Disgraced and disbarred, Mike Nifong is now bankrupt. The former North Carolina prosecutor, whose career imploded with his botched handling of the Duke University rape case, today filed for bankruptcy, listing liabilities in excess of $180 million. A summary schedule from Nifong’s Chapter 7 petition can be found below. Almost all of that sum represents legal claims filed against the former Durham County district attorney by members of Duke’s 2006 lacrosse team, including the three players who were accused of raping a stripper at a team party.
Included among Nifong’s assets are a 2003 Honda Accord, about $9000 in personal property, and his $235,000 home. He lists nearly $5000 monthly in pension or retirement income and describes himself, charitably, as retired.
In a pathetic end to the Mike Nifong saga, the disgraced North Carolina prosecutor who handled the Duke rape investigation has turned in his law license, noting that he never framed or displayed the document because it had been damaged “by a puppy in her chewing stage.”
Additionally, in an August 7 letter to the North Carolina State Bar, Nifong noted that the law license also contained a misspelling of his middle name (which is Byron).
Billy Merck here, once again filling in for Lat while he squeezes out some more vacation before the summer gets away from us. We’ll be here today and Laurie Lin will be here tomorrow; Lat’s back next week.
We start today with an update on a case from Georgia with which you’re all probably at least a little familiar. We reported earlier here on the case of Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 years old. The Georgia statute under which he was convicted has since been amended to make the same offense a misdemeanor, but the change was not made retroactive to Wilson’s case.
On June 11, Wilson’s habeas corpus petition was granted on the basis that the 10-year sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment; as a result Wilson’s offense was changed to a misdemeanor, he was given credit for the more than two years already served in jail, and he would no longer have to register as a sex offender. Attorney General Thurbert Baker has appealed this decision, drawing criticism from many who question the need to keep Wilson in jail any longer than he has already been there.
Which leads us to the new part of the story. Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, who prosecuted the case against Wilson, has been there every step of the way to ensure not only that Wilson went to jail, but that he stayed there. When the state legislature considered bills last year and this year that would have amended the statute again to make it apply retroactively to Wilson’s case, McDade was there lobbying against the bills.
And evidently, as part of his efforts, McDade has made available to legislators and seemingly anyone else who wanted one copies of the videtape of the sexual encounter that got Wilson convicted. Many in Georgia have begun to question why McDade has been so free with the distribution of the tape, particularly since the distribution, receipt, and possession of it appears to violate Georgia and federal law.
More on McDade’s Nifong-like behavior after the jump.
Related: Attorney general: Wilson ruling could free molesters [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] Wilson’s legal tactics challenged[Atlanta Journal-Constitution] Judge says no bond for Genarlow Wilson, cancels hearing[Fulton County Daily Report] Sharpton embraces relatives at rally for Gernarlow Wilson[Atlanta Journal-Constitution] State Supreme Court moves up Genarlow Wilson hearing[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
It’s official: Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred over the weekend. From the AP:
The five-day ethics trial ended Nifong’s three-decade legal career, which he spent entirely as a prosecutor in Durham County. He was generally viewed as an honest lawyer before taking over the case of a woman who told police she was raped at a March 2006 lacrosse team party where she was hired to perform as a stripper.
It’s a Friday afternoon in June. Of course it couldn’t pass without a high-profile resignation. From WRAL:
Mike Nifong made the announcement at the end of his testimony Friday at his State Bar ethics trial to the surprise of the families and defense attorneys of the cleared lacrosse players.
“Throughout the years I have served as a prosecutor I have always tried to do the right thing,” a tearful Nifong said. “In this case, I was trying to todo the right thing. Much of the criticism directed to me in the is case is justified. The allegations that I’m a liar, however, are not justified.”
Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who rose to international infamy due to his handling of the Duke lacrosse team “rape” case, must now face the music. His trial on ethics charges brought by the North Carolina State Bar started today.
According to WRAL.com, Nifong’s lawyer, David Freedman, offered this argument in his opening statement:
“It is not unethical to pursue what someone may believe to be an unwinnable case.”
Well, that depends. If the case is unwinnable due to a manifest lack of credible evidence, and you decide to “pursue” it by making over 100 prejudicial statements to the media, that might be a problem.
Freedman said Nifong made about 98 percent of his statements early on in the case before suspects were identified and charged.
Does that make things better or worse? Should Nifong get off the hook for the speed with which he broke out of the gate — what North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper described as a “tragic rush to accuse”?
P.S. The article reminds us that the stripper involved was Crystal Magnum.* Isn’t that what those Skadden summer associates recently enjoyed?
* Correction: Whoops, sorry about that. Lacrosse Attorney: Nifong Went ‘Far Over the Line’ [WRAL.com]
This is what you’d to say your mom when you were five years old, and you accidentally broke her favorite vase while playing freeze tag in the living room. But apparently it works for prosecutors charged with ethical violations, too.
Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong didn’t say these exact words. But “I didn’t MEAN to” isn’t a bad summary of the response he just filed in the ethics case against him.
For detailed dissection of the Nifong motion to dismiss and answer, check out what KC Johnson has to say over at Durham-in-Wonderland. Nifong Says He Didn’t Intentionally Break Rules [Associated Press] North Carolina State Bar v. Nifong: Motion To Dismiss and Answer [WRAL.com]
Big news in the Duke lacrosse team rape sexual assault and kidnapping case. From ABC News:
District Attorney Mike Nifong has requested that he have himself removed from prosecuting the Duke Lacrosse rape investigation, ABC News has learned.
A source close to the investigation said Nifong sent a letter to North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper asking his office to assume responsibility of the case. Calls to the Attorney General’s office and Mike Nifong’s office were not yet returned.
Smart guy, that Nifong. We wouldn’t want to prosecute this case either.
And from the New York Times:
“Michael B. Nifong, the Durham district attorney, faxed the request to Jim Coman, head of the state attorney general’s special prosecution unit, today, the official said. Mr. Nifong decided he had no choice but to hand off the case because he faces a conflict of interest with ethics charges pending against him for his public comments on the case, the official said….”
“The official said the attorney general’s office was expected to accept the referral. But the fate of the case is uncertain: Many experts wonder if the attorney general or another prosecutor will quickly drop the charges after assessing weaknesses in the credibility of the accuser….”
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