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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nifong Nailed — Bar Hearing Day 5 — June 16, 2007

Updated — today's items:

Nifong Nailed -- Ethics Panel Votes to Disbar

Nifong is guilty of ethics violations. He accepts disbarment and waives the right to appeal.

Drudge: DISBARREDAaron Beard, AP/Breitbart.com:
N.C. Panel Disbars Duke Prosecutor -- A disciplinary committee said Saturday disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong will be disbarred for his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape—a punishment the veteran prosecutor admitted was appropriate.

"This matter has been a fiasco. There's no doubt about it," said committee chairman F. Lane Williamson.

Nifong sat motionless, one hand resting over his mouth, as Williamson recounted how he engaged in dishonest and deceitful conduct. The veteran prosecutor would not appeal the punishment, his lawyer said.

"He hopes this helps restore some of the confidence in the criminal justice system of North Carolina," said attorney David Freedman...
Lara Setrakian & Chris Francescani, ABC News:
Duke DA Ordered Disbarred Over Ethical Lapses -- Guilty Of Numerous Ethics Violations, Prosecutor Nifong Says Punishment 'Appropriate' -- County District Attorney Mike Nifong has been found guilty by the North Carolina State Bar for a battery of ethics violations in the Duke Lacrosse case, and ordered disbarred.

"We are in unanimous agreement that there is no discipline short of disbarment that would be appropiate in this case," said F. Lane Williamson, the committee's chairman.

Before the disbarment decision, Nifong said he believed disbarment would be an appropriate punishment and that he planned to waive all rights to appeal the findings of the bar panel, his attorney David Freedman said in court Saturday afternoon.

"He hopes that in light of his accepting his punishing it will restore some of the confidence in the criminal justice system," Freedman said. "You have some semblance of relief when this is all over, regardless of the outcome." ...
Aaron Beard, AP/ABC News:
Duke Prosecutor: He Should Be Disbarred -- District Attorney Mike Nifong believes he should be disbarred following a disciplinary committee ruling Saturday that said he broke numerous rules of professional conduct during his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, his attorney said...
Nifong broke ethics rulesAaron Beard, AP/USA Today:
Disciplinary panel: Nifong broke rules -- Mike Nifong broke several rules of professional conduct during his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, a disciplinary committee ruled Saturday.

The committee must now decide if the longtime prosecutor in Durham County, who has already pledged to resign his post as district attorney, should be stripped of his law license.

The North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with breaking several rules of professional conduct, including lying to both the court and bar investigators and withholding critical DNA test results from the players' defense attorneys...
Duff Wilson, NY Times:
Prosecutor in Duke Rape Case Found Guilty of Ethics Breaches -- A disciplinary hearing panel found Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney, guilty today of ethical violations arising from his pretrial statements and handling of DNA evidence while pressing a false accusation of sexual assault against three former Duke University lacrosse players.
Six of the charges involved “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” the most serious of the accusations against Mr. Nifong.

The three-member panel now enters a penalty phase in the five-day ethics trial, which could result in Mr. Nifong’s suspension or disbarment later today...
LieStoppers: Defendant Nifong Guilty! -- The Disciplinary Hearing Committee of the North Carolina State Bar has unanimously found Defendant Mike Nifong guilty on twenty-seven of the thirty-two charges brought against him...

WRAL: Disciplinary Committee Disbars Mike Nifong
Joe Neff & Mandy Locke, News & Observer: Nifong surrenders law license
F. Lane Williamson, Disciplinary Hearing Committee chairman reads verdict as Nifong listensF. Lane Williamson reads Phase 1 verdict as Nifong listens
Discussion of verdict:
LS forum: Day of Reckoning, The day of the verdict...
LS forum: Date of Federal Indictment?

KC Johnson: Findings - see comments
FreeRepublic: Nifong Court Findings Being Read Now!!!

TalkLeft: Nifong Agrees to Disbarment
TalkLeft: Nifong Trial Day Five: Closing Arguments and Verdict

Tony Soprano/LieStoppers, YouTube: A Sincere Tribute to Mike Nifong
: Defendant Nifong Disbarred
Ann Althouse:
"He said he still believed that 'something happened' in the bathroom..."My Apology to Mike Nifong -- Which brings me to why I have sympathy for and am apologizing to Mike Nifong. The reason he is being publicly pummeled, and in my mind the reason why he was before the North Carolina ethics board, is because he did as civil rights organizations and feminist organizations have asked white men to do since I became interested in such politics: Disregard the low-mindedness of the media which promotes the idea that status and class and race have something to do with innocence and guilt, protect women from being raped and promote their coming forward by taking them seriously even when the only witnesses are them and the alleged broomstickers...
Doug Haas, Cowboy blogs:
Law School: Happy Trails, Mike Nifong -- some people start apologizing for him... Are you kidding me?...
Alan Childress, Legal Profession blog:
Bar Panel Recommends Nifong Be Disbarred -- In the abstract and as the world perhaps should be, it seems the right punishment for the admitted and obviously proven offenses. On the other hand, there is some history in bar discipline across the nation that would suggest that similar prosecutorial misconduct goes less punished, generally...

Wretchard, The Belmont Club:
As charged -- One commenter on KC Johnson's site said that the former DA's greatest mistake was to pick on people who had the educational and monetary resources to fight back. Maybe that's the backup system.

AllahPundit, HotAir.com: ...Disbarred -- It took ‘em awhile. But it was worth it.
Done With Mirrors blog: Hollow Justice
CrystalMess: Dooooo it! [endgame photo essay]
ScaredMonkeys.com: ...Disbarred

Michael Seitzman, Huffington Post: Hey assbag, NIFONG-OOL! -- As for Mike Nifong, what he did to those kids was sinful. What he did to their accuser was shameful. What he did to us is criminal. And what he did to himself has turned out to be justice. [comment: What happened to "Thou shalt not bear false witness?"]

Nifong answering questions Friday, June 15thAaron Beard, AP/ABC News:
Deliberations Under Way in Nifong Case -- Mike Nifong made "multiple, egregious mistakes" as he pursued charges against three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape, but not intentionally, his attorney said Saturday in closing statements at the prosecutor's ethics trial.
"It didn't click," Nifong's attorney, Dudley Witt, said as he tried to explain one of his client's errors. "His mind is just his mind. That's the way it works. It just didn't click."
The state bar prosecutor, however, said in his closing that Nifong was a "minister of injustice" who wove "a web of deception." ...

"How can you possibly explain that away?" disciplinary committee chairman F. Lane Williamson asked about the withheld rest results as he repeatedly interrupted Witt...
KC Johnson, DIW:
Live blogging from hearing --
Findings [5:08 pm] -- [see comments] "This matter has been a fiasco"--starting with the defendants, moving out from there to the justice system in general.

Have to ask yourself: Why did Nifong do what he did? "It seems that, at the root of it, was self-deception arising out of self-interest." ...

Deception perpetrated upon the public--many people were made to look like fools by Nifong. 180-degree turn--"those who made a rush to judgment based upon an unquestioning faith upon what a prosecutor told them were made to look foolish. And many still do look foolish."

Nifong Accepts Disbarment [4:24 pm] -- [see comments] David Freedman, Mike Nifong's attorney, has just announced that Nifong has accepted that disbarment is an "appropriate" penalty, and has accepted both disbarment and waived the right to appeal.

MaryEllen Finnerty [3:21 pm] -- Devastating for their siblings. How to explain to Collin's younger sisters? "Everybody was overwhelmed with grief"--did everything they could to support their brother. "We were all living this nightmare." ...

David Evans [2:53 pm] --

Bar Character Witnesses--Jerry Parnell [2:42 pm] -- Jerry Parnell -- Specialist in legal malpractice defense and criminal white collar defense; former president of State Bar; currently a representative of NC to ABA councils.

Prosecutor invested with public trust; critical to protecting integrity of the system--obligation to govern impartially. Prosecutor not at liberty to strike "foul blows"--must guard against wrongful convictions.

Verdict [2:12 pm ] -- [see comments] -- Committee is unanimous on all issues on all the contested issues in the case... [15 Yes, 2 No, 2 split, on 19 issues]

Brocker Follow-up [12:30 pm] -- "Overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence" to indicate that Nifong's behavior was not a mistake--clear exactly what he was doing.

Freedman Closing [11:47 am] -- Freedman is much more effective than Witt, although DHC chairman Williamson seems unpersuaded...

Nifong: "Old-Fashioned Guy" [11:30 am] -- Witt is now arguing that Nifong was an "old-fashioned guy," this explains his approach...

Nifong Closing Statement [10:54 am] -- Dudley Witt is delivering the statement.

Brocker's closing was tightly worded and very well organized; Witt is more rambling... [This is one of the least effective closing arguments that I have ever encountered.]

Nifong Inconsistencies [10:39 am] -- [State Bar, Doug Brocker] Notes that Nifong offered many different stories to explain his DNA coverup.

Nifong, therefore, has no credibility on this issue. Wholly inconsistent to claim, as Nifong has done, that he never reviewed the May 12 report.

These were "intentionally false representations."

Nifong and DNA: Closing Statement [9:57 am] --

Nifong False Statements [9:37 am] --

Bar's Closing Statements, Continued [9:21 am] --

State Bar lawyer Doug Brocker makes closing argument to hearing commissionClosing Arguments: "Minister of Injustice" [8:48 am] -- State Bar, Doug Brocker is delivering the closing statement:

Nifong has the responsibility as the "minister of justice, not an advocate." Responsibility is to seek justice, not to convict. defendant has right to procedural justice, presented in court of law, not the media...

Nifong was a "minister of injustice." ...

Nifong's Selective Memory [8:40 am] --

Mike Nifong's "Flexible" Apology [7:46 am] --
Jon Ham, JohnLocke.org/Right Angles blog:
Blogging hearing proceedings --
Well, it’s finally over [5:38 pm] -- Hugs in the audience. Reade and Collin hug. Reade and Mrs. Finnerty hug. Collin shakes Brad Bannon’s hand and then hugs him. Collin speaks with Joe Cheshire. Jim Cooney is beaming. KC Johnson looks happy. David Evans, the dad, hugs Bannon. Dave Evans, the younger, smiles as he talks to Katherine Jean. Wade Smith gets a big hug from Collin. These are some happy people. Deservedly.

OK, They’re back, disbarment [5:07 pm] -- These four days show us “you can’t do justice in the media, you can’t do justice in soundbites.” Only determining the facts can be justice...

Mr. Nifong, it must be said, for whatever reason, it does appear to us to be out of self-interest and self-deception, not necessarilly out of an evil motive,” he lost sight of that and wandered off the path of justice, and it had to be put back on track by extraordinary means.

Well, it’s a KIND of fame [4:42 pm] -- Mike Nifong was on the front page of The New York Times and the Drudge Report today.

Reaction to Nifong’s move [4:39 pm]

Nifong says, “Disbar me” [4:22 pm] -- Panel has just come back in. Ready to proceed. Freedman addresses first.
Nifong has told Freedman that disbarment is the appropriate punishment in this case and he waives all right of appeal...
Williamson: Panel still has to decide if they think disbarment is the appropriate action. They will go deliberate and be back by 5:45 or later. In recess again.
OK, let’s get going [4:08 pm] --
No other evidence on Phase 2 [3:38 pm] --

Collin’s mom on the stand now [3:20 pm] --The day they were declared innocent: “It was an incredible moment for all of us. It was the answer to our prayers.” ...

David Evans on the stand, Dave’s father [2:53 pm] --Says Dave, Matt Zash and Dan Flannery did exactly what a prosecutor should want. Cooperated fully. Gave oral statements for 5-7 hours. “I can tell you that Dave’s written statement was the most detailed written statement” and they knew from the start what happened. Said his statement was a “carbon copy” of the findings of the Attorney General more than a year later.

Phase 2, punishment phase [2:42 pm] -- Jerry Parnell on the stand...Discussing effects of this case on the image of NC and the state’s justice system: Says that on the internet the only favorable comments he found about Nifong were on Nifong’s own Web site.

Unanimous conclusion [2:20 pm] -- Williamson: Panel has reached unanimous conclusion. There are 19 issues, some duplicative, some reflecting amendments. Yes signifies the issue has been proved. A no means there has been a failure to prove.
1. Extra-judicial statements– Yes
2. Should he have known these would be disseminated–Yes
3. Should he have known these would have likelihood of prejudicing a proceeding?–Yes
4. Did these statements have likelihood of heightening public condemnation–Yes
5. By making these statements to the media did he engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit?–No
Williamson give explanation. Said if they didn’t claim that for him saying they weren’t cooperating, hard to find that for his condom comments.
6.a,b and c: Did he by not providing complete DNA report fail to make timely disclosure?–Yes, yes, yes.
7.a,b and c:Did he fail to give full disclosure by memorializing meetings?–Yes. No.
8.a,b. Yes. Yes.
9.a.b. Yes. Yes.
10.a.b. By instructing Meehan to make a report of only positive matches violate rules?–Yes. No.
11.a.b. Did he make false representations to a tribunal?–Yes. Yes.
12.a.b. By telling opposing council he’d given them everything did he misrepresent?–Yes. Yes.
13.a.b. Yes. Yes.
14.a.b. Yes. Yes.
15.a.b. Yes. Yes.
16.a.b. Re statements to Grievance Committee. No. No.
17.a.b. Re statements to Grievance Committee. Yes. Yes.
18.a.b. Re statements to Grievance Committee. Yes. Yes.
Williamson: Notes the last three involving misrepresentation to the committee, we have some concerns that those charges not warranted because it’s rare people are charged with making false statements to the grievance committee and if they are charged with that it may have a chilling effect on people making full disclosures in the future. May be an instance of over-charging.
19.a. Yes.
Williamson: At conclusion of Phase 2 will provide reasoning for these findings.
Will reconvene no earlier than 2 [12:35 pm] -- Williamson: We’re going to another location to deliberate. Will be in recess until at least 2 p.m. and maybe longer if needed.

Brocker again [12:30 pm] -- His last point: It’s important to consider, when looking at intent, all the evidence. The circumstantial evidence is clear and cogent that this was not just a mistake. Asks that they find in the affirmative on all the charges.

Freedman’s closing comments [11:46 am] -- Says to keep in mind this was a case that was still in the discovery phase. Says he was going to argue that no one had gone to jail so what’s the big deal, but when he heard Seligmann’s testimony he realized how just being arrested and charged changes one’s life. [He didn’t understand that already? He’s a defense lawyer, fercryinoutloud!] ...

Williamson: We can only find out what’s in a person’s mind by circumstantial evidence. “And we have a lot of circumstantial evidence,” he says.

Dangerous cluelessness [11:41 am] --

Woman panelist questions Witt [ 11:37 am] -- [Sharon Alexander] She’s going through all of the opportunities had to provide the information. Says you can commit fraud by not speaking up...

Witt begins defense closing [10:54 am] -- This is not going well for Witt...

Now in a 5-minute break [10:42 am] -- When we return, [David] Freedman and [Dudley] Witt will do their closing.

Misrepresentations to the court [10:19 am] --

The DNA disclosures [9:57 am] --

Why did he take the case? [9:52 am] --

Mangum’s changing story [9:50 am] -- Brocker: Nifong also knew by March 27 of Mangum’s changing statements. Also knew about her psychological problems. He knew the players had said she was lying and also knew Kim Pittman had said it was all “a crock.” Also knew Mangum had said she wanted to go back into the house, which is inconsistent with the allegations. He also knew she had been unable to ID any attackers. Yet he maintained publicly that there was no doubt an assault took place.
And yet, at the March 27 meeting he knew there were problems, exemplified by his “We’re f—-d” comment.
The wall of silence [9:45 am]

The condom statements [9:38] --

Doug Brocker at the podium [9:10 am] --

OK, WRAL just cut in [9:06 am] --

Things are about to begin [8:56 am]
Forum discussion:
LS forum: Lisa Bloom on CTV attacks players
LS forum: Blog & Media Roundup, Saturday, June 16, 2007
TalkLeft: Nifong: Punishment Predictions?

Nifong walks into court with his wife, Cy Gurney, Sat. morning for his disciplinary hearingJoe Neff & Mandy Locke, News & Observer:
story/headline update 9:24 pm
Nifong surrenders law license --
Bar says Nifong violated ethics
story/headline update 3:35 pm
Bar expected to decide today on Nifong [+ audio clips] -- This morning, lawyers for the state bar laid out their case that Nifong intentionally lied to the court about DNA evidence favorable to the accused lacrosse players. State Bar lawyer Doug Brocker told the hearing commission that Nifong had engaged in acts of "systematic power and abuse."
"Mr. Nifong did not act as a minister of justice, but a minister of injustice," Brocker said.
Brocker accused Nifong of "weaving a web of deceit" from the day he began handling the case in March 2006 and through his testimony before the state bar on Friday. Brocker pressed Nifong Friday afternoon about his repeated assertions that he had made available all DNA evidence favorable to the accused players.
Brocker also recounted all of Nifong's media statements in the spring of 2006 and how it swung a hotly contested primary election Nifong needed to win to keep his job as a prosecutor. Nifong admitted Friday that he made mistakes. He insisted, however, he had told no lies. Nifong's attorneys were expected to make their closing statements in the case late this morning...
N&O: Video Gallery: Highlights from today and throughout the case

NY Post: pinhead prosecutor blubbered like a babypinhead prosecutor... blubbered like a baby
NY Post June 16th: TEARS OF VICTIM & D.A. ROGUETodd Venezia, NY Post:
TEARS OF VICTIM & D.A. ROGUE -- DUKE 'PERSECUTOR' SAYS HE'LL QUIT -- The pinheaded prosecutor who famously botched the Duke lacrosse rape case blubbered like a baby yesterday as he declared he would resign his post because he nearly destroyed the lives of three innocent young men.

"My community has suffered enough," DA Mike Nifong whimpered during testimony before the North Carolina Bar Association, which called a hearing to decide whether he should be disbarred...

Reade Seligmann testifying at bar hearingHis confession did little to move the families of the three players.

"It was an obvious cynical ploy to save his law license, and his apology to these people is far too little and comes far too late," defense lawyer Joseph Cheshire said.

Before Nifong fell on his sword, Duke lacrosse player Reade Seligmann of Essex Fells, N.J., choked back tears as he recalled the worst day of his life - the day he learned that he was being accused of rape...
"My dad just fell to the floor, and I just sat on the ground," he said. "I said, 'My life is over.' . . . The first thing I thought about was, 'How am I going to tell my mom.'
"We went from being viewed as athletes to being viewed as rapists." ...
Anne Blythe, Joseph Neff & Mandy Locke; News & Observer:
Nifong to resign, denies lying -- District attorney could lose his law license today over his handling of lacrosse case -- Nifong: "It is not fair for the people of my community to be represented by someone who is not held in high esteem by either the members of the community or members of the profession."
Gov. Mike Easley had not received anything from Nifong late Friday announcing his plans to resign. It would be up to Easley to appoint a district attorney to fill a vacant seat...

John in Carolina:
Nifong, “Alleged” & The N&O -- we read about DA Mike Nifong’s testimony at his State Bar trial for ethics violations and come to this subhead [on page 2]:
Didn't say 'alleged'
That's followed by:
And he said he was surprised that he never used the phrase "alleged victim" in his many public statements: "I can't believe I did that."

Yet, in his testimony Friday, Nifong never used the word "alleged" as he referred to Mangum as "the victim" at least eight times...
The N&O’s lead reporter for the story is Anne Blythe...

[Anne Blythe & Samiha Khanna] never retracted the March 25 story which is filled with falsehoods and from which the N&O deliberately withheld exculpatory news that may very well have spared the players and their families terrible ordeals, and spared our community the great damage done to it by the Duke Hoax.

LS forum: Don't Let the N&O Off the Hook
Defendant Nifong Follows Apology With Another Attack -- Throughout the trial, Defendant Nifong made clear the danger he continues to represent to the public by advantaging himself of the fantastic lies of false accuser Crystal Mangum, the ineptitude of Durham Police Investigator Benjamin Himan and SANE Nurse Tara Levicy, the servitude of henchman Linwood Wilson, and the complicity of DNA Security lab director Brian Meehan to justify his misdeeds. While defending his misconduct, Defendant Nifong has resurrected the shameful strategy of distortion, deception, racial manipulation, and innuendo that fueled the Hoax and buoyed him to an ill-gotten election victory while harming innocent people, dividing his community, and bringing disrepute not only to his office but also to the entire Criminal Justice system...
Editorial, News & Observer:
Nifong, chastened -- Mike Nifong properly concludes that he can't remain as Durham district attorney after the fiasco of the Duke lacrosse case -- Whether or not the state disciplinary body for lawyers suspends Mike Nifong's right to practice law or strips him of his license, the Durham district attorney now says he will step down from the office. That's appropriate, in light of what Nifong himself concedes were serious mistakes in his prosecution -- the unjustifiable prosecution -- of three Duke University lacrosse team members in last year's notorious case of alleged rape...

Nifong confronted reality in making those admissions, but it was also the proper thing to do, benefitting the Durham community as well as the Duke players and their families..
Editorial, Charlotte Observer:
Bye, bye, Mike Nifong -- Critics of Mike Nifong say his decision, announced Friday, to resign as Durham's district attorney is a self-serving ploy to save his law license. We agree.
It's far too convenient for Mr. Nifong to acknowledge now that he can't serve the people of Durham effectively. That admission comes as he faced stinging condemnation this week during an N.C. State Bar ethics hearing over his handling of rape charges against Duke University lacrosse players. The State Bar has accused him of unethical conduct for withholding evidence that could have exonerated the players. He could be disbarred.
In April, Attorney General Roy Cooper's office took over the case and dismissed the charges. We said then that if the system works as it should, Mr. Nifong would be out of a job. The state Bar should still send him a stinging rebuke.
But we're glad Mr. Nifong finally did what the system seems poised to do: He fired himself.
Duke Basketball Report:
Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out -- So he finally gave it up and resigned. Well, good, and about time, too. Mike Nifong has been, if we may borrow a term, a social disaster, and his whimpering on the stand deserves about as much credibility as his performance in the lacrosse case, which will follow him to his grave.
Our normal urge in a situation like this is to be magnanimous. The case is over, his career is over, or will be soon enough (if he manages to survive the bar, there are two angry judges who might also shoot him down). But what’s happened doesn’t lend itself to magnanimity, and Nifong’s excesses don’t merit forgiveness any time soon.
Think for a minute about what this man has done: he knew perfectly well that the case was shaky - recall Benjamin Himan’s recollection of Nifong saying “you know, we’re fucked” - he said this on March 27th. The same day, he continued his career as a TV commentator specializing in the lacrosse case. Actually, Nifong said he said this on the 31st, but big deal: he knew he was wrong in March and he continued on anyway.
Not only did he continue on, but we learned this week that he actually wanted to arrest the players in class. Perhaps he was thinking it would make good TV. And at some level, he must have been thinking that, you know, this case is pretty weak. But he pressed on. And not only did he press on, but he did so in the cruelest ways possible. Why? Why would anyone, in light of what he himself now says, in light of what others have said, why in the world would he not just press on, but do so cruelly?
The answer to this is simple: Mike Easley appointed a world-class bully to be the Durham District Attorney. Let’s back up and consider some of the record...
Nifong glances over his shoulder while testifying during his NC State Bar trialWRAL:
Law Expert: Cleared Player's Testimony Devastating for Nifong -- A Duke University law professor said Friday that Reade Seligmann's testimony at Mike Nifong's North Carolina State Bar ethics trial was devastating to the district attorney's defense.

"Seligmann sort of let the public see what happens when a prosecutor likes this abuses his powers," James Coleman said...

"I think these are basically self-inflicted wounds and he's ruined his career," Coleman said. "And what's ironic about that is that he had a reputation. People thought he had integrity before this. And he's destroyed all of that."
Ann Givens, Newsday:
THE NIFONG CASE: A PROSECUTOR ACCUSED -- Nifong apologized to the defendants "to the extent that I caused pain" to them and their families.

He said, "I took responsibility on myself and I don't intend to pass it off on anybody else."

But the people he accused said the move is a calculated attempt to save his law license.

"I think he did it because he had to do it," said Kevin Finnerty, of Garden City, father of Collin, 20. "The frustrating thing for us is what he put us through for the past year and a half didn't have to happen."

Yet, at the same time, Nifong said in response to a question, "I think something happened in that bathroom," referring to the room where the woman said the assault took place. "I'm not sure I can say at this point it was a sexual assault. It might have been a nonsexual assault or an intimidation."

"Something happened to make everybody leave that scene," he said referring to a police report that the house where the party occurred emptied out shortly after, the accuser said, the attack took place...
Michael Amon, Newsday:
By resigning, he may save his law license -- "The writing could not be clearer on the wall," said Jim Cohen, a professor at Fordham University School of Law. "They recognize that they're in big trouble," he said of Nifong and his team. "They're hoping for something less than a complete disbarment."

Thomas Metzloff, a professor at Duke University Law School, said he believed Nifong wanted to show remorse and admit responsibility - factors that could lessen the penalty meted out by a three-member grievance panel of the North Carolina State Bar.

"I think it's the right move," Metzloff said. "If the panel believes that it was sincere, it could mitigate his punishment." ...

Metzloff, who also attended the hearing, said Nifong seemed sincere. But he and other legal experts questioned the timing of his self-recrimination. "It is too late," Metzloff said. "It would have been more effective if it would have come a couple of months ago."
Prof. John F. Banzhaf III, GWU, Friends of Duke Univ.:
DA Nifong Resigns Hoping to Cut Losses -- DA Michael Nifong’s resignation is probably designed to try to cut his losses, and to give him some cover from disbarment and civil law suits by the students and their families, and possibly even by Duke University, says law professor John Banzhaf. "Disbarment and law suits against him now might seem like kicking a man when he's down."

While many commentators are now openly suggesting that the former Duke lacrosse players should sue Nifong -- a concept initially advanced and explained by public interest law professor John Banzhaf -- no one has yet suggested a possible law suit by Duke University against Nifong for the serious harm he has caused the University.

"Duke should consider bringing a legal action against Nifong for the injury his illegal and unconstitutional acts caused the University," says Banzhaf, noting that Nifong might be liable under a variety of legal theories including defamation, false light, prima facie tort, and other actions.
Duff Wilson, NY Times:
Facing Sanction, Duke Prosecutor Says He’ll Resign -- Michael B. Nifong, the Durham County district attorney, announced Friday that he would resign, as he faces disciplinary charges for his handling of a sexual assault prosecution against three former Duke University lacrosse players who were later declared innocent.

Speaking in a barely audible voice in testimony before a disciplinary hearing panel, Mr. Nifong apologized to the players, their families and the North Carolina justice system....
Joseph B. Cheshire, a lawyer for one of the three former players, said of Mr. Nifong’s promise to resign: “I believe it is a cynical political attempt to save his law license. His apology is far too late.”
Mr. Nifong, 56, still faces the resolution of the ethics charges, perhaps as early as Saturday, which could lead to his disbarment. Mr. Cheshire said defense lawyers planned to file a motion requesting that Mr. Nifong be found in criminal contempt of court for misstatements to the judge and lawyers in pretrial hearings. The charge, if upheld, could result in fines or jail time.

The families are also considering civil suits...
LS forum: Cheshire: Defense Lawyers to Ask Criminal Contempt

KC Johnson:
Nifong Trial, Day Four -- Highlights from Day Four of the Nifong trial:
1.) “An obvious cynical ploy” -- Yesterday’s hearing featured a teary-eyed Nifong reading into the record a resignation statement. He was proud of his son, the disgraced DA stated, and hoped that his son was equally proud of him...
2.) The Bannon/Seligmann Team -- The two most compelling witnesses were Bad Bannon and Reade Seligmann.
3.) The Incompetence Defense -- Before this week, Nifong had offered 13 different explanations as to his failure to turn over the exculpatory DNA material. Upon which of the 13 would he rely to the Bar? None.

Instead, Nifong eventually settled on a wholly new defense: the DA assumed, he said, that the exculpatory test findings were included in the May 12 Meehan report—but since he never bothered to read the report, he never learned otherwise...

4.) More from Wonderland -- [former Nifong ADA Kendra] Montgomery-Blinn praised the “no-drop” policy of the Nifong office, in which, in any domestic violence or sexual assault case, the office's policy was to go forward as long as the prosecutor believed in the accuser, even if no other evidence existed and the prosecutor believed a trial victory was impossible.
5.) Previews --Tomorrow, closing arguments begin the day, followed by deliberations of the panel...
Nifong is toastDennis Draughon, EditorialCartoonists.com: Toast --

Mike McCusker, Crystal Mess blog:
The Big Lie Nifong Told -- [Nifong's testimony yesterday reveals a big lie that is clearly documented]
Michael Gaynor:
Nifong trial: Retribution, resignation, and revelry -- June 15, 2006 was great. . . BUT, there were elephants in the room...

The Duke case is a Democrat scandal. Democrat Governor Michael Easley never mentioned that Mr. Nifong had lied to him about not running for election until AFTER Mr. Nifong won the election. Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper was silent and apparently impotent until Mr. Nifong asked him to replace him as Duke case prosecutor. (Yes, Mr. Cooper finally said that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans were innocent, but the North Carolina Attorney General's office took too long to do that.) Democrat Durham Congressman David Price stayed in the North Carolina NAACP's good graces by doing nothing to stop a travesty of justice.

But the Bush Administration failed too. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to order a federal investigation...
Johns in Carolina:
Can Nifong Be Prosecuted? -- This past April in Slate UNC – Chapel Hill Law Professor Joseph Kennedy considered the question of whether Nifong can be prosecuted for criminal acts. Key portions of the article follow, including Kennedy’s conclusion.

What Kennedy said in April was extremely informative and interesting then. It’s even more so now that we’ve seen four days of Nifong’s State Bar trial and heard him resign his office on the witness stand...
Kathy Seligmann, Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann, Brad Bannon & Jim CooneyKathy Seligmann (mother of Reade), Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann,
Brad Bannon & Jim Cooney

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