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Lacrosse Judge Could Also Discipline Nifong

Posted June 6, 2007
Updated June 7, 2007

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— The sole judge presiding over the Duke lacrosse case could discipline embattled Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong for his actions while handling the investigation.

In a court document filed Tuesday, Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III expressed concerns about a Dec. 15 hearing during which a DNA expert testified that he and Nifong withheld test results from the defense.

The memorandum outlines Smith's authority, stating that he has the right to discipline any lawyer for actions in his court. Smith could do anything from reprimanding Nifong to sentencing him to jail time for contempt of court.

Nifong will go on trial next week before the North Carolina State Bar's three-member disciplinary committee for a number of alleged ethics violations, including withholding exculpatory evidence and making comments to the media that were prejudicial to the defendants.

Under North Carolina law, the North Carolina State Bar and trial court judges each have power to discipline lawyers for misconduct. Nifong faces the prospect of punishment from both.

In April, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed kidnapping and sexual assault charges against the three former Duke lacrosse players – Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans – stating their accuser, Crystal Mangum, was not credible.

Nifong had recused himself from the case in January, less than a month after he dropped rape charges against the defendants, saying the ethics complaints presented a conflict of interest for him.

Since then, a number of different parties – including federal lawmakers, Durham residents and the defendants Nifong sought to prosecute – have called for him to resign or to be removed from office.

Earlier this year, Durham resident and Nifong political opponent Elizabeth Brewer filed two civil complaints calling for Nifong to be removed.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, however, delayed acting on the complaints until the ethics case is resolved, saying the complaints mirrored the ethics charges.

Hudson told WRAL on Tuesday, though, that he is prepared to conduct a summary hearing right after the State Bar trial, meaning that issues decided in the State Bar trial won't need to be redecided.

The residing Superior Court judge can remove a district attorney from office if there's evidence he brought the office in to disrepute, among other things.


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  • superman Jun 7, 2007

    Some of this could have been avoided if Nifong just admitted he handled it badly and the rest of Durham agreeed. But that hasnt happened yet. The police are still saying that handled it property and Nifong has yet to agree of his actions of his wrongdoing. Every keeps protesting their innocence.

  • piperchuck Jun 7, 2007

    "How much longer do we have to hear about NIFONG AND THE LACROSSE... We really need some other juicy topic to focus on."
    Here's one, Paris was given 5 days served for her 3 days in jail and has been sent home with an ankle bracelet to serve the rest of her 40 day sentence!!! :-)

  • whocares Jun 7, 2007

    I for one did not vote for Mr. Nifong. He is possibly the worst DA that Durham has had. It is a shame that when Gov. Easey appointed him on the grounds that he not run, that the office was not taken away when he announced that he was running for DA. However, all things considered, I hope that Mr. Nifong goes to jail so he can see what it would have been like for 3 innocent men.

  • WLDPIG Jun 7, 2007


  • ltbarkley Jun 7, 2007

    "The Lacrosse topic is played out."
    Friendlylady, I disagree - it needs to be in the public eye more now than ever. These politicians and lawyers that so blatantly disregard the laws need to be sent a message. You WILL be caught, and when you are, you need to be NAILED to the wall. I hope Nifong gets the MAXIMUM punishment he can. I, for one, am SICK AND TIRED of hearing of these violations of our laws and rights, and those responsible getting a slap on the wrist.. if that. What Nifong did was the very thing he was sworn to prosecute.

  • OLD PIRATE Jun 7, 2007

    This man remails defiant even in the face of his many mistakes. I might could forgive him but he had better get off that horse he's riding beause he is getting ready for a big fall.

  • TFH Jun 7, 2007

    Nifong should be disbarred. However, since Durham reelected him back in office says something horrible about Durham's prejudice problem. Anytime you give a preference or favortism to any race, for any reason, especially in the name of political correctness, this is what you end of with, prejudice. Hmmm, so ironic, isn't it? It is ashamed there isn't an educational model in place to teach children that prejudice is not acceptable toward anyone, not just a select group or groups. Political correctness is taught prevantly in our society, but not prejudice. Maybe if we all jumped on the prejudice wagon, political correctness would go away, and the injustices that go with it.

  • likemenow Jun 7, 2007

    The good news is that Nifong will soon have the national recognition he so desperately seeks....The bad news is that so will the judge who dismantles Nifong's life and career.

  • ncdeb1003 Jun 7, 2007

    Just a mention of Durham will conjure up images of a corrupt prosecutor's office and Nifong's zeal at convicting innocent men. Nifong should be disbarred for his blatant disregard for the law, and convicted for perjury and misjustice...just like any other citizen.

  • I say... Jun 7, 2007

    We've all been Nifonged long enough!

    nifong (V): The act of willfully disregarding truth, concealing facts, and issuing misleading statements, for ones own short term gains, resulting in ridicule, embarrassment, and shame to the community one is sworn to serve.