Mike Nifong – Guilty, Disbarred & Dismissed
Posted by shadmia on June 20, 2007
“We are in unanimous agreement that there is no discipline short of disbarment that would be appropriate in this case”
So said F. Lane Williamson, head of the North Carolina Bar disciplinary committee which found Mike Nifong, Durham County District Attorney, guilty of a myriad of ethics violations in his handling of the Duke Lacrosse rape investigation. The bar’s three-member disciplinary panel unanimously found Nifong guilty of fraud, dishonesty, deceit or misrepresentation; of making false statements of material fact before a judge; of making false statements of material fact before bar investigators, and of lying about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence, in all a total of more than two dozen violations.
Even before the decision was announced Mike Nifong said he would be stepping down as District Attorney.
“My presence as the district attorney in Durham is not furthering the cause of justice,” Nifong said. “It is not fair for the people in 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.”
After the committee announced its decision Mike Nifong tendered his resignation to the Governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley, effective July 13, 2007. The Governor said he would have removed Mike Nifong immediately, if he could.
“You are given a lot of power and you can destroy a reputation in moments with just a few words,” said Easley, himself a former prosecutor. “This was much more than a mistake.”
Upon learning of Mike Nifong’s intention to stay on as District Attorney for another month Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson wrote an order suspending him immediately saying: There is probable cause to believe that Nifong “has engaged in willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which brings the office into disrepute”
Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill went to Nifong’s house with a deputy to serve the order: “We took his keys and his badge that gave him access to the building,” Hill said. “We’ll make arrangements to help him get his personal belongings later.”
In the meantime the legislators wasted no time in drafting a bill that would give the Governor exactly what he wanted, the power to immediately replace disbarred district attorneys and judges, the bill passed the House 116-0 and now heads for the Senate.
For Mike Nifong his 30 years as a prosecutor is over. However his legal woes are certainly not. The lawyers for the Duke Lacrosse players plan to introduce a motion that would request that the court sanction Nifong with fines and contempt of court. It is also expected that he will be hit with several civil lawsuits from the same lawyers.
With his reputation already in tatters, Mike Nifong has only more trouble facing him down the road, trouble that he brought upon himself. This may be of some consolation to the players whose lives have been shattered by this experience. Vindication is one thing but how do you turn back the clock and forget what you have been through for more than a year? Mike Nifong’s actions have adversely affected the lives of the players, their families, their friends, their school and the entire community. How does one atone for so much pain?
What’s Next for Mike Nifong?