What If the Duke Lacrosse Players Were Black?

This post, written by Victor Goode, originally appeared on Race Wire

The ghosts of the Duke University rape case continue to haunt the press and Mike Nifong, the ex-county prosecutor who charged three white lacrosse players with raping a Black exotic dancer last year.

In his aggressive attempt to jail those "hooligans hiding behind a wall of silence," Nifong withheld key evidence from the defense. Last week, a judge began hearing arguments to decide if Nifong is in criminal violation. Thursday, Nifong issued a public apology in court for falsely accusing the men.

Could it be, though, that Nifong's real offense is not misconduct, but rather treating three middle class white defendants as if they were poor and Black?

Prosecutors wield the substantial power of the state, often with a great deal of discretion, so the Constitution rightfully imposes on them the burden of presenting a case that will likely meet the standard of reasonable doubt.

Regardless of how one might feel about the tawdry events of last year's party, with all its racial and misogynous overtones, the prosecutor simply did not have the facts to support an indictment for rape. But like so many before him, Nifong pressed on.

After all the charges were dismissed, the young men appeared on "60 Minutes" to talk about how their lives had been irrevocably changed by the stigma of even being charged with a crime. Nifong quickly became the target of their blame.

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