Skip to comments.Obama: Investigate Duke Lacrosse DA Nifong
Posted on 03/26/2007 1:35:15 AM PDT by abb
Presidential Hopeful Says an 'Independent Inquiry Is Needed' into Durham, N.C., District Attorney Mike Nifong's Conduct By LARA SETRAKIAN ABC News Law & Justice Unit March 25, 2007 - Another voice has joined the call for a federal investigation into the handling of the Duke Lacrosse case -- this one with the punch of presidential politics.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in a written response to a constituent, said that an "independent inquiry is needed" into the conduct of Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.
Nifong prosecuted and led the investigation into the alleged sexual assault of an exotic dancer at a lacrosse team party in March 2006.
Obama cited the fact that Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has already asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for a federal investigation into Nifong's conduct. ABC News has learned that similar requests have been made by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla.
According to Obama's letter, Jones asked Gonzales to "review new evidence that Mr. Nifong withheld exculpatory DNA results from the defendants in order to determine if his conduct has illegally denied the students their civil rights as U.S. citizens under federal law."
Obama said of the call for a federal investigation that he "will be following its progress closely."
When approached by ABC News, Nifong attorney David Freedman seemed unconcerned by Obama's stance and said there is no need for a federal inquiry.
"The state bar is conducting a very thorough investigation into all aspects of Mr. Nifong's handling of the case," Freedman told ABC News. "It's appropriate for this to be dealt with by a North Carolina agency, not by someone from another state. I do not see the need for any other agency becoming involved at this point."
Defense attorneys for the Duke Lacrosse players say Nifong withheld and lied about key evidence in the case -- specifically, evidence that DNA from four to nine unidentified men was found on the accuser's body and clothing.
No DNA from the accuser's rape kit was found to match samples provided from 46 members of the lacrosse team.
The North Carolina Bar filed a complaint against Nifong for violating the rules of professional conduct by allegedly withholding evidence, lying to a sitting judge and to bar investigators, and making inappropriate comments about the case in press interviews.
In its complaint against Nifong, the bar accuses him of conduct that involves "dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation" and that is "prejudicial to the administration of justice."
Nifong's lawyers claim he did not violate the constitutional or other rights of three indicted Duke Lacrosse players, David Evans, Collin Finnerty, and Reade Seligmann.
"He turned over all the material he was supposed to turn over," Nifong's attorney Freedman told ABC News. "I [don't believe there are] any constitutional violations that apply if the material was turned over prior to trial.
"At this point, there isn't even a trial date set," Freedman added of the criminal case against the three indicted players.
Obama's comments were first posted on "Liestoppers," an online blog and forum on the Duke Lacrosse case. The user who posted them, known on that forum by the alias "sceptical," was the constituent who corresponded with Obama about the case.
On Jan. 12, roughly 10 months after the sexual assault allegations first surfaced, Nifong recused himself from the Duke Lacrosse prosecution, citing the ongoing ethics case by the North Carolina Bar. Nifong faces trial in June for unethical conduct.
If found guilty, Nifong could have his law license suspended or revoked -- leaving him little choice but to step down from his position as Durham County district attorney.
Freedman said of the upcoming ethics trial, "I believe at that hearing the public will be able to look at Mr. Nifong's conduct. Upon doing so, they will find he did nothing intentionally unethical."
Since Nifong's recusal, special prosecutors from the office of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper have taken over the Duke Lacrosse case. That office told ABC News it was nearing the end of its investigation.
There has been widespread speculation that Attorney General Cooper will drop the two remaining charges of kidnapping and sexual assault pending against the three indicted players. An announcement is expected as soon as this week.
ABC News' Jonathan Greenberger contributed to this article.
Johnny come lately me thinks....this is like the Toons' position on some of those rap videos back when he was first camgaigning....say just enough to endear yourself to the white voters and the law and order crowd....
That's really all there is to say about him. I don't denigrate the guy because nothing he has said has ever gotten a rise out of me. He's dull.
That young people find him inspirational is sad, but expected in this age of TV-driven novelty.
There are several entire classes of villains in this story, the most major being the ordinary racist idiot who lives and votes in Durham NC and who returned the Fong to office with 95% of the black vote after the parameters of this story were well known. How about Obama going down there and telling his brethren that they cannot use the voting franchise as a revenge weapon and hope to prosper in America?
I agree, it is clever. It will be brilliant if he (Obama) can force clinton, Edwards and the DNC to take a position.
Not that the media would tell us if they did.
If, however, he can weave this inot a debate......
he's not real bright, maybe he's not aware of the skin colors of the various participants
The character he brings to my mind is Chauncy Gardner.
"Hope is good."
(audience ooohs and aaaahs)
Pandering to us "Crackers," no doubt.
Whatever his motivation, I am glad that a U.S. Senator has joined in with a request of a Federal Investigation. FReepers were calling for one months ago.
Nifong needs to be punished so others won't try to imitate him. He manipulated a case for racial purposes at election time.
He could endear himself to me if he started investigations against Fitzgerald and Ronnie Earle. Both of these men have gone way beyond any semblance of fairness. Both are making political statements with their jobs.
Pathetic that Obama has to prod Gonzalez!!
Except the threat of a federal investigation will keep the state of NC from white-washing the investigation.
What the heck is a "rape kit"? Is that something that Al Sharpton hands out to help "victims" go after rich white boys?
I think this is presumptive. Isn't Obama already be accused of not being Black enough. Nifong is secondary to this case IMO. Not many are talking of the real villan, the female accuser. Just because she's female and Black does not mean she gets a free ride in all this.
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