Local News

NAACP Applauds Cooper Promise in Duke Lacrosse Case

Posted January 18, 2007 10:39 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2007 7:55 a.m. EST

— The president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP on Thursday reiterated his call for a fair and thorough investigation in the Duke lacrosse case and for the case to play out in court.
All the Rev. Dr. William Barber wants, he said, is the truth.

"What heals the public is when people have a clear perception that everything was done fairly, meticulously, thoroughly and without favoritism either way," Barber said.

Barber called on attorneys to refrain from leaking information about the case to the media, citing it could contaminate a potential jury pool and heighten community emotions.

Instead, he urged them to let the court system handle the case.

Thursday's news conference was the first time the North Carolina Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has commented on the case since Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong removed himself as prosecutor last week.

Barber, however, would not comment on Nifong's decision but applauded Attorney General Roy Cooper's decision to have his office take over the case.

"We applaud the statement of the attorney general, where he said his prosecutors would put on blinders and would follow the facts and go wherever the facts lead," Barber said.

The attorney general's office is poring over thousands of pages of files. Cooper, during a news conference on Saturday, promised a complete new look at everything.
Barber said he is holding the attorney general to his word.

“We expect no less in this case, despite the high level of controversy and the notoriety which have attached to this case,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the North Carolina State Bar met behind closed doors. It is considering an ethics complaint filed against Nifong, but members would not confirm or deny reports that they may be looking into new charges against him.

Earlier this week, a congressman from New York called for a federal civil rights investigation into Nifong’s handling of the case, a step first requested by North Carolina’s Rep. Walter Jones.

The lacrosse case stems from an off-campus team party last March, when an exotic dancer hired for the party claimed that players raped and sexually assaulted her. Rape charges against three players were dropped last month after Nifong’s office determined that the accuser could not testify to details necessary to prove rape. Kidnapping and sexual assault indictments remain.