The Final Chapter In The Duke Lacrosse Case

Former Prosecutor Michael Nifong has filed for bankruptcy protection:

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) — Michael Nifong, the former North Carolina district attorney who pursued rape charges against three Duke University lacrosse players, then resigned after he was accused of withholding evidence, has filed for bankruptcy.

Nifong, stripped of his law license by the North Carolina State Bar for his handling of the case, listed debt of $180.3 million and assets of $243,898 in documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Durham, North Carolina. He resigned from his post as Durham County District Attorney in July.

Three Duke lacrosse players were indicted after a Durham woman alleged she was raped at a March 2006 team party. The charges were later dropped, and the young men sued Nifong for prosecutorial misconduct. Collin Finnerty, David F. Evans and Reade Seligmann are listed as unsecured creditors, each owed $30 million, in Nifong’s bankruptcy filing. Three other current and former players who sued Nifong are also listed as creditors.

“This looks like a smart move for Mr. Nifong,” said Charles Tatelbaum, a Florida lawyer who has represented doctors who filed for bankruptcy to shield themselves from lawsuits. “This stops all the cases against him so he doesn’t have to pay legal fees if he doesn’t have insurance.”

And, yes, that probably is the end of it. There are some exceptions to complete discharge under bankruptcy law, but they wouldn’t seem to apply in this situation.

  • UCrawford

    You know, every once in awhile I feel a little sorry for the guy. I mean, he’s got family, kids, a life. This case has destroyed him.

    Then I read through the case again just to remind me of all the bullshit that he pulled and how he withheld evidence, and smeared the accused in the press, and ignored all the holes in the “victim’s” story, and basically ran all of those kids through a meatgrinder for no other apparent reason than to pander for votes for his reelection, and I think about my cousin who was in a very similar situation with a high-profile case in New England, and I think about every other slimy politician who bends the legal system and screws with some poor schmoe’s life just to carve out a little niche for himself or keep his job and how most of those guys don’t get caught…

    …and then I look again at what happened to Nifong and all I think is “Reap the whirlwind, motherfucker.”

  • UCrawford

    And I hope that every other hack out there who’s thinking of doing the same type of thing is paying attention.

  • Brian T. Traylor

    There are some exceptions to complete discharge under bankruptcy law, but they wouldn’t seem to apply in this situation.

    One of those exceptions is that if the bankruptcy judge determines that his errant prosecution of the Duke kids was criminal in nature, any awards to the Duke kids in their civil suits won’t be erased.

    He’s not out of the water yet.

  • Doug Mataconis

    True, but if he has no assets it really doesn’t matter does it ?

  • UCrawford

    Yeah, public defenders don’t really make enough to cover a $30 million per victim judgment against you. I think he had a house and some savings and that’s gone.

    I do honestly wonder what he’s going to do with himself now…probably move to someplace like Florida where it’s tough to garnish wages or seize property.