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The fallout from false rape charges filed against three Duke University lacrosse players in 2006 has already created plenty of legal trouble: Prosecutor Mike Nifong is disbarred and on trial, and the university has already settled a lawsuit filed by the players. Now it may be the city of Durham’s turn. Last week the city, which could be liable for civil rights violations committed by its police department during the probe, received a call from three attorneys representing the players: attorneys Brendan Sullivan and Chris Manning of D.C.’s Williams & Connolly and New York attorney Barry Scheck. For Sullivan, whose former clients include President Bill Clinton, it’s been a busy summer: In July, Sullivan was hired by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), now a subject in a federal corruption probe. Scheck is director of the Innocence Project and, of course, was one of O.J. Simpson’s defense attorneys. When city officials learned of the latest lawyers, they abruptly halted a special committee appointed to review the city’s handling of the case, citing the risk of violating its $5 million insurance policy. “It’s in a holding pattern right now,” says Durham public affairs director Beverly Thompson of the probe. The city has scheduled a meeting with the potential plaintiffs’ attorneys next week.
Jeff Horwitz can be contacted at [email protected].

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