Respond to the stated question, including any relevance to and implications on the field of criminal justice. Be sure to discuss the issue(s) to which the question pertain(s). Remarks can include your opinion(s), but must be based on experience, research, and/or prior learning. Use this exercise to foster a rich dialogue with your colleagues about issues that are important to the field of criminal justice.
During the span of the discussion, you must post to this board on four unique days.
Your initial posting must be no less than 350 words. The day you post will count as one of your required four unique postings.
You will also be required to post responses to at least three of your colleagues’ initial postings. Responses must be no less than 100 words, be posted on at least three unique days, and are due.
This week we will be looking at another side of the criminal justice system. We will be looking at a prosecutor in North Carolina. There has been much written about the Duke University Lacrosse case. You can find more about this case but these two will get you started.
Click here to read, “Prosecutor in Duke Case Faces Ethics Complaint,” by David Barstow and Duff Wilson. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/29/us/29nifong.htm…
Click here to read, “Prosecutor Asks State to Take Over Duke Case,” by Duff Wilson.
These articles can also be accessed in the Webliography. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/12/sports/12cnd-du…
After reading the articles, share your thoughts about this case.
You might also check the American Bar Association site for a code of ethics (though each state might be a little different). Also, see the New York Times and any other articles you find important.
In 2006 Duke University became a huge spotlight for the media as three of Duke university’s lacrosse team players were accused of raping a black woman during a house party. This case also best known now as the Duke Lacrosse Case stirred up all kinds of controversies about race and gender discrimination.
District attorney Nifong was running for election at the time this case took place and pushed this case strongly hoping to get most of his votes from the prominently black community in hopes to get reelected.
He even went on national television over 50 times and made false statement regarding this case (Wilson 2006). He even gave an interview where he demonstrated how the alleged rape took place even though hospital reports showed no evidence of proof that this rape indeed occurred.
He violated ethics rules repeatedly while making false statements, insulting the member of the lacrosse team by calling them “hooligans” and by covering up the evidence that found that the DNA found on the rape kit was not that of the alleged lacrosse players (Wilson, 2006).
As a district attorney, you are looked at as a figure of high standard, a ruler of the law. You hold people’s lives in your hands. Your decisions directly affect their future. Mr. Nifong was tainted and decided to act unethical to fulfill his own selfish desire to become reelected and therefor used his power to make a false conviction.
And even though the attorney recused himself after an ethical complaint was made against him to the bar, his actions will forever be in the players and families lives.
His actions also affected the credibility of the criminal justice system to the public eye, who believes that the prosecutors represent the state and their people. The public was fooled in a way that is pretty much irreversible as one started to question the allegations to be true because the district attorney believed they were and who are we to question the district attorney, the ruler of the law, the authority who is supposed to reflect the epidemy of ethics.
Prosecutors are often held to a higher standard than defense lawyers, as they are supposed to adhere to the principles of the law and follow strict ethical rules unlike some of the defense attorneys.
Consequently Mr. Nifong had to hand off this case due to facing ethical charges by the bar and was relieved of his duties as an attorney (Wilson, 2006). However, his accusations caused on of the players to get relieved from Duke University and even after the truth revealed and he was asked back he will forever be remembered as the lacrosse player that got accused of rape. Those accusations will stick in a lot of people’s minds even though they all turned out to be innocent.
The prosecutor for the Duke lacrosse case discussed in Barstow & Wilson, (2006), and Wilson, (2007) committed several ethics violations. By speaking to the press and putting our information that was not true, the prosecutor, Mr. Nifong was trying a tactic that Banks, (2017) discusses as trying to persuade the jury. This is a violation of the North Carolina Bar’s “Rules of Professional Conduct (Index to the Rules, n.d.) According to rule 8.4, attorneys are not supposed to be dishonest under any circumstance. Furthermore, attorneys cannot behave in a manner that does not promote the administration of justice. Also, Nifong violated Rule 4.1 by revealing false information to a third party. His conduct also is prohibited by Rule 3.5 which discusses impartiality, because by making statements to the press he is most likely attempting the judge and jury. It is possible since Nifong discussed evidence that was not true, including evidence involving condoms he was embarrassing the defendants, and possibly the victim. This would also be a violation of Rule 4.4, which deals with embarrassing third persons.
Conflicts of interest and prosecutorial misconduct, are embedded in more than a few parts of our justice system. Lawyers and judges try to keep these ethical issues in-tact though sometimes they believe that can do right by one client that they don’t think about how the other side may see their actions. Mr. Nifong wanted so badly to present a strong case and show that sexual assaults and rapes are serious issues. He didn’t want another rape victim to feel as if their pain was not being acknowledged, yet in doing so he violated many ethical issues against the Duke Lacrosse team.
It takes a lot of integrity to admit that he made a mistake by calling them “hooligans” and crossing the line on more than one occasion. He recused himself and tried to ensure the case would still be prosecuted and he was hoping justice would be served. But this was not the media or the defendant’s attorney’s intentions. Etically he crossed the line and should have been reprimanded for prosceutorial misconduct, when he stated that their DNA was found on the victim, when the lab tested and the findings proved otherwise. ( Barstow, Wilson, 2006)
In the article I read about attorney Mr. Boies he had many conflicts of interest with his company representing clients from both side of the law but at different levels. Leading one of the companies to seek counsel elsewhere, they state he is a good attorney but sometimes it can be too much and he spreads himself to thin. He attempted to right his wrong by recusing hisself and company from representing Mr. Weinstein, since he was also represning the newspaper company. It is so easy make ethical and moral wrongdoings in the justice system, and they don’t have to be intentional, foor instance you can say something to the media about defendant’s and it could be damaging to their character, and you were just stating facts yet it may not be seen that way.