[Nameplate] Fair ~ 48°F  
High: 52°F ~ Low: 37°F
Monday, Jan. 26, 2015

Misconduct in criminal cases

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

United States citizens should be concerned about our criminal justice system. Over 2 million men are now incarcerated in our state and federal prison system. The now infamous case involving District Attorney Mike Nifong of Durham, N.C., is just one example of misconduct. Nifong put his personal ambition above justice for the three Duke University students, falsely accused of rape.

In recent years, 117 death row inmates have been proven innocent through DNA and other evidence. How many of these innocent men were inadequately represented by weak and less than ethical defense attorneys? Criminal defense attorneys usually require their fee to be paid in full, often with no intention of doing the hard work required to exonerate their innocent, and often naive, client.

From the time the accused hear the words, "You're under arrest," the accused may wait for his trail for two years or more. Believing he will be granted a fair trial by jury, the accused tells his paid and trusted attorney the truth surrounding his case, partically any exculpatory evidence.

By law, the prosecuter is provided this information long before the trial.

Too often, the exculpatory evidence is never heard by duped jury members, as the trusted defense attorney sits idly by in the court room, never raising an objection; allowing an often overzealous prosecutor to distort the facts, withhold evidence from the jury and impune the honesty of witnesses for the defense. Through their actions and inactions, these criminal attorneys pervert the Constitution and Bill of Rights. As a result, innocent men and women lose their freedom, day after day in court rooms across America.

Citizens should be very concerned. Why? Because we could be the next victim.

In the criminal case involving the innocent Duke students, Nifong chose to ignore DNA evidence which, by itself, proved the falsely accused students innocent. The accuser had made a similar false accusation 10 years earlier. Her accomplice at first told police she did not believe a rape had occured. Facing unrelated legal charges herself, she was coerced by police to change her story to, "well, maybe, something did happen." This coersion by police is known as witness tampering, a criminal act.

The good news? Nifong now faces criminal charges himself. A prosecutor being disbarred and criminally charged, while not a prescedent, is very rare. After more than 26 years of prosecuting fellow citizens, he may now be humbled by facing the loss of his freedom.

Defense attorneys, prosecutors, police and judges in our criminal system should make a note of the Nifong case -- the citizens are watching you.

Fair and just prosecution is necessary.

Persecution is evil and a crime which undermines citizen trust in our justice system and destroys the reputation and future of those convicted.

Our honest officers of the court, are respected and law abiding professionals with much responsibilty.

The old adage, "It is better that a hundred guilty go free than one innocent accused lose his freedom, good name or life," applies here.

Donald Cheesman is retired from the military and lives near Elizabeth, Ark. He can be contacted by e-mail at bladestone77@centurytel.net or newsopinion@yahoo.com.