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.
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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