Easley confirmed widely circulated rumors that Nifong had promised not to run for a full term when the governor made the original appointment.
"I almost un-appointed him when he decided to run," Easley told law school students. "I rate that as probably the poorest appointment that I've . . ."
The likely reason: Freda Black. It seems unlikely that Nifong shared with the governor his plans to immediately fire Black from her position. But he did so, and she responded by making plans to run for a full term herself. The result: if Nifong didn't run, too, he certainly would have been fired himself once Black became D.A.
In response to a question, Easley also said Nifong had handled the case poorly--but, added the governor, "you don't need me to tell you that."
The governor also severely criticized Nifong along the lines laid out by the state bar, focusing on the D.A.'s improper public statements and his decision to enter into an agreement with Dr. Brian Meehan to intentionally withhold exculpatory DNA evidence. He also said that Nifong's actions had harmed the image of North Carolina justice nationally.
An aside: doesn't it seem odd that, in making an important critique about the highest-profile case in years in his state, the governor delivers his remarks in New York?