Local News

Duke Lacrosse Grand Jurors Could Be Punished for Speaking Out

Posted February 7, 2007
Updated February 8, 2007

— Two former members of the grand jury that indicted three Duke lacrosse players could be charged with contempt for talking about the case.

This all comes as Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong faces his own State Bar trial for talking too much to the media early in the case.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson Jr. said he could not believe it when he heard the two grand jurors on an ABC Television program talking about the Duke lacrosse case Tuesday morning.

"It was pretty clear to me that the jurors are in violation of North Carolina law," Hudson told WRAL on Wednesday.

Last spring, the grand jury listened to Durham detectives lay out evidence in the case in which an exotic dancer claimed to have been raped by three members of the lacrosse team during an off-campus party for which she had been hired..

Members then chose to indict Collin Finnerty, Reade Seligmann and David Evans on charges of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping. Nifong subsequently dismissed the rape charge against each of the three.

When grand jurors are sworn in, Hudson noted, they are given clear instructions regarding secrecy.

The judge called the grand jury process the most sacred in the judicial system.

"I'm thinking about doing something because it is a very serious violation of the court's orders," Hudson explained.

The judge would not talk about details about what he might do, but he said grand jurors who discuss a case can be charged with contempt of court, a  misdemeanor offense that can carry up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The two jurors did not show their faces during the interview. Hudson said that could make it difficult to identify them, but he said he could call in all the grand jurors from that session and put them under oath to find out who talked.

Last month, Nifong asked the state attorney general to take over the case, and two prosecutors from that office are now in charge.

Defense attorneys met with the prosecutors Wednesday, their second session in as many weeks after having had no meetings with Nifong. They would not disclose what was discussed.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • Tired of thoughtlessness Feb 8, 2007

    I am so tired of hearing about this Duke Lacrosse case, and yet it seems so funny that I hear no more of the Denita Smith murder. I see where the priorities are.

  • 0 Tolerance aka Ms.Turner Feb 8, 2007

    OK Everyone has been screaming JUSTICE, JUSTICE, JUSTICE for all that are wrong and wrongfully accused RIGHT?! Nifong is being delt with and the stripper will be too! Now another law has been broken in this case and you people are complaining b/c something is being done about that... give me a break please! This case is out of control and so are you people.

  • PickAnotherID Feb 8, 2007

    Sheesh! Why not a MEN's rights group, seeing as how these three young men have had their rights pretty well trampled by Nifong.

  • Lovinit Feb 8, 2007

    Women's rights groups...are you kidding me? If anything they should give the money to the defendants for some of the legal fee's.

  • gaddymike Feb 8, 2007

    They shouldn't get to profit from this, and that's why they were on TV doing interviews. They should be forced by the judge to donate all proceeds from the interview to women's rights groups.

  • St Ives Feb 8, 2007

    I do not believe they spoke of anything that took place in the grand jury room or leaked anywhere as much as the DA's office has leaked. It would be a waste of time to go after these people,already too many lives have been besmearched by this traversty of justice.

  • azhomeman Feb 8, 2007

    People wake up and see how our system of Justice in N.C. is so corupt.

  • azhomeman Feb 8, 2007

    Just another point to show all the citizens of N.C. how our Justice system is so out of sink.This Judge should be punished himself for leting this injustice go on as long as it has.Our lawmakers and officals never stop to amaze me .Theres got to be a law to punish this Judge also for leting a Judge go on in a case as such.

  • AuntySocial Feb 8, 2007

    They did not speak of what occurred in the grand jury chambers. They only said if they knew then what they know now, they would not indict. I do not see where they did anything wrong.

  • brand7976 Feb 8, 2007

    Everyone knows grand juries are a crooked institution anyway.