In spring 2007, Durham County (North Carolina) District Attorney Mike Nifong zealously prosecuted three Duke University lacrosse players- Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans- for the rape and sexual assault of a stripper during an off-campus team party. Despite mounting evidence suggesting that the players were innocent, Nifong seemed to completely discount it (even withholding some of it) and quickly indicted the three players. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper eventually dropped the charges against all three players, noting that “[this] case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor.” In June 2007, Nifong was disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct. Appearing at his preliminary hearing for criminal contempt of court, Nifong apologized to the three players and their families, stating his hope that “all of us can learn from the mistakes of this case, that all of us can begin to move forward.” He was found guilty in September 2007.
Key Apologia Strategies:
Corrective Action, Mortification
“The last 16 months have proven to be a difficult and painful journey for my family and for myself. I know this has also been a difficult and painful journey for Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans, for their families, for Durham, and for the state of North Carolina. We all need to heal. I believe, however, that this healing process cannot truly begin until all proceedings involving this matter are concluded and everyone is able to go forward. I have resigned my position as Durham’s district attorney as a part of this process. I have read the report released by the attorney general, including his recitation of evidence that I did not have, evidence he obtained from his own investigation. I agree with the attorney general’s statement that there is no credible evidence that Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty, or Mr. Evans committed any of the crimes for which they were indicted or any other crimes against Miss Mangum during the party that occurred on March 13 and 14, 2006 at 610 North Buchanan Blvd. in Durham. Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty, and Mr. Evans were entitled to the presumption of innocence when they were under indictment. Surely, they are entitled to more than that now as they go forward with the rest of their lives, and that is what the attorney general tried to give them in his declaration that they are innocent. I have admitted on more than one occasion that I have made mistakes in the prosecution of these cases. For that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty, Mr. Evans, and to their families. It is my hope that all of us can learn from the mistakes of this case, that all of us can begin to move forward. It is my hope that we can start this process today. Thank you.”
Clark, A. (2007, April 12). Duke DA apologizes to lacrosse players. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/duke-da-apologizes-to-lacrosse-players/
Jackman, T. (2016, August 30). Disbarred Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong is back, along with more misconduct allegations. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/08/30/disbarred-duke-lacrosse-prosecutor-mike-nifong-is-back-along-with-more-misconduct-allegations/?utm_term=.eb950470c1b3
Nifong: Offers apology, says no ‘credible evidence’ of crime in lacrosse case. (2007, July 26). Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/07/26/nifong-offers-apology-says-no-credible-evidence-crime-in-lacrosse-case.html