Durham County Prosecutor Mike Nifong was found guilty today by the North Carolina State Bar for a battery of ethics violations in the Duke Lacrosse case. The penalty phase of trial began Saturday afternoon. Nifong’s punishment could range from a written reprimand to disbarment. He had already announced on Friday resignation from his position as Durham County Prosecutor.
With that, the long saga of what was once known as the Duke Lacrosse rape scandal is over. Nifong’s conviction was widely anticipated as justice for the three players who were indicted in spring 2006 on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual offense.
In April, the three were cleared of all those charges and declared innocent by the Attorney Aeneral of North Carolina. All three exonerated Duke Lacrosse players, Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty, were in the courtroom Saturday with their families. They listened intently as the decisions were read but showed little emotion.
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.
Saturday afternoon’s penalty phase of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Disciplinary Committee ethics investigation concluded with the decision that Mike Nifong will be disbarred for his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University Lacrosse players falsely accused of rape. Mr. Nifong, who had surprised his lawyers on Friday by announcing plans to resign from his position as the Durham County District Attorney, had already also offered to have his license revoked and waive the right to appeal after the panel ruled earlier on Saturday that he had been dishonest or deceitful toward a judge and defense lawyers over DNA results.
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