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Nifong Bails

On Friday, late in the afternoon, Mike Nifong faxed a letter to N.C. Attorney
General Roy Cooper and asked him to remove him from the Duke lacrosse
case. He has also retained counsel to represent him before the N.C. Bar.

After the lacrosse investigation started, Nifong said, and we paraphrase,
that if they were innocent, they wouldn't need lawyers. The irony is hard
to ignore.

The New York Times has a column up with
some interesting insights into his decision
and how the various developments
have affected the prosecutor.

Wendy Murphy, writing in the Wilmington Journal, argues that Nifong
may have evidence which hasn't been revealed,
but the Times earlier ran some
things which were clearly leaked from the prosecutor's office, and you'd think
they'd have taken the opportunity to release damaging information. In
addition, if we remember correctly, Dan Abrams said that he had seen the entire
file and saw no smoking gun.

But Nifong or no, the basic facts remain the same: the alleged victim's
(AV) accounts have changed, with her latest account in conflict with her own
cellphone records. There is no DNA. The lineup was in violation of
city, state, and federal guidelines. And Nifong ignored exculpatory
evidence. There's more, but it's hard to keep up with it all anymore.

A new prosecutor will have to basically start over, and that'll take some
time. But a new prosecutor, one hopes, will avoid his predecessor's excesses and
look at everything fairly and honestly. If it turns out that Nifong's
successor decides that the case should proceed, and if convictions were won in a
fair and honest trial, then so be it. At least the public can have confidence in
the verdicts.

Cooper will have more on Saturday. In Durham, in some ways, the logical
candidate is Freda Black, but she has some issues of her own which came up in
the recent campaign. For Cooper, there are considerable political issues
as well.

But there is also opportunity. Cooper has sought to portray himself as
a reformer and a passionate advocate of the people. Finding an ethical
candidate would be a good way to reinforce the image he wants to project.
And it would be a good start on reining in prosecutors in this state, where
recent history shows, unfortunately, a tendency to pursue convictions at the
cost of justice. Cleaning up the judicial system is a big winner for
Cooper, should he choose to do it.

In one other piece of news, Colin Finnerty's congresswoman has joined Walter
Jones in asking U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to
investigate Nifong's handling of the case.
Jones has asked for a
personal meeting with Gonzalez to discuss the case.