Duke Rape Case: I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle
The North Carolina Bar has just filed ethics charges against Durham DA Mike Nifong. As has been noted here and elsewhere Nifong was quite public with his comments about the case during his bid for re-election. To many it appeared that Nifong was using the case as a campaign issue and that the merits of the case were actually extremely weak.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, accusing him of saying misleading or inflammatory things to the news media about the athletes under suspicion.
The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment.
Among the four rules of professional conduct that District Attorney Mike Nifong was accused of violating was a prohibition against making comments “that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”
The charges will be heard by an independent body called the Disciplinary Hearing Commission, made up of both lawyers and non-lawyers.
In a statement, the bar said it opened a case against Nifong in March 30, a little more than two weeks after the party where a 28-year-old student at North Carolina Central University hired to perform as a stripper said she was raped.
I’m completely stunned by this. I didn’t expect the North Carolina Bar to do anything to Nifong. I figured that when you have lawyers policing themselves they basically do damn little unless the lawyer in question is doing something really egregious like fornicating with sheep in public.
Another of the rules Nifong was charged with breaking forbids “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” The bar said that when DNA testing failed to find any evidence a lacrosse player raped the accuser, Nifong told a reporter the players might have used a condom.
According to the bar, Nifong knew that assertion was misleading, because he had received a report from an emergency room nurse in which the accuser said her attackers did not use a condom.