TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Civil Litigation and Declined Prosecutions

The Seattle Times has a disturbing story about former UW standout tight end Jerramy Stevens, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his "raft" of second chances after a conviction for assault, a fairly compelling accusation of rape, and a multitude of other legal run-ins. 

Of particular note for Torts folks is the fact that much of the detail came from depositions in tort suits, as the local prosecutor declined to bring charges (over the police's objections).  The story also notes a dispute about making the plaintiff's name public; UW fought for her identity to be unsealed.  The case settled:

In the spring of 2004, the lawsuit was settled. The agreement was confidential, barring Roe [the lawyer for the alleged rape victim] and Marie [the alleged victim] from disclosing its terms.

But in a letter to the UW's attorney — obtained through a public-records request — Hunsinger [who represented Stevens] described part of the deal. The agreement allowed the UW to be dismissed from the case, while Stevens and the fraternity would settle.

The deal also allowed Stevens to avoid questions about what happened on that June night four years before.

"One of the elements of the settlement is that Jerramy not be required to participate in any other litigation involving the UW, specifically the lawsuits filed by [Roe] regarding [other UW players sued] Eric Shyne and Roc Alexander," Hunsinger wrote. "He does not want to be contacted by anyone, let alone deposed, or testify at trial."

A month later, in June 2004, Hunsinger sent Roe a check — for $300,000 — to settle the case on behalf of Stevens and the fraternity.

It's well worth reading for a number of reasons, in particular to explore the interplay of criminal and civil litigation in at least one setting with significant public pressure in play.


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