Local News

Nifong Foe Questions Judge's Delay

Posted February 12, 2007

— A Durham resident who last week filed court papers seeking the removal of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong from office on Monday questioned a judge's decision to delay action on the issue.

Elizabeth Brewer filed a civil complaint against Nifong on Friday, alleging willful misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the office into disrepute. The charges stem from his handling of the investigation of rape allegations against members of the Duke University lacrosse team.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson said the civil complaint mirrors ethics charges the North Carolina State Bar has filed against Nifong, and he issued an order Monday that would defer Brewer's complaint until after the State Bar hearing in the case is completed.

"Due process of law requires that the district attorney be allowed to defend himself before one tribunal at a time regarding the allegations," Hudson wrote in the ruling.

But Betty Tenn Lawrence, an Asheville lawyer representing Brewer, on Monday challenged Hudson's authority to postpone the removal proceeding. State law dictates that the judge act on a civil complaint within 30 days, Lawrence wrote in a letter to Hudson.

Hudson told WRAL that his decision to delay action on the complaint constitutes acting on it.

Brewer and her attorney could file a motion asking the state Court of Appeals to force Hudson to take some other action, but there was no word Monday on whether they planned to do so.

Reade Seligmann, 20, Collin Finnerty, 20, and David Evans, 23, have been indicted last spring on charges of first-degree sexual assault and first-degree kidnapping. A 28-year-old North Carolina Central University student told police she was assaulted by three lacrosse players while performing as a stripper at a March 13 team party at an off-campus house.

Nifong dropped rape charges against the three men in December after the accuser wavered in her account of key details in the case. He later asked to be removed from the case and had the state Attorney General's Office to appoint prosecutors to handle the case.

The State Bar has filed an ethics complaint against Nifong, alleging he withheld exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys representing the lacrosse players, misrepresenting the truth to the judge in the case and violated professional conduct rules by making misleading and inflammatory comments about the defendants.

Nifong's response to the complaint is due Feb. 23.

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • natebrew Feb 13, 2007

    I'd like to take a little deeper look at this quote from Mister Nifong:
    "Obviously the person who filed this affidavit is someone who tried unsuccessfully to defeat me in the political process," Nifong said Friday. "Now that the voters have chosen someone other than who she wanted, she's trying to remove me from office in this manner."

    First of all mister Nifong, she didn't want anyone specific in office, just someone other than you. Second, this comment seems a little smug for some one who didn't even claim 50% of the vote when he was running against "recall Nifong vote Cheek"(not even a person 39%) and a write in candidate(12%); and should have been running totally un-opposed.

    Mister Nifong: Cut your losses and get out while you still have your license.

    Judge Orlando: staying an affidavit is not taking action on it.

  • IHave1-2 Feb 12, 2007

    DA's are elected into office by the majority of voters... Easley appointed him because Nifong supposedly said he would not run for the office when the election rolled around, but... seems he lied to the governor; no one had to mark Nifong on the ballot. For all the folks who did not vote for him, they will still have to dig deep into their tax pocket to foot the bill. Future elections will not be wearing blinders, maybe.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Feb 12, 2007

    orlando1160 -
    Only insofar as they follow the laws they are suppose to uphold, and only insofar as their court actions are concerned.
    He can still be sued in a civil trial, and sincerely, I hope he is. It may teach the few others who are partaking in shadiness to watch their step.
    God bless.
    Rev. RB

  • azhomeman Feb 12, 2007

    If you think Nifong is the only bad DA we have in this State ,how wrong we all are . I was reading in Asheville ,where their DA there is also dirty,maybe even worst than Nifong.Go read your selfs you can see how bad our Justice system is all over our great State.Come on Citizens its time we stand up, its up to us to make the changes.

  • prhodes10 Feb 12, 2007

    All of taxpayers in N.C. will pay for Nifong's wrongdoing ,but Easley should have to answer to why he appointed him to office if he was not good enough for him to want him to run for a full term Smells:::::::And why did't Easley pull the plug before Nifong got in, Corrupt all the way around

  • prhodes10 Feb 12, 2007

    Durham probably goes by the buddy system, who can have any respect or beleive any court officials if Nifong were an ordinary person he would be in jail if there was a justice system in Durham that was not contaminated he would not be drawing a paycheck or have an office in the court house. Give him the justice he didnot give those men take his check and his office, and try to find someone to do the job right if I was him I would be ashamed to go to court or anywhere elxe anyone can recognize him. He has put all prosecutors in question.

  • DOG Feb 12, 2007

    If state law says 30 days then it should be 30 days. Judge Hudson doesn' make the laws.

  • frasier95 Feb 12, 2007

    We hear in criminal cases all along that DAs don't typically bring charges until AFTER an alibi is discredited. Most DAs at least take the time to listen but Nifong dismissed the alibi evidence without even looking at it. If he defends himself by saying it was all a mistake, then he is admitting he is incompetent for the office.

  • doinbizzness Feb 12, 2007

    I think the lacross players are intitled to some sort or retribution financially from our state. we have ruined their names forever.Nifong on the other hand should get a lengthy prison sentence for his negligance and the fact that he was intentionally trying to prosecute these men who had evidence clearing them that was hidden from defense attorneys. It is a shame that anyone would ever consider sending innocent people to prison.God Bless those young men

  • Mmaker52 Feb 12, 2007

    I still say where there is smoke there is fire!