No ceremony that to great ones 'longs, Not the king's crown, nor the deputed sword, The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe, Become them with one half so good a grace as mercy does.
If he had been as you and you as he, You would have slipt like him; but he, like you, Would not have been so stern.... Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once; And He that might the vantage best have took
Found out the remedy. How would you be, If He, which is the top of judgment, should
But judge you as you are? O, think on that; And mercy then will breathe within your lips,
Like man new made. ...
O, it is excellent To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant.
The fair Sister Isabella holds forth on the virtues of mercy to Lord Angelo, who -- preoccupied with "horizontal" thoughts -- isn't listening.
Finally, and not a moment too soon, the North Carolina Bar Association is taking punitive action against the malignant Mike Nifong, the corrupt, mirror-worshiping prosecutor driving the Duke University non-rape case.Nifong screws his face into a parody of piety while laboring to send innocent young men to prison.
In his lust to bag several specimens of the most elusive of legal prey – the “great white defendant” -- Nifong suppressed exculpatory DNA evidence, misrepresented the fact of the case, and fed a steady diet of misinformation to media flacks eager to join the safari. With malicious calculation he has exploited currents of racial and sexual collectivist grievance in the hope that they could carry him to fame and, perhaps, political fortune.
Needles to say, justice played no role whatsoever, and mercy even less, in Nifong's machinations.
Dr. William Anderson of Frostburg State University, who has diligently cataloged Nifong's offenses against law and decency, points out that the Durham County D.A.'s conduct in this case reflects a maxim cherished by both state and federal prosecutors: “Charges are like spaghetti – throw them against the wall and see what sticks.”
This explains, among other things, why Nifong seeded the media with dark hints that the spoiled, rich white lacrosse players had plied the poor black stripper with the “date rape drug”; why he conspired with corrupt, thuggish cops to arrest a cab driver on a bogus shoplifting charge in an effort to suppress the driver's exculpatory testimony; why, after his “victim”/witness suddenly “couldn't remember” being raped, Nifong dropped the rape charge while keeping the others....
None of this has stuck, but three innocent young men and their families have been put through hell. Which is why Nifong should be thrown against a wall, repeatedly.
I'm not kidding. This is a case in which corporal punishment of some sort is necessary. Professional humiliation and civil penalties are not adequate. Nifong deserves a beating, which – unfortunately – isn't a legal option in our system.
More's the pity, because Nifong is not an anomalous “rogue prosecutor”; he's actually quite representative of his professional caste.
As Dr. Anderson points out, “anyone who has followed the predations of Rudy Giuliani and Elliot Spitzer in their `crusades to clean up Wall Street' knows something about the filing of bogus or questionable charges.” That “something,” of course, is that creative abuse of prosecutorial power offers a fast track to political success.
Just ask Governor Spitzer, or former NYC Mayor and future US President (he hopes) Giuliani.
For decades, Wall Street Journal reporter Dorothy Rabbinowitz has chronicled the legal atrocities wrought by prosecutors who have ripped communities to shreds through bogus child abuse prosecutions.
Like Nifong, this “busy army of prosecutors” has been “uninterested in proofs of innocence, [and] willing to suppress any [that are] found," she writes. "They built case after headline-making case charging the mass molestation of small children, and managed to convict scores of innocent Americans on the basis of testimony no mind could credit. Law officers who routinely violated requirements of due process in their effort to obtain a conviction, they grasped the special advantage that was theirs: that for a prosecutor dealing with molestation, and wearing the mantle of avenger, there was no such thing as excess, no limits to what could be said of the accused. In court, rules could be bent, any charges presented, and nonexistent medical evidence proclaimed as proof positive of the accusation.”
Unduly convinced of their righteousness, unaccountable for all practical purposes, utterly immune to reprisal, the typical crusading prosecutor's attitude toward an innocent defender was akin to that displayed by Lord Angelo, deputy to Duke Vincentio of Vienna, to Isabella in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Angelo, an official of sterling reputation, was temporarily given plenipotentiary authority by the Duke, and with great generosity of soul he proceeded to bless the city with his own abundant virtue.
Or something like that.
“We must not make a scarecrow of the law, setting it up to fear the birds of prey, and let it keep one shape, till custom make it their perch and not their terror,” he explained. So when he learned of a citizen who had impregnated his inamorata without benefit of clergy, Angelo dusted off a law, long fallen into desuetude, making fornication a capital crime.
Isabella, the condemned man's sister, came to plead on his behalf. A pious and virtuous woman, Isabella was also quite lovely. These attributes weren't lost on Angelo, who offered her a fascinating plea bargain: He would commute the death sentence if Isabella would sleep with him.
When Isabella – who easily overmatched Angelo both in intellect and character – told the corrupt magistrate that she would expose his corruption, Angelo smugly gave voice to thoughts akin to those that must animate prosecutors of Nifong's ilk:
Who will believe thee, Isabel? My unsoil'd name, the austereness of my life, My vouch against you, and my place i' the state, Will so your accusation overweigh, That you shall stifle in your own report And smell of calumny.... As for you, Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true.
Because of his “place in the state,” Angelo insisted, “my false overweighs your true.”
Every single day – perhaps every single hour – officials in this country act on that assumption, stealing the freedom, property, and the very lives of innocent people.
“Prosecutors are like President Bush,” writes Paul Craig Roberts. “They absolutely refuse to admit that they ever make a mistake and have to be forced to disgorge their innocent victims. Nothing makes a prosecutor more angry than to have to give back a wrongfully convicted person's life.”
Nifong's would-be victims have lived under the threat of spending thirty years in prison for a crime they didn't commit. Were this a sane and just society, they would be given an opportunity to confront Nifong in person, and express to him, in any way they see fit, what they think of his behavior.