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Duke Lacrosse Suit Adds Baker as New Defendant

Posted December 11, 2007

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— Three former Duke lacrosse players who have sued Durham and a number of officials in federal court added Durham City Manager Patrick Baker as a defendant on Tuesday, the same day the city said Baker will shift from manager to city attorney.

The players’ revised lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Greensboro, also added an allegation that city leaders, including baker, browbeat two police officers to push ahead with the case to satisfy community demands even though evidence was indicating Reade Seligmann, David Evans and Collin Finnerty were not guilty.

The suit already named the city of Durham, former District Attorney Mike Nifong, former police Chief Steve Chalmers and several police detectives and officers. The players want the defendants punished "for outrageous conduct pursued out of actual malice" that violated the players' civil rights.

In adding Baker, the players’ amended suit said, “Defendant Patrick Baker is and was, at all times relevant to this action, the City Manager for the City of Durham, North Carolina. In that position, Baker served in a supervisory and/or policymaking capacity for the City of Durham and the Durham Police Department.”

The revised suit also alleged that “on or about March 29, 2006,” Baker, Chalmers and others called two Durham police officers – Investigator Benjamin Himan and Detective Mark Gottlieb – to a meeting about the case against the players.

At the meeting, the players’ attorneys wrote, “Himan and Gottlieb were ordered or otherwise pressured to expedite the identifications and arrests of Duke lacrosse players, notwithstanding the evidence demonstrating Plaintiffs’ innocence.”

That was done “in order to satisfy a Durham community that had been misled by the false and inflammatory Nifong Statements and Durham Police Statements into believing that three white Duke lacrosse players had committed a violent and racially-motivated gang rape,” the court papers say.

Evans, Finnerty 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 in March 2006. Even as the case began to unravel, 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.

The lawsuit calls for the appointment of an independent monitor who would oversee the police department for 10 years and have the power to hire, fire and promote police department personnel, including the chief of police. The monitor would answer only to the federal court.

Seligmann, Evans and Finnerty also want to change photo-identification lineups like the one that helped secure their indictments. One thing they want is to have all identification procedures, both formal and informal, videotaped.

8 Comments

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  • doogaad Dec 12, 2007

    Durham city government is like a third world country's gov't!

  • NC_VET Dec 11, 2007

    It seems some people forgot that the LAX members were trashed
    by the media till the truth came out. Also the City of Durham
    has already rejected settling the suit and want to go to trial
    so they can see if the same people who elected Nifong will get
    on the jury. Baker is now changing jobs but the damage is done
    and naming him should have been done from the first.

  • MarcoPolo Dec 11, 2007

    His only job will be with this LAX Case. There's no doubt right now the City is trying to settle with the players.

    If he screws it up (which he inevitably will), it'll be up to the ignorant or complacent citizentry to pay up (which they inevitably will). It does make me wonder how they can AFFORD all the mistakes. I mean they wake up in the morning and step on a rake. Then they raise the rake above their heads like a trophy.

    Bell must be running into some serious debt already or it completely shows all the government waste. How much money does it take to run a local gov't?

    Durham people are missing a few lightbulbs.

  • pwilliamson53 Dec 11, 2007

    Why not go after Crystal Mangum now? She started the whole mess. She should be charged and sentenced too.
    This case has uncovered alot of stuff, and hopefully more will come out. Let's clean up our police depts, Highway patrol, and other government systems.
    But lets see justice for the 3 young men.

  • Nancy Dec 11, 2007

    "The guys were only accused not convicted..wonder how many Black men are now locked locked up falsely?"

    And aren't you glad they turned over so many rocks that hide so much corruption in the judicial system? That people get railroaded falsely all the time?

    There is a huge benefit to exposing corruption, it floats ALL boats, not just those who finance the exposure.

  • Winston Dec 11, 2007

    mrr03, not as many that are deservedly locked up.

  • mrr03 Dec 11, 2007

    Here we go again with the Duke incident..The guys were only accused not convicted..wonder how many Black men are now locked locked up falsely?

  • mrduffin Dec 11, 2007

    The reason Baker was not fired is because he knows too much on the others involved!