Back on April 15, Chief Judge James A. Beaty, Jr. of the US District Court in Winston-Salem held a hearing to consider a motion for sanctions by Duke University’s and the City of Durham’s against lawyers for the 38 Duke lacrosse players for holding a news conference and maintaining this Web site about their lawsuit.
Judge Beaty denied the sanctions motion and issued an order which included guidance to both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ attorneys about their relations to the news media.
We are now able to post the transcript of the hearing.
Reproduced below is the transcript of Chief Judge Beaty’s order as issued from the bench. It begins on page 47 of the transcript:
THE COURT: The Court has considered the motions that have been filed in this case and the arguments of counsel made this date. Early on the Court made mention to Mr. Cowan about the two-part basis of Rule 3.6 and whether or not any statements that might be made by an attorney to the media will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing any of the proceedings, and particularly a jury trial in this case, so that each party would have a fair and impartial hearing before the Court.
The motion before the Court is one by the Defendant Duke University and other Defendants to sanction Plaintiffs for alleged violations of North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct 3.6 and as they may have been adopted by the local rules of this court. The Court has heard the arguments and has taken each of those into account. The Court has reviewed as well both the website that — the portions that were presented here in the courtroom and as part of the Court’s own consideration of this motion. Based upon the arguments and evidence presented, Defendants’ motion for sanctions at this time is denied.
However, all of the attorneys in this case are cautioned against making or authorizing any statements that will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing any of the proceedings going forward regardless of what publicity may have occurred in the past. In addition, to the extent Plaintiffs’ counsel maintains their website about this case, either directly or through an agent, Plaintiffs’ counsel is cautioned that they are responsible for the content of that website and for ensuring that any material contained in, quoted to or linked to on their website complies with the obligation of Professional Rules of Conduct 3.6.
Of course, as presented under the present circumstances, nothing that this Court rules on as a part of this announcement affects or limits any third party, including any member of the media or other persons acting independently of the attorneys in this case.
As this case proceeds, the Court will consider whether any specific protective orders may be necessary to ensure the integrity of the proceedings is maintained and that a fair jury pool is not materially prejudiced.
The Court will deny the motion for sanctions that is present before the Court.