Calls Come for Nifong to Step Down
Posted April 12, 2007
Durham, N.C. — Calls began to be heard Thursday for Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong to resign.
Nifong came in for remarkably straightforward criticism when state Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday that his office was filing papers to drop all charges against the three men accused of sexual assault and kidnapping.
“We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations,” Cooper said. “In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado.”
Nifong was back in his office Thursday after spending Wednesday conferring with his attorneys about ethics charges brought by the North Carolina State Bar. WRAL was told he has no plans to step down.
Some attorneys questioned that decision.
“The public cannot have confidence going forward in the actions taken by his office under his direction. And for that reason, it's time for Mr. Nifong to resign,” said defense attorney Bill Thomas, who represented a Duke lacrosse player never charged in the case.
“He's one of the most powerful people in the state (because of) the effect he can have on the common person. If he has lost his credibility, he should no longer have that office, and he has lost his credibility,” said Mark Edwards, another defense attorney.
"People have to trust their DA to do the right thing, to be fair, to be honest and above board," Edwards also said. "I'm afraid with what he did to those players, he's lost that."
Others think Nifong can still be effective, however.
“Just because a district attorney makes a mistake on one case, that does not mean he’s going to make a mistake on every case. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson here. Hopefully, he will realize that he should handle these cases different next time,” said John Fitzpatrick, a defense attorney.
Nifong faces ethics charges brought by the state bar. He's due in court Friday for a hearing on those matters, and a trial is set for summer.