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Former Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Heads to Court

Posted August 29, 2007
Updated August 30, 2007

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— The criminal contempt case against former Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong is scheduled to begin Thursday in Durham.

Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith found probable cause in June to believe Nifong willfully and intentionally made false statements during a Sept. 22 hearing last year in the case against three former Duke University lacrosse players who were accused of raping, sexually assaulting and beating a woman at a party in March 2006.

Smith's order stems from a 42-page motion in which the players' attorneys alleged that Nifong broke at least a dozen rules in court on two occasions. His violations, they said, involved potentially exculpatory evidence that indicated DNA profiles based on evidence from the accuser, Crystal Mangum, matched the profiles of four men who were not lacrosse players.

Nifong released an initial report on the DNA testing in May 2006, knowing that information but failing to release it to defense attorneys, they said in their motion.

He did provide the information to the defense in October in the form of nearly 2,000 pages of raw DNA test data that it took one of the attorneys days to decipher.

If convicted, the disbarred former district attorney could have to pay a $500 fine and spend up to 30 days in jail.

During a preliminary hearing on the matter last month, Nifong admitted publicly for the first time that nothing criminal happened at the March 13-14 party. (Watch Nifong's apology, or read the statement.)
"I agree with the attorney general's statement that there is no credible evidence that Mr. (Reade) Seligmann, Mr. (Collin) Finnerty and Mr. (David) Evans committed any crimes for which they were indicted – or any other crimes against Ms. (Crystal) Mangum – during the party," Nifong said.

"I have admitted on more than one occasion that I have made mistakes in the prosecution of these cases. For that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Seligmann, Mr. Finnerty, Mr. Evans and to their families," he added.

Defense attorneys for the players also withdrew their motion for criminal sanctions, but said Nifong's apology was not negotiated in exchange for the sanctions being dropped.


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  • SaveEnergyMan Aug 30, 2007

    Let me see, he didn't intentionally lie... Hmm, I guess it depends on what your definition of is "is". Give me a break.

    Dumb criminals end up in jail, while smart criminals become lawyers and politicians. Sometimes a few get through the cracks and give the media something to do. Let's give this story the funeral it deserves and move on.

  • ORMA Aug 30, 2007

    First of all, I think we are all getting tired of hearing about Nifong. Secondly, the ma lied plain and simple. He was looking to get reelected and wanted to shore up support from the black community. He did that at the expense of the accused men and his own morals and ethics (if a lawyer can have such things) as well as his career.

  • Doodlebug Aug 30, 2007

    He purposely and willfully withheld evidence and that was indeed
    proven through testimony. How does he even have the audacity to say that his actions were a "mistake"????

  • Daingean Aug 30, 2007

    Didn't intentionally lie...yeah, and he tried to end prosecution when he knew there was no case. Lying scumbag. Put him away and devastate his life worse that he has devastated the lives of the Duke Lacrosse players' and their families.

  • oneday8035 Aug 30, 2007

    We should have one more trial coming...Crystal Mangum. We won't because even the AG's office is scared of her.

  • weasleyes Aug 30, 2007

    "I agree though, for what he did and the heartaches he caused, it is not much, but they are going by the legal guidelines."
    illegals--GO HOME

    Thanks for the info, but these "guidelines" need to be changed, since they favor prosecutors; e.g., the supposedly "legal" side. Other than child abuse, I cannot think of a worse crime than someone who sends an innocent person to prison. Yet, the "justice" system does this frequently in NC, so that aspiring DA's can get a record of "convictions" for political reasons. The minimum penalty for a wrongful conviction should be 10 years. That would stop this mess! No one is perfect, but anyone who has the power to take away another person's freedom should have to be 99.99%!

  • jetmech Aug 30, 2007

    Are the news people in this area gonna keep trying to get blood from this turnip. I personally am sick of this story. Go find something new to run into the ground. If we go another day without hearing the words "Nifong" or "Duke lacrosse", I'm quite positive the world will continue to turn.
    Seriously this should be page 8 news by now, lets move on.

  • Nancy Aug 30, 2007

    Nifong pleads not guilty LOL!

  • Nancy Aug 30, 2007

    I see the Finnerty's are in attendance today, along with both the special prosecutors of his bar trial...this could be very interesting if the bar trial prosecutors are called to the witness stand. They were the ones who deposed him....they have special insight into his 'oddities' and convoluted narcissistic ways.

  • pomodoroz Aug 30, 2007

    I think this might have been the only non-traffic case he ever worked, and if that is the case, then there is not a large number of old convictions that need to be overturned. But it bears looking into - he is clearly not a man of good character, based on the facts of this case, his disbarment and now, possible conviction. He was way out of his depth.