As three exonerated Duke lacrosse players threaten a lawsuit against Durham, N.C., for their treatment by police, their reported demand for $30 million has prompted a gasp of “How much?” from some residents and taxpayers, says the Raleigh News & Observer. Some say that Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are beginning to come across as greedy, more concerned about hitting the jackpot at public expense than as the champions of the less affluent they billed themselves to be. Supporters caution that such reactions could amount to another rush to judgment of players who at the start were portrayed as hooligans and later as heroes triumphing over injustice. Mayor Bill Bell says a common theme of the e-mail he has received is that the players are asking too much and the city should take its chances in court.
In Durham, $30 million averages about $142 for each of the city’s 210,000 residents. The settlement demanded by the players — widely reported though not confirmed by the city or the players’ attorneys — would be paid over five years and would probably require a slight tax increase. The threat of civil lawsuits has stopped the work of a special committee looking into the Durham Police Department’s handling of the case. The city’s liability insurance provider said continued investigation by the committee could provide ammunition for lawyers. “The more people know about the entire affair, the stronger they feel the players should sue for absolutely everything they possibly can,” said Ken Larrey, a Duke senior and a founder of Duke Students for an Ethical Duke. The university said yesterday that it would invest $1.25 million over the next five years for its law school to establish a center devoted to the promotion of justice in the criminal justice system and the training of lawyers to fight against wrongful convictions.