According to the New York Times, DA Mike Nifong openly acknowledged an ethical lapse of massive proportions and inexplicable causes: he knew the DNA tests were negative as to the three defendants before the indictments, and he knew so before he represented to the court, as a minister of justice and an officer of the court, that the “the state is not aware of any additional material or information which may be exculpatory in nature.” Full quote here:
On Thursday, Mr. Nifong acknowledged knowing about those test results before any players were indicted last spring. He also acknowledged that the results were relevant and “potentially exculpatory,” and he said he should have given the results to the defense before May 18, the day he signed a filing that said “the state is not aware of any additional material or information which may be exculpatory in nature.”
His proffered defense for that failure to disclose and for his false representation to the court is impossible to credit:
But Mr. Nifong denied the defense team’s contention that he had deliberately tried to hide the results or delay their release. Mr. Nifong, who is personally overseeing this case, said that given the volume of evidence he had not realized that he had failed to turn over those specific DNA test results. “That wasn’t something I was concentrating on,” he said.
This wasn't some incidental detail he failed to disclose, some arcane detail that was easily overlooked. This was a piece of evidence -- the results of DNA testing -- that most people would credit over fingerprints, over videotape, even over witness IDs or confessions.
As this rapidly evolving story careens wildly forward, the question at the margin is not whether the remaining charges will proceed, but whether Nifong's eventual discipline, after a complete defense victory, will be admonishment, probation, suspension, or disbarment.