Last night, ESPN aired the latest episode in its “30 for 30” documentary series, taking a close look at a 2006 case in which the U.S. justice system nearly fell down, when three members of Duke University’s men’s lacrosse team were wrongly accused of raping a stripper.
A prosecutor withdrew the case against all three defendants, and recently, one has pursued a career in the law: In 2014, Reade Seligmann joined the New Jersey law firm Connell Foley as an associate, after receiving his J.D. from Emory University School of Law.
The other two accused have since found jobs in finance: Collin Finnerty is an equity sales trader for Deutsche Bank in New York City, while David Evans is a senior associate at the consumer team at Apax Partners in New York.
The law firm Seligmann joined is the same firm that conducted an investigation into Rutgers University over its handling of former basketball coach Mike Rice, who resigned in 2013 after a video was released that showed him verbally attacking his players. Founded in 1938, Connell Foley has more than 140 lawyers and seven U.S. offices. It specializes in litigation, corporate law, intellectual property, construction law, real estate, bankruptcy, insurance and environmental law.
After ESPN aired its documentary, titled, Fantastic Lies, Big Law Business reached out to Sligmann to speak about his decision to become a lawyer. We’ll update this article or publish a new profile altogether if we hear back from him, but public records and media reports tell some of the story.
For those unfamiliar with the Duke case, in 2006, Crystal Gail Mangum, an African American student at North Carolina Central University, accused the three lacrosse players of raping her at a party held at the house of the Duke lacrosse team captains. The allegations sparked nationwide outcry as journalists and activists latched onto the story as an example of broader race and class issues. But the case ultimately fell apart as the accuser was found to have had a history of mental illness and the prosecutor — who had political aspirations while bringing the case — was later disbarred in North Carolina for “dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation” in his handling of the charges.
In 2006, Seligmann transferred from Duke to Brown University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 2010 majoring in History and Public Policy.
He expressed interest in a legal career before he even started law school, becoming a legal intern for the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a pubic defense practice representing residents of upper Manhattan, according to his LinkedIn profile.
From there, he went on to study at Emory and was an executive board member of the Emory Mock Trial Society. While at Emory, he clerked for magistrate judge Joseph A. Dickson and the now-retired federal judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh in the United States District for the District of New Jersey.
The documentary also noted Seligmann’s involvement in the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully imprisoned. When Seligmann was honored with the Advocate of Justice Award in 2012, Seligmann wrote about his experience with the project.
While I’ve had so many amazing experiences with the Innocence Project, the most rewarding have come through my work with Stephen Saloom and Rebecca Brown from the IP’s policy department. In 2010, we organized the Brown University Eyewitness Identification Symposium in Rhode Island with the goal of bringing together members of the law enforcement community, criminal defense attorneys and experts in eyewitness memory research to discuss ways to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identification process. Keynote speaker Dennis Maher, a Massachusetts native who had spent 19 years in prison before being exonerated in 2003, was the highlight of the event. We were also lucky enough to have Betty Anne Waters, a courageous woman who chose to become a lawyer for the sole purpose of exonerating her wrongfully convicted brother, in the audience as well.
The goal of the symposium was to educate law enforcement officials on the procedural and cognitive factors that cause mistaken eyewitness identifications. By providing the police officers and prosecutors with the scientific research underlying the reforms, we were able to convince political leaders in Rhode Island to establish a task force to identify and recommend policies and procedures to improve the accuracy of eyewitness identification. This past spring, we hosted another eyewitness identification symposium at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. Calvin Johnson, a Georgia native who spent over 15 years in prison based on a misidentification, gave an inspiring keynote speech in front of nearly 100 police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and law students.
Seligmann was first a summer associate at Connell Foley in 2012. Today, he specializes in commercial litigation and construction law and works out of its Newark, New Jersey office, according to the firm’s website. John Lacey, a high-ranking partner at Connell Foley who conducted the Rutgers investigation, did not respond to a request for comment.