Local News

Attorneys respond to Nifong's bankruptcy appeal

Posted September 15, 2008 2:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2008 4:01 p.m. EDT

— Attorneys for three former Duke University lacrosse players arrested and charged on false accusations of rape want the federal district court to side with a bankruptcy judge's decision that a civil rights lawsuit against Mike Nifong be able to move ahead.

The former Durham district attorney filed for bankruptcy earlier this year in response to David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann's claims that he, the city of Durham and others conspired to keep a weak case alive as Nifong faced election.

The bankruptcy filing meant Nifong was temporarily protected from litigation. Judge William L. Stocks ruled in May, however, the lawsuit could proceed.

Nifong filed for an appeal in June.

"Nifong admits that his bankruptcy filing was not an attempt to work out debts with creditors but a tactic to short-circuit the District Court action and obtain a discharge that would free him to avoid responsibility for his alleged wrongdoing," a motion filed on Monday in U.S. District Court states.

In his January 15 bankruptcy filing, Nifong listed a debt of $180.3 million, listing the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann as unsecured creditors, each owed $30 million.

Nifong won indictments against the three players in Spring 2006 following exotic dancer Crystal Mangum's accusations that she was raped and sexually assaulted at a lacrosse party in March 2006.

Amid ethics charges and growing criticism of his handling of the case, Nifong asked the state attorney general's office in January 2007 to appoint a special prosecutor to the case.

Three months later, Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed all charges against the players and declared them innocent victims of a prosecutor's rush to accuse.

The North Carolina State Bar later stripped Nifong of his law license, and he spent a night in jail for lying to a Superior Court judge.