Thursday, August 31, 2006

Whither Nifong's Assets?

I'll say it: Nifong cannot win the November election. His time as Durham County D.A. is all but done. Shortly after the May 2 Democratic primary, Nifong said, "I expect if this issue had never come up we would have ended up with the same outcome." That's a crock. I expect that if this issue had never come up, Nifong would have been trounced by Freda Black, whose pre-April name recognition far exceeded Nifong's. In 2003, she was busy, on national television, convicting local author, Michael Peterson, of murdering his socialite wife, while Nifong was pleading out traffic infractions. Nifong fired Black the day after Governor Easley appointed him to the top spot in the D.A.'s office. Early spring polls showed Nifong running considerably behind Black and, as of the day before the election, one poll still showed him trailing her by a percentage point, two points shy of the 40% necessary to carry the primary. The same poll, however, demonstrated Nifong's then-prevailing favor with the African American voter. Nifong, of course, won the May 2 primary by a mere 833 votes. Black voters, however, then preferred Nifong 2-to-1 over Black.

It's not May anymore.

On May 2, many in the local Black community were influenced by, among others, the early writings of Cash Michaels, the sickening, pre-evidence guilty verdict of the News and Observer, the lapdog timidity of Herald Sun editor Bob I-think-that-the-25-year- veteran-must-have-some-evidence-or-he-would-have-dropped- the-case-long-ago Ashley, and the recklessly dangerous lunatic rants of journalistic criminals like Wendy Murphy, Nancy Grace and Goergia Goslee. Looking back, it is understandable that many Black primary voters took comfort in the white D.A. who had vowed that he was "not going to allow Durham's view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham"; who had been so visibly and vocally behind their Dear Sister.

In the months since, despite his protestations to the contrary, Cash has done a 180, and more Blacks are critically assessing the hard evidence. They are more likely to now be aware of the early doubts of respected local attorney "Butch" Williams and straight-shooter nonpareil, La Shawn Barber, who "just knew it" was a hoax from the get-go. They have, by now, likely read of Duke law professor, James Coleman's, call for a special prosecutor because, "I don't think [Nifong's] showing detached judgment. I personally have no confidence in him....Either he knew what the facts were and misstated them, or he was making them up. Whether he acted knowing they were false, or if he was reckless, it doesn't matter in the long run. This is the kind of stuff that causes the public to lose confidence in the justice system." By now, many local Blacks feel, as did Jason Whitlock on May 4th, "that Martin Luther King Jr. and many, many others of all races did not die so that the poor, black and oppressed could surrender the moral high ground and attempt to inflict injustice on the privileged." They have seen a racist white Durham cop insulated from criminal charges for his role in the assault of a black cook because of his then-perceived importance to Nifong's Folly. They have realized the greatest fear of Malik Zulu Shabazz, all the way back on May 1: They've been used.

Moreover, as pointed out by KC Johnson on May 19th, "According to the latest voter registration figures, Durham County has 27,070 registered Republicans, 24,566 of whom are white. The county has 86,621 registered Democrats, 46,586 of whom are black. So the demographic bloc supportive of Nifong's behavior formed a majority of the Democratic electorate, while those most likely to be alienated by his tactics couldn't vote in the primary. As the director of the Durham County Board of Elections noted the day after the primary, "We had a lot of irate, irate Republicans who couldn't vote for district attorney."

Professor Johnson continued, making the following salient observation: "One other most unusual demographic item in the Durham County electorate probably helped Nifong. Rape is a crime. But, as feminist theorists have contended and most defense lawyers understand, it's also a crime that men and women interpret somewhat differently. In normal circumstances, the fact that, in the abstract, women are more likely than men to sympathize with the accuser in a rape case is of no political consequence. But Durham County isn't normal in this regard. Stunningly (to me, anyway), the county has 79,546 female voters, as opposed to 60,087 males. (That's a female-to-male ratio of roughly 4:3.) As a local race, this contest had no exit polls, and perhaps the final vote contained no gender distinction. But it's doubtful that this gender breakdown hurt Nifong." It is even more doubtful that women voting in the general election will forgive Nifong. Vocal feminist and victim's rights advocate Susan Estrich has abandoned him. Even Estrich has come to understand that Nifong's perpetuation of the hoax for personal political gain has set back the just cause of advancing real rape victim's rights immeasurably.

It's over.

Unfortunately, the North Carolina State Bar, which ranks last in the nation when it comes disciplining its unethical brethren, does not have the inclination or mechanistic speed to disbar Nifong before November. Repeated calls for the federal government to step into the cesspool that is Durham have fallen upon deaf ears. Which means, despite 60 Minutes' coming bunker buster, Nifong is going to lose his job the good, old-fashioned way. He's going to be thrown out by a citizenry demanding Anyone But Him.

We know from his own publicity machine that Nifong is but a circumstances-elevated ham-and-egger, the civil-servant equivalent of the eke-it-out ambulance chaser. Unable to find a job in the private sector upon law school graduation, he took on as an unpaid volunteer for the Durham D.A.'s office before being offered a full-time position six months later. That was in April, 1979. "He has been there ever since." "Acquaintances say that Nifong never coveted the top job; he wasn’t political, and lacked the appetite and the instinct for public campaigning. Because of his long service, he earned around a hundred thousand dollars a year, nearly as much as some of the district attorneys he worked for."

After he is cast out, Nifong will be de facto unemployable in the thinly-sliced legal specialty that has defined his adulthood. He's a disgrace, a proven liar, the antithesis of a minister of justice. DAs throughout the state and nation will refuse to have Nifong darken their doors. Easley, eyeing a U.S. Senate seat, is not, people, going to re-appoint his greatest political embarassment. In the words of Tommy Chong, "That's just fuckin' stupid, man." After nearly thirty years honing his craft, Nifong will be left without a place to practice it. This will be the first post-loss reality to come to home to roost. Bar discipline, disbarment proceedings, federal indictment and civil trials (x3) will only follow, later.

The foregoing crystalizes the need for Nifong to be replaced by a special prosecutor immediately. Obviously, Nifong has a humongous conflict of interest. It is in his selfish interest to continue to posture this case as one carried forward by him reasonably, in good faith, evidence be damned. Else, he's being trained by Napolean Dynamite on how to properly wear the cardboard sailor's hat and always ask if they'd like fries with that.

This brings me to one further observation and, finally, the question posed by the title of this entry. Several questions, actually:

It is my understanding that Nifong, like all North Carolina public service employees, is, in the first instance, entitled to retirement pension benefits. (Geographically removed as I am from Durham, and with few nuggets yielded from various search engines, I have been unable to flesh out particulars regarding the formal name of what I presume is a collective bargaining agreement, the administrator of the fund, or the contractually mandated payment scheme. I urge others "close to the action" -- Joe? John? Liestoppers? -- to take up the scent and sniff this out.)

* After nearly three decades of dutiful foot soldiery, what shall be the total vested value of Nifong's state employee's pension at the time of his detachment from service?

* Shall he still be entitled to it if disbarred?

* Shall he still be entitled to it if criminally convicted of federal crimes?

* Shall he still be entitled to it after the County pays Reade, Collin and Dave so many millions of dollars in satisfaction of judgments owing due to Nifong's malicious, reckless and intentional acts? While the County will be obligated to pay judgments or settlements occasioned due to the culpable acts of its employee, it may be entitled to indemnification back from Nifong, personally, for monetary damages arising from any of his acts adjudged to have been undertaken intentionally.

* Are any such pension benefits even subject to attachment, i.e., assets exposed to satisfy personal judgment obligations?

*If not, has Nifong undertaken to accelerate or transfer regular salary or other compensation pro-actively into a non-reachable pension with the intent of insulating same from the reach of the civil trial victors?

The object, of course, is to bankrupt Nifong personally.

I suspect that Enquiring Cornacchias would like to know.

This ain't no party.
This ain't no disco.
This ain't no foolin' around!

This ain't no Ashley
Or 'Ol' Grey Lady'
It's so much worse on the blogs!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for directing focus to the real story unfolding. Vindication for the accused will be a chapter about midway through the book. A book about absolute power corrupting absolutely, and the inevitable fall of the "mighty."

12:06 PM  

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