Sunday, June 17, 2007

Nifong: Comments of Disciplinary Panel’s Chairman

Courtesy of the New York Times, a transcript of the comments by F. Lane Williamson, chairman of the disciplinary panel that voted unanimously to disbar Michael Nifong, has been made public.

I quote from the transcript:

We have found as aggravating factors dishonest or selfish motive, a pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses, refusal to acknowledge wrongful nature of conduct — in the respect of the handling of the DNA evidence; we do find that he has made some acknowledgement of his wrongful conduct in regard to the pretrial statements — the vulnerability of the victim — or the victims in this case and primarily the victims are the three young men who were wrongfully charged. And we find also as an aggravating factor substantial experience in the practice of law.

As mitigating factors we find absence of a prior disciplinary record, a reputation for character. We expressly find that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors.

Williamson and the panel concluded that Nifong's actions are an "aberration," both in Nifong's career and the way justice is handled in North Carolina.

We believe this conclusion may be too hasty. We believe every conviction obtained by Nifong should be investigated -- that is the only assurance we have that his behavior in the Duke case is truly an aberration. Yes, good people do bad things, and there's always a first time. The Duke case may have been Nifong's first, but it is not wise to just assume it is. An investigation into all of Nifong's convictions must prove that it is.

And, based on the November 2003 series "Justice Withheld" by The News & Observer, North Carolina's system of Justice is much more plagued with similar tactics by DAs than the Williamson and the Panel wants to admit.

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