North Carolina State Bar issues disbarment order for Duke lacrosse case prosecutor

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina State Bar on Thursday issued a formal order disbarring former district attorney Mike Nifong for his handling of the now-discredited Duke lacrosse rape case.

Nifong must surrender his law license to the bar no later than 30 days from when he is served with the order. He also must pay costs associated with his June ethics trial.

A disciplinary hearing committee decided to disbar Nifong after finding he had committed at least two dozen violations of the state's rules of professional conduct. The violations included lying to the court and withholding DNA evidence that showed genetic material from several males - though none from a Duke lacrosse player - had been found on the accuser.

The accuser had told police she was attacked by three men at a March 2006 lacrosse team party where she was hired to perform as a stripper.

Nifong secured indictments for rape, kidnapping and sexual offense against three lacrosse team members, but the rape charges were dropped in December after the accuser changed a key detail of her story, and state prosecutors who later took over the case at Nifong's request dropped the remaining charges in April.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper called the three players who had been charged innocent victims of a "tragic rush to accuse."

Nifong resigned as Durham County district attorney last month.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)