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State Bar Says Nifong Skirted System in Handling of Duke Lacrosse Case

Posted March 19, 2007
Updated March 20, 2007

A North Carolina State Bar response to Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's request for dismissal of some of the charges against him suggests the agency believes that Nifong has attempted to skirt the system in his handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

In a legal brief filed Monday, the bar suggests Nifong wants the organization to interpret the law according to his view of it. It also said it doesn't buy Nifong's explanation for withholding DNA evidence and claimed he's twisting words to make his argument fit.

The charges and the ensuing debate stems from indictments won against three Duke University lacrosse players last year following a party at which a woman claimed she was raped.

In papers filed last week, attorneys for Nifong added to their argument that the players' attorneys received a report and its underlying data on DNA testing well before any trial. The report was conducted as part of the assault investigation.

"That Nifong disclosed both the report and the underlying data later than the Duke defendants would have preferred does not turn Nifong's disclosure, or failure to make what the defendants would consider timely disclosure, into a constitutional violation," they wrote.

However, the bar said that the nearly 2,000 pages of test results and examinations given to the defense wasn’t a report and was no more than raw data that defense attorneys were left to decipher with the help of hired experts. The brief said that to remain within ethical boundaries, Nifong should have included a summary of the DNA analysis.

The state bar is the agency that regulates and disciplines attorneys in the state.

Nifong turned the case over to state prosecutors in January after the bar charged him with ethics violations. He had already dropped rape charges after the 28-year-old accuser changed a key detail of her account of the March 13, 2006, party where she was hired to perform as a stripper.

The three players still face charges of sexual offense and kidnapping. They have strongly maintained their innocence.

The latest filing from Nifong's attorneys did not address bar allegations that in numerous interviews he granted in the early days of the investigation, he made comments that had a "a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused."

His attorneys have previously said those interviews were aimed at reassuring the community and seeking help from the public in obtaining information.

University of North Carolina law professor Joe Kennedy described the bar's tone in the most-recent documents as somewhat incredulous. He pointed to the bar's following point: "Nifong is arguing that he can make false statements to a court…then use his misrepresentations to claim he committed no violation."

A date has not been set yet to argue these motions. However, the hearing is likely to happen in the near future. Nifong's hearing before the bar has been tentatively set for June.

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  • Jackaroo Apr 11, 2007

    Nifong is the type attorney, that gives attorney's a bad name...and an elected one at that! Hopefully the NC Bar will act responsibly, or they will lose all credibility.
    And a police lineup that included ONLY LCX players, when their own policy requires four known innocents to one accused! Durham PD...you are next. Why are we still even talking about this over a year later?

  • 2little2late Mar 22, 2007

    Speaking of "skirting"..maybe Nifong will learn to like wearing skirts in prison

  • thelmasgirl Mar 20, 2007

    What really gets me is Nifong still has a job he is still sitting in his office with D.A. attached to his name, what is actually wrong with the people in authority in Durham ? Does no body realize that any case he tries will be suspect any deals he makes and probably many of his former cases should be looked into . If he did it once it is very possible that he has done it before and never was caught. Wake Up Durham How can the judges let this man continue to hold office when his own mouth convicts him everytime he opens it.

  • 2little2late Mar 20, 2007

    wow..i feel better...sorry for the typos

  • 2little2late Mar 20, 2007

    "If he is guilty, make him pay the defense attorneys hired by the players." from an earlier post...from what i hear, is a possibility..but his actions would have to be proven intentionally negligent..i don't remember the correwct legal term...it won't matter..i promise you they will set a court date for many months out, hoping that peolple will forget about it..or probably some other crime in Compton...errrr...sorry, Durham will overshadow this one and the result will be that the State Bar will agree to some sort of plea bargain..Nifu...errr ... Nifong will coach little league or something and not be found guilty..therefore no jail time and no potential civil penalties from the families robbed by the Compton..errr Durham courts...Durham is Detroit South at best...but with more crime

  • Heelzrule Mar 20, 2007

    Someone please tell Mr. Nifong that his plan backfired. He intended to make an "example" of the players - instead - HE will be the "example" that is dealt with to the fullest extent that the law allows!
    El Doggo - and Paddie - nicely said!!!

  • willis2 Mar 20, 2007

    Looks like Nifong may need a better lawyer.

  • WXYZ Mar 20, 2007

    Hurray for the NC Bar! Hold course and be strong and brave. We know you are up against the "Crony System" here in NC. The faith and trust of the public in the legal system has been severely damaged. Also, I do not believe that Nifong is the only DA (lawyer) who is guilty of ethics violations in NC. Do your best and hold ethical principles above all else.

  • 68_polara Mar 20, 2007

    About time!

  • ThatsRight Mar 20, 2007

    Did anyone test Nifong's DNA?

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