Charges add up for DA in Duke case
Compiled from Times wires
The state Bar accuses Mike Nifong of withholding evidence and lying to officials.
Published January 25, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. - The state Bar lodged new and more serious ethics charges Wednesday against the district attorney in the Duke lacrosse case, accusing him of withholding evidence from the defense and lying to both to the court and Bar investigators.
Mike Nifong - who withdrew from the case earlier this month - could be disbarred if convicted by a disciplinary board.
The Bar previously charged Nifong with making misleading and prejudicial comments about the athletes under suspicion.
The new charges are tied to Nifong's decision to use a private lab for DNA testing as his office investigated allegations that three men raped a 28-year-old stripper at a team party last March. Those tests uncovered genetic material from several men on the woman's underwear and body, but none from any lacrosse player.
The complaint said Nifong "did not make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to him that tended to negate the guilt of the accused," in violation of the state's conduct rules for lawyers.
The complaint also alleges that Nifong made "misrepresentations and false statements" to the court and defense attorneys about the undisclosed evidence.
"If these allegations are true and if they don't justify disbarment, then I'm not sure what does," said Joseph Kennedy, a law professor at the University of North Carolina. "It's hard for me to imagine a more serious set of allegations against a prosecutor."
The new charges "have significantly increased the chances for a serious sanction, possibly including suspension or disbarment," said Thomas Metzloff, a Duke law professor and member of the Bar's ethics committee, which is not involved in prosecuting the case against Nifong.
Nifong declined to comment Wednesday. His attorney, David Freedman, said, "I'd say any time any charges are filed with the state Bar, they're all serious, and we want to make sure we handle them all properly."
Nifong asked the North Carolina Attorney General's Office earlier this month to take over the lacrosse case. He dropped rape charges against Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann in December after the accuser changed a key detail in her account, but the players are still charged with sexual offense and kidnapping.
Information from the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times was used in this report.
[Last modified January 25, 2007, 01:40:04]
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