Published January 13, 2015
A hearing on Thursday will determine whether disbarred former District Attorney Mike Nifong should be charged with criminal contempt of court, FOX News has learned.
Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III has issued the order for the hearing to be held June 28. Nifong, who prosecuted the Duke University lacrosse rape case, could wind up in jail if a motion filed by the three students charged is granted.
The three Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of rape by an exotic dancer filed the motion Friday against the ex-Durham County district attorney who built the case against them.
The 42-page motion asked the judge to hold Nifong in criminal contempt of court — particularly in his withholding of pertinent DNA evidence that would have cleared the college students — and to impose sanctions against him.
After accuser Crystal Mangum alleged that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans had raped her at a party and physical evidence was collected from her in March 2006, Nifong "began a pattern of official misconduct regarding DNA evidence in this case that violated nearly every rule and law ... designed to protect due process and the pursuit of truth in criminal investigations and prosecutions," the motions states.
The players, who have been exonerated, are also asking for financial reimbursement from Nifong to cover the extensive legal fees and other costs of defending themselves in the case.
The judge, Smith, oversaw a pair of hearings last year during which Nifong answered questions from the court about critical DNA test results ordered by his office. That testing identified genetic material from several men — but no members of the lacrosse team — in the accuser's underwear and body.
Nifong knew about those test results in April 2006, but didn't give the information to defense attorneys until more than six months later. Even then, it came in the form of nearly 2,000 pages of raw data that took a defense attorney dozens of hours to decipher.
"When the defendants finally discovered the withheld exculpatory evidence in December of 2006, Mr. Nifong then told multiple different stories about what he knew, when he knew it, and why the evidence was withheld," the defense request said.
Last year, Nifong unrelentingly pushed an investigation into a woman's claim she was raped at a lacrosse team party where she had been hired to perform as a stripper. He won indictments against Seligmann, Finnerty and Evans for rape, kidnapping and sexual offense.
He eventually recused himself after being charged with several ethics violations, and state prosecutors later declared the three players innocent.
"Each one of Mr. Nifong's stories is demonstrably incredible and contradicted by the other, as well as the record evidence in the subject," the defense request said.
"Mr. Nifong's pattern of prosecutorial misconduct regarding the DNA evidence in this case is so extensive — and occurred across so much time and on so many different fields of legal and ethical obligation — that the sheer scope of it shocks the conscience and defies any notion of accident or negligence."
Nifong was disbarred last Saturday for breaking more than two dozen rules of professional conduct in his handling of the case.
FOX News' Megyn Kelly, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.