CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Lawyers in the Duke Lacrosse Team Rape Case

Why would a prosecutor fast-track a high-profile rape case like this against rich defendants, unless the evidence were airtight?   On the other hand, why would experienced defense lawyers use the I-word in public, unless they were confident that there was no chance their clients were guilty, and thus might need, for example, to consider a plea at some point down the road?  Someone seems to be making a misjudgment or operating on incomplete information here.  The lawyers, however, look solid.

Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong: UNC Law Grad, career county DA, now standing for reelection; May 2, 2006 primary.  Interesting fact: He could not get work when he graduated from law school in the late 1970s, so he served as a volunteer ADA untila  slot opened up.  Appointed to the top job last year, he has a good reputation, but won critcism for his handling of this case so far.

Colin Finnerty's defense lawyer William J. Cotter is a 1979 Duke grad, and evidently a solo.  Comment if you have more info about him.

Reade Seligmann's attorney is Kirk Osborn, a UNC grad ('74) also evidently a solo.  He was involved in the "Little Rascals" case where one of his clients, a day care worker, was wrongfully convicted and then exonerated of accusations of being part of a child molestation ring.  Earlier this year, he was part of a team that won a life sentence in a death case based on mental retardation; the state objected that the defendant did not prove that he had been diagnosed before age 18; Osborn and company successfully countered with the argument  that since their client had attended a racially segregated state school with poor resources and no psychologists, such a requirement was unfair; he's on the board of the Fair Trial Initiative.  Ten years ago, he won an insanity acquittal for a former law student accused of two counts of murder.  He says his client is "absolutely innocent."

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