DA Wants Duke Players' ID Card Records

2006/4/11 #924719: Mike Nifong headshot, as Durham County Assistant District Attorney, speaking at community forum to discuss rape allegations against members of the Duke lacrosse team, North Carolina, photo on black AP

Every member of Duke University's lacrosse team is a potential witness in the case against three players charged with rape, a prosecutor said Monday while arguing for access to their student ID card records.

"We want to be able to confirm what they tell us about where they went afterward," District Attorney Mike Nifong said of the uncharged players.

The cards can be used to purchase items and gain access to campus buildings. Attorneys for the uncharged players argued Monday that information is protected by federal privacy laws and that Nifong's May 31 subpoenas seeking the records were flawed.

The subpoenas also sought a list of the uncharged players' home addresses, which Nifong said he needed to ensure he could call the players to testify at a trial unlikely to begin before spring 2007.

"We're not trying to investigate them," Nifong said. "We are not trying to say there are crimes that we want to prove they are guilty of. We want to be put in a position to call them to tell the jury in Durham what they observed go on that night when this took place."

Judge Kenneth C. Titus said he would likely decide the issue on Friday.

Also Monday, the judge declined to issue a deadline for the completion of the discovery process during a brief pretrial hearing in the case against three players charged with raping an exotic dancer at a March party. The players — Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans — did not attend their hearing.

Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J.; Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y.; and Evans, 23, of Bethesda, Md., are charged with rape, kidnapping and sexual offense.

Titus also formally reaffirmed the state's rules governing trial publicity and disclosure of information to the public and the media. The order does not prevent attorneys in the case from talking publicly, but does prohibit statements that have a "substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing" the case.

"The rules of professional responsibility require us to be very careful of what we say," said Wade Smith, one of Finnerty's attorneys. "We'll do that. We've been doing that. And we'll continue to do that."

For weeks, Nifong has generally declined to comment about the case while defense attorneys have been much more vocal, routinely pronouncing the innocence of their clients.

"It would not have precluded us from doing a single thing that we have done so far," Joseph Cheshire, one of Evans' attorneys, said of Titus' order.

  • John Kreiser

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