Mike Nifong will spend Friday night in jail.

Nifong, the former Durham district attorney, was sentenced to serve one day in jail last Friday after being held in contempt of court by Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith.

Disbarred in June for ethics violations, Nifong could have been sentenced to as many as 30 days in jail and required to pay a $500 fine.

The ruling came after a hearing Friday. Smith found that Nifong had lied to the court during his testimony last September when he said he gave defense attorneys all the results from a crucial DNA test.

North Carolina law requires prosecutors to provide defense attorneys with any evidence that is possibly exculpatory.

Smith found that Nifong had knowingly provided defense attorneys with an incomplete report. The omitted data contained test results showing the DNA of four men-none of whom were Duke lacrosse players-on Crystal Mangum, the exotic dancer who claimed she was sexually assaulted at a March 2006 party held by the lacrosse team.

Nifong denied last Friday that he had ever intentionally lied about whether he had turned over evidence to the players' attorneys. He did, however, admit that the report he provided was incomplete.

"It was never my intention to mislead this or any other court," Nifong said. "All the statements that I made to the court... I believed to be true."

The omissions resulted from a misunderstanding, said Dr. Brian Meehan, the director of DNA Security, Inc., the private lab that prepared the DNA report.

"My company and the company's assessment of that document request was that clearly there was a misunderstanding, that whoever went through that document we provided, that there were some things that they didn't understand completely, that clearly they got wrong," Meehan said.

The two-day hearing was about preserving the integrity of the justice system, not the lacrosse case, Smith said.

"It's about the candor, accuracy and truthfulness in representations to the court, particularly in important matters where the liberties and rights to a fair trial of those accused of crime may be jeopardized by the absence of such honesty by counsel," Smith said. "The court expects, as well it should, to be able to rely on lawyers' representations."

The sentencing of a district attorney to jail is nearly unprecedented, Duke Professor of Law Thomas Metzloff told Newsday Friday.

"This just doesn't happen," he said. "This was a very important moment because it showed that the court system really cared about what happened in this case."

Friday's ruling may finally give the accused former lacrosse players-Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans, Trinity '05-and their families a conclusion to the episode that has claimed over two years of their lives, father Kevin Finnerty told Newsday.

"It does give us closure; I think the three boys have their reputations back," Finnerty added. "It's not a happy day for us, but we're thrilled the system works, that justice has happened, and we're moving on."

Joseph Cheshire, Evans' attorney, was less charitable in his comments.

"I think what [Nifong] did was willful and intentional and damaged seriously this state and the lives of these boys and their families," Cheshire told Time Magazine Saturday. "I don't feel sorry for Mike Nifong. Sorry if that sounds cruel, but I don't."

Controversy surrounding the lacrosse case is expected to continue, as civil suits against the Durham Police Department, Nifong and others are likely, lawyers involved said.

Nifong is required to report to the Durham County Jail Friday at 9 a.m.