Local News

Judge Suspends Resigned Nifong From DA's Office

Posted June 18, 2007
Updated June 19, 2007

— Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson said Monday night that he had signed an order removing District Attorney Mike Nifong from office, effective Tuesday morning, and named a Wake County attorney to handle a case against Nifong.

The action followed Nifong indicating earlier Monday that he would resign effective next month in the wake of a State Bar decision Saturday to strip him of his law license.

Hudson named Wake County attorney Robert Zaytoun to handle the case against Nifong.

In February, Durham resident Elizabeth Brewer had filed a civil complaint asking Hudson to remove Nifong under a section of state law. She claimed Nifong had exhibited willful misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the office into disrepute.

Hudson put off action on Brewer's motion then pending the outcome of the Bar action against Nifong, and he did the same against in April when she renewed her request.

Earlier in the day, Nifong had submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Mike Easley, saying that he would leave office July 13. Nifong also notified Hudson of his decision to leave office next month.

"It is my fervent hope that this action will spare this community the further anguish a removal hearing would entail and will allow the healing process to move forward," Nifong wrote to Hudson.

Hudson initially said he would have preferred that Nifong step down immediately. Criminal defendants and defense lawyers might challenge the district attorney's authority over the next month, creating potential problems, he said.

"There is some concern that a resignation effective at a later date could cause complications as far as legal proceedings go," Hudson said earlier Monday.

Easley said at a Monday afternoon news conference that he hadn't received Nifong's letter. He said he would act on it immediately once he gets it, but he didn't have a list of potential replacements.

A bill pending in the state House would allow the governor to immediately remove a district attorney or judge who has been disbarred from office. Easley, a former district attorney himself, said he supports the bill and thinks Nifong should have resigned immediately.

"I think he should have left and not gone back, except to clean out the office," he said. "I don't think he ought to be in the district attorney's office, having been disbarred.

"As a prosecutor ... constitutionally, you're given an awful lot of power. You can destroy a reputation within moments."

The North Carolina State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Commission stripped Nifong, a career prosecutor, of his ability to practice law on Saturday. But under State Bar rules, the disbarment isn't effective for 30 days.

Nifong announced his intention Friday during the disciplinary hearing into his handling of the Duke University lacrosse team sexual assault case.

The State Bar charged Nifong with making misleading and inflammatory comments about the lacrosse athletes, lying to both the court and State Bar investigators and withholding critical DNA test results from the players' defense attorneys.

The three-member disciplinary commission unanimously agreed with the Bar on 27 of 32 charges, including the most serious allegations -- that Nifong's actions involved "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation."

During the five-day ethics trial, Nifong acknowledged he knew there was no DNA evidence connecting lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty to the 28-year-old woman who accused them of attacking her when he indicted them on charges of rape, sexual offense and kidnapping a year ago. Nifong later charged player David Evans with the same crimes.

245 Comments

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  • Sando Jun 20, 8:16 a.m.

    It is appalling to read ignorant comments with lack of moral courage posted by some of you. Some calling the kettle black and some casting stones without any idea of what are you talking about, just regurgitating hate and political philosophy heard by their favorite Rosie O'Donnell. Plain in simple, Nifong "acted in willful misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice" as Ms. Elizabeth Brewer stated when she filed a civil complaint asking Hudson to remove Nifong under a section of state law. Yet Hudson ignored her request twice. Are these actions of racial and prejudicial nature? Of course they are, Jackson, Sharpton, the NAACP, the NY Times and the ACLU are continuously spewing hate, racism, and prejudice validating racist actions of the past by demanding the same wrongdoing.

    Nifong used the authority trusted upon him to advance his own agenda. Yet many of you agree with his misconduct because of your own political ideology allegiance; however, if you or your ch

  • casp3r Jun 19, 1:27 p.m.

    choppa= they make Sharpton and Jessie looks foolish because they show how racist and double standard they are. Oh and choppa everyone sees that you act just like them so keep up the good work so everyone can see who the real joke is.

  • choppa Jun 19, 11:45 a.m.

    mominnc07, your wrong. They have them on for ratings thats it. Al, Jesse, Hannity, and O'Reilly are all jokes.

    Please DO NOT report Crystal Mangum. Every post that is put up under the name Crystal Mangum needs to be read. Please leave them up so there will be no arguing as to what elements that are at work here. A lot of people will say I'm not like this or that but I think you should let your true feelings out then let the people decide.

  • shine Jun 19, 11:37 a.m.

    According to the way the N & O reads today - Nifong will receive a monthly pension of $5,365.20 saying further if he stayed in office 4 more weeks would only raise it $27.00. I thought if you were disbared you lose your pension. ??? It also stated that until the bar assoc. files a written order (which could take 2 weeks) then it would be an additional month before they take his license to practice.

  • wcnc Jun 19, 11:34 a.m.

    missy- it has been shown that there were slurs- on both sides, the girls and the guys....doesn't mean a felony occurred....

    choppa- have you actually watched those shows on FoxNews to see that both O'Reilly and Hannity do not let Al & Jesse get away with outrageous statements- they are calling them out on their lies and racism- not contributing to it all.....

  • GafanOO1 Jun 19, 11:29 a.m.

    you forgot to tell all the brothers and sisters to riot too.

  • choppa Jun 19, 11:28 a.m.

    Every one who is boo hooing about Al and Jesse should do like I see most black people do and ignore them.

    Oh yeah, let's protest against FOX news for constantly having them on as guest. Especially Hannity and O'Reilly. They have Al as guest always on a weekly basis.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Jun 19, 11:28 a.m.

    No sincere apology? He must be emulating his mentor and little hero(less than 5'9") George Bush.

  • GafanOO1 Jun 19, 11:24 a.m.

    Not only this, she has larceny, dwi and fleeing charges in the last 4 years

  • missy3550 yahoo.com Jun 19, 11:23 a.m.

    Nifong is paying for messing with wealthy white boys. The stripper should have showed up at the hearing... And remember there eas a neighbor that heard the noise and the racial slurs...

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