Prosecutors nationwide believe that the Duke Univeristy lacrosse case is hurting their image, says the National Law Journal. “It’s becoming a tool and a buzz word for defense attorneys to say, ‘Look what happened at Duke,'” says New Jersey Prosecutor Paul DeGroot. After rape charges were dropped against three lacrosse players — and the prosecutor, Durham County, N.C., District Attorney Mike Nifong, was hit with ethics charges for allegedly withholding DNA evidence — a defense lawyer in a New Jersey drug case “said to the jury, ‘We all know a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. Just look at what happened in that case down in Duke,'” recalled DeGroot.
Defense attorneys are citing Duke to discredit other criminal cases and paint prosecutors as overzealous with something to prove. “Prosecutors should be worried,” said defense attorney Edmund “Skip” Davis, the Texas attorney who cited the Duke case in a recent assault trial and plans to cite it in a rape trial next week. Davis told jurors: “Just because someone hollers out that a crime has been committed just does not make it so.” Said Clatsop County, Or., district attorney Joshua Marquis: “[That case] definitely is going to make it difficult for us, there’s no question about it.” He added: “You don’t talk about someone’s criminal record. You don’t talk about confessions. You don’t talk about tests. If you do it, then the chance of a person being denied a fair trial is great.”