Local News

Duke Files Motion to Take Down Lawsuit Web Site

Posted February 29, 2008

— Duke University and other plaintiffs named in a civil rights lawsuit have filed a motion in federal court to have a Web site about the suit removed.

The 18-page motion, filed in U.S. District Court Thursday saying the site, www.dukelawsuit.com, and other actions by the plaintiffs' attorney make clear the plaintiffs' intention to "use the techniques of modern communication … to win litigation."

Thirty-eight members of Duke's 2006 men's lacrosse team filed suit last Thursday against the university, the City of Durham, Durham police investigators and others in connection with the defunct criminal case against three of their team members.

In the motion, Duke says that a press conference to announce the suit, a news release before the suit was filed and the Web site, "the official source of information" about the lawsuit "appear to be calculated to 'influence the actual outcome of the trial' and prejudice the potential jurors.

Attorneys argue it is not practical for the defendants to monitor the on a constant basis because it can be updated continuously and viewed all the time.

"A retort in the press cannot meaningfully rebut a Web site that continually changes and offers new and inappropriate information to the public," the motion says.

It also takes aim at the nearly hour-long press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., on Feb. 21, saying the venue "maximized this media sensation."

"Coverage is just what was sought when the press conference was held," the motion says. It cites text from Bork Communication Group's Web site that says legal battles are increasingly fought and won "in a court of public opinion long before attorneys see the inside of a courtroom."

Bork Communications is the public relations firm representing the plaintiffs.

The motion also says statements at the briefing by one of the plaintiffs' father were "presented in a manner calculated to engender sympathy in everyone watching the live feed on television, and anyone who reads what the reporters wrote about the statement, including potential jurors."

The latest of three lawsuits filed in wake of the Duke lacrosse case, this suit accuses Duke of ignoring, suppressing and discrediting evidence that proved the players innocent.

It says the school imposed discipline that implied the team was guilty when it suspended and then canceled the highly ranked team's 2006 season after exotic dancer Crystal Mangum alleged rape against David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

They were declared innocent in April and have since sued former District Attorney Mike Nifong, Durham and police detectives who handled the case. They reached an undisclosed financial settlement with the university in June.

Three other players filed a suit last year, accusing the school, Nifong and numerous others of a conspiracy that inflicted emotional distress.

Duke has said it will vigorously defend both suits.

12 Comments

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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 29, 6:11 p.m.

    FYI to Duke.

    With the nationwide coverage that the Duke Lacrosse case had, other than a remote Eskimo village. There is no way to get a jury that hasn't been prejudiced by all of the media coverage.

    Anybody who has watched CNN or Fox News over the last year knows about Nifong, the Duke 88, and Duke turning on it's students to appease the African American community in Durham.

    Duke make it easy on everybody and give the players what they want. After the way Duke and the Duke 88 treated them, they deserve everything that they get from Duke.

  • nodoginthisfight Feb 29, 5:56 p.m.

    All 88 professors should be given their 15 minutes out from under their rocks to account for their actions. They were the ones with the full page ad. Broadhead needs to be held responsible for the 88 bottom dwellers as well as that good for nothing AD Alleva.

    Alleva is as guilty as the 88 and Broadhead for jumping to conclusions, and masterminding cover ups. The trustees for some reason won't clean house and either reprimand or terminate the whole group.

  • BigUNCFan Feb 29, 5:49 p.m.

    Sounds like that Duke is scared. They have just as much right to use similar methods to promote their side of the story with a web site etc. The standard has to be pretty high to deny people the right to a press conference or a web site since you are denying them a basic First Amendment right to assembly or speech or the press.

    Sounds to me like Duke is trying every trick in the book because they think they will lose.

    Hope that the first amendment prevails in this one.

  • foetine Feb 29, 5:26 p.m.

    my source at Duke says the University is fearful that all 88 professors will be dragged onto the stand to defend their ad. The University doesn't want this humiliation to their staff since a few of the major names are already turning into prima donnas that don't want to have to put their hands on the Bible.

  • hooptie1964 Feb 29, 5:24 p.m.

    I'm not defending the city or university at all - but the defendents having a website promoting their lawsuit, press conferences and presentations seem to be the same type of actions that landed Nifong in hot water.

    Just a casual observation.

  • jon2four Feb 29, 5:02 p.m.

    Who are these guys that no one knows there name and they were hurt by too much publicity,that people are tired of hearing about anyway.why not just give everyone at Duke a million dollars out of their trust fund.

  • nodoginthisfight Feb 29, 4:36 p.m.

    So freedom of speech only applies to who?

  • PaulRevere Feb 29, 4:35 p.m.

    Funny coming from the universtiy in which the city "leaders" insisted a jury trial in Durham wouldn't be biased against the players with all the old media coverage that protected Crstyal Mangum to the bitter end and portrayed the 3 innocent players as guilty. Meanwhile, outside the court room the New Black Panther Party was yelling threatening comments and racial slurs at the Duke students before and after Duke allowed the NBBP to march on campus. No one will forget that, Duke, no matter how many website you try to censor.

  • WHEEL Feb 29, 4:34 p.m.

    Anyone in the State of North Carolina who is not thouroughly familiar with this case doesn't have sense enough to be on a jury.

  • bushretard Feb 29, 4:33 p.m.

    anyone too dumb to NOT get out of jury duty is too dumb to access the world wide web.

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