Local News

Congressman Renews Request for Federal Nifong Probe

Posted June 21, 2007 3:27 a.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2007 3:33 a.m. EDT

— A U.S. congressman from North Carolina has renewed his call for a federal investigation into disbarred District Attorney Mike Nifong and the way he handled the Duke lacrosse case.

In a letter Wednesday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 3rd District Rep. Walter B. Jones, called Nifong’s conduct an “illegal abuse of authority” and said it “cries out for federal oversight.”

Jones, a Republican, initially requested the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case in December.

But the Justice Department declined to intervene, saying it was more appropriate to allow the case to play out and that 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.

“Now that the North Carolina State Bar has concluded its review of Mr. Nifong’s activities and determined that (he) engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation, the Justice Department has no reason not to investigate the substantial legal evidence suggesting Mr. Nifong violated these young men's civil rights, permanently damaging their reputations,” Jones wrote. “I strongly encourage you to take action in this case.”

All charges against the three players -- David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- were dismissed in April when North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said there was no credible evidence to show they assaulted Crystal Mangum, an exotic dancer, at a lacrosse team party in March 2006.

Last week, a disciplinary committee for the North Carolina State Bar disbarred Nifong after finding he violated a number of ethics rules, which included making prejudicial statements to the media about the case, withholding potentially exculpatory evidence and making false statements to the court.

Nifong, who announced his intent to resign July 13, has since been suspended and could face criminal sanctions and civil lawsuits from the former defendants.