More Trouble For Nifong
Michael Nifong is having a bad month.
The North Carolina State Bar filed a second, more serious round of ethics charges yesterday against the district attorney in Durham, N.C., accusing him of “systematic abuse of prosecutorial discretion” in the sexual assault case against three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team. ...
Much of the new ethics complaint focuses on Mr. Nifong’s handling of private DNA testing and his remarks to a judge and bar officials about it. Those tests were arranged by Mr. Nifong after a state laboratory found no semen, blood or saliva from lacrosse players on or in the woman or on her clothes. Using a more sophisticated test, the private laboratory found DNA from multiple men on the woman and her underwear, but none from any of the lacrosse players.Mr. Nifong and the lab director decided to tell defense lawyers only about the positive matches, including a link to the woman’s boyfriend, in a summary report of the DNA work, said the bar, a state agency that regulates lawyers in North Carolina. The negative findings, which the bar said “tended to negate the guilt of the accused,” were included only in laboratory reports not given to defense lawyers for more than six months.
North Carolina law requires prosecutors to share all relevant information with defense lawyers promptly. Mr. Nifong told the judge in the case that he had turned over everything he had — “a misrepresentation and false statement of material fact made to a tribunal,” the bar wrote. Mr. Nifong later objected to a defense request to turn over the full laboratory reports, citing cost and privacy concerns and terming the papers sought “a witch hunt list,” the bar said.
Mr. Nifong said in court on Dec. 15 that a defense motion two days earlier on the withheld DNA results was “the first I heard of this particular situation.” Later he said he had meant that it was the first he had heard of defense accusations that the results had been concealed, not that they existed. But the bar said the accusations themselves had not been raised until after Mr. Nifong spoke in court.
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