Friday, April 13, 2007
Hopefully the Duke boys will sue
Cleared Duke Players Could Sue
Thursday, April 12, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. - Despite an apology from the prosecutor who pursued rape charges against their clients, the lawyers for three exonerated former Duke lacrosse players were weighing a lawsuit against him, and legal experts said their case could have merit.
Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's issued a carefully worded apology to the players on Thursday, but it may not have been enough to prevent the former players from suing him.
So far, attorneys for David Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty have not said whether they plan a civil action against Nifong. But they have not ruled it out.
Prosecutors generally have immunity for what they do inside the courtroom, but experts said that protection probably doesn't cover some of Nifong's more questionable actions in his handling of the case - such as calling the lacrosse players "a bunch of hooligans" in one of several interviews deemed unethical by the state bar.
"I think their chances of success suing Mr. Nifong are reasonably good, despite what we call prosecutorial immunity," said John Banzhaf, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law.
On Wednesday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper threw out the case against the three young men, pronounced them innocent and delivered a withering attack on Nifong, portraying him as a "rogue" prosecutor guilty of "overreaching." Cooper said Nifong rushed the case, failed to verify the accuser's allegations and pressed on despite the warning signs.
In his first comment on that decision, Nifong said in a statement Thursday: "To the extent that I made judgments that ultimately proved to be incorrect, I apologize to the three students that were wrongly accused."
He issued what appeared to be a plea to the students not to take any further action, saying, "It is my sincere desire that the actions of Attorney General Cooper will serve to remedy any remaining injury that has resulted from these cases."
Seligmann's attorney, Jim Cooney, said he would be advising his client's family of all of their legal options. "But nobody is racing to file any kind of a lawsuit at this point," he said.
Separately, the North Carolina bar charged Nifong months ago with several violations of professional conduct that could lead to his disbarment. The case is set for trial before a bar committee in June.
Among other things, the bar said Nifong made misleading and inflammatory comments about the athletes, even before they were charged. In the early days of the case, for example, Nifong said several times that members of the lacrosse team were not cooperating with investigators. Not true, according to court documents.
Experts said the ethics charges could form the basis for a lawsuit seeking damages from Nifong.
"Ordinarily, a prosecutor has absolute immunity for the actions he takes in preparation for a case, but there are some caveats to that, and one of them is he does not have absolute immunity for misleading statements he gives at press conferences," said Shannon Gilreath, an adjunct professor at the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Other actions Nifong took outside of the courtroom could open him up to a lawsuit, Banzhaf said. Nifong, among other things, directed the police lineup at which the accuser identified the three players; the lineup has been criticized as faulty. The bar has also accused Nifong of lying in court about having turned over all DNA test results to the defense.
"When he acts as an investigator and advises police, or makes representations to court which may be false, in all these situations he does not have absolute immunity," Banzhaf said.
But Norm Early, a former Denver district attorney who has worked for the National District Attorneys Association, said Nifong's actions alone are not enough to win a lawsuit. Nifong's intent is crucial.
"The protection of immunity is pretty broad unless it's ruled he had malicious intent or that it was something close to that," Early said. "It would be very difficult to prove a case against him."
The accuser could also be a potential target for a lawsuit. Cooper said his investigators concluded no attack took place.
"There's no question they've got a lawsuit against her if she's brought false charges against them, which may be even more easily provable than actions against Nifong," said Stan Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Some have suggested the players and their families might sue Duke University, which has been heavily criticized in some quarters for suspending the players and canceling the lacrosse team's season before the young men were even tried.
A Duke spokesman declined to comment on the prospect of a lawsuit.
Associated Press writer Aaron Beard contributed to this report from Durham, N.C.
Suing the fuck out of that bitch who started this would be great and I really hope at least one takes that option and takes Mangum's ass to court and perhaps she will see a prison sentence come out of this after all-her own.
As for Nifong,well,this is one case that we KNOW about. Who know how many times Nifong has pulled this stunt with no cameras around and how many men he has fucked over with no record of Nifong's misdeeds. I wonder if a few convictions are going to get overturned because of this.
As for the lawsuits,this is an excellent stategy for pursuing your lawsuit(s): sue the following:
1. Crystal Gail Mangum
2. Mike Nifong
3. City of Durham
4. County of Durham
5. Duke University
6. The chancellor
7. The infamous "88"
8. Feminist agitators
9. The state of North Carolina
10. The North Carolina legislature for passing an "anti-male" law such as the "rape schield" law in the first place.
11. The other dancer for changing her story to get a pay-out and causing upon these boys more stress because of her greed.
I hope they try the above as it would make a lot of difference in the lives of a lot of men.