Former Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong, railroader of the Duke Lacrosse 3, was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to one day in jail; this punishment is for lying to the trial court about the existence of DNA evidence. He reported to jail today to serve his sentence. He has already been disbarred, of course.
Next to come is the players’ civil suit, though that money is unfortunately going to come from the taxpayers of Durham rather than from Nifong. The players are attempting to negotiate a settlement before filing their suit; they’re reportedly seeking $30 million, plus changes to the legal process to allegedly prevent the district attorney from hijacking a police investigation the way Nifong did. They intend to file suit within a month if the city doesn’t settle. (AP, Herald-Sun)
And then there’s this little tidbit:
Durham’s Police Department, which helped Nifong secure the indictments, has also come under criticism. A special committee probing police handling of the case stopped working last month, however, because the city’s liability insurance provider warned that the committee’s conclusions could provide material for lawsuits.
At this point, if we were Bizarro-Overlawyered I’d be rambling about “Profits over People” or something, but since we’re not, I’ll just point out that it simply demonstrates the perverse incentives of the legal system and its unbounded discovery rules. As long as everything you put on paper can be used against you — even in hindsight — then the incentive is not to put it on paper. (Of course, I’m not suggesting that the specific wrongdoing in Durham was only obvious in hindsight; people like K.C. Johnson figured it out right away. But the incentives are the same in every case.)