Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Media in cahoots with the State when it comes to Mike Nifong and justice

There is no doubt that the media, both locally and nationwide, is in cahoots with the state of North Carolina, its attorney general, and its State Bar when it comes to former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong and other issues of justice.

The media, charged with keeping the public informed of newsworthy articles related to, among other things, the justice system, has used its position to keep the people of North Carolina ignorant of important issues that would expose the state justice system to be one following the tenet of selective justice based on Class and Color. The most recent evidence is a story that was buried on the sixth page of the “News & Observer” Triangle & State section of the Sunday, December 14, 2008 issue. The article, titled “Poster was evidence, high court says,” is about Stanly County prosecutors who violated a man’s rights by destroying evidence needed for his defense, according to the NC Supreme Court. Although the defendant is named in the article, the Stanly County prosecutors are not. Another example of the “News & Observer” withholding the names of the prosecutors alleged of wrongdoing comes from an article, again buried on the fourth page of the Triangle & State section of the December 4, 2008 issue titled “Hearing slated in Peterson case.” In this article about a hearing to determine whether a convicted murderer should have a re-trial because the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense team, staff writer Anne Blythe fails to mention the names of the prosecutors of the alleged misconduct. The prosecutors were James “Jim” E. Hardin, Jr. (now a Superior Court judge) and Durham prosecutor Freda Black. When I filed a complaint with the State Bar against Hardin and Black, and notified the newspaper, it refused to make note of it and remained silent.

Remaining silent is something the “News & Observer” has been doing recently with the James Arthur Johnson case. There has been much movement in the case during the month of November 2008, but the paper has not mentioned any of the developments, which include the decision by the judge to hold the trial in the racially divided city of Wilson, despite a motion by the defense attorney for a change of venue. The “accessory after the fact” charge, which special prosecutor Belinda Foster of Forsyth County was forced to file by her boss (Forsyth District Attorney Thomas Keith), is without merit and was filed only to protect Wilson prosecutor Bill Wolfe from a complaint filed with the State Bar by the NAACP.

The principle basis for my outrage at the disbarment of Mike Nifong is the fact that he is the only prosecutor to be disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar since its inception. Yet, this is an issue that I have never heard addressed or even mentioned by the media, either locally or nationally. The reason the media remains silent about this fact is that it does not want the public to think for itself. If the people knew that Mr. Nifong is the only NC prosecutor ever to be disbarred, they might come to the conclusion that he was selectively singled out for prosecution by the State Bar and excessively disciplined. Mr. Nifong is alleged to have withheld, from the defense, incidental, non-exculpatory, irrelevant information that was of absolutely no value to the defense, and he is disbarred. Compare that with prosecutors who withhold exculpatory (murder-weapon) evidence from the defense team, and prosecutors who destroy evidence that the defense needs to support its case. Nothing is going to happen to those prosecutors, and a good indication of that is because the media will go out of its way to conceal the name of the prosecutors, or withhold doing a story about it altogether.

Yes, there is no doubt that the media is in cahoots with the state in efforts to uphold its tenet of “selective justice based on Class and Color.” Ted Vaden, Public Editor for the “News & Observer” titled his December 14, 2008 editorial column “The watchdog still barks – and bites.” The truth is that when it comes to the justice system in the state of North Carolina, this newspaper is not a watchdog, but a lap dog… a dog that does the bidding of its masters, the state attorney general, State Bar, and other state officials and agencies.

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