North Carolina Prosecutor in Hearing for Unprofessional Conduct

RALEIGH, N.C. – Durham county district attorney Michael B. Nifong is attending an ethics hearing for allegedly withholding and lying about evidence in the case of three Duke lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper.

The state declared all three athletes innocent two months ago (see N.C. Attorney General Drops Duke Charges, Calls Original Investigation ‘Tragic Rush to Accuse’), and now the North Carolina State Bar has turned its attention to Nifong’s behavior during the investigation.

Accusations against Nifong include making opinionated comments to the media and hiding DNA evidence that later helped clear the defendants.

Last year, defense lawyer Brad Bannon discovered the DNA of four unidentified men – but none of the lacrosse players – on the woman’s clothes and body. Nifong failed to mention this in a summary report that May and proceeded to bury the findings in a 1,844-page laboratory report in October.

Assistant district attorney and expert witness Marsha L. Goodenow fears Nifong’s actions have hurt a justice system already perceived by some as biased.

Nifong is expected to give testimony on Friday. The panel may reach a decision as soon as Saturday. If found guilty of prosecutorial misconduct, Nifong could be disbarred.

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