Local News

Lacrosse Attorneys Want Criminal Charges Against Nifong

Posted June 22, 2007
Updated June 23, 2007

— Defense attorneys for three former Duke lacrosse players filed a motion in Durham County Superior Court Friday asking a judge to hold former District Attorney Mike Nifong in criminal contempt of court.

The 42-page motion, which alleges Nifong broke at least a dozen laws rules and court orders designed to protect due process, cites Nifong's alleged misconduct in court on Sept. 22 and Dec. 15 regarding potentially exculpatory evidence as well as misleading statements he made to the media regarding that evidence.

"Mr. Nifong engaged in a pattern of official misconduct that … included multiple material misrepresentations to multiple courts on multiple occasions," the motion said. "And it represented a continuing and ongoing violation of the multiple Constitutional, statutory, ethical and court-ordered duties imposed on Mr. Nifong in this case regarding that evidence."

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith II issued a court filing reminding Nifong that, as the sole judge presiding over the case, he reserved the right to discipline any attorney for misconduct.

Smith could make a summary judgment or hold a hearing in which Nifong would could defend himself. It's unclear, however, when Smith would rule or a hearing date would be set.

Nifong could face a possible fine as well as a jail sentence if he is found in contempt. Criminal contempt can carry anywhere from 30 to 90 days in jail.

Attorney David Freedman, who represented Nifong at his State Bar Trial, said he has not talked with Nifong since June 16. At this point, Freedman said, he has not been retained to represent Nifong on any other matters.

Defense attorneys are also asking the court to assess the costs incurred in uncovering evidence that revealed DNA profiles from four unidentified males on the accuser -- none of which was from any of the 46 lacrosse players who submitted DNA samples under a court order.

Brad Bannon, a defense attorney representing David Evans, testified last week during a ethics hearing that ultimately resulted in Nifong's disbarment, that he spent an estimated 60 to 100 hours poring through nearly 2,000 pages of raw data from DNA testing before discovering the genetic material of unidentified males.

Nifong released an initial report on the DNA testing to defense attorneys in May 2006 knowing that information but failed to release it to defense attorneys, Friday's motion said.

Bannon said last week that it wasn't until Oct. 27, more than six months after learning about the test results, that Nifong finally gave the defense the raw test data from DNA Security, the private Burlington lab hired to conduct more complex DNA testing than that of the State Bureau of Investigation.

"When the defendants finally discovered the withheld exculpatory evidence in December of 2006, Mr. Nifong then told multiple different stories about what he knew, when he knew it, and why the evidence was withheld," the motion said.

A North Carolina State Bar disciplinary committee disbarred Nifong last Saturday after finding he violated rules of professional conduct on similar charges: making inappropriate statements to the media, withholding DNA evidence from defense attorneys and making misrepresentations to the court about the evidence.

The former lacrosse players -- Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty -- were indicted on charges of first-degree rape, sexual offense and kidnapping after an exotic dancer, Crystal Gail Mangum, said claimed she was raped at an off-campus party.

The case was dismissed more than a year later after Nifong recused himself, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper declared Seligmann, Evans and Finnerty innocent of the charges against them.

Cooper said in April that Mangum likely still believed the sexual assault allegation and wanted to proceed with the case but said "it's in the best interest of the justice system not to bring charges" against her.


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  • atozca Jun 24, 2007

    "In early February, a white duke student alleges she was raped by a black townie at an off-campus party held by a black fraternity. The Duke administration immediately moved the boys out of the house and took down the web site advertising the party. The News and Observer, WRAL and the Herald Sun all ran one piece on this story and none mentioned the race of the victim. Given the lacrosse allegations, you would think this would be a newsworthy story, but no one is covering it. Nobody on the Duke faculty has marched or spoken in support of her. Why?


    Good question.....

  • StandFast Jun 24, 2007


  • nrsnan Jun 24, 2007

    old school..what exactly are you needing to understand there was a conspiracy to with hold evidence that showed that the DNA didn;t match the lacrosse players and that they did not rape this stripper as she claimed that they did originally? she was not credible, but Nifong persisted because of the media attention this case got which he felt would bolster his career....no respecting DA would have done this to innocent people...Nifong needs to be held accountble for this..judicially and financially

  • oldschool Jun 24, 2007

    cbhopper -
    Sooo . . . I don't drink the "nothing happened" Kool-aide and that makes me a racist. Boy, you really showed me my questions about this case are wrong. Whew. How can I argue with that kind of brillient logic? Imagine, all these years and I didn't even realize I was a racist. Heck, I didn't even realize I was angry. Now I know that asking simple questions (that you can't answer) makes me an angry racist.

    Thanks, man.

  • absolute Jun 23, 2007

    of all the bad things going on in the world, you all need to focus posting 186 comments in reference to homicides like Jessie Davis, the ones in Durham, so forth. these are important issues instead of dying over rich boys who got drunk and invited strippers over, nothing wrong with it. BUT, keep it real & focus on real innocent issues why don't you. Show people that NC has some class & not ignorance!

  • cherishhi Jun 23, 2007

    to the comment that 'Guess she cant help that the only ghetto thing to do is to strip and pay for college. Excuse me, but there are far more white girls that are prostituting to pay for college and I quess that ain't ghetto cause they call themselves "CALL GIRLS". I don't judge and no one is perfect but at least these girls are trying to get an education to better themselves and not depend on no good men.

  • freddie cadetti 72 Jun 23, 2007

    The RPD investigative division has their own share of Nifongs. Quick to close their case and write their reports before checking all the facts or even worse, not piecing together what facts they did gather. No matter that they send someone innocent to jail to await trial untill the case is dismissed for no probable cause. If they would have only done their job and took more time and effort to check it all out, they would have discovered there was no probable cause. Thing is, when the annual crime report comes out, this kind of "close the case quick" dective work causes their numbers to show very nicely.

    So the result is "no probable cause" by the courts, but only after someone has gone through thousands in legal fees, putting their house up for sale to pay the bond,loss time from work, and now, never ending paranoria about how easily you can be charged and put through hell because the RPD wasn't thorough to begin with.

  • cherishhi Jun 23, 2007

    So now that Mr Nifong is being so harshly punished are the judges going to go back and discipline all the proscecutors, policemen,and juries who sent innocent men and women to prison and they actually had trials and so called solid evidence and served actual time. Those boys had no trial and served no time, and money can buy innocence. The one good thing out of all this is maybe these boys will think about their actions and they won't get caught up again. Something was done to that stripper and no one cares. Just because it was an independent lab it could have been tampered with there too. Look at who money paid for it. A lot of college girls are being raped at these parties and to scared to talk cause like all over the country school officials turn their back like nothing happened. Go back and get rid of all the bad proscecutors,policemen,and judges in the system cause there are a lot more than you think.

  • cbhopper122859 Jun 23, 2007

    oldschool Nifong is an elected offical.He lied and said something happen.You believed him.Why can t you accept the truth.Are you so racist that you refuse to accept the truth.You know what happen in that house.You just mad cause Nifong and the strippers story was a lie.And yes DNA can prove innocence people are being set free everyday based on DNA.

  • ladyblue Jun 23, 2007

    wizard--I only want to add to your post that not pusinhing Mangum is the only disgrace left to this mess. There are plenty of mentals who were tried and sent to jail or mental hospitals. She has mever been that mental. The only mental problem I've heard of her is being a habitual liar and there are plenty of those living successful lives. Politicians are the best example that comes to mind. You will hear of this woman again when the dust settles. They have given every excuse why they won't charge her for her part in this, except the true one. The officials of Durham do not want another episode of the racist Al and all his racist cronies returning to Durham. This may sound racist to some and I'm sorry your mind can't get past the race because it's only my opinion of why they won't press charges. What Nifong did has gone on before and will happen again, but what Mangum did has harmed the effort to protect the real rape victims.That's the disgrace as well.