Duke Lacrosse Case

Criminal Defense

The most notable criminal case our Firm has been involved in is, unquestionably, the investigation, prosecution, and exoneration of the Duke Men’s Lacrosse Team. In the days before the case became a national controversy, many members of the men’s lacrosse team came to our Firm with a problem of the most serious kind: they were accused of a horrific sexual assault that did not happen. The accusation, we knew, would threaten the reputations of all of them and their families, and that restoring their reputations meant proving their innocence.

We accomplished this through the joint-representation of over thirty of the team members. Using metadata in the digital files of pictures taken during the night, cell phone records, dorm-access card reports, and the collective memory of all of the team members, we constructed an irrefutable digital timeline of events of the evening that ruled out the possibility that the accuser was sexually assaulted by anyone. Before any charging decisions were made in the case, all 47 members of the men’s lacrosse team had immutable digital alibis that were corroborated by the witness accounts of every individual present. On April 17, 2006, two boys were wrongfully indicted. Our Firm issued a press statement unequivocally asserting their innocence:

Today, two young men have been charged with crimes they did not commit. This is a tragedy. For the two young men, an ordeal lies ahead… They are both innocent.

Almost one year later, on April 11, 2007, the North Carolina Attorney General announced that his Special Prosecutors, Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, and SBI Agents Greg Tart and DeSilva, drew the same conclusion; they declared the accused were innocent. Special Prosecutors Jim Coman and Mary Winstead, relied heavily on our timeline of digital evidence and our synthesis of corroborating witness accounts in their conclusion that the sexual assault Crystal Mangum claimed did not happen. Jim Coman described the timeline of digital evidence “irrefutable” and “unalterable.” Coman and Winstead used it extensively in their report on their investigation and conclusions, published in April of 2006, entitled Summary of Conclusions.

The Firm is proud of the role it played in the case and its collaboration with Special Prosecutors Jim Coman and Mary Winstead to establish the truth of this matter so clearly that they did far more than merely dismiss the cases: They declared innocence.