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Nifong: Tip of the Iceberg - Why This Campaign?

On April 11, the Duke Three were declared innocent of all charges of rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping of Crystal Gail Mangum. On June 16, a state ethics panel disbarred former prosecutor Michael Nifong from the practice of law. According to Lane Williamson, head of the panel, "There is no discipline short of disbarment that would be appropriate in this case."

But Nifong was not merely a "rogue" prosecutor. The problem of prosecutorial abuse is widespread in our country. Many of the problems can be traced back to the Violence Against Women Act, a law that addresses both sexual assault and domestic violence. Specifically,

  1. VAWA funds training programs for prosecutors and judges that are known to be biased and inaccurate in their content.
  2. VAWA has created a legal climate of "guilty until proven innocent" and has weakened due process protections normally afforded defendants.
  3. VAWA pays the legal fees of persons who claim to be victims, but not of defendants, thus giving an unfair legal advantage to accusers.
  4. VAWA prohibits the performance of polygraph testing on persons who claim to be victims of sexual assault.

The purpose of the "Nifong: Tip of the Iceberg" campaign is to educate the public and elected officials about the extent of prosecutorial abuse, and to encourage the Department of Justice to undertake an investigation of the Duke case.