Jury Exonerates Derrick Rose in Civil Trial

On October 21, 2016, in SELS Blog, by Matthew Weiss

By: Jordan Garnick*

The personal life of Derrick Rose, similar to the past five years of his declining health and performance in his basketball career, seemed to have been heading toward a downward spiral. For the past couple of weeks, Rose and two friends, Randall Hampton and Ryan Allen, had been involved in a federal civil trial for allegedly drugging and raping Rose’s former girlfriend, who had publicly referred to as Jane Doe, on August 26, 2013.[1]

However, as of this past Wednesday, when a California federal jury cleared Rose of committing civil rape, Rose can now focus on the resurrection of his basketball career with his new team, the New York Knicks, and finally begin to move forward from this incident in his “off the court” life.[2]

While the civil suit has come to a verdict in favor of Rose and his two friends, there is still an open criminal investigation surrounding this incident.[3] Nevertheless, at this moment it is unlikely that criminal charges will be filed due to a lack of physical evidence and the higher threshold needed for proof in a criminal case in comparison to the lower preponderance of the evidence threshold, which is required for a civil lawsuit.[4]

The Jury, which consisted of six women and two men and needed to come to a unanimous conclusion on each of Doe’s claims for her to have won, determined that Doe did not establish her claims by a preponderance of the evidence.[5]

Although the jury did not explain their findings in the verdict, several members spoke to the media after the trial.[6] Most jurors felt that Doe did not have enough physical evidence to have significantly established her claim and many jurors were especially perplexed as to Doe failing to obtain a rape kit following the night of the incident.[7] Additionally, one juror who identified himself as Jared, speaking in regards to Doe stated, “It felt like she was playing us.”[8]

At this time Doe still does have a few options to move the case forward. Doe can file a post verdict motion to ask the court to set aside the Jury’s verdict, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that no reasonable jury could have found Rose to not be liable.[9] However, the court is unlikely to do this because the evidence was not so substantially in Doe’s favor that only one reasonable conclusion should have been obtained.[10]

Additionally, Doe will have 30 days, after judgment is entered for Rose, Hampton and Allen, to file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[11] However, Doe will likely have to argue that the trial court made a procedural error or an error interpreting the law, because it is unlikely that the appeal will include new evidence or witnesses.[12] Federal appeals typically take between 8 to 12 months from the beginning of filing to an ultimate conclusion, therefore if Doe were to appeal this matter it likely would not reach its ultimate finality until sometime between late 2017 and early 2018.[13]

For the past two weeks Rose had been testifying in court and had vehemently denounced Doe’s $21.5 million claim for damages as a ploy for cash.[14] Both sides had greatly differed in their perceptions of the evidence, much of which was based on text message exchanges due to a lack of additional physical evidence.[15]

The night of the alleged rape involved Doe and a friend going to Rose’s Los Angeles home to drink with Rose, Hampton and Allen. After spending approximately three hours drinking at Rose’s house, Doe returned to her apartment at 3 am, the morning of August 27, 2013. Doe claimed that she was heavily intoxicated when she returned home and was incapacitated in her bedroom. She further stated that the three men, knowing she was inebriated, propped open her apartment complex’s door and proceeded into her unlocked apartment at which time they began to pin her down and rape her.  Rose conversely recounted that Doe left his home after sipping on tequila. A couple of hours later, around 3:00 AM, Rose and his two friends went to Doe’s apartment. Further, Rose claimed that Doe initiated the sexual conduct, after having texted him that she wanted Rose to come over. Rose then asserted that Doe greeted the three men at her apartment door and then consensually engaged in sexual intercourse with Rose first, Allen second and Hampton third.[16]

Doe had filed nine different claims against Rose in her civil suit, which all fell into the category of either Sexual Battery or Trespass, the most significant being sexual battery. For Doe’s claims of Sexual Battery to have passed muster under California State Law she needed to prove that Rose, Hampton, and Allen (1) intended to cause harmful contact; (2) Doe did not consent; and (3) Doe was harmed by Defendants’ conduct. The parties agreed that consent was the only issue in dispute.[17]

The question that needed to be answered here was whether Doe could prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she was raped while intoxicated or whether she actually initiated and consented to the sexual conduct.[18] The determination ultimately rested on the Jury’s interpretation of each party’s reiteration of the facts, evidence through text message, and testimony from witnesses such as Doe’s roommate, co-workers of Doe, and forensic toxicologists.[19]

While it seems as if Rose has finally put this issue behind him, Rose and the NBA still may not be able to escape the potential PR “black eye” this incident may cause. Rose is looking to establish himself with his new team, in a contract year that may ultimately determine the future of Rose’s monetary compensation as an NBA athlete. Certainly this legal matter cannot help Rose’s pitch for a long-term deal.

Additionally, there is an issue of potential suspension from the NBA.[20] While no player has ever been suspended in the League’s history for the loss of a civil lawsuit, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver maintains extreme policy deference to suspend players for “Conduct detrimental to the Association.”[21] Therefore, Rose is not entirely “out of the woods” until the matter of an appeal reaches its own conclusion. Although the civil case is unlikely to lead to a suspension, even if an appellate verdict were to land in Doe’s favor, there is still a very slight possibility Rose may again find himself in “choppy league waters” because of potential findings in the ongoing criminal investigation.[22]

However, it is again unlikely a criminal charge will be brought upon Rose.[23] At this point, Rose seems to have once again survived another rough patch during his career and now, for the first time in a longtime, the dichotomy between Rose’s personal and professional life are once again in harmony and the only thing for Rose to focus on is playing basketball.

*Staff Writer, Villanova University Sports Law Society Blog; J.D. Candidate, May 2018, Villanova University School of Law.

[1] Ralph Ellis and Paul Vercammen, U.S., CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/12/us/detective-dead-derrick-rose-case/ (last visited October 16, 2016).

[2] Adrienne Lawrence, OTL, ESPN, http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/17836068/derrick-rose-verdict-need-know (last visited October 21, 2016, 10:30 a.m).

[3] See Ellis and Vercammen, supra note 1.

[4] See Lawrence, supra note 2.

[5] See id.

[6] See id.

[7] See id.

[8] See id.

[9] See id.

[10] See id.

[11] Daniel Werly, Appealing the Derrick Rose Verdict, TheWhiteBronco.com, http://thewhitebronco.com/2016/10/appealing-the-derrick-rose-verdict/ (last visited October, 21, 2016, 1:45 p.m.).

[12] See id.

[13] See id.

[14] Mike Tierney, Pro Basketball, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/12/sports/basketball/derrick-rose-rape-trial.html last visited October 17, 7 p.m.).

[15] See id.

[16] Daniel Werly, The Derrick Rose Sexual Assault Primer, TheWhiteBronco.com, http://thewhitebronco.com/2016/09/the-derrick-rose-sexual-assault-trial-primer/ (last visited October 17, 2015, 7 p.m.).

[17] See id.

[18] See id.

[19] See id.

[20] Michael McCann, NBA, Sports Illustrated, http://www.si.com/nba/2016/10/07/derick-rose-testimony-civil-case-jane-doe (last visited October 16, 2016, 4:30 p.m.).

[21] See Werly, supra note 16.

[22] See McCann, supra note 20.

[23] See Lawrence, supra note 2


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