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North Carolina State Bar v. Nifong

Amended Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order of Discipline (July 31, 2007)

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North Carolina State Bar v. Nifong

North Carolina State Bar, Disciplinary Hearing Commission

Amended Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order of Discipline (July 31, 2007)

Facts

Attorney Michael Nifong (defendant) was a district attorney facing a tough reelection when Crystal Mangum, an exotic dancer, alleged that she was raped by three Duke University lacrosse players. Mangum’s story kept changing, and Mangum had difficulty identifying any attackers from photo lineups. In addition, the rape kits collected from Mangum revealed DNA from multiple men, but none of the DNA matched the accused lacrosse players. Despite this, Nifong charged the three lacrosse players with rape. Nifong then had his experts prepare reports that did not mention that none of the rape-kit DNA matched the accused, and Nifong did not otherwise disclose those findings to defense counsel. Nifong also made false statements to the press claiming that the lacrosse players were not cooperating and that the evidence showed that the lacrosse players had raped Mangum and had used racial slurs while doing so. Further, Nifong repeatedly made false statements to the defense counsel and the court claiming that the prosecutor’s office had turned over all evidence. Eventually, Nifong was forced to turn over approximately 1,800 pages of data. After spending 60 to 100 hours going through the data, the lacrosse players’ lawyers figured out that some key DNA results had not been disclosed. Once the information became public, the North Carolina attorney general cleared the lacrosse players of all charges, and Nifong was charged with professional misconduct.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Williamson, J.)

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