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Justice Department Says It Will Not Investigate Nifong

Posted December 5, 2007
Updated December 6, 2007

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— The U.S. Department of Justice will not investigate former Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong for his handling of the case, a spokesman for the agency said Wednesday.

That decision also jeopardizes a possible investigation at the state level, according to Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.

Talley said state prosecutors don't have the same tools available to federal investigators, such as the ability to indict someone on charges of lying to investigators.

"It would be difficult to conduct additional investigation into this matter without federal participation," she said. "Our attorneys and the SBI will discuss the impact of this refusal."

Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said the agency carefully considered the case but decided it was an issue better resolved inside the state.

"We believe the State of North Carolina has the primary interests in this matter: protecting the integrity of its judicial proceedings, holding Mr. Nifong accountable for his actions as an officer of its courts, and vindicating the principles of justice under state law," Carr said in a statement.

He would not comment on the specifics of the state investigation or the tools available to state prosecutors.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, first asked the Justice Department last December to review the case, calling Nifong’s conduct an “illegal abuse of authority” that “cries out for federal oversight.”

But the Justice Department declined to intervene, saying it was more appropriate to allow the case to play out. It also said it would be “premature to initiate a federal investigation" because the case was still active at the time.

Federal attorneys also noted that Nifong already faced ethics charges from the North Carolina State Bar.

Earlier this year, Jim Hardin, who stepped in as an interim Durham district attorney after Nifong resigned from the office, requested that the State Bureau of Investigation determine whether any person involved in the case should be prosecuted.

Jim Cooney, attorney for one of the players during the criminal case, said the Justice Department's decision is "not an exoneration of anyone and it's certainly not a clean bill of health. All they're saying is they are not going to pursue criminal violations of civil rights law. If state crimes were committed or other federal crimes were committed, I'm sure those could still be investigated."

Nifong pursued charges in the spring of 2006 against three Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of raping an exotic dancer during an off-campus party. State prosecutors who took over the case called the players innocent, and Nifong later resigned his seat and was disbarred.

He also spent a night in jail after a judge held him criminal contempt of court for his conduct during the case. His attorney did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

In October, the three lacrosse players filed a federal lawsuit against Nifong, the City of Durham, several police officials and others.


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  • goutytoe Dec 7, 2007

    And since you are demanding responses, how about you give some - what is a "scared Cow", as you put it? And you never explained what "MONGULS" means. Please try again in English, the language of my family.

  • humbleblaklady Dec 7, 2007

    By the way, goutytoe, how do you equate citing historic FACTS to being a racist? What is your definition of "a racist?" and "racism"?

  • humbleblaklady Dec 7, 2007

    goutytoe, brother, don't "throw up in your mouth"; the TRUTH should NEVER cause such a reaction. You are still my brother and so is Nifong (our brother) (human) and I love you for it. Take care. Lose all the "hate" and hostility. LOVE will make your mouth sweet and normal. Nifong did wrong and GOD will punish him (and the Duke Lacrosse players too; IF THEY DID WRONG).

  • 68_polara Dec 7, 2007

    Justice is not one sided in this country in fact it can't be further from it these days. I do agree with you about one thing though, We MUST all love each other. That is an absolute truth and a commandment from Jesus. It's good to know we have at least some common ground.

  • humbleblaklady Dec 6, 2007

    We MUST all love each other. The Bible teaches us that (along with telling and admitting the truth). So try being a true Christian. The truth often hurts--but it is the truth, the light and your salvation and entrance into Heaven. Or don't you believe in that stuff?

  • humbleblaklady Dec 6, 2007

    goutytoe, brother--I stand to be corrected. He was in fact appointed then "elected". See how easy it is to admit a mistake and admit the TRUTH? Now you MUST admit that contrary to YOUR FACT--He was "prosecuted" , convicted and spent a day in jail. So there! "CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH"? By the way, the cases I cited may be historical (one day passing makes it history)--but are they correct? Or does RACE get in the way of you admitting how racist this society is and how ONE-SIDED justice is in this country? Come on brother, God wants all his children to get along. Especially in a Christian nation.

  • goutytoe Dec 6, 2007

    The lacrosse players have just begun to fight - their reputations have been smeared all across this nation, as you so astutely point out, due to their financial status and race. I look forward to Durham losing 30 million dollars to them.

  • DukeMoney Dec 6, 2007

    Disbarred, removed from office, put in jail, sued in federal court by the baddest plaintiffs' lawyers an angry daddy can find....if a horse steps on one of our boys, we won't stop beating it no matter how dead it is! With a few calls to the right people in Washington, this decision will be reversed and we can beat that horse some more.

  • humbleblaklady Dec 6, 2007

    You guys are the ones with an unyielding "hatred" for Nifong that serves to blind you to the facts and we all know that "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!" So seriously, try to inject some sense, reasoning and truth in your arguments or opinions once in a while. It may even prove therapeutic. Then again, some people can't recognize the truth. Take care and lots of love to you my brothers.

  • 68_polara Dec 6, 2007

    ouch... :-)