A solution to future Nifongs and Mangums
The recent disbarment of disgraced North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong has got me thinking about the appropriate punishment for persons like him, as well as those who knowingly take part in falsely accusing persons of crimes.
While Dan over at tdaxp is advocating execution for this case of corruption, as well as an online sexual predator database that includes false accusers of rape... I wish to propose a simpler and broader based law that could help deter future cases like this...
What if... we make all persons involved in a criminal proceeding criminally liable if they are found to have knowingly given false testimony in court or report to the police that would or did contribute to the finding of guilt of innocence of the accused and have them be punished with the same sentence(s) that the accused would if they were or are convicted?
In the case of the rape-less Duke lacrosse rape case (aka Things That Did Not Happen in Durham), Crystal Gail Mangum would not only face jail stiff jail time that would be equal to what her victims would have faced if convicted of first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping, but also likely be forced to register as sexual predators upon release... not because of a law specifically tailored to false rape accusations but one that would apply to any false accusations.
Same goes for Mike Nifong, under my proposed law he would also face penalties equal to what the accused would have received if convicted... only that's not enough as in the case of Mr. Nifong as this was not simply a lie or two from him, but a prolonged abuse of his position of authority and as such I'd at least double the sentence because of this abuse of the position of trust he was given by the people of North Carolina. In some jurisdictions persons in a position of trust who engage in sex with a minor are punished even more harshly, should we not apply the same to non-statutory rape cases as well?
Some might argue that civil liability should be enough, that the victims should be able to sue the pants off of those who acted inappropriately. It's true, that's certainly one good defense mechanism; however that is by no means enough for the protection of the victim, nor for adequate deterrence as it puts the preponderance of the effort on the side of the victim who was victimized by the accuser, as well as knowingly or unknowingly though the power of the state.
What better way is there for a community to say "we apologize for allowing this abuse of power" than by using the same power that was inappropriately used, to punish the offenders? Doing so would not only remove such predators from the streets, serve as a major deterrent to future false accusations, but also go a long ways to help restore trust in the local government who so recently had its authority abused.