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During spring break in 2006, members of the Duke lacrosse team hired two exotic dancers to perform at an off-campus party. In the hours following the party, one of the dancers alleged that she had been raped and so began what is now known as the "Duke lacrosse case." The Court of Public Opinion Conference, convened in the fall of 2007, used the Duke lacrosse case as merely a starting point and example of an all-too-frequent occurrence: private cases being catapulted into the media spotlight.

This conference sought to explore the proper balance between the rights of the individual and the public, and appropriate conduct by members of the bench, bar, and media in response to intense public interest in a case. Experts with wide-ranging experience in a host of high-profile cases presented and discussed in a number of panels and presentations with the goal of providing a better understanding of what has happened in past cases and what concepts and ideas should guide future development of policies, structures, and practices that will safeguard the private and public interests at stake.

Topics covered in the Fall 2007 conference

The topics covered during The Court of Public Opinion conference attempted to provide a multi-faceted lens through which to view the problems encountered by all groups involved in a high-profile criminal case. Six of conference panels focused on the perspective of a particular set of participants in a high-profile case: the traditional media, new media, defense counsel, prosecutors, the public, and the court. These panels examined the relevant laws, applicable ethics codes, and common practices of each group in an effort to better understand both why they act as they do and what steps might be taken in each arena to protect the rights of those involved in the legal process.

Other panels offered a comparative legal approach to balancing public and private interests and insight into the roles and priorities of an institution during a time of crisis. Then two non-traditional panels—A "Fred Friendly Roundtable" and "A Conversation: Living Through Lacrosse"—offered a chance, in hindsight, to analyze the Duke lacrosse incident and offer advice for those who might face similar situations.

Each link below will take you to a page containing a brief summary of each panel, discussion topics, the full video of the panel, and a transcript.

Conference Panels

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2007
8:30 AM

Conference Welcome and Opening Address

Kathryn Webb Bradley, Duke Law School
Sarah Hawkins
David F. Levi, Duke Law School
Eduardo Hauser
Hodding Carter III

8:30 AM

9:35 AM

The Role and Responsibility of Traditional Media

Sara Sun Beale, Duke Law School
Sylvia Adcock
Loren Ghiglione
Malcolm Moran
Eric Lieberman
Ari Shapiro
William Raspberry

9:35 AM

10:50 AM

The Role and Responsibility of New Media

James Salzman, Duke Law School
K. C. Johnson
Marcey Wheeler
Kinsey Wilson

10:50 AM

12:15 PM

A "Fred Friendly" Roundtable

Jack Ford
Margaret A. Jablonski
Beth Jaras
Kerstin Kimel
David F. Levi, Duke Law School
Lawrence G. McMichael
Ellen W. Reckhow
Sonja Steptoe
Ron Wellman
Elliott Wolf

12:15 PM

2:45 PM

The Role and Responsibility of Defense Counsel

Robert P. Mosteller, Duke Law School
Mark Geragos
Harold A. Haddon
Laurie L. Levenson
Michael E. Tigar, Duke Law School

2:45 PM

4:15 PM

The Role and Responsibility of Prosecutors

Thomas B. Metzloff, Duke Law School
R. Michael Cassidy
Colm F. Connolly
Marsha Goodenow
Loretta E. Lynch

4:15 PM

7:30 PM

Dinner at Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club with keynote speech

Howard Schneider

7:30 PM

9:00 AM

Comparative Law Approaches to Media Access to Court Proceedings

Francesca E. Bignami, Duke Law School
Lucy Dalglish
Peter M. Jacobsen
Gavon Phillipson
Giorgio Resta

9:00 AM

10:30 AM

Institutional Response to Crisis

Noah Pickus
Judith Clair
Ronald L. Dufresne
Richard S. Levick
Craig A. Masback

10:30 AM

12:00 PM

A Conversation: Living Through Lacrosse

Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke Law School
John F. Burness
James E. Coleman Jr., Duke Law School
LaTisha Gotell Faulks
Paul H. Haagen, Duke Law School
Sergio Quintana
Emily Rotberg

12:00 PM

1:15 PM

Reflections by President Richard Broadhead

David F. Levi, Duke Law School
Richard H. Brodhead

1:15 PM

1:45 PM

The Role and Responsibility of the Public

Christopher H. Schroeder, Duke Law School
Scott G. Bullock
Robert Entman
Kimberly A. Gross
Steven R. Shapiro

1:45 PM

3:15 PM

The Role and Responsibility of the Court

David F. Levi, Duke Law School
Gary A. Hengstler
Leroy F. Millette, Jr.
W. Terry Ruckriegle
David A. Sellers
Judge Reggie B. Walton

3:15 PM