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Former N.C. Prosecutor Is Held in Contempt

Associated Press
Saturday, September 1, 2007

DURHAM, N.C., Aug. 31 -- Michael B. Nifong, the former Durham County district attorney, was held in criminal contempt of court Friday for lying to a judge when pursuing rape charges against three falsely accused Duke University lacrosse players.

Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III sentenced Nifong, who has been stripped of his law license and has resigned from office, to a single day in jail.

Reading his decision from the bench minutes after the conclusion of two days of testimony, Smith said Nifong "willfully made false statements" to the court in September when he insisted he had given defense attorneys all results from a critical DNA test.

In fact, Smith found, Nifong had provided the defense with a report on the DNA testing that he knew to be incomplete. The omitted data contained test results showing that DNA of multiple men, none of whom were lacrosse players, was on a woman who said she was attacked at a March 2006 party thrown by Duke's lacrosse team.

Nifong was disbarred in June for more than two dozen violations of the state's rules of professional conduct during his prosecution of the lacrosse case. He resigned in July as district attorney.

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