Request for federal probe denied in Duke LAX case

December 5, 2007 9:00:00 PM PST
After months of interviews and reviewing documents related to the Duke Lacrosse case, federal investigators have decided against assisting the state with a possible probe.

In a written statement to ABC11 Eyewitness News, the U.S. Department of Justice said: "We believe the State of North Carolina has the primary interests in this matter: protecting the integrity of its judicial proceedings, holding Mr. Nifong accountable for his actions as an officer of its courts, and vindicating the principles of justice under state law."

Attorney General Roy Cooper recently asked the U.S. Department of Justice to take part in a joint investigation of the Duke Lacrosse case. At one point, a federal probe seemed imminent.

Sources told ABC11 Eyewitness News that federal investigators had collected testimony and other court documents from Mike Nifong's ethics trial and his contempt hearing. There was also the possibility a potential federal probe would have targeted current and former members of Durham's Police Department and the Durham County District Attorney's Office.

Now it's up to the State Attorney General's Office whether to proceed with an investigation alone or not at all. Spokeswoman Noelle Talley said without federal assistance, it would be difficult to launch an investigation into criminal wrongdoing in the Duke Lacrosse case. Unlike federal prosecutors, North Carolina cannot convene and investigative grand jury that would hand up indictments. Talley said the State Attorney General's Office and the State Bureau of Investigtion are discussing their options.