A judge suspended a North Carolina district attorney effective immediately Tuesday after learning the prosecutor, disbarred for his handling of a Duke University rape case, intended to stay in office for another month.
“There is probably cause to believe that the district attorney has engaged in willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, which brings the office into disrepute,” Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson wrote in his order.
Later Tuesday, state lawmakers were scheduled to take up – and expected to pass – a bill that would allow Gov. Mike Easley to immediately remove District Attorney Mike Nifong from office.
Nifong, who was disbarred Saturday for breaking more than two dozen rules of professional conduct in his handling of the Duke case, said in a letter issued Monday that he would leave office July 13 – a date that could arrive before the legislation becomes law.
That departure date was not soon enough for Hudson, who decided late Monday that he would suspend Nifong from office. He said then that he would order the sheriff to prevent Nifong from carrying out any duties of the district attorney.
Earlier Monday, Duke University announced it had reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the three former lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a black stripper last year.
– Associated Press
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