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Law Prof Resisted Rush to Judgment

Posted Sep 7, 2007 2:11 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Washington Post column praises a law professor for his investigation in a lacrosse case that ended with disbarred former district attorney Mike Nifong going to jail today.

Nifong arrived at a detention center this morning to serve a one-day sentence for lying to a judge in his prosecution of three Duke lacrosse players for rape. Charges were dropped after tests revealed that none of the DNA on the accuser came from the three defendants.

Nifong was sentenced for falsely telling a judge he had turned over DNA tests to the defense while withholding the exculpatory results, the New York Times reports.

The Post column blames academics and journalists for stereotyping the athletes and ignoring the facts in a rush to judgment. The authors conclude that one hero has emerged from the case: Duke law school professor James Coleman Jr., assigned to write a report on the Duke lacrosse team’s culture.

Coleman surprised some colleagues when he wrote that although team members drank and partied, they did well in class, behaved well on trips, and had no history of sexual harassment or racist slurs.

The three exonerated men are discussing a settlement of a possible civil rights suit against Durham, N.C., for wrongful prosecution that would pay them each $10 million, the Herald-Sun reports.

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