Nifong Pleads Not Guilty To Contempt Charge

Anne Blythe and Joseph Neff, Charlotte Observer, August 30, 2007

Former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong pleaded not guilty to a criminal contempt of court charge this morning in the same courtroom where he once prosecuted people accused of crimes.

Nifong, who was stripped of his law license this month, is facing Judge W. Osmond Smith III on the charge, which arose from his handling of the Duke lacrosse case. If found in contempt, Nifong could do jail time.

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Smith, the Superior Court judge assigned to the Duke lacrosse case, entered a strongly worded order against Nifong in late June.

Smith’s accusation? That Nifong lied to him on Sept. 22, 2006.

That day, defense attorneys pressed Nifong about a May 2006 DNA report prepared by Brian Meehan, director of a private DNA-testing lab in Burlington.

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Those tests revealed that DNA from men not on the lacrosse team had been found on the body and clothing of the woman who accused team members of raping her. Those results, which would have been beneficial to the defense team, were not included in the May report.

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The judge pressed for an answer: “So you represent there are no other statements from Dr. Meehan?”

Nifong responded, “No other statements. No other statements made to me.”

Meehan has since testified that he briefed Nifong several times that tests found DNA from unidentified men on Mangum’s body and underwear. Nifong has confirmed Meehan’s account in interviews and sworn testimony.

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