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Duke Lacrosse Suit Lawyers Want More Time

Posted November 28, 2007

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— Attorneys in the Duke lacrosse civil rights lawsuit want more time to respond to the complaint filed last month by the three exonerated former Duke students.

Collin Finnerty, David Evans and Reade Seligmann filed the 155-page complaint in October alleging the city of Durham, former District Attorney Mike Nifong, former police Chief Steve Chalmers and several police detectives and officers conspired to keep a weak case alive as Nifong faced election in the Democratic primary for district attorney.

Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann are asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and numerous changes in the way the Durham Police Department handles criminal investigations.

The joint motion, agreed by all parties, asks to allow until Jan. 15 for defense filings and then 90 days afterward for the plaintiffs to respond to defense filings. Several of the defendants are expected to file motions to dismiss the suit.

Finnerty, Evans and Seligmann were charged in April and May 2006 after exotic dancer Crystal Mangum claimed she was raped at an off-campus party hosted by lacrosse players.

Even as the case unfolded, Nifong pursued charges of first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual assault until December, when he dismissed the rape charge against the three men.

Less than a month later, he recused himself from the case and asked for a special prosecutor to handle it. Earlier this year, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped the case, saying his special prosecutors had found no grounds to proceed.