A Libel Law Analysis of Media Abuses in Reporting on the Duke Lacrosse Fabricated Rape Charges
Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, Vol. 11, No. 99, Fall 2008
82 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2009
Date Written: January 29, 2009
The broad outlines of the monumental injustices involved in the Duke lacrosse rape-that-never-happened case are well known. An unethical local prosecutor, Michael B. Nifong, for partisan political reasons, pursued the Duke lacrosse team and ultimately indicted three of its members based almost solely on the accusations of a wholly unreliable, self-proclaimed victim. Nifong received generous support and sustenance from many left-leaning, politically active Duke faculty, an extraordinarily inept (or worse) Duke administration, and almost the entirety of the mainstream media. Ultimately, following a detailed analysis by his office, North Carolina Attorney General Roy A. Cooper publicly excoriated Nifong in concluding that the three students wrongfully accused by a "rogue prosecutor" were innocent; there had never been any credible evidence to support the charges. Nifong was disbarred and generally disgraced. The Duke lacrosse fabricated rape case has since entered the annals of legal history and will doubtlessly be analogized for decades to come as a modern, reverse "Scottsboro Boys" epic, with the accused white students being railroaded by an African American "victim" in cahoots with a race-baiting prosecutor. Indeed, being "Nifonged" has become synonymous with being "railroaded." The authors of Until Proven Innocent, Stuart Taylor, Jr. and K. C. Johnson, have written an exceptionally thorough and riveting account of the Duke lacrosse case that exposes and eviscerates the actions of the multiple complicit actors in this perversion of justice. Many have reviewed this account and universally praised its professionalism. None have questioned its basic conclusions.
Keywords: Duke lacrosse, rape, libel, media abuses
JEL Classification: K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation