|For Immediate Release |
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
|Contact: Kathleen M. Joyce |
Washington, D.C. – In a letter this afternoon to the U.S. Department of Justice, Third District Representative Walter B. Jones (R-NC) renewed his December 7, 2006 request for a federal inquiry into Durham County, North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong’s prosecution of three Duke University student athletes falsely accused of an alleged sexual attack on a woman at a March 2006 party in Durham. Specifically, Congressman Jones urged the Attorney General to launch a federal investigation in light of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s dismissal of all criminal charges against the three men.
“In a January 25th meeting, Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim and Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling explained that Department of Justice policy precludes the initiation of a federal investigation until the case has run its course within the state,” Congressman Jones wrote. “In light of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s dismissal of all criminal charges against the three men, it is clear that this matter now cries out for oversight. I again urge you to launch a federal investigation to review Mr. Nifong’s conduct to determine if it constitutes prosecutorial misconduct and has denied these students their civil rights as U.S. citizens under federal law.”
“As I have outlined in previous letters, numerous acts demonstrate probable cause that Mr. Nifong deprived the accused Duke students of their right to due process as guaranteed to them by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution,” Jones continued. “These acts include, but are not limited to, directing the Durham Police Department to knowingly violate suspect identification procedures for police personnel in North Carolina, repeatedly making prejudicial and extrajudicial statements to the media that would ‘heighten public condemnation of the accused,’ and withholding exculpatory DNA results from the defendants. Such acts indicate that Mr. Nifong appears to have engaged in willful misconduct in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242, which the Department of Justice has deemed applicable to abuses of authority under ‘color of law.’
“It is my understanding that the Department of Justice has received letters from at least eight members of Congress (enclosed) who share my view that Mr. Nifong’s actions were illegal and must be subject to a thorough investigation. Now that the State has dismissed all charges, the Justice Department has no reason not to investigate the substantial legal evidence suggesting Mr. Nifong violated these young men’s civil rights. I strongly encourage you to take action in this case,” Jones concluded.
For additional information or to schedule an interview with Congressman Walter B. Jones please contact Kathleen Joyce at (202) 225-3415.
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