Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Court Rules Against Duke

Under the headline “Fed judge KO's Duke, city's lacrosse plea” the Durham Herald Sun’s Ray Gronberg reports:

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from Duke University and Durham's government for sanctions against the legal team that's representing 38 members of the 2005-06 Duke men's lacrosse team.

U.S. District Judge James Beaty Jr. held that the Web site, news release and news conference the players and their attorneys used to publicize the filing of the case in February didn't run afoul of ethical guidelines intended to assure a fair trial.

Beaty stressed that under the law, Duke and Durham had to show the statements made on behalf of the players had a substantial likelihood of prejudicing jurors.

The lead attorney for the players, Charles Cooper, said prejudice isn't likely, given that a trial in the federal civil-rights lawsuit is likely a year and a half away.

Beaty also noted that he and lawyers for both sides would also have a chance, when the trial begins, to question potential jurors and screen out any who've formed an opinion about the case. …
The rest of Gronberg’s story’s here.

At the website Duke sought to shut down, www.dukelawsuit.com, the following statement is posted:
Chief Judge James A. Beaty, Jr. of the US District Court in Winston-Salem today denied Duke University’s and the City of Durham’s motion to sanction lawyers for the 38 Duke lacrosse players for holding a news conference and maintaining a blog about their lawsuit.

Judge Beatty issued an order which included guidance to both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ attorneys about their relations to the news media.

We will study the judge’s guidance and govern ourselves accordingly. …
The judge's ruling won’t come as a surprise to those of you who’ve followed the case in posts here.

This post - Duke lowers bar and stumbles - includes some of my thoughts on the motion as well as the much more expert thinking of attorneys Paul Mirangoff (blogs at Powerline.com) and Jason Trumpbour ( spokesperson for Friends of Duke University and University of Maryland Law School professor) who are both linked in the post.

See also Duke's Motion a Stumble

Regarding Cooper’s statement that a trial is a year and a half away, keep in mind that discovery would occur well before the start of a trial.

I’m very glad to be reporting what is good news for citizens who wish to keep themselves informed concerning a civil rights suit with implications not simply for the parties directly involved, but for justice in America.

Hat tip: Very alert blog friend in NY


Anonymous said...

John -

Now let's see if Duke settles out of court. The thinking of some of the people I had read was that the lawsuit was a ploy to determine which way the judge was leaning - more discovery or less discovery. If the judge was inclined to the latter, so the thinking went, Duke would settle out of court. With the ruling that has come down, it seems to me the judge is indeed inclined towards the latter (although I have not yet read his opinion). Don't be surprised if Duke settles out of court. Anything to avoid the embarrassment of discovery.

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

Some, if not all of the plaintiffs will not be satisfied with anything but Duke being pilloried in public for its egregious and dastardly behavior. It isn't about $$$ folks, despite what the Duke-enablers have claimed.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Alum8284 said...

Are you sure you have your more/less straight? I was remembering that the thinking was Duke would try to settle if they feared the judge allowing a lot of unsealed discovery.

In any event, I agree with hawkeye that a lot of this group of plaintiffs is not really interested in a monetary settlement. It is pretty clear in the filing that they are looking for substantive change at Duke and not just a payoff.

Anonymous said...

You are correct,some of the group(Duke 47) would like to see BOSTOCK, STEEL, WAGONER, SCHWARTZ,JOHNNY J.; notwithstanding the hundreds of millions they as a group have given; be introduced to the TRUTH. The reference to the 47 is just that, all the team members ARE being effected, WHAT ARE THESE TRUSTEES( DUKIES) covering up, is it possibly a very EARLY SETTLEMENT & APOLOGY to CGM at the expense of the TEAM? Why did JJM threaten to resign from the BOT after reading S.Taylor's book some 9 mmonths ago? Why did David Gergan tell childhood friend J. Cheshire in June 2006, the only worrying thing about the case for the BOT was a law suit from CGM??

kbp said...

Thanks John

Jack in SS,
For Duke to settle it will need to figure out how to settle all 3 complaints for ALL of the defendants.

While I believe everything is for sale, the price to achieve reach that outcome is much greater than what I anticipate the Duke administration can get from those that control the funds.


Anonymous said...

John -

Sorry I bolixed up my comment. Alum8284 is perfectly correct in pointing out my error. What I meant to say was that the judge will be inclined to more discovery not less. Also, KBP may be right. Duke may not have sufficient funds to settle all of this out of court. It should be an interesting time now that the shoe's on the other foot.

Jack in Silver Spring