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Attorneys Ask to Continue Lawsuit Against Nifong

A year after charges were dropped against three former Duke lacrosse players, their attorneys want a judge to lift a stay that keeps them from suing the former district attorney.

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Nifong Questioned at Bankruptcy Hearing
DURHAM, N.C. — Attorneys for three former Duke University lacrosse players filed a motion this week asking a judge to lift a stay that keeps them from suing former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong.

Nifong filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January, listing a debt of $180.3 million and David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann – as well as three other players who filed suit – as unsecured creditors, each owed $30 million.

Attorneys for Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann, however, say in the April 8 filing that bankruptcy was a tactic he used to avoid a federal civil rights lawsuit by their client and a jury trial.

A judge removed Nifong's name from the lawsuit – which also names the City of Durham and others as defendants – in January but said he could again be added to the suit, depending on the outcome of the bankruptcy case.

If the bankruptcy judge determines Nifong willfully and maliciously injured the players, bankruptcy rules won't protect him from civil litigation.

A federal court administrator said in February Nifong shouldn't be granted bankruptcy protection because he makes too much money.

For 13 months, Nifong pursued first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual assault charges against Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann in connection with an exotic dancer's claims she was raped at a player hosted by several lacrosse players.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed charges of first-degree sexual assault and first-degree kidnapping against the three men a year ago Friday, calling the case "a tragic rush to accuse."

Nifong had dropped the rape charge against the three men on Dec. 22, 2006, after Crystal Mangum told an investigator she was no longer certain a rape, as defined by state law, occurred.

Last summer, the North Carolina State Bar disbarred Nifong, and he resigned as district attorney. A Superior Court judge held him in contempt of court for statements he made in court and sentenced him to a one-day jail sentence.

Mangum hasn't spoken publicly since granting a single interview in the early days of the case, and people close to her family have said she's cut ties while trying to rebuild her life.

Cooper never pursued a case against Mangum saying she likely believed the allegations. With records under seal, he said, he would not talk about it why he didn't pursue a case.

Evans is now working in New York; Finnerty is a sophomore at Loyola College in Maryland and Seligmann is a junior at Brown University – both continue to play lacrosse.

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