Has Mike Nifong been Sued?

Remember this is a factual question.

Has Mike Nifong been sued by anyone over his recent wrongful prosecution? I ask as someone has told me he has been, but I maintain prosecutors are protected from such suits.

More exactly, can a person sue a prosecutor for wrongful prosecution? Under what circumstances?

Bonus question, what sort of name in Nifong anyway?

No he has not been sued. But he could potentially be sued to the extent he stepped out of his role as prosecutor, e.g. directing the Durham police to set up a phoney lineup. I imagine that if the Duke 3 file suits, they will include him as a defendant so they can make sure Nifong doesn’t profit from any book deals. (“Here’s how I did it, by Mike Nifong”)

I read somewhere that Nifong is a Welsh name. In the early days of the hoax, there was some speculation among white supremacists that he was Jewish, since this would confirm their bias that Jewish = bad; white + gentile = good.

Edited to add: It’s possible that he has been sued and nobody knows.

According to this article, the possibility of civil suits against Durham is under active discussion. This could mean that a suit against Nifong might also be forthcoming.

Thank you for your answers. Anyone else?

My understaning is that they have considerable but by no means absolute immunity. When a prosecutor breaks the rules (and it’s clear that Nifong broke plenty of them) his immunity is jeapordized.

Prosecutors have limited immunity. It is usually very difficult to press a suit successfully against a prosecutor. Nifong’s recent conviction on criminal charges will make a suit against him much easier to win.

Depends on the state.

Some have noted that this immunity might not extend to investigative conduct, and others have pointed out that it pretty clearly doesn’t extend to defamatory statements made at press conferences.

Here is one man’s opinion. Here’s another.

Yipes - I stand corrected. Isn’t this an invitation to troublesome behavior by prosecutors?

The first link is about criminal prosecution, which is different.

The second one discusses statements to the press and investigative conduct, and notes:

I think there are North Carolina cases that support the defamation theory; the investigative conduct theory is based on federal cases applying federal immunity law. It’s not clear how the North Carolina courts will deal with the issue.

Oh, I agree. I didn’t mean to suggest that it was clear.

Well, it’s certainly a free pass for it as far as civil liability is concerned. But proponents of the rule would point out that:

  1. He got disbarred for it.
  2. He could be criminally prosecuted for it.
  3. The municipality (in this case) isn’t immune and could be sued. This gives the municipality a powerful reason to make sure he behaves.
  4. If immunity is qualified instead of absolute, it’s messier (requires more factfinding, longer court proceedings, money, could “invade the judicial process”).
  5. The official reason:

Opponents might respond:

  1. He did it, and so do others, so the disincentives aren’t strong enough.
  2. It’s unfair to burden innocent defendants with the costs of the bad acts of prosecutors. By giving them immunity, we are denying the players a source of recovery for their damages. And see, Do the wrongfully imprisoned get compensation? In a previous draft of this staff report, I actually talked about Nifong. My point was that he has absolute immunity, and if the players had been wrongfully convicted, Nifong’s immunity would make it just that much harder for them to get any compensation. This guy just got exonerated in NC http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/685778.html He’ll need a pardon in order to collect any compensation from the state. http://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_148/GS_148-82.html So would the players (although the might be able to sue the municipality).
  3. Many employers of prosecutors are immune from suit, so not all prosecutors get watched.
  4. Many prosecutors who break the rules don’t get disbarred or disciplined.
  5. The official reason doesn’t make much sense when the prosecutor knows he’s doing bad stuff.

Er…why did you add this to an otherwise straight forward question (with a decent answer by you)? It had no relevance.

Durham County and/or the State of North Carolina are most likely protected by soverign immunity statutes. Nifong is probably similarly protected though there are malicious prosecution and/or gross negligence exceptions.

from http://genblogs.worldvitalrecords.com/

“I poked around in some records and found that the Nifongs have been in North Carolina for a long time. George Nifong, the DA’s 4th great-grandfather, is on the 1790 census in Rowan County. George’s father Balthasar came to Pennsylvania from Germany in 1748 with the last name Neufang. The name was quickly corrupted to Nifong (North Carolina branch) or Knifong (Missouri branch).”

Even if it did matter: Unless you are a mind reader, how could you ever prove to the satisfaction of a court under any standard that Nifong did it maliciously? You may have your good guesses, but how can you ever judge intent?

One way would be by the testimony his former campaign manager, who he told that he needed to win the election in order to secure a better pension. Another would be by the testimony of one of his investigators, who told “You know this means we’re fucked” early in the investigation, but proceeded anyway.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=nc&vol=appeals98/appeals1229/&invol=estridge (quoted in dissenting opinion).

Looks like they haven’t “sued” anyone yet, but are negotiating a settlement and threatening to sue the city.