Duke lawyers drop fight to keep Brodhead, Trask from testifying in lax lawsuits

Posted Wednesday at 1:30 AM
Scroll down. Several new items.

Lawyers for the lacrosse players suing Duke University and defense lawyers for Duke have agreed that President Brodhead and Executive Vice President Trask, who formerly was in charge of athletics, will give depositions.

We have no word yet on former Trustee chair Bob Steel. Nor on the precise dates for Brodhead and Trask.

This marks the first time that Duke officials will go under oath to answer questions about their handling of the 2006 hoax that saw three lax players indicted for a rape that never occurred.

Legal experts say it's been a cornerstone of Duke's legal strategy to keep Brodhead and the others from facing the battery of plaintiff's lawyers. One expert thinks the change can be attributed to the withdrawal or termination -- take your pick -- of lawyer Jamie Gorelick from Duke's team. She is from a Washington law firm, and she alone billed the university $2 million one year.

✔ While there's agreement about the testimony of Brodhead and Trask, the rest of the pre-trial discovery process is bogged down. For example, Duke not only wants to get depositions from 41 players suing the school, but wants additional depositions from as many as 82 other people. One purpose: some players allege they had trouble getting jobs and the added people might shed light on that.

Then Duke is being tough about where the depositions will be held. The university says Durham -- but none of the players is in the region anymore. Defense lawyers want Duke to bear the burden of travel.

A federal judge will have to set the terms and conditions. And the best guess is that it's another year before everyone finishes legal maneuverings, depositions and swapping documents... and then we wait for a trial date.

Oh, we have not discussed at all the city of Durham's being a defendant. That parallel lawsuit is in an appeals court while Durham tries to wiggle out of liability.

Patience. Patience.

✔ ✔ Earlier on Tuesday, a North Carolina appeals court declared Brian Meehan of DNA Security, who was much in the news during the lacrosse hoax, a loser in his fight to get his job back.

Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong hired Meehan's private firm -- instead of sending samples to the state lab -- to test DNA samples from Crystal Gail Mangum, the dancer claiming she was raped orally, vaginally and anally by three Duke lacrosse players. This was after Nifong had gone dramatically on TV to say DNA would identify precisely who -- among dozens of lacrosse players at a team party -- had actually raped Mangum.

Answer: none. No Duke DNA.

Problem: Meehan in fact found DNA from a multitude of other men -- DNA in Mangum's panties, in her vagina and in her rectum. Yes rectum, where there were several samples. When Nifong asked Mangum privately about all this, she said she had used a white towel to wipe away the Duke semen. Yes, a magic white towel that left in place DNA from other men, but absorbed all the Duke DNA. Nifong knew this was the final nail in his coffin, for it would exonerate the Dukies.

So the disgusting DA and Meehan conspired to keep some of the DNA tests secret; under state law, the three lax players who were indicted were entitled to see all of the tests before trial. All of them.

Defense lawyers -- led by Brad Bannon, the youngest member of the defense team who took it upon himself to study DNA -- unraveled this in one of the most dramatic moments of the entire hoax, as Meehan was being pounded without mercy with questions during a pre-trial hearing.

Two and half years earlier, Meehan had sold the firm he started, DNA Security, to American Media International. He got a seven year employment contract at $125,000 per year, plus cost of living adjustments, plus a bonus of $160,000 if he stayed with American Media at least until 2008.

American Media International canned Meehan in 2007 after the conspiracy and his mis-deeds became known. He said American Media did this to avoid paying the $160,000.

He sued to get his job back and the bonus. He lost, the trial judge issuing a summary order, meaning he did not even listen to Meehan.

Meehan appealed.

We are writing about all this today because a three judge appeals court has just ruled unanimously against Meehan.

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