Local News

Nifong Served With Suspension Order

Posted June 19, 2007

— One day after he announced he would resign next month, Mike Nifong was served with a judge's order that suspends him from carrying out any duties of the district attorney.

Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill went to Nifong's house with a deputy to serve the order Tuesday morning.

"We took his keys and his badge that gave him access to the building," Hill told The Associated Press. "We'll make arrangements to help him get his personal belongings later."

Acting on a civil complaint filed earlier this year by Durham resident Elizabeth Brewer, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson filed the order, which removes the embattled prosecutor from office until his resignation becomes effective July 13.

Hudson initially agreed to allow Nifong to work until then, but made the decision Monday evening, concerned that criminal defendants and defense lawyers might challenge the district attorney's authority and therefore, creating potential problems.

"There is probably cause to believe that the district attorney has engaged in willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which brings the office into disrepute," Hudson wrote in the order.

A hearing on Brewer's request must be held within 30 days unless Nifong resigns before then.

Hudson appointed Robert Zaytoun, a private attorney in Wake County, as special prosecutor to present evidence against Nifong should the hearing take place.

Nifong's legal assistant, Candy Clark, said Tuesday  that the one case Nifong was currently handling -- a 2005 quadruple homicide -- was being reassigned to an assistant district attorney in the office. That case is scheduled for a case management hearing on Aug. 6.

A disciplinary committee of the North Carolina State Bar on Saturday disbarred Nifong for the way he handled the prosecution of three former Duke University lacrosse players on charges of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping.

Citing a lack of evidence in the case, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed the charges in April and declared the defendants innocent.

The State Bar alleged Nifong lied to the court, made inflammatory statements about the players and their teammates and withheld critical DNA evidence from defense attorneys.

The state House of Representatives unanimously approved Tuesday afternoon a bill that would allow the governor to remove any judge or district attorney who is disbarred.

The measure has had virtually no opposition in the Legislature; the Senate, which approved it once, must now vote on it again to concur with changes made in a House committee.

It will become law as soon as Easley signs it, which he has said he will.

Easley appointed Nifong to the district attorney's office in 2005 and has since then called the decision his poorest appointment. There is no indication about whom Easley will appoint to replace Nifong.

"You are given a lot of power and you can destroy a reputation in moments with just a few words," Easley, a former prosecutor, said Monday. "This was much more than a mistake."

Dick Ellis, a spokesman for the state Administrative Office of the Courts, said Nifong will still be eligible for his full retirement benefits -- a pension and health care -- that he accrued while working as a state employee for nearly 30 years.

But because he served fewer than five years as district attorney, he is not vested in a more lucrative retirement system for judges, prosecutors and the director of the courts office.


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  • Pparets Jun 21, 2007

    HOCKEYRULES Never for one minute did I suggest that I approve of the kind of behavior which you claim the Duke Lacrosse team was the major - perhaps only - purpetrator of. But nice try, anyway. My point remains the same. Duke's TIMING in reacting to what you decribe as an ongoing pattern of unacceptable behavior was intended to fan the flames of anger and suspicion already aimed at three innocent team members, and by association with the whole team. ASk yourself this. If Duke did the right thing, why did they make a financial settlement with the unjustly fired coach? And, I am glad that we agree that many other groups and individuals, sadly, indulge in the same shennanigans. You know as well as I do that had there been no false rape charge, there would have been no disciplinary action against the team. Duke's decision was calculated and vindictive, and therefore they bear major responsibility for lending support to DA Nifong and his horrendous miscarriage of ju

  • HockeyRules Jun 21, 2007

    "no other team, fraternity, club or individual at Duke ever, ever drank, partied or hired sleezy entertainment. Riiiiiiiggght. Me thinks you doth protest too much."

    Wow, so that makes it acceptable, huh? As long as others do it, thats ok? Sad commentary on how you view things.

    Fact is, the history was there and the entire team paid the price. The fact that the three got charged, falsely, has nothing to do with Duke University or its action, only with Nifong. Still not sure why Duke felt the need to "settle" with these three only if the University's actions affected the whole team.

  • friendlylady Jun 21, 2007

    I'v read in news article, seen on the television where people(males) have pull 15-20 years in prison for a rape that they never committed...which they were falsely accused so the DA's stated they had so much evidence to prove they done this crime but years later it's been told they did not. So the Lacrosse team should count their blessings they won't one of the people who had to pull time. Please don't say technology is different now with DNA's now then back then. Let's not forget they were falsely accused too. Not saying they are bad boys, just say they made bad decisions about having a stripper at this party that was intoxicated. WAS IT UNDERAGE DRINKING AT THIS PARTY?

  • Pparets Jun 20, 2007

    HOCKEYRULES One wonders why, if there was such a history of bad behavior by the Duke Lacrosse Team, the University waited until Nifong's witch-hunt had been launched to disband the team, fire the coach and end the season. And, apparently - if your narrative is to be taken a face-value - no other team, fraternity, club or individual at Duke ever, ever drank, partied or hired sleezy entertainment. Riiiiiiiggght. Me thinks you doth protest too much.

  • Weetie Jun 20, 2007

    Great decision! Nifong should have been gone months ago!

  • Weetie Jun 20, 2007

    Way to go Judge Orlando Hudson! It's about time!

  • Gandalf Jun 20, 2007

    In the right place at right time. Do you mean like if they weren’t even at the house at the time of the accused incident? Wait one of them wasn’t there when the dancer accused him of assault. Crystal Magnum needs to be charged with filing a false police report. She tried to cover up her passed out drunken lewd behavior by claiming she was attacked. It never happened. Wake up and stop smoking the Nifong wacky weed and face reality.

  • kevikev357 Jun 20, 2007

    I think there should have been something done to Mike Nifong fo rjumping the gun but something still was done at that house, if it was not rape it was it was something. One of the players (evans) said it when they ogt off, (we had the means to get out of this). If this was done to some NCCU player's and a student at DUKE was the accuser and they where found not guilty then nothing would be said. Not saying that race has anything to do with it but it is in plain sight. It's because it was DUKE and you are not suppose to touch DUKE. I think everyone must sit and think before they jump down Mike Nifong's throat. Just think if that was your daughter. America we need to wake up, there are to many problems going on in this world and Durham for us to blow this all out of proportion.

  • resjudicata Jun 20, 2007

    - tooblessed

    lol.. you are about to get shot down. the majority here thinks Nifong should be hanged/lynched/tarred/canned/put in prison for prosecuting the three "white" boys for the "black" girls lies.

    Get ready for your hate mail. Its unfortunate the things we have passion in based upon our beliefs and opinions. any time i see the strippers, not prostitutes referred to as black girls, its just a label with racial undertones. its a shame. if it wasnt, they would be girls or women just like the players are just boys or men.

  • resjudicata Jun 20, 2007

    Why do people not understand that almost every university have a code of conduct to follow? On top of that, athletic teams have more stringent guidelines to follow b/c they are in the public light!!! As a former student-athlete, I KNOW THIS!!! The Duke Lacrosse team violated this. Policies vs. opinions. Thats what it boils down to. Even if there was any other incident regarding that party that brought it to the Athletic Director's or President's attention, same would have happened. It is just unfortunate that this incident was the icing on the cake to get things moving.