Spencer Leniu handed boost as lawyer weighs in on potential legal action for NRL star

The Roosters forward has been accused of racially abusing Ezra Mam in Las Vegas.

Spencer Leniu has one less headache in his fight to clear himself of alleged racial abuse, with a top Las Vegas lawyer ruling out police intervention over his on-field clash with Brisbane star Ezra Mam. The Roosters prop will front the NRL judiciary on Tuesday to answer a contrary conduct charge following accusations he called Mam a "monkey" during the Roosters' 20-10 win over Brisbane in the second of last Saturday's double header season opener in Las Vegas.

Mam was visibly upset straight after the alleged incident, with teammates coming to his aid on the field and later confronting Leniu in the hotel where the two teams were staying. There have been calls to suspend the former Penrith front-rower for half a season or more if found guilty of the slur, with high profile South Sydney duo Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell and Cronulla star Nicho Hynes vocal in their demand for strong action.

Spencer Leniu has been accused of calling Ezra Mam a 'monkey'. Image: AAP/Fox Sports
Spencer Leniu has been accused of calling Ezra Mam a 'monkey'. Image: AAP/Fox Sports

There was also talk Leniu's alleged act could lead to criminal or civil charges under US law due to its race-sensitive nature in a country where race relations remain a volatile subject. But leading defence lawyer Adam Solinger, who works for the respected Shouse Law Group in Nevada, has ruled out that prospect due to the America's strict freedom of speech rights.


Talking to Yahoo Sport Australia from his Las Vegas headquarters, Solinger said: "Typically crimes during a sporting match aren't necessarily defended because it's during a sporting match. Just the use of the racial slur alone during a match wouldn't subject him (Leniu) to any legal threat.

"There's no crime because the only speech that we necessarily punish in Nevada - and the United States in general - would be threats. So, if you're threatening somebody that could be construed as assault.

"Now, an argument can be made in some places that the use of racial slurs is offensive enough that it's like a threat. But unless it's followed up with a direct call to action – I threaten to beat you up for example – it’s not a crime."

Spencer Leniu.
Spencer Leniu in action for the Roosters against the Broncos. (Ezra Shaw via Getty Images)

Spencer Leniu won't face civil action either

Solinger also suggested America's constitution would save Leniu from any potential civil action. "We also have civil laws to deal with speech, but you're pretty much allowed to say almost anything," Solinger continued.

"I don't think that the use of the slur would be subject to any kind of penalties under civil or criminal law. Our First Amendment around freedom of speech is pretty robust and protectionist." NRL boss Peter V'landys confirmed he had spoken to Mam about the incident and offered his support, reiterating the game's commitment to "zero tolerance" for racism.

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