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Judge Cites Bankruptcy, Removes Nifong From Duke Lacrosse Lawsuit

Posted January 29, 2008

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— A federal judge has removed former Durham County prosecutor Mike Nifong from a civil lawsuit filed by three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape.

The disgraced district attorney filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago, citing more than $180 million in liabilities. Almost all of that amount is the estimated damages from pending civil litigation.

U.S. District Court Judge James Beaty left open the possibility that Nifong could again become a defendant in the civil suit, saying in Monday's filing that could happen within 90 days of the end of his bankruptcy case.

Nifong won indictments against the three players after a stripper hired to perform at a March 2006 team party reported being raped, but the case unraveled in the face of the accuser's constantly changing story and a lack of evidence.

The state prosecutors who eventually took over the case dropped all charges and declared the players innocent victims of Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse." He was later disbarred for his handling of the case and spent a night in jail for lying to a judge.

Attorneys for players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans later filed their lawsuit against Nifong, the City of Durham, police investigators and others. The suit accuses them of conducting "one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history."

Nifong's bankruptcy filing lists liabilities of $90 million – $30 million for each of the cleared players as potential damages in their lawsuit. The paperwork also said Nifong could potentially face $90 million in liabilities in a second lawsuit, $30 million each for three unindicted players who allege emotional distress in their suit. His bankruptcy court petition also lists about $300,000 in other debts.

Nifong will be back in court on Feb. 8 to answer questions from creditors in the bankruptcy case. That process could take as long as a year.

16 Comments

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  • Cricket at the lake Jan 30, 2008

    And the attorney general stepped in a year later and cleaned up the whole mess up. Why didn't he react sooner?
    How democrats can be reelected in NC in November after this fiasco and the Black mess is beyond me.

  • wakecountyvoter Jan 30, 2008

    I have no problem with the City of Durham and everyone else named in the law suite, paying as much money as a jury will allow. The whole problem is that no one stood up and took responsibility for their actions. When the City of Durham was trying to investigate, the lawyer of their insurance company made them stop because of the potential damages. The only way for the people to actually know how this fiasco happened is to go to court and have everyone testify. Hopefully this court case will clean up the police and city officials of Durham. Obviously the voters won’t or can’t. So maybe the people from New York, New Jersey, and Maryland will. Anyone heard a peep from Chrystal? Maybe she is committed somewhere getting the help she needs.

  • tarheelalum Jan 30, 2008

    Is Mangum named in the suit?

  • nghtstarz2 Jan 30, 2008

    I don't know about greed but bitterness I can understand. If I was in their situation, it would gall me that nothing has been done to Crystal Mangum. She had received none of the exposure the players or Nifong did. Nifong filing bankruptcy should not stop them from filing suit against him. He perpetuated Crystal Mangum's story. It was spite, greed, racism, envy and pure hatefulness that started this whole thing. I still believe that people have forgotten to hold others socially responsible. What has happened to the importance of a person's name, their mother and father's pride, and the quest for a better, and honest, life for their children?

  • miketroll3572 Jan 30, 2008

    Anybody noticed that NOW they call her a stripper, it used to be "exotic dancer". She ought to be in jail till the walls crumble, and then some.

  • whew Jan 30, 2008

    the more i think about this the more angry i get. there is no way he should be able to hide from his legal wrongdoings behind bankruptsy laws. we all know he would never earn $180 million but he should have to pay whatever he can or go to jail like the rest of us who try to make ends meet

  • SilverWolf Jan 30, 2008

    What, a government official is being excused from paying for his actions because he can't afford it? What about the rest of us who are losing our homes and cars? Sorry Mr. IRS but I can't afford to pay my taxes this year, perhaps a judge will remove my name from the tax roles because I can't afford to pay? NOT!!! The bill for this outrage should hang over Nyfong's head till the day he dies + 10 years.

  • whew Jan 30, 2008

    so, if Nifong is now not being named in the suit and the suit was the reason he was filling bankruptcy, his patition for bankruptcy should be denied....then he could be sued again, then removed, then denied, then sued...oh my

  • Bartmansan Jan 30, 2008

    Mangum & Liefong both need to be "Tarred & Feathered" in the public square..... and folks, remember all the judges names, the ones that are so supportive of Mangum & Nyfong, so that we can vote them "OUT OF OFFICE" the next time they are up for re-election!

  • nanny Jan 30, 2008

    Wow-such a mess for all involved. The accuser should definitely
    have to pay restitution to all-don't seem to hear much about her.

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