“While many people in Durham and the nation talked about the Duke University lacrosse case and what will become of District Attorney Mike Nifong, Durham's assistant prosecutors have been plowing quietly through tens of thousands of cases.
“For nearly a year, Nifong has been under siege by reporters, bloggers and county residents who question his actions in the sexual assault investigation that grew out of a lacrosse team party last March. In December and January, the State Bar, which regulates lawyers, filed ethics charges against Nifong.
“In the world outside the courthouse, Duke lacrosse often seems to be the only pending case in all of Durham. Inside the building, the case is one of more than 40,000 filed each year.
“In the fiscal year ending June 2006, the Durham District Attorney's Office tried, pleaded, dismissed or otherwise resolved 43,904 felonies, misdemeanors and traffic tickets, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts. The number of disposed cases was 2,200 greater than the number of new cases filed.”
“Nifong said in an interview that when he was appointed to the office in April 2005, 2,692 felonies were pending in Durham. As of Jan. 5, 2,134 felonies were pending.”
“Each year, Durham police and workers at Durham's Crisis Response Center handle scores of reported rapes.
“In 2005, police took 61 rape reports. The Crisis Response Center helped 109 people who said they were victims of a recent rape or sexual assault.
“In 2006, police got 100 rape reports, and the Crisis Response Center provided services to 102 people. Eleven were gang rapes, said Aurelia Sands Bell, the center's executive director.
“Patrick Tamer of the state Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh said one person was convicted of rape in Durham in 2006.”
“The Herald-Sun asked the District Attorney's Office for a list of rape charges that resulted in convictions.
“Candy Clarke, an assistant in the office, said there is no way to link the incident numbers the police assign to charges to the case numbers the DA's Office uses.
“Clarke called it "a glitch" in the system.
“Tracey Cline, who prosecutes the county's sex-crime cases, didn't return several phone calls seeking comment.”