RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley could appoint a new top prosecutor for Durham County as early as the end of this week, he said Wednesday.
"We're very close to making that announcement,” he said, suggesting that the new district attorney could come from within the prosecutor’s office.
“I want to send a signal, if I can, that there are good people in that office over there (in Durham) and that the inappropriate conduct of one person does not taint the rest of the office,” Easley said. “There's some good hardworking people over there.”
Following Mike Nifong’s disbarment for his handling of the discredited Duke lacrosse case and suspension as district attorney in June, the governor appointed Nifong’s predecessor, Jim Hardin, until he could appoint someone to serve out the term, which ends in 2008.
Hardin resigned as district attorney in April 2005 to take a Superior Court judgeship, but temporarily stepped down from that position at Easley’s request to review the office, its personnel and its practices.
Hardin said last month he was pleased with what he has seen since reviewing policies and cases in which Nifong was involved. The biggest obstacle, he said, was the public’s perception of the office.
As with his decision to appoint Nifong, Easley said this time it would likely be based on Hardin’s recommendation of people he thinks would be “very good” in the district attorney role.
“Jim Hardin wants to get back on the bench. He has made a great sacrifice for us, to come back and do this – restore integrity and credibility there,” Easley said. “So, I'm going to be very tempted to follow his recommendation on this appointment.”
Hardin has said he suggested Nifong in 2005 based on the seasoned prosecutor’s experience and reputation.
"Looking at it from that perspective, it was the right thing," Hardin said last month. "But, if I had to do it over again, I might've done things differently."