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Friday, May 19, 2006

Duke Lacrosse Scandal: Slow Road to Justice

updated: 9:37 a.m.

Reade SeligmannOne of the three Duke lacrosse players charged with sexual assault had their first day in court.

Reade Seiligman appeared in court on Thursday, May 18th, at a 25-minute hearing in front of a packed courtroom.

WRAL.com reported that Seligmann endured taunts from members of the New Black Panther Party, one of whom repeatedly yelled, "Justice will be served, rapist."

Greta Van Susteren
of FOX News reported about the man yelling the tauts. She said it made for a very tense courtroom. She said the man remained quite while the judge was in the courtroom, and it wasn't clear if he was with the New Black Panther Party or not.

Mike Nifong laughs at request for a bond reduction for Reade SeligannDistrict Attorney Mike Nifong (seated, left in photo) laughed as defense attorney Kirk Osborn requested a bond reduction for Reade Seligmann.

Osborn also asked the judge to reduce Seligmann's $400,000 bond to $40,000, saying he had letters from "senators, congressmen and friends" vouching that the player was not a flight risk.

Noting that Seligmann is out of jail, the judge said he would take up the matter at a hearing set for June 19.

Key points from the hearing:

  • Defense would like a speedy trial.
    "We want a trial as fast as we can," said Kirk Osborn, the lead attorney for Duke sophomore Reade Seligmann. "This young kid wants to go to school in the fall and he can't until this is resolved."

  • But, North Carolina justice system is slow. The case goes to trial next year.
    District Attorney Mike Nifong said at the end of Thursday's brief hearing he intended to try all three players together. The prosecutor has said he doesn't expect any trial to begin before next year, and Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Stephens gave no indication he would put the lacrosse case on a fast track.

    "This case is not going to jump ahead of the line and be handled any differently," Stephens said.

  • The defense wants Crystal Gail Mangum's (the accuser) cell phone records from night of incident.
    Most of Thursday's hearing dealt with defense access to the accuser's cell phone...

    Osborn asked the judge if a defense expert can examine evidence from a cell phone that the alleged victim had the night of the incident. Osborn said the phone was found outside of the home used by some members of the lacrosse team and brought inside. Police later took the phone and it is currently in police custody.

  • Surprisingly, Mike Nifong is not interested in Ms. Mangum's cellphone info.
    Nifong said prosecutors are not interested in the contents of the phone, such as the last 10 numbers called

  • Interesting new fact about where Ms. Mangum's phone was recovered.
    Osborn said the phone was found outside of the home used by some members of the lacrosse team and brought inside. Police later took the phone and it is currently in police custody.

  • Carton of evidence handed over.
    Nifong handed the defense a carton he said contained his case file -- 1,278 pages of reports, notes, summaries and other evidence, along with two videotapes and a computer disk containing photographs. The evidence was turned over under the court's discovery rules.

  • There is no "mole." There was some speculation that DA Mike Nifong might have found a Duke lacrosse player willing to testify for the prosecution. No evidence of any such person based on the leaks coming from the defense team.

sources:
Judge Says Duke Lacrosse Case Won't Be On Fast Track [wral.com, May 18, 2006]
Duke player wants speedy rape trial [cnn.com, May 19, 2006]

update: North Carolina Legal procedures-

RULE 4. CALENDARING PRIOR TO TRIAL

Thurdays's hearing was called a "first setting."

4.3 The first administrative calendar setting ("First Setting") shall occur four weeks after indictment. The following matters shall be accomplished at the First Setting:

  • Determination of counsel;

  • Existence of conflicts;

  • Status inquiry; including possible disposition by guilty plea;

  • Confirmation of filing of Disclosure Certificate; and

  • Pre-trial discussions between counsel.


4.4 The second administrative calendar setting ("Second Setting") [June 19th for Seligmann] shall occur eight weeks after indictment. The following matters shall be accomplished at the Second Setting:

  • Hearing of pre-arraignment motions;

  • Pre-trial discussions between counsel; and

  • Pre-trial conference with Presiding Judge (if requested); and,

  • Status inquiry, including possible disposition by guilty plea.

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