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Lawyer: Nifong says he will quit Monday

The North Carolina district attorney who was disbarred earlier this month for his handling of the discredited Duke rape case has promised to resign from his post on Monday, the prosecutor handling his removal said yesterday.

Mike Nifong didn't show up yesterday at a hearing to consider his immediate removal as district attorney for Durham County, a position from which he has already been suspended with pay, said Raleigh lawyer Robert Zaytoun, who is prosecuting the removal. In a previously submitted resignation letter, Nifong pledged to leave office July 13.

Zaytoun said that in a conversation with Nifong on Wednesday, the disgraced prosecutor, who said he was out of state, vowed to resign Monday to "avoid another tumultuous hearing."

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson will reconvene the court on Monday to either accept Nifong's new resignation or issue an order that he be immediately removed from office, Zaytoun said.

Zaytoun said Nifong's promise to resign Monday will only help the heal the wounds left by the case, in which three Duke lacrosse players - including one from Garden City - were falsely accused of raping a stripper during a party.

The three men were exonerated in April.

Michael Cornacchia, the Manhattan attorney for Collin Finnerty, 20, of Garden City, one of the accused players, said it is "torturous" waiting for Nifong to step down. "I asked him to resign [in April] and do the honorable thing and he still hasn't resigned," he said.

In a related action, another judge, Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith II, yesterday set a hearing for July 26 to consider holding Nifong in criminal contempt of court for allegedly making false statements during the rape case.

If found guilty, Nifong faces up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Collin Finnerty's father, Kevin Finnerty, said he had no comment on the developments yesterday but that he is eagerly awaiting the contempt hearing and hopes Nifong is sent to jail.

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