, but not the Duke players, in swabs taken from the woman's body and clothing. Mr. Nifong says it was an accidental oversight. Yet the director of the DNA laboratory says that he and the prosecutor agreed to leave that information out of his report because it was so "explosive." If so, Mr. Nifong has a bigger problem than a botched prosecution. He should be subject to further ethics proceedings by state bar authorities, who filed charges Thursday against him for making inflammatory and misleading comments about the case in its early days.
KC Johnson notes the politcal implications:
With the voices of the Capitol’s left and right speaking as one, AG Gonzales has more than enough political cover to launch a federal investigation into Nifong’s misconduct.
Let me offer the perfunctory Federalist push-back - although federal intervention may have been appealing a few weeks back, at this point the process seems to be reining Nifong in at the state level.
I do recognize we are talking about an Administration with very unpredictable Federalist impulses.
PICKY, PICKY: When I spot what loks like an error in a KC Johnson post, I immediately question my own sense of reality. However, in his long and lovely lambasting of Wendy Murphy, I think he goes awry here in quoting her:
15.) (2 May 2006) “She was under the influence of a date rape drug.”
In fact, a toxicology report indicated no such finding.
My recollection was that the no toxicology report was ever prepared, but that information from May may have been overtaken by subsequent filings.
Regardless, Ms. Murphy's statement, as of May 2, was contradicted by the discovery made available later in May.