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Lax/Nifong Update

In lacrosse/Nifong type news, three things to report: first, the hearing with the bar where Nifong will try to get ethics charges dismissed is set for April 13, next Friday. Friday the 13th may be bad news for Nifong if he's superstitious, but since the bar opted to schedule his hearing for 4 p.m. on a Friday, that tends to suggest to us that they don't want a ton of media coverage, and we're not sure how to read that.Second, the grand jurors in the case who talked to ABC are off the hook.

And third, William Anderson has some advice for Roy Cooper about how to drop the case without alienating Democratic constituencies. He's mostly right, but here's some additional advice: this case has changed things, and it itself has changed.

A lot of people who might have been sympathetic are now angry about how Nifong managed it, and while our focus has always been pretty basic - what's right and what's wrong - the politics of the case have now changed considerably. If Cooper is the astute politician people believe him to be, he'll see not a threat in the case but an opportunity.

Our advice to Mr. Cooper, for what it's worth: focus on the moral outrage of the case, promise to punish Nifong if the facts bear it out (but always playing by the rules! Don't forget to mention that), and point out that the case had some devastating consequences: 1) it likely had a chilling effect on women being willing to report sexual assault; 2) it pointed out how prosecutors have virtually a free hand in North Carolina to persecute people and to pervert the law - and that the traditional victims of this sort of thing have been African Americans; 3) promise significant reform in the laws governing prosecutorial behavior, and 4) use the opportunity to closely examine how a) legitimate sexual assault claims can be separated from false ones, and b) how to make the system do a better job of respecting the dignity of women who have been assaulted.

Obviously, this case, as viewed through the the traditional political spectrum, could be a disaster for a Democrat, but it could also be a huge boon to a smart candidate. If Cooper reads this wave well, it could carry him into the national scene.