Local News

Feds Won't Investigate Nifong

Posted January 16, 2007

— The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected a congressman's request to investigate Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions in the Duke University lacrosse case.

Nonetheless, 3rd District Rep. Walter Jones will continue trying to get officials to examine Nifong's conduct, his spokeswoman said.

Jones, a Republican, last month sent two letters to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez asking him to investigate what Jones said he believed was prosecutorial misconduct by Nifong, a Democrat.

Jones said Nifong made prejudicial statements to the media and told Durham police to violate identification procedures. He also cited the fact that more than nine months had passed before Nifong spoke to the accuser in the case.

A student at North Carolina Central University said three Duke lacrosse players sexually assaulted her at an off-campus team party last March 13. Reade Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., Collin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, N.Y., and David Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., have been charged with kidnapping and sexual offense in the case.

Rape charges against the three players were dropped last month.

U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling wrote to Jones last Thursday, saying the Justice Department wouldn't look into the matter.

Hertling said the dismissal of the rape charge addressed some of Jones' concerns and that the North Carolina State Bar was examining Nifong's conduct.

The State Bar filed a complaint against Nifong last month over his public comments about the Duke case. Nifong might face a second complaint regarding his agreement with the director of a DNA lab to withhold some findings of tests conducted in the case.

"Issues related to your concerns may well be raised in the local criminal case. Accordingly, based upon the information available at this time, it would be premature to initiate a federal investigation into this ongoing state criminal prosecution," Hertling wrote.

Kathleen Joyce, Jones' press secretary, said Tuesday that the congressman continues to press for a federal investigation. He has spoken with Hertling in recent days and plans to meet next week with director of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, she said.

Nifong asked Friday that the state appoint a special prosecutor to take over the Duke case. Joyce said that since he is no longer involved with the case, there should be no problem with federal government's reviewing his actions.

"It is Congressman Jones' position that, in light of Mr. Nifong's recusal from the case, there is no reason the Department of Justice should not initiate an investigation into whether Mr. Nifong's actions constitute prosecutorial misconduct and (have) denied the three Duke students their civil rights," Joyce said.

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  • ghwhitaker1_old Jan 17, 2007

    Lets see now... the U.S.Attorney General (a prosecutor) will not investigate Nifong (a prosecutor); the N.C. Attorney General (a prosecutor) has shown no inclination to investigate Nifong (a prosecutor); the N.C. State Bar's record investigating/disciplining prosecutors is abysmal; and the prosecution of the Duke lacrosse players has been turned over to Jim Coman, who, as I recall from past news stories, lectured at statewide prosecutors meetings that "exculpatory evidence" did not really mean all evidence that has a tendency to show the accused might not be guilty, and, therefore, all exculpatory evidence did not have to be turned over to the defense, contrary to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Brady v. Maryland. Just who is going to protect the citizens from rogue prosecutors?

  • St Ives Jan 17, 2007

    Lets see what the state bar does first.

  • strickland5894 Jan 16, 2007


  • deerslayer Jan 16, 2007

    who cares about your opinion Rev??/

  • franklinrussell Jan 16, 2007

    Question: Why hasn't the defense team requested a dropping of the charges and the case from the judge? If the case is as unfair as we are told by FAUX(FOX) News, a case dismissal is in order.

  • jasttn Jan 16, 2007

    While you might think Walter Jones is an idiot, he listened to people from his district(that he represents) and acted on their concerns. We would all be alot better off if some of the other senators and representatives took his lead.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Jan 16, 2007

    Just three brats? Methinks the lady who protesteth too much is a brat too.
    Praying for all.
    God bless.
    Rev. RB

  • katgoesloco Jan 16, 2007

    To odumfarms:

    I don't think that "guts" had anything to do with Jones sticking his nose into this issue, and I'm perfectly happy with my local elected representatives, thank you.

  • inmyopinion3 Jan 16, 2007

    Watch for this Walter Jones idiot to be geting some sort of back handers from either Puke university or the parents of the three brats!

  • LibertarianTechie Jan 16, 2007

    FOX News is reporting the the feds have stated that at this time, it is too early to investigate and they will wait until after the trial, if one, to investigate Knifwrong.