Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson joins Judge Milton F. Fitch as being guilty of ruling against justice in order to rescue two more North Carolina prosecutors who were obviously and undeniably guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. On March 10, 2009, Judge Hudson denied a defense motion for a new trial for convicted killer Michael Peterson, a novelist. Convicted of murdering his wife in 2001, Mr. Peterson and his defense team were not informed by the prosecutors of the existence of a potential murder weapon. Prosecutors surmised that a weapon, like a fireplace poker was the murder weapon, which was never found. What was found, however, was a tire iron that had been abandoned near the scene of the crime and reported to police days after the crime’s commission. The police took possession of the tire iron, and purportedly conducted forensics tests on it, but failed to notify the defense team of its existence or results of tests performed on the possible murder weapon.
These actions by prosecutors, James “Jim” Hardin and Freda Black, deprived Mr. Peterson’s defense team the opportunity to present the best possible case for their client, who faced the worst possible consequences.. death or life in prison. The existence of the tire iron undoubtedly brings into question the guilt of Mr. Peterson, and it’s omission from the arsenal of possible defense scenarios drastically and unfairly increased his chances of being convicted. Throughout his ordeal, Mr. Peterson has steadfastly maintained his innocence.
In defending his decision to deny Peterson a new trial, Judge Hudson stated about the tire iron evidence, “I don’t think this would have changed [the outcome of the trial] that.” Well, evidently, the prosecutors did, and that is the reason that they withheld knowledge of the tire iron and the tests they supposedly conducted on it from the defense team. If Peterson’s defense attorneys present their case before an unbiased appeals court, I am sure that they will prevail. They should prevail.
Likewise, James Arthur Johnson maintained his innocence when Wilson police tried to convict him of the murder, rape, kidnapping and armed robbery of a Wilson teen in 2004. He spent 39 months in jail before a cockamamie ruling was handed out several weeks ago in which the prosecutors were able to pretend to save face when Johnson pleaded no contest to a charge of misprison of felony for not reporting knowledge of a crime to police the instant he was aware of it. Judge Milton Fitch, who should have dismissed the case against Johnson as soon as it hit his desk, worked against Johnson by denying a defense motion for a change of venue from the racially divided town. (The town of Wilson was divided by the police, prosecutors and media, and the family of the murder victim who should have embraced Johnson for solving the crimes against their daughter, were instead misguided into having a strong desire to persecute him. In addition, they reneged on the $20,000.00 reward that Johnson earned, a fact that the media refuses to look into.) With Johnson facing fifteen additional months if convicted, he accepted the last plea deal from private sector prosecutor W. David McFadyen in order to avoid serving additional jail time. McFadyen, Fitch, and others worked out this deal to help protect Wilson prosecutor Bill Wolfe from a complaint of prosecutorial misconduct lodged against him with the State Bar by the NAACP.
In both cases, the rulings were unjust and illogical and made to protect the prosecutors who were guilty of misconduct far more egregious than what former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong is accused of in his handling of the Duke Lacrosse case. Yet Mr. Nifong was disbarred, the only prosecutor to be disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar since its inception (a fact that is never mentioned by the media), he was sentenced to serve time in jail, the state refused to represent him at his hearing before the Bar, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper even asked the U.S. Attorney General to prosecute Mr. Nifong for depriving the Duke Lacrosse defendants (who never spent a day in jail) of their civil rights.
The biased media, which is in cahoots with the Attorney General’s Office, likewise, refuses to mention the names of the prosecutors whose actions form the basis of the latest appeal by Mr. Peterson’s attorneys and the prosecutors who cost taxpayers countless dollars to conduct a phony charade against Johnson. The “News & Observer,” for example, buried the article at the bottom of the B section’s third page, and staff writer Anne Blythe, in lockstep with the A.G., did not mention the names of the prosecutors (Hardin and Black) who withheld the vital evidence from the defense team.
North Carolina’s justice system is surely broken, and with victims like Mike Nifong, Michael Peterson, James Arthur Johnson, and others, it looks as if it’s not going to get fixed any time soon. At the present time, Lady Justice is no match for Attorney General Roy Cooper and his “selective justice,” lap dog judges like Hudson and Fitch, and the media, on a local and national level, that lacks teeth, a stomach, a backbone, and a moral compass.