The authors of this new collection argue that the many features of the now-infamous Duke University men’s lacrosse controversy are best understood in the context of the three major socio-legal institutions in which the drama played out. The legal system, Duke University, and the news media all struggled to respond to and handle the case, tinged as the events were with race, sex, violence, class, privilege, and notions and perceptions about sports. The problems, missteps, mistakes, and injustice in the case resulted from each institution's failure to operate properly, from the incentives built into each institution that affected individual behavior, and from the inability of each institution to communicate and cooperate with the others. To understand the Duke lacrosse controversy is to study these institutions and to answer questions about the performance of each-to learn what each did right and wrong and why, and to consider how each can improve in the future. By examining the actions of these institutions and the individuals within them, these essays consider the role each played in the case, how each contributed to the crisis and to its resolution, the ways in which they interacted with one another, and the lessons this case teaches about the appropriate functioning of each institution.
Howard M. Wasserman is an Associate Professor of Law at the Florida International University College of Law, where he has written and taught extensively on civil rights and constitutional litigation, the First Amendment, and sports law.
'Anyone interested in sport and social justice issues simply must read Institutional Failures. The Duke case, now five years old, had many bad assumptions and twists and turns that confused the public for a long time. The book's diverse contributors give tremendous detail, put the story in the context of the sport, and include various perspectives that will help readers reach their own conclusions.' Richard Lapchick, University of Central Florida, USA 'This is an important book exploring the disaster that was the Duke lacrosse case. Initially a story about an alleged crime with overtones of race, class, and privilege, it became one about a District Attorney indifferent to justice. It fundamentally shook our faith in those institutions responsible for protecting us. This book provides important insights to assure that this does not happen again.' Thomas B. Metzloff, Duke University School of Law, USA