Bankruptcy hearing held for Nifong

February 8, 2008 11:46:26 AM PST
Disgraced former prosecutor Mike Nifong said Friday he was removed from his mother's will amid lawsuits stemming from his prosecution of three innocent Duke University lacrosse players on rape charges.

The former Durham County district attorney provided details about his property and other assets during a hearing into his $180 million bankruptcy protection filing. Nifong said he will not get an inheritance because he asked his mother to take him out of her will.

Nifong also discussed land that his wife owns in Ashe County and estimated that he has guitar equipment was worth $5,000.

Nifong filed for bankruptcy last month citing more than $180 million in liabilities, most of it the estimated damages in a lawsuit filed by the three falsely accused lacrosse players. If the bankruptcy judge determines Nifong willfully and maliciously injured the players, bankruptcy rules won't protect him from civil litigation.

No decision was made Friday. Nifong and attorneys involved in the case declined comment after the hearing.

The lawsuit accuses Nifong, the City of Durham, police investigators and others of conducting "one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history."

Charles Davant, a lawyer representing former players Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans, asked Nifong during the hearing whether he disagreed with the accusations in the lawsuit.

"It's certainly disputed," Nifong said.

Last month, a judge removed Nifong as a defendant in the players' lawsuit but said Nifong could again be added to the suit depending on the outcome of his bankruptcy case.

Nifong won indictments after a stripper hired to perform at a March 2006 lacrosse team party reported being raped, but the case unraveled amid the accuser's constantly changing story and a lack of evidence.

State prosecutors eventually took over the case and dropped all charges against Finnerty, Evans and Reade Seligmann. Attorney General Roy Cooper went a step further, saying the players were innocent victims of Nifong's "tragic rush to accuse." Nifong was later disbarred for his handling of the case and spent a night in jail for lying to a judge.

In his bankruptcy filing, Nifong lists liabilities of $30 million for each of the cleared players as potential damages in their lawsuit. Another $90 million in liabilities is cited as possible damages in a second lawsuit filed by three other players who were not charged but allege emotional distress.


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