Despite an apology from the prosecutor who pursued rape charges against their clients, the lawyers for three exonerated former Duke lacrosse players were weighing a lawsuit against him, and legal experts said their case could have merit.
Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong’s issued a carefully worded apology to the players on Thursday, but it may not have been enough to prevent the former players from suing him.
So far, attorneys for David Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty have not said whether they plan a civil action against Nifong. But they have not ruled it out.
Prosecutors generally have immunity for what they do inside the courtroom, but experts said that protection probably doesn’t cover some of Nifong’s more questionable actions in his handling of the case _ such as calling the lacrosse players ”a bunch of hooligans” in one of several interviews deemed unethical by the state bar.
”I think their chances of success suing Mr. Nifong are reasonably good, despite what we call prosecutorial immunity,” said John Banzhaf, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law.
On Wednesday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper threw out the case against the three young men, pronounced them innocent and delivered a withering attack on Nifong, portraying him as a ”rogue” prosecutor guilty of ”overreaching.” Cooper said Nifong rushed the case, failed to verify the accuser’s allegations and pressed on despite the warning signs.