Local News

Judge Will Deny Resident's Call for Nifong's Removal

Posted April 23, 2007 4:55 p.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2007 7:24 p.m. EDT

— For the second time in two months, a local resident has filed court papers seeking the removal of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong from office.

But a judge overseeing the case said he would again deny the motion.

Elizabeth Brewer filed a civil complaint against Nifong in February, alleging willful misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the office into disrepute. The charges stemmed from his handling of the investigation of sexual assault allegations against members of the Duke University lacrosse team.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson delayed any action on the complaint until an ethics case filed by the North Carolina State Bar against Nifong for his handling of the Duke lacrosse case is completed.

Hudson told WRAL on Monday he would deny Brewer's motion again, because ruling on it would deny Nifong's right to due process before the State Bar.

Brewer filed a motion Monday to bolster her earlier complaint. The recent dismissal of all charges against the lacrosse players by Attorney General Roy Cooper and the State bar's denial of Nifong's effort to dismiss some of the charges against him support Brewer's allegations of misconduct, the motion states.

"By his own misconduct, Mr. Nifong's continuing in office as district attorney is an absolute impediment to the existence of a trustworthy criminal justice system in Durham County," the motion states.

The State Bar has alleged Nifong withheld exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys representing the lacrosse players and violated professional conduct rules by making misleading and inflammatory comments about the defendants.

Brewer's motion contends there is no reason to wait for the State Bar disciplinary hearing in the case, noting it has "a different purpose than judging whether Mr. Nifong should be removed from office."

"Mr. Nifong should be suspended immediately," the motion states. "This will permit him to concentrate on his own defense while permitting the citizens of Durham County to have a restored faith in their criminal justice system."

Equating Nifong with a "rogue prosecutor" who misused his authority, Cooper recently dropped kidnapping and sexual assault charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans. Crystal Mangum had accused the three of attacking her at a March 2006 team party, where she was performing as a stripper.

Nifong stepped away from the case in January, saying the pending ethics complaints presented a conflict of interest for him.