Local News

Nifong Contempt Hearing Delayed

Posted July 17, 2007
Updated July 18, 2007

— A July 26 hearing to determine whether Durham County's former district attorney should face contempt charges has been delayed.

In an order filed Monday, Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III postponed the hearing and scheduled a preliminary hearing for that date to determine motions, formulate issues and clarify and stipulate matters regarding evidence.

Last month, Smith found probable cause to believe Mike Nifong, in his handling of the now-defunct Duke lacrosse case, "willfully and intentionally made false statements of material fact" in regard to exculpatory DNA evidence during two hearings last year.

Defense attorneys for the three cleared defendants -- David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- filed a motion last month alleging Nifong broke at least a dozen rules and court orders designed to protect due process.

Smith's decision was based on Nifong's request through his attorneys, James R. Glover and Ann B. Petersen, and defense attorneys , according to the order.

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.

Last Thursday, the North Carolina State Bar issued a formal order disbarring Nifong, after a disciplinary panel found he violated at least two dozen violations of the State Bar's rules of professional conduct while prosecuting the case.

Nifong dropped rape charges against Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann in December; state prosecutors dismissed the case in April; and Attorney General Roy Cooper declared all three men innocent, calling them victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."

After 28 years in the Durham County District Attorney's Office, Nifong resigned from office July 2.


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  • CauseTaker Jul 18, 2007

    The penalty is very mild considering notorious Nifong was intent to send 3 young men, declared "innocent" by the AG, to jail for 30-years. Sad, very sad.

    Nifong probably will see some jail time, hopefully the maximum allowed, but he'd require extra protection or seclusion from the general jail population.

  • Xscout577 Jul 17, 2007

    Is Nifong and this Judge Smith in cahoots or what?

    bluedevl, Jim Carey was waaay more entertaing that Nifong. lol

  • Tax Man Jul 17, 2007

    Give him the 90 days and a big, fat fine. Then let the civil cases begin! The attorneys for the Duke boys want a judge to hold Nifong in contempt because it will bolster their civil cases - lots of money coming from Durham and Nifong! The attorneys and Duke boys will be able to retire comfortably.

  • I say... Jul 17, 2007

    30 to 90 days? That's all? What say we let the three falsely accused Duke boys have 30 to 90 minutes "alone" with him, and call it even?

    Hopefully after that, he will go away quietly, never to be heard from again until his obituary prints.

  • Halyard Jul 17, 2007

    Big surprise here.........yawn.

  • TrustMe Jul 17, 2007

    they think the public will forget about it. After what he did, we cannot be satisfied until he does his time. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. parrothead!!

  • Ladybug Jul 17, 2007

    Why don't they just go ahead and try him and be done with it. Everyone is sick and tired of hearing his excuses.

  • olivedrabby Jul 17, 2007

    Witt did such a great job at the bar hearing "It just didn't click" and "That's just the way his mind works" - those gems were priceless. At least OJ's lawyer could rhyme...

  • Nancy Jul 17, 2007

    cbsconsult, you're right of course. Criminal vs administrative law. But I do wonder if he's paid Witt and Freedman yet. I understand many lawyers to accept some portion up front and pay as you go time plans.

    If I'm not mistaken, a an equity line was just taken out on his property recently, probably to keep up with legal expenses. He also has to pay for the bar hearing, transcripts, out of town travel expenses for witnesses etc. That was included in the final papers from the bar last week.

  • FloydRTurbo Jul 17, 2007

    Nifong and Jim Black are playing "you go first" ..."no, you go first".

    And we wonder how come our courts get so backed up.