Mike Nifong, the disgraced and disbarred former District Attorney who ruined himself by trying to railroad innocent young men into prison, will have to spend a day in jail after being found guilty of criminal contempt of court.
DURHAM, N.C. – The prosecutor who led the now-discredited rape case against three Duke University lacrosse players was held in criminal contempt of court Friday for lying to a judge when pursuing charges against the athletes.
Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III sentenced Mike Nifong to a day in jail. The former Durham County district attorney, who was already stripped of his law license and had resigned from office, had faced as many as 30 days.
"If what I impose with regard to Mr. Nifong would make things better or different for what's already happened, I don't know what it would be or how I could do it," Smith said.
Nifong showed no visible reaction when Smith handed down the sentence, and he left the courtroom with his wife, Cy Gurney.
Reading his decision from the bench minutes after the end of two days of testimony, Smith said Nifong "willfully made false statements" in September when he insisted he had given the defense all results from a critical DNA test.
Smith found that Nifong had provided the defense with a DNA testing report that he knew to be incomplete. The omitted data contained test results showing that DNA of multiple men, none of whom were lacrosse players, was on the accuser.
Smith said his decision was aimed at "protecting and preserving the integrity of the court and its processes." He said truthfulness is especially important when it comes to the rights of the accused to a fair trial.
In the end it was Nifong, not the three victims he willfully persecuted for political gain, who goes to jail, even if only for a day. A pathetic end to the media circus and legalized lynching that he rode to brief fame on. Now, how about the academic lynch mob of professors at Duke? How about they answer for their behavior? Oh, never mind, Duke already dodged that particular bullet didn't they? But the professors who demanded the persecution of the three young men are – and should be – objects of derision, regardless of the legal protection their institution bought for them.
UPDATE: Durham-In-Wonderland has transcripts of Nifong's testimony. Best capsule summary of the whole thing from DIW:
It’s nice to see that the lead investigator for the case casually admits to not reading the relevant documents.
Kind of wraps it all up, doesn't it?