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January 24, 2007
Nifong Faces More Serious Charges

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong may have lawyered up just in time. The North Carolina State Bar amended its complaint against Nifong today to include more serious charges than in their original action, including claims of material misrepresentation to the judge and the willful withholding of exculpatory evidence:

The North Carolina Bar filed an amended complaint today, accusing Nifong of withholding DNA evidence from the defense and making misrepresentations to the presiding judge in the case.

The bar has accused Nifong of conduct that involves "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." Nifong also allegedly violated a rule that "prohibits an attorney from knowingly making false statements of material fact."

Previously, Nifong had been charged with making inappropriate and potentially prejudicial comments about the sexual assault case against Duke lacrosse players. Nifong's comments were made in a series of public interviews early in the case.

These new charges put the NCSB action in an entirely new class. If he had been found guilty of the original complaints, he could easily have escaped with a scolding, or perhaps a short sanction. In fact, many people believed that the NCSB filed its complaint quickly so that it could contain the damage to the association by only addressing the initial complaints.

That strategy clearly did not work, as the outcry only intensified over the past few weeks since the head of the DNA lab revealed Nifong's machinations to keep the defense from learning that the suspects had been excluded by the testing. The NCSB served notice today that it will take all of Nifong's unethical behavior into consideration. In fact, the Bar complaint sounds like an indictment for obstruction of justice -- a charge that the US Attorney in the area should investigate as well. If found guilty of these charges, it's difficult to see how Nifong could possibly hope to keep his license to practice law, which should result in his removal from the office he won on the backs of the three defendants in this case.

The actual sexual assault case has been transferred to the state Attorney General, on Nifong's request. The AG should move expeditiously to have the charges dropped and the arrests expunged. How can anyone go to a jury with these complaints about the initial investigation and prosecution on the record, even apart from the exculpatory DNA evidence and the ever-changing story of the accuser? It's time for North Carolina to see that justice is done, rather than wait for a judge to tell them what they already know: they have no case.

Unrelated personal note: I'm blogging later than usual because we had a plumbing problem here at the house. I'm waiting for the plumber to arrive and taking advantage of the time. It's hard to shower during a Minnesota winter without having any hot water, as I discovered the hard way this morning!

UPDATE: It's the North Carolina State Bar, not the NC Bar Association, two different groups. Thanks to my good friend Xrlq in the comments with the correction.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 24, 2007 8:34 AM

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» Duke Rape Case: Unnatural Selection on Both Sides? from La Shawn Barber's Corner
Soul-searching questions below the fold, so keep reading… (Update: If it wasn’t clear before, it should be clear now: Mike Nifong, disgraced Durham County district attorney, is in serious trouble. Also, in addition to James Waller [pictu... [Read More]

Tracked on January 24, 2007 5:15 PM


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