The connection of Coman to the Gell case in particular raises eyebrows. It's unfortunate that the AG's office could not have located an ethically pristine prosecutor to undertake the review, in part because one issue on the table will be exposing possible instances of further misconduct by Nifong. As Jim Coleman pointed out in an interview today, the new prosecutor will be obligated to turn over any evidence of ethical improprieties to the state bar.
[update, 4.20pm] AG Roy Cooper has officially taken over the case. Lara Setrakian of ABC's Law and Justice Unit reports that Cooper said "anything can happen" with the case from here on out.
Also provided: more comments from Nifong's critic-turned-attorney, David Freedman, who described his client as "devastated" by the turn of events. "It's devastating to him," Freedman said. "He cherishes his reputation as an ethical attorney and prosecutor." And, in a bizarre line, Freedman states that Nifong spoke to the accuser directly, because "he is very loyal to her."
Thomas Lunsford, a member of the North Carolina Bar Ethics Committee and a professor at Duke Law School, termed the whole situation "extremely rare, if not unprecedented," with a sitting DA prosecuted for ethics violations in a case he was originally prosecuting.
Victoria Peterson gave a press conference on the courthouse steps demanding that Nifong remain on the case.
Nifong's attorney, David Freedman, said that Nifong acted because "he wants to make sure the accuser receives a fair trial." Only in Durham.
On behalf of Duke, John Burness issued a strong and commendable statement: "We welcome the news that the district attorney has asked to be removed from this case. As President Brodhead has emphasized, this matter needs to be placed in the hands of an independent party who can restore confidence in the fairness and integrity of the legal process. We hope this change will lead to a fair and speedy resolution of this case."
Jim Coleman, in the Washington Post: "Everyone just got run over by this guy who made these statements for which there was no support." Nifong "prejudged the case and injected inflammatory opinions that it was racially motivated," Coleman said, but "he had not done the investigation, so he had no idea what happened."
Joseph Cheshire, in the Washington Post: "We are extremely pleased to be rid of" Nifong. "The word of the accuser changes every time she opens her mouth. Anybody who takes an objective look at this case will dismiss it."
Peg Dorer, director of NC Conference of DA's: "It has really become so much more about him as opposed to seeking justice."
Mary Katharine Ham offers a video review of what did not happen in Durham.
Coleman, in the L.A. Times: With his actions in the case, "Nifong is showing total contempt for the legal process. This guy has caused more damage in this city than anything I can recall."
Jackie Brown, in the L.A. Times: "He got caught up in the media, and he got addicted to it."
The Daily News headline, an openly mocking, "May I Be Recused? Nifong Wants Off Duke Lacrosse Case."
Hat tip: T.Y.