US prosecutor Mike Nifong to be disbarred for ethics violations

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A balcony in New Jersey displaying signs pleading the players' innocence

Durham County, North Carolina district attorney Mike Nifong had his law license revoked Saturday, after a week of hearings by the North Carolina state bar. The hearing came after the state bar charged Nifong with ethics violations, and for breaking several rules of professional conduct, during the alleged 2006 Duke University lacrosse case. Addionally, Nifong was charged with making inappropriate statements to the media, and ignoring evidence in favor of the defendants.

Nifong said Friday he would resign, regardless of the outcome of the hearing. He would also not appeal any punishment imposed by the state bar, according to his attorney. Nifong charged three players, Dave Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, with rape. North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper later concluded that the three players were innocent.

Nifong was said to have made "multiple, egregious mistakes" as he pursued the charges, but not intentionally, according to his attorney .

Nifong said he regretted some of what he said, such as that he wouldn’t allow Durham to become known for “a bunch of lacrosse players from Duke raping a black girl.”

Attorneys for the players said they would seek charges for criminal contempt against Nifong.

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