Local News

Sources: Nifong Wants to Resign, Effective Monday

Posted June 27, 2007 7:02 p.m. EDT
Updated June 28, 2007 9:30 a.m. EDT

— Sources tell WRAL that suspended Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong wants to resign, effective next Monday.

Details about his request are expected to be revealed during a Thursday morning hearing at the Durham County Courthouse. It will be up to a judge to decide whether to agree to Nifong's request.

Sources also tell WRAL that Nifong is out of town and is not expected to attend the hearing.

On Monday, deputies tried to serve a notice for the hearing, in response to a civil complaint, but had to leave it at Nifong's door.

"Mr. Nifong's wife informed one of my officers earlier in the day that Mike had taken his guitar and left, and she didn't have any idea when he'd return," Capt. Bill Wrenn with the Durham County Sheriff's Office said.

Neighbors told WRAL they have not seen Nifong, nor has the special prosecutor preparing for Thursday's hearing.

"I have not spoken with him," Robert Zaytoun said. "I would have liked to have spoken with him, but I haven't yet."

Durham resident Elizabeth Brewer filed the petition in February alleging willful misconduct in connection with his prosecution of three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of raping an exotic dancer.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson stayed actions on the request pending Nifong's North Carolina State Bar ethics hearing.

Nifong was disbarred June 16 after a disciplinary committee determined he violated several rules of professional conduct.

Under State Bar rules, however, the disbarment isn't effective until the organization issues an official order.

Concerned about potential problems with open cases, Hudson then suspended Nifong last Tuesday after he announced his intent to resign from elected office on July 13.

Hudson has said he does not expect Nifong to show for Thursday's hearing but that it would proceed without him.

Zaytoun said Nifong can avoid the hearing if he submits his immediate resignation by 9:30 a.m. Thursday, when the hearing is scheduled to begin.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Mike Easley replaced Nifong with his predecessor, Jim Hardin, who will serve until Easley appoints a permanent replacement. Hardin said he would evaluate the district attorney's office, its staff and procedure but that his main goal was to restore integrity.

"We're going to learn from this and move forward in representing the people of Durham County in an ethical and legal way in everything we do," he said.

A separate request filed by the three falsely accused lacrosse players -- David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- is expected to be heard by Durham Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III, although no date has been set for that hearing.

The players, who were declared innocent earlier this year by state Attorney General Roy Cooper, asked Smith to hold Nifong in criminal contempt of court.