Local News

As Lacrosse Case Ends, Case Against Nifong Goes On

Posted April 11, 2007

— As the sexual assault case against three Duke University lacrosse players ended Wednesday, Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong was meeting with his own attorney to discuss his own defense to ethics charges in the case.

The North Carolina State Bar has lodged two complaints against Nifong in connection with his handling of the Duke lacrosse case. If  he is found guilty of the charges against him, he could be disbarred.

In a complaint filed in December, the State Bar cited more than 100 examples of inflammatory public statements he made to the media shortly after the case broke in March 2006. In January, the State Bar alleged that he had withheld DNA evidence from defense attorneys—exculpatory evidence that could show a defendant is not guilty of a crime.

Nifong has denied the charges, saying in a written response that he didn't intentionally violate ethics rules or withhold evidence.

The Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the State Bar will hold a hearing Friday afternoon on Nifong's motion to dismiss the withholding evidence charge. He spent much of Wednesday at the Winston-Salem office of his attorney, David Freedman.

A full trial before the disciplinary panel on both charges is set for June 12. 

Because of the pending ethics complaints, Nifong recused himself from the Duke lacrosse case in January. The state Attorney General's Office appointed two special prosecutors to oversee the investigation.

The Attorney General's Office announced that kidnapping and sexual assault charges would be dismissed against Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans, the three Duke lacrosse players accused of attacking a stripper during a team party in March 2006.

Nifong dropped rape charges against the three in December after the woman told investigators she couldn't positively testify that she had been raped.

"He (Nifong) has complete confidence in the Attorney General's Office that whatever decision they make is the appropriate decision. This should have no effect on the State Bar proceedings," Freedman said.

With the charges against the players dismissed, Nifong could face lawsuits from the players and their families on slander and civil rights violations, local attorneys said.

Prosecutors have absolute immunity for actions taken in the course of their duties. But the immunity becomes more limited for actions taken outside their duties, which could include Nifong's statements to the media before any of the players was indicted.

"It sounds like the parents and the families are pretty interested in pursuing a civil lawsuit, and I would expect one to be forthcoming," said attorney Carlos Mahoney, who isn't connected with the case.

The players and their families also could sue the city of Durham if they could prove any negligence by police in the investigation, attorneys said. But they said they knew of no grounds for any possible suits against Duke.


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  • billg Apr 12, 2007

    Nifong should be immediatly fired from his elected position (and denied retirement pay) because this whole issue was revced up so he could get the black vote. His replacement should be the caandidate who got the second largest vote count.

    llLThen the bastard should be put in stocks on the village green where he can be violated in every conceivable manner for the next 390 days, juslt as the falsely accused have endured,

    Then he should be forced to pay all their expenses relative to this issue.

    Then, and only then, he should be deported to liberia where he will be free to resume his political pursuits. Jail would be too good for him!

  • Builder03 Apr 12, 2007

    Notice that Mike Nifong had to come all the way to Winston-Salem to find a lawyer to represent him. His Winston-Salem attorney couldn't make it as a trial lawyer, losing cases right and left over the years, so now he is representing others in his profession. How appropriate. I guess it takes a loser to know a loser. Appropriately he will have a lawyer who will hold his hand as he goes through the system...not unlike those who cannot afford an attorney and are appointed one. Too bad we can't tar and feather him and run him out of town on a rail. Nifong wanted publicity, now he has it. What goes around comes around.

  • ROCC Apr 12, 2007

    Sorry for the multiple posts, I was getting feedback from the system that my post was not accepted, so I tried again - then all of them posted. Sorry.

  • kbworkman Apr 12, 2007

    to heidi9lives -at- hotmail -dot- com.

    How do you know they were guilty? Because they have money? Our justice system isn't supposed to work that way. Guilt, that means being "proven" by evidence is not assumed.

    If we are going to find people guilty just because we envy them or don't like them, our justice system will be in worse shape than it is now.

    If the evidence was there to prove their guilt, it should have been brought forth in court. Evidence to refute the charges should never be hidden.
    If we decide that it is ok to do this in a case where we want to believe the accuse is guilty, we set a precedent that can be used against ourselves.

    Don't go there. It is a danger to all of us.

  • dlmagoo Apr 12, 2007

    Heidi... What part of the evidence gives you the impression that these boys did anything?? The DNA?? The conflicting statements from the accuser?? The photos and statements to the fact that one of the boys wasn't even THERE at the time? What is it that tells you that they did anything?? I think they handled themselves with great dignity considering the situation. I also think that the girl is a VERY misguided and unstable girl. She did this in the past to 3 other boys, to her own ex husband, what is to say that she won't do it again to some other poor guy and actually be able to take it all the way to the end next time.

    And to the person that said that it's too bad Nifong is immune to prosecution.. that isn't exactly true. Only statements made to the press after he had those boys indicted are protected, unfortunately most of his worst statements were made BEFORE they wnet before the grand jury and those are not protected statements.

  • ROCC Apr 12, 2007

    How can you say you are sure they did it when there was not ONE SHRED of evidence, not ONE. In fact, there was plenty of evidence that one of the young men wasn't even there at the time fo the alleged attack. Get a grip.

  • ROCC Apr 12, 2007

    "heidi9lives -at- hotmail -dot- com"
    YOU are sure they did it, so it must be true. Pathetic. If there was ONE SHRED of evidence, maybe the charges would not have been dropped. Just ONE. It is funny that you bring up the price of a good lawyer, but I would guess that you are a supporter of John Edwards, also a high-priced lawyer. (Nice hair, no brains)

  • ROCC Apr 12, 2007

    "those duke students should have been found guilty. I am sure they did it. They were just lucky to have rich parents who got them off their charges. I heard one of the boys fathers paid $ 500,000 to some lawyer."

    heidi9lives -at- hotmail -dot- com

    So you are sure they did it, huh? Maybe if there was ONE SHRED of proof, maybe the charges would not have been dropped. Just ONE. Until then, it is a good thing that our justice system FINALLY worked.
    BTW, money envy?? What does it matter how much they paid a lawyer if they are innocent? They shouldn't have even been charged. It is pretty funny, but you probably support John Edwards (a high-priced lawyer) - Nice hair, no brains.

  • baileysmom3 Apr 12, 2007

    those duke students should have been found guilty. I am sure they did it. They were just lucky to have rich parents who got them off their charges. I heard one of the boys fathers paid $ 500,000 to some lawyer.

  • Reader11722 Apr 12, 2007

    Uncontrolled, unsupervised prosecutors, yet another serious violation of our rights. Add them to the list of violations by our gov't:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by caging demonstrators and banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
    They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
    They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
    They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov't. Time to start arresting prosecutors and politicians. Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov't and drops the title): http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?&isbn=0-595-38523-0