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By Geoff Metcalf

December 22, 2006

�The essence of government is power, and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.� --James Madison

Abuse of power under the color of authority is the most heinous, reprehensible act a person in authority can display.

I�ve tried to avoid comment on the Duke University Lacrosse team scandal but this now begs attention.

Despite North Carolina law which requires the District Attorney (even Mike Nifong) to hand over ALL evidence regardless of whether it has been requested or not, it is now known that didn�t happen.

Security director Brian Meehan, the head of a private DNA laboratory, has testified that he and D.A. Nifong agreed not to report DNA results favorable to those Duke lacrosse players charged with rape.

That is collusion, dissembling by omission, or more specifically, conspiracy.

Meehan�s testimony is sure to spark an excrement storm both inside and outside the courtroom for the manipulative D.A. Nifong.

This isn�t even a case of typical �I do not recall� selective memory loss. The district attorney didn�t even try to challenge Meehan's testimony. Rather, based on his myopic audacity and creative John Lovitt-like parsing, he claims he didn�t withhold evidence. Huh?!?

According to slippery Mike, the defense could have asked for that material all along. Which begs the question: if the defense didn�t know about the material, how could they ask for it?

Remember North Carolina law requires Nifong to hand over all evidence� regardless of whether it has been requested or not�and oh yeah, by the way, the evidence may well exonerate the accused.

DA Nifong is like a skinny little sapling at dusk casting a long twisted shadow. Or more precisely, as Abraham Lincoln observed, �Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.�

Sanctions for violating the law could/should(?) result in a dismissal of all charges against the three players. Nifong should also personally apologize to the accused, and resign.

I am not the Lone Ranger in suggesting Nifong needs to be disciplined or even prosecuted. I will be shocked if one or all of the effected lacrosse team families don�t sue Nifong, Duke, and Raleigh and North Carolina until the war on terror is over.

  • Nifong�s public comments vilifying the lacrosse players have been inappropriate and over the top.
  • His direction of a police photo identification lineup violated Durham PD policies.
  • His withholding of exculpatory evidence by the DNA lab violates the labs policies.

In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Rep. Walter Jones also asked the Justice Department to review Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions for possible prosecutorial misconduct.

"Over the past several months, many of my constituents and a growing number of mainstream media outlets have raised serious questions about the accuser's allegations and Mr. Nifong's prosecution," wrote Jones.

"I tell you, the more you hear about his missteps, the more you have to question whether it's purely a matter of incompetence or worse," said James E. Coleman, a law professor at Duke University.

The professor is being cautious in a professorial way. The kind of selective incompetence displayed by Nifong suggests collusion and design. In other words, he is not merely incompetent�he (and his entire handling of the case) is �worse.�

Setting aside the lurid graphic details that Meehan finally revealed in his testimony that scream for a dismissal, the DA has shattered the lives of three apparently innocent young men for the worst of all possible motivations�political gain.

As if the L.A.-O.J-trial-goat-rope didn�t do enough harm to the public confidence in the rule of law, this bush league Machiavellian wannabe manufactured a case out of whole cloth to buy some headlines and ink.

Raleigh North Carolina has become a metaphor for a grander and no less contemptible reality. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, �The antidote to this abuse of formal Government, is, the influence of private character, the growth of the Individual; the appearance of the principal to supersede the proxy; the appearance of the wise man, of whom the existing government, is, it must be owned, but a shabby imitation.�

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Is it �incompetence or worse� that virtually every time the government (any government at any level) issues an �official� delineation of what happened, it defies credulity?

Abuse of Power under the color of authority should be elevated to at least felony level�regardless of whether it occurs in the highest or lowest levels of officialdom.

� 2006 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's

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Abuse of Power under the color of authority should be elevated to at least felony level�regardless of whether it occurs in the highest or lowest levels of officialdom.