Joseph Neff, the News & Observer’s designated Spin-Meister who masquerades as an investigative reporter, continued his “scapegoatization” of Dwight Ransome, the State Bureau of Investigation lead investigator on the Alan Gell case. Part two of the two part series, which appeared in the Sunday, October 4, 2009 edition of the News & Observer, aimed to distract the reader from Gell prosecutors and focus on the lead investigator of the ill-fated prosecution. The headline which read, “Gell investigator ignored blatant clues,” is an example of the gross bias and lack of objectivity regarding coverage of the wrongful capital murder prosecution of Alan Gell; the headline more objectively should have read, “Gell prosecutors ignored investigator’s report.”
The names of the Gell prosecutors, David Hoke and Debra Graves (from the Attorney General’s Office), appeared only twice in the Sunday article, once when it mentioned that the North Carolina State Bar reprimanded them for “withholding evidence and not reading their files.” Hoke and Graves did not just withhold evidence, they withheld “exculpatory evidence” from the defense; evidence that proved Alan Gell was innocent of the murder for which he was charged. Even a cursory observation of the article will show that the word “exculpatory” is never mentioned in the same sentence with prosecutors Hoke and Graves. However, the exculpatory nature of the evidence is emphasized later in the article when attention is turned to Investigator Ransome.
It has been my observation, from investigating the Duke Lacrosse case and other criminal cases, that the word “exculpatory” is purposely and incorrectly used by the courts, attorneys, and media. For example, former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was constantly reported to have withheld from the defense “exculpatory” DNA evidence in the Duke Lacrosse case. This is blatantly false, and is a willful deception to impart greater significance to the findings than they warrant. The other media deception used with great frequency against Mr. Nifong is that he “withheld” DNA evidence from the Duke Lacrosse defense team. Nothing could be further from the truth. By October 27, 2009, well before a trial date had even been set, Mr. Nifong had supplied the defense attorneys with all of the laboratory DNA findings. They had ample time to process the information and use it in preparation of their defense, unlike the Alan Gell case, where exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense team before the trial, during the trial, and nine years after the trial.
What is, perhaps, most curious is that even after the exculpatory evidence (which proved Alan Gell could not have committed the murder) became available, the prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office proceeded to re-try Mr. Gell, at further taxpayer expense. I firmly see this as an abdication from their prosecutorial roles as “ministers of justice.” Naturally, once the jury got the case, the verdict of “not guilty” was quickly reached… it was a “no brainer.”
The reason the media went out of its way to protect David Hoke (Debra Grave was along for the ride) is because he was with the Attorney General’s Office, and was later promoted to Assistant Director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. During his hearing before the State Bar’s Grievance Commission, many distinguished character witnesses spoke on Hoke’s behalf, including Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour of Cabarrus County. At Hoke’s hearing he said, “Everyone is appalled that he (Hoke) has had to go through this (disciplinary hearing). My question for the honorable Judge Spainhour is, “Is everyone appalled that Hoke’s misconduct landed an innocent man in prison for nine years, half of it on death row?”
The importance of this blog is to demonstrate that the media has the ability to craft the way an event is covered in order to sway the public’s opinion. Just as the two-parter in the News & Observer shifted the onus of responsibility from the Gell prosecutors to the Gell lead SBI investigator in order to protect David Hoke, media types, on a large scale, have manipulated words, definitions, intentions, and facts to wrongfully portray Mike Nifong in the most negative terms possible. The public needs to stand back and take a fresh and objective look at the Duke Lacrosse case and the disbarment and persecution of Mr. Nifong, a dedicated public servant of the highest integrity.
In the old days, people believed that the world was flat. It took time and education for them to realize the truth. The perceptions widely held by the public at large of Mike Nifong are also inaccurate. To realize the truth about the man, people need to open up their minds with objectivity.