Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Asks Off Case

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Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Asks Off Case
Regular Contributor
Associated Press Writer
Jan 12, 7:32 PM EST

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — 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’s office to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the case.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, said Friday in an e-mail that District Attorney Mike Nifong sent a letter requesting the special prosecutor. She did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Nifong did not return several calls from The Associated Press. His attorney insisted the veteran prosecutor was not running from a weak case, and said Nifong is disappointed he will not be able to 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 told The Associated Press. “He still believes in the case. He just believes his continued presence would hurt her.”

Last month, the North Carolina State Bar charged Nifong with violating four rules of professional conduct for making misleading and inflammatory comments about the athletes under suspicion.

It was not immediately clear what impact Nifong’s decision would have on the troubled criminal prosecution of Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office has previously declined to comment when asked about the prospect of taking over the case.

“If he accepts it, then they would transfer the files over, and they would probably have a lot of interviews to do,” said Peg Dorer, director of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. “It would probably stop things for a while I imagine.”

Under North Carolina law, only a district attorney can formally request a special prosecutor. The request can be made when there are potential conflicts of interest, when a case is particularly complex or when there are other unusual circumstances.

Legal experts and observers have railed against Nifong in recent weeks, calling his case pitfully weak and casting doubt on his chance of winning.

“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. “We look forward to cooperating with those prosecutors fully and completely in bringing this prosecution to an end.”

Wade Smith, an attorney for Finnerty, was also pleased and pledged to meet with any new prosecutors. “We will assist them in every way we can.”

From the case’s earliest days, Nifong has led the investigation into allegations that a 28-year-old student at North Carolina Central University – hired to perform as a stripper – was gang-raped and beaten at a March 13 party thrown by Duke’s highly ranked lacrosse team.

Experts have said it appears his case is based only on the testimony of an accuser who has told wildly different versions of the alleged assault – a shifting story led him to drop rape charges on Dec. 22.

01-13-2007 05:19 PM

Re: Duke Lacrosse Prosecutor Asks Off Case

Nifong is a self serving arrogant **bleep** that deserves more than just disbarrment.

He needs to serve 5 years in jail for perjury and be forced to pay back the $ 800,000.00 in attorneys fees he costed the defendants families through forfeiture of any assets he has followed by garnishment of any future wages, investment income or inheritance.

06-17-2007 12:51 AM

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