US Supreme Court won't take up Duke lacrosse players' case

ablythe@newsobserver.comNovember 12, 2013 

— The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the case of three former Duke lacrosse players who played on the 2006 team but who did not face the false criminal accusations that resulted in international headlines and several books.

In a brief, two-sentence summary published Tuesday, the nation’s highest court announced the decision in the case brought by Ryan McFadyen, Matthew Wilson and Breck Archer.

The players sued Duke University; Durham police investigators and city officials; Mike Nifong, the former Durham district attorney disbarred for his misconduct in the criminal case; and nurses who examined Crystal Mangum, the woman who made the false rape allegations.

As the case wound its way through the federal courts since it was filed in December 2007, the trio’s complaint was sharply narrowed by judicial rulings.

McFadyen, Wilson and Archer filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of a North Carolina law under which a judge ordered all but one member of the 2006 team to be swabbed for DNA. In March 2006, Durham police had 46 members of the Duke lacrosse team DNA-tested as part of the investigation into the false accusations.

Last week, the justices discussed the case behind closed doors but did not elaborate on what was said or how they reached the decision released Tuesday.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., a visiting professor this semester at the Duke law school, “took no part in the consideration or decision” of the petition, according to the order.

In October, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider another lawsuit related to the Duke lacrosse case.

Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, the three falsely accused players, filed suit in 2007 seeking to hold the City of Durham, the police department and Nifong accountable for pursuing criminal charges against them despite the many inconsistencies in Mangum’s allegations.

Mangum, who is on trial for murder in Durham County Superior Court in an unrelated case, claimed in March 2006 that she had been sexually assaulted at a team party in an off-campus house.

The three who were criminally charged and later declared innocent by the state attorney general filed a federal civil rights claim.

The city has fought the accusations.

In December 2012, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city on the federal claims but allowed some of the other claims to proceed at the state level.

The three wrongly accused players reached an undisclosed settlement with Duke University in 2007. In February, 38 members of that team also settled with Duke out of court.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service