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Duke case DA asks for stand-in

Published January 13, 2007


RALEIGH, N.C. - Facing ethics charges that could lead to his disbarment, the embattled district attorney in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case has asked the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the case.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said Friday that District Attorney Mike Nifong sent a letter requesting the special prosecutor.

Nifong's attorney insisted the veteran prosecutor was not running from a weak case and said Nifong was disappointed he would not take it to trial.

"He feels, as a result of the accusations against him, that he would be a distraction, and he wants to make sure the accuser receives a fair trial," attorney David Freedman said. "He still believes in the case. He just believes his continued presence would hurt her."

Attorney General Roy Cooper's office declined to comment. Officials planned to speak with reporters today.

Last month, the North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with violating four rules of conduct for making comments about the athletes under suspicion. The ethics charges carry penalties ranging from admonishment to removal from the bar.

It was not immediately clear what impact Nifong's decision would have on the troubled prosecution of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.

"I think we're all delighted that we're going to have objective and competent prosecutors reviewing this case," said James P. Cooney III, an attorney for Seligmann.

[Last modified January 13, 2007, 01:04:43]

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