Disgraced Duke Lacrosse DA: Civil Suit Fruitless

6:19 AM, Aug 16, 2008   |    comments
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Durham, NC -- The three former Duke lacrosse players suing Mike Nifong for civil right violations will never win any money from the disgraced prosecutor, his attorney argued in court papers filed Friday.

"These creditors, certainly their counsel, have to know they will never collect so much as $35 from Mike Nifong," James B. Craven III wrote in a filing.

"They must know that, yet still they come."

Citing a woman's story that she was raped at a team party in March 2006, Nifong pursued charges against the three players: Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann.

His case collapsed amid the woman's changing story and a lack of corroborating evidence, and state prosecutors eventually declared the three players innocent in April 2007. David Rudolf, the local attorney representing the players, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Craven's motion asked the federal judge hearing the case to reinstate a stay that had protected Nifong from the player's lawsuit as he moved through bankruptcy proceedings.
 
Nifong filed for bankruptcy in January, claiming more than $180 million in liabilities, mostly from the threat of pending lawsuits. In his request, Craven also refuted several of the lawsuit's claims, including those alleging malicious prosecution and obstruction of justice.

He called allegations the former players suffered physical injury "hyperbolic pleading," and challenged the assertion the players spent a large amount of their own money on their defense.
 
"Upon information and belief, all defense costs were paid or reimbursed by a non-party Duke University alumnus," the memorandum stated. Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann filed suit in October against Nifong, the city of Durham, police investigators and several others, accusing the defendants of conducting "one of the most chilling episodes of premeditated police, prosecutorial and scientific misconduct in modern American history."

Along with monetary damages, the players' lawsuit also demands numerous reforms to the way the Durham Police Department handles investigations and trains its officers.

They reached a private settlement with Duke last year.

Three unindicted players also filed a lawsuit, naming Duke and others, as did more than three dozen current and former Duke lacrosse players in a separate action claiming they suffered emotional distress during Nifong's prosecution of the case.

In the wake of the players' exoneration, Nifong was disbarred for committing more than two dozen violations of the North Carolina State Bar's rules of professional conduct.

The state bar found that Nifong made misleading and inflammatory public comments outside the courtroom, including an incident in which he called the players "hooligans."

Associated Press

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