Ex-rival makes new bid for Nifong's old seat

Freda Black, a former assistant district attorney, is first to announce formally

Staff WritersFebruary 2, 2008 

— With about 25 supporters holding campaign signs at her back and a statue of Lady Justice by her side, Freda Black announced on Friday that she is running for district attorney.

"I believe this is a new day for Durham," she said.

Black, a former assistant district attorney who lost a bid to unseat Mike Nifong in 2006, said her administration would be based on "community, integrity and fairness."

"I will, as district attorney, work with ... all county leaders to try to fight crime," she said.

Black, a Democrat, must win the May 6 primary to proceed to the general elections in November.

Black is the first candidate to formally announce; the filing period opens Feb. 11. Assistant district attorneys Tracey Cline and Mitchell Garrell, who worked as prosecutors under Nifong, have said they plan to seek the office, too.

Black said she did not know whom her opponents might be, but mentioned the lawsuits the city of Durham faces due to Nifong's mishandling of the Duke lacrosse case.

"I don't know why anybody in Durham County would want to vote for anyone who had ties to that administration," she said.

Nifong and Black were colleagues in the Durham District Attorney's Office for 14 years before Nifong was appointed to the top job in 2005. One of Nifong's first acts as the county's top prosecutor was to ask for Black's resignation.

Since leaving the district attorney's office, Black has been working for the Durham law firm of Clayton, Myrick, McClanahan & Coulter.

Black drew national attention in 2003 during her prosecution of Mike Peterson, the novelist convicted of killing his wife in their Durham mansion.

The trial was shown daily on Court TV, and a documentary about the case prominently featured Black. Her courtroom colloquialisms, such as the "pure-T filth" phrase she used to describe pornography found in the Peterson home, have been repeated often.

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