Local News

Nifong Defiant After Taking Oath for New Term

Posted January 2, 2007

— District Attorney Mike Nifong, under fire for his handling of the Duke University lacrosse case and public statements he has made about the investigation, was sworn in for his first four-year term early Tuesday out of the public eye.

Nifong insisted he didn't make the call to keep out the media or the public from the ceremony, but said he scheduled it for 8 a.m. so his staff could go straight to work afterward without dealing with the media.

"This was not a media event. This was an event that is required for us to do our jobs," Nifong told reporters after he was sworn in. "The message we're trying to send is: This is 2007. We're here to do our jobs. We're not here to help you guys sell newspapers or get press coverage."

Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill, whose office runs the courthouse, said it wasn't his decision either. But the building doesn't open to the public until 8:30 a.m.

Despite mounting criticism and questions surrounding his handling of the Duke case, Nifong sounded like a man who's sure of himself.

"I'm elected to do a job, and I intend to do that job," he said.

An N.C. Central student told police she was beaten and raped by three Duke lacrosse players while performing as a stripper at a March 13 team party. Juniors Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty and 2006 graduate David Evans face kidnapping and sexual offense charges.

All three players have denied any wrongdoing, and defense attorneys have repeatedly hammered the prosecution's case, calling into question the accuser's identification of the players and the lack of DNA evidence of an assault.

Nifong last month dismissed rape charges against the three players, saying he couldn't meet the state standard to prove rape because of the woman's uncertainty over details of the alleged attack.

Last week, the State Bar filed an ethics complaint against Nifong, saying his statements to the media early in the investigation constituted fraud, deceit or dishonesty. The complaint could result in sanctions or even disbarment.

"Obviously, we'd all prefer to have a different situation than what I have," he said Tuesday.

With his wife and son at his side, Nifong said he didn't create division in the community by expressing outrage publicly over the rape allegations.

"I don't feel I'm part of the problem. I feel that I have assisted in revealing the problem," he said. "Durham has some healing to do, and I need to be part of that healing process."

The state Conference of District Attorneys has publicly stated that Nifong should remove himself from the lacrosse case. He refused to address that subject Tuesday, saying he would reserve those kinds of issues for the courtroom.

"If we get to the point where it appears that my presence in an investigation or anything like that is a hindrance, then we can deal with it at that time," he said.

The next pretrial hearing in the lacrosse case is scheduled for the week of Feb. 5.

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  • bengalsfan2388 Jan 3, 2007

    nifong is a complete joke....he and the whore should BOTH be locked up ASAP !!!!

  • kstor33 Jan 3, 2007

    TomBrewer00...you do not live in a vacuum you idiot. Nifong may live and work in Durham but he has humiliated North Carolina with his seedy antics. For all of you wondering why he hasn't been charged it's because district attorneys have immunity from litigation arrising from their cases. THAT is the problem that we need to focus on now...amending the laws that give them immunity and make them just as accountable for immoral, unethical and possibly illegal behavior as everyone else. Our laws need to be updated. It is horrid that there has been irreparable damage done to those 3 guys and their families that they did not deserve. I'm sure they're not "sin-free", but...who amongst us is?

  • ahirshp Jan 3, 2007

    Good Point, ThrunThru! Weren’t the Black Panthers scheduled to march the streets of Durham until “justice” was served? Where are they all now? Even her own college has backed away from this case. They know what’s up. This poor, struggling black woman putting herself through college by stripping (sarcasm) got mad when rich white boys ordered “Pamela Anderson” to strip and instead they got “Scary Spice” and they “didn’t want that no moe!” So what is a poor, struggling, stripper to do but CRY RAPE? Obviously, after 3 other men’s semen (not belonging to Duke players) showed up in her drawls proving she may be a little on the promiscuous side, one would begin to question the validity of her accusation. I can’t wait till’ these three boys sue Nifong and this woman for all they’ve got! Highrisk, just to clarify the situation Nifong has yet to be charged with anything. Only ethics complaints have been filed. He cannot be charged until the US District Attorney’s

  • MzFang Jan 3, 2007

    I think Nifong must have attended the George W Bush school of Arrogance and Denial....

  • HighRiskCO Jan 3, 2007

    Interesting! In my day, one could not be promoted, retired, transferred or the like if charges were pending against you. How is it possible Nifong is sworn in as DA when charges are pending against him? Why wasn't he left "appointed" until his own charges are dealt with? Something really stinks about this entire situation. Does anyone in Durham government know that they work for the taxpayers? And with such a outcry from the public you'd think someone in government would finally listen and put an end to this fiasco! Nifong committed some of the worst offenses but yet he is officially sworn in as DA.

  • nowon_yuno Jan 3, 2007

    Where did the Black Panthers and the Reverend Race Pimps go in such a hurry? They knew something stank and got the heck out of NC before they got too involved. Sharpton learned from the Tawana Brawley case, even though he incited a riot that killed people, he never apologized for that either.

  • geowilrlst Jan 3, 2007

    The Govenor , Chief Justice , or Attorney General should have stepped in and halted the prick from being sworn in yesterday morning and excludeing the public from the most basic of public events !

  • mjblawlady Jan 2, 2007

    No doubt about it, Nifong will stay as arrogant as always! He is an outright fool and the dangerous part is, this could be you or I!! It's a damn shame that nothing is being done quickly about this. Why does the bar have to wait several months to undertake this hearing on why he has done what he has done? The facts speak for themselves...or should I say lack of facts(sarcasm)! If a police officer or a witness in a case had deliberately hid evidence(again, a lack of evidence) in a case and asked someone to prepare a report on that and leave out something crucial, then that person would have been charged with OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE and maybe PERJURY. But, good ole boy Nifong does it and no one is charging him. We, the public should be standing on the courthouse steps or at the NC Governors Office doorstep demanding the same JUSTICE!

  • kevin4unc Jan 2, 2007

    I was wondering. If I was to go over to NCCU and dance for the girls volleyball team and say I was assaulted, would I, a taxpaying white man get the attention from Jesse and Al that they gave poor little miss stanky drawers. I think not.

  • DOG Jan 2, 2007

    Mr. Nifong says that his swearing in WAS NOT A MEDIA EVENT. I bet it would have been if he wasn't in such hot water. I met Mr. Nifong last year and he is as arrogant in person as he appears to be on TV. Those three Duke students were NIFONGED.