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Latest On Lacrosse

The three exonerated lacrosse players appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday lnight - the third piece the show has done on the case - and had their say about the case and about Mike Nifong. All things considered, they were pretty restrained, but as David Evans said, when he dies, no matter what he does between now and then, he'll be remembered as one of the accused players.

A recent N&O letter to the editor took the players to task, arguing thusly: "If the young men from Duke are innocent [as the state attorney general now has said that they are], they should take their outrage and fight for justice. I hope they will use their outstanding educations and affluence to become outspoken lawyers for the ACLU or another similar organization. Surely they won't just become stockbrokers?"


60 Minutes said that Evans had accepted a job on Wall Street, something which he'll probably get criticized for by people like Houston Baker and letter writer Jo Garrison. Well, he's dealt with worse; somehow we don't think he'll be very concerned with what other people think at this point.

But despite the clumsy insinuation of Garrison's letter, she's absoutely correct when she says (and a lot of people, including Evans and Reade Seligmann, have agreed) that not everyone is lucky enough to have first-rate lawyers and also the torrent of publicity which came from the elite-white-males-at-Duke angle in the press.

And in the particular case of Nifong, as we said the other day, is it rational to suppose that he just woke up one day and decided to toss aside an ethical professional life? Is the Duke case just some casual roll of the dice he took to win an election?

The other day we said we'd like to see "law students from Duke and N.C.C.U. form a permanent organization which has two primary functions: first, that it monitor the legal system in Durham to prevent any future prosecutor from behaving in such a disgraceful way. And secondly, that it provide support and resources for victims of sexual assault." The near-miscarriage of justice is understood by almost everyone now, but the damage Nifong's behavior has done to legitimate victims of sexual assault is serious and profound, and cannot be overlooked.

But maybe there's a third function: such an organization could also comb the records of Nifong's previous cases and see if, in any previous, less publicized cases, he had tried any similar tactics. As everyone now understands, it's harder to railroad wealthy defendants, but there may be other people who were previously tied to the tracks, and it would be nice to go back and give them some measure of justice as well.

****The Durham Herald-Sun has an editorial up about the fallout from Nifong's handling of the case and Attorney General Roy Cooper's proposals to control any such behavior in the future, with some concerns about regulating prosecutors. The paper argues that "[p]rosecutors need to know that their behavior will be closely monitored and scrutinized, and that unprofessional conduct will be treated harshly. There are already ways to send that message, if they would only be used."Certainly one way prosecutorial behavior should be closely monitored and scrutinized is through the press. The Herald-Sun had any number of opportunities to challenge this case, and they passed at virtually every turn. While it is no doubt true that there are some legal remedies for rogue prosecutors, if a guy like K.C. Johnson can sit alone in his apartment in New York and pick this case apart, then a local paper with vastly more resources (although considerably less energy) should have been able to at least approximate his performance. There's no reason at this point to take the Herald-Sun seriously anymore, least of all when they make recommendations about this case.