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Ethics trial begins for prosecutor in Duke lacrosse case

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RALEIGH (AP) -- The prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case is back in court today as a defendant on ethics charges arising from his handling of the case against three former team members.

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong is charged by the North Carolina State Bar with violating rules of professional conduct.

In an opening statement, the bar official acting as prosecutor said the harm done to the three former Duke students and the state judicial system was devastating.

Nifong's trial is expected to last five days and the chairman of the panel hearing the case promised a quick verdict. Nifong could be disbarred if convicted.

Last year, Nifong won indictments against three lacrosse players who were accused of raping a dancer at a team party. He pursued the case, at one point calling the players "hooligans." His attorney says Nifong regrets making the statements.

Charges were dropped by the state attorney general after Nifong gave up the case when ethics charges were filed.

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

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