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N.Y. Attorney Wants Nifong to Resign, Probe of Lacrosse Case

Posted April 19, 2007
Updated April 20, 2007

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— A New York attorney representing former Duke lacrosse player Collin Finnerty wants North Carolina's governor and attorney general to publicly call on Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong to resign immediately from office.

"Mr. Nifong has not done the honorable thing and tendered his resignation," attorney Michael Cornacchia writes in an April 17 letter addressed to both Gov. Mike Easley and Attorney General Roy Cooper. "He may do so if you both publicly and unequivocally call for that resignation."

If Nifong does not resign, Cornacchia asks that Easley and Cooper join a complaint filed in February by Durham resident Elizabeth Brewer asking that Nifong be removed from office.

"Your moral suasion and the prestige of your offices … will assist the private litigant who has brought this petition and ensure the appropriate effort and resources are dedicated to this serious matter," he writes.

Cornacchia also asks that Cooper appoint a special prosecutor to seek court approval for a grand jury to investigate Nifong, the Durham Police Department and anyone else who took part in gathering evidence in the Duke lacrosse case.

Last week, Cooper declared Finnerty and two other former lacrosse players innocent of all charges associated with an exotic dancer's claims that she was attacked in a bathroom at a party in March 2006.

Nifong pursued the case until January when he asked Cooper to appoint a special prosecutor to handle it.

In February, Easley publicly stated that Nifong was "probably the poorest appointment" he ever made. And last week, Cooper called Nifong's pursuit of the case "a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations."

Questions surrounding Nifong and his handling of the case also prompted the North Carolina State Bar to launch an investigation, and Nifong now faces allegations of ethics violations and a June 12 trial date.

In February, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson issued an order to stay any action on Brewer's attempt to remove Nifong from office, basically saying it mirrored the State Bar's charges.

Some legal experts have suggested waiting for the State Bar's decision before proceeding with any other action against Nifong.

But Cornacchia says in his letter that the State Bar will only determine if Nifong violated ethics violations. It cannot address the conduct of Nifong, members of his office or other involved parties.

"The view that the institution of a criminal investigation will somehow prejudice the ethics commission in its inquiry is absurd and an insult to three members of the body hearing this matter," he writes.

Wade Smith, one of three attorneys who represents Finnerty in North Carolina, said he called both Cooper and Easley Wednesday and told them he thinks the appropriate course of action should be to wait until after the State Bar's disciplinary committee hearing.

Cooper's office had not yet received the letter and had no comment Thursday afternoon. WRAL was unable to reach Nifong for comment.

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  • thelmasgirl Apr 20, 2007

    The AG as good as called him guilty when he found the Duke 3 innocent and Good old Mike is still in office drawing a salary what does that say for the people of Durham

  • Tarheel_For_Life Apr 20, 2007

    Don't hold your breath for Sharpton on Jesse Jackson to apologize. What was funny is Jesse Jackson was on Fox News and was repeatedly asked if he was still paying for the strippers College tuition..... well he hemmed and hawed....but never answered....Shaprton (As I listened to him speak) still thinks they are guilty.......he says he apologized on his show...Number one I didn't know he had a show....but I wouldn't watch it anyways. As far as the stripper goes....I think Don Imus could describe her best....

  • Tired Of Excuses Apr 20, 2007

    I agree, Nifong should be FIRED AND DISBARRED and Crytal Magnum should be sued for future wages earned as a result of her college education being paid for by Jesse Jackson. She wouldn't have had this opportunity had she not lied. What a piece of work. I hope she's socilly isolated by her fellow college co-eds at NCCU. If she's getting state/government assistance of ANY kind it should be suspended in the amount it cost this state to follow up on her lies and deception.

  • 68_polara Apr 20, 2007

    Still haven't heard apologies from Al Sharpten and those who demonstrated at the lacrosse house before they new the facts. This whole fiasco was exactly what Durham didn't need. There are good people in Durham and good things do occur here but it seems as though there's always crap like this that overshadows all else. Thanks Mike, thanks a lot.

  • kthst Apr 20, 2007

    it all started with the strippers lets not forget she has to pay her due as well

  • iwideopen Apr 20, 2007

    Yeah this guy should resign and maybe be disbarred and all but this is just one case where the prosecutor stepped beyond his/her bounds. There have been quite a few innocent people being let out of jail lately for crimes that they did not commit in the first place.

    Anyway, getting back to the story at hand, I noticed that everyone up here seems to be a DUKE fan -- I'm not. But this case goes way beyond DUKE. It doesn't just hurt the woman that brought the case and Nifong, it hurts all women that are in the unfortunate position of getting raped.

    If a women gets raped for real in a similar environment as this one, they will doubt her account because of this case.

  • ladyblue Apr 20, 2007

    That bill the post was talking about will probably never be passed, because now they're picking on elderly drivers.. I don't think resigning should get him off the hook. He should still be tried and pusnished without being allowed any clean walk a way deals. He was a public official who DELIBERTLY cooked the books as they say to forward his own agenda of being re-elected. Simple as that...HE SHOULD BE FIRED....Just like any other citizen who committed similar crimes.

  • Heelzrule Apr 20, 2007

    he should not be able to resign - he should be fired and disbarred! He is a disgrace to the legal profession and to NC.
    Also - to the members of the Black Workers for Justice Woman's commission who protested recently in front of the duke lacrosse's house - ladies, you should be protesting at Central university - in lieu of the liar - NOT at Duke university where the innocent have finally been released of charges !

  • RRsaidso Apr 20, 2007

    As a durham local(but not a Duke fan), any way you look at this is no good. This issue divides Durham. Durham brings one thing to the table and that is DUKE. I knew the kids were innocent as soon as I heard the story. Duke kids have enough money to get a stripper to do what they want without using force. A strippers mentality is to make it in this world with $. This was a premeditated rape accusation for $.

  • BlarneyStone Apr 20, 2007

    The strongest basis for a prosecution on either charge would probably be the allegations that Nifong tried to suppress DNA test results that resulted in the 3 Duke men's innocence. Obstruction of justice extends to actions by attorneys aimed at suppressing evidence in criminal cases. Such cases are unusual but not completely unheard of. Last year, the Department of Justice charged one of its own prosecutors with obstruction of justice for allegedly failing to disclose exculpatory evidence. In that case, the prosecutor argued in a terrorism trial that he had sketches by the defendants of a Jordanian hospital targeted for attack. The charge is that the prosecutor also had photographs of the hospital that contradicted his claims about the sketches, and that he didn't disclose them. Hopefully the same will happen to Nifong.

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