Former Duke Prosecutor Faces New Ethics Charges

ByABC News
January 24, 2007, 9:04 AM

Jan. 24, 2007 — -- Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong has been charged with new ethics violations for his conduct on the Duke lacrosse sex assault case.

The North Carolina Bar filed an amended complaint today, accusing Nifong of withholding DNA evidence from the defense and making misrepresentations to the presiding judge in the case.

The bar has accused Nifong of conduct that involves "dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." Nifong also allegedly violated a rule that "prohibits an attorney from knowingly making false statements of material fact."

Previously, Nifong had been charged with making inappropriate and potentially prejudicial comments about the sexual assault case against Duke lacrosse players. Nifong's comments were made in a series of public interviews early in the case.

The new allegations come as he and his attorney are expected to appear in court today for a prehearing conference on the ethics charges.

Nifong faces trial before a three-person panel that will decide what punishment, if any, is warranted.

Nifong could receive anything from a private reprimand to disbarment in connection with the ethics charges. If disbarred, Nifong would have to give up his seat as Durham County district attorney.

Earlier this month, Nifong was recused from the Duke case after requesting that the North Carolina attorney general's office take over the investigation.

ABC News obtained a copy of Nifong's letter to the attorney general, which describes, in Nifong's own words, the reasoning and circumstances behind his decision.

According to the letter, Nifong felt he had to step down because he was the subject of an investigation that provided a conflict of interest.

"In addition to fueling any existing public perception that I have a conflict of interest in this matter, this filing has also created an actual conflict, as I am now personally the subject of an investigation and charges in this case," Nifong wrote of the ethics complaint.