shouldRE: Ther North Carolina (Duke lacrosse) case /Offline Please

Ronald Nelson rnelson at
Fri Apr 13 08:59:52 PDT 2007

A starting place might be the opinion in Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478 (1991) (J. White) which draws a distinction between a prosecutors actions in court and actions involved in the investigation of a crime.  In Burns, a section 1983 action, absolute immunity covered the former situation but not the latter - the Court affirmed a directed verdict in favor of the prosecutor for court activity (obtaining a search warrant) but reversed the D.V. with respect to legal advice to the police before court appearances.

Ron Nelson

University of South Alabama 
>>> "Bezanson, Randall P" <randy-bezanson at> 04/13/07 8:29 AM >>> 
I know that Prof. Holden's message asked for off line responses, but the
topic of the Duke cases raises two questions about which I know little,
but would be interested in others' informed views.  First, is
prosecutorial immunity absolute, and second, if not, what would have to
be proven to override it should the boys' families wish to sue to
recover their substantial costs of defense over the past year? 
Randy Bezanson
University of Iowa Law School


From: conlawprof- bounces at
[mailto:conlawprof- bounces at] On Behalf Of
matthewhpolsci at
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2007 8:44 PM
To: lawcourts- l at; conlawprof at
Subject: Ther North Carolina (Duke lacrosse) case /Offline Please

The North Carolina case and the way the local prosecutor handled it is
sure to produce a lot of discussion about policy and procedural changes
to constrain prosecutorial discretion.
I am interested in the whole subject that I sometimes call "the politics
of prosecution," and have been following aspects of it for some years.
If there are colleagues who have work of their own that they want to
mention, or ideas they want to share, offline, I would be interested.
I will treat anything with whatever degree of restraint others may wish,
but I am personally not ready for protracted on- line discussions.  In
any case, my experience tells me that most colleagues are expert in, and
interested in, judicial decision- making, rather than in pre- judicial
decision- making.
Sincerely yours,

Matthew Holden, Jr.
Henry L. and Grace M. Doherty Professor Emeritus of Politics, University
of Virginia

P. O. Box 12588
LeFleur Station
Jackson, MS 39236- 2588

Phone: 601- 952- 0596


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