No matter how the Duke lacrosse rape case turns out, District Attorney Mike Nifong will face a barrage of attacks from foes who are determined to have him investigated, punished, and disbarred, reports the Charlotte Observer. Dozens of people, some connected to the accused, have asked the governor and state attorney general to intervene. Many have complained to the N.C. State Bar, the agency that licenses and disciplines lawyers. An attorney for one indicted player has urged members of Congress to have the U.S. Department of Justice open a civil rights investigation. The request for federal intervention is aggressive and rare, said Richard Myers, a UNC-Chapel Hill law professor and former federal prosecutor.
Three former players are charged with rape, kidnapping, and sexual offense. They are accused of gang-raping a woman hired though an escort service to dance at a team party in March. Nifong has been criticized for statements he made in the week after the investigation became public, when he called the players “hooligans” and said he was certain a racially motivated rape had occurred. The chances of a federal investigation are unknown; a State Bar investigation is more likely. The bar complaints accuse Nifong of violating the ethics rules governing pretrial publicity and bringing disrepute to the justice system. The bar has been smarting from its handling of two high-profile cases involving prosecutorial misconduct. In 2004, David Hoke and Debra Graves were reprimanded for withholding evidence during the trial of Alan Gell, who spent nine years behind bars, half of that on death row, for a murder he did not commit.