Duke lacrosse case judge says he won't fast-track trial

DURHAM, N.C. -- One of three Duke University lacrosse players charged with rape wants the case resolved in time for the next school year, his attorney said in court Thursday. But the judge warned he will not fast-track the proceedings.

The case "is not going to jump ahead of the line and be handled any differently," Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Stephens said at a hearing for sophomore Reade Seligmann.

During the hearing, District Attorney Mike Nifong said he intends to try all three players together. He has said previously that he does not expect any trial to begin before next year.

Seligmann, 20, of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty, 19, of Garden City, N.Y., were indicted last month on charges of sexually assaulting a woman who had been hired as an exotic dancer for a team party in March. A third player, co-captain David Evans, was indicted on Monday.

"We want a trial as fast as we can," said Seligmann attorney Kirk Osborn. "This young kid wants to go to school in the fall, and he can't until this is resolved."

Duke has not confirmed that it suspended Seligmann and Finnerty, although the university has said its practice is to issue an interim suspension when a student is charged with a felony. Evans had graduated by the time he was charged.

Seligmann was stoic as he entered the courthouse for his first court appearance, passing in front of TV cameras and photographers. He endured taunts from members of the New Black Panther Party, one of whom yelled, "Justice will be served, rapist!" The defendants are white, and their accuser is black.

The defendant was not asked any questions during the 20-minute hearing in the packed courtroom and did not speak. Like the other defendants, Seligmann is free on $400,000 bail. The judge refused to lower that amount Thursday.

Seligmann's lawyer had planned to ask the judge for all evidence collected by the prosecution, but before the hearing the district attorney provided the defense with a copy of his entire case file, including 1,278 pages of evidence, two videotapes and a compact disc containing photos.

Evans, the only defendant to speak publicly about the charges, has called the allegations "fantastic lies" and declared that he and the two other athletes are innocent.