At times the conversation that takes place in the comment section of the blog can be stimulating, relevant, and important. Although I try to respond directly and immediately in the comment section, there are times when I feel the topics covered in the comment section should be addressed in the blog itself.
I find it absolutely amazing that a couple of blog commenters would even suggest that because I champion former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong’s case, that I would blindly support all state prosecutors. They imply that I would begrudge the wrongly incarcerated Erick Daniels compensation for his unjust conviction and incarceration for an armed robbery. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have advocated for Erick Daniels' release long before the charges against him were dismissed, and I have urged that he be declared “innocent” (he is currently seeking a pardon from Governor Bev Perdue) and that the state compensate him. The fact is that I am more likely than not going to lean in favor of justice for defendants than prosecutors. Bottom line is that I define justice based on a case by case basis.
Although I have staunchly supported Mike Nifong, I have been at odds with most prosecutors me when it comes to North Carolina justice. I have even filed complaints with the North Carolina State Bar against several, including Wake County Prosecutor Tom Ford for his withholding information from the defense about two plea deals which enabled him to win a conviction against an innocent man (Gregory Taylor), and Wilson Prosecutor Bill Wolfe for his prosecution of an innocent man (James Arthur Johnson) without probable cause. On the other hand, I was vociferously supportive of Johnston County Prosecutor Gregory C. Butler who was brought before the State Bar’s grievance panel on the flimsiest of charges. My schedule allowed me to be present throughout his hearing to lend my moral support to the embattled prosecutor, who was ultimately not charged with misconduct. Although the case against Mr. Butler should never have been brought by the State Bar to begin with, the outcome was just. Yet it is not only prosecutors against whom I have registered complaints with the State Bar. I filed a complaint against Defense Attorney Johnny S. Gaskins for his breach of attorney client privilege against his former client James Arthur Johnson. However, I wrote favorably and in support of Mr. Gaskins when articles in the media discussed that he had tried to evade federal laws when he made bank deposits just under the limit that would trigger scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. Justice is not the sole province of the prosecutor, defender, defendant, or complaintant. It is determined on a case by case basis.
Another point of contention seems to be the role of the executive branch in matters that are judiciary in nature. Blog commenters have pointed out that the governor of the state has the power to grant a pardon, thereby exercising a power that is usually held by the judiciary branch of government. Somehow, they try to convey the power to apply to the state’s attorney general. First of all, Governor Mike Easley did not grant pardons to the Duke Lacrosse defendants. Attorney General Roy Cooper proclaimed them to be innocent on April 11, 2007 (at the prompting of defense attorney Joseph Cheshire's underling, Brad Bannon). My point is that Attorney General Cooper’s proclamation carried no more legal weight than one made by me or you. What I find disturbing is that the media, which should know better, gave Mr. Cooper’s proclamation credence, instead of challenging it. The media should have known better. The media did know better, but it was working in cahoots with the carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants, the Duke Lacrosse defendants’ attorneys, and the state of North Carolina to ruin prosecutor Mike Nifong. The Duke Lacrosse defendants, who were indicted by a grand jury, did not go through a judicial process in which their innocence or guilt was determined. As special prosecutor, the Attorney General’s Office had only the option of proceeding with the prosecution, or dismissing the case. To make a proclamation regarding innocence or guilt was not its mandate, was overreaching in the extreme, and was inappropriate. The media, universally, made the situation all the worse by embracing the “innocent” declaration, and misleading media consumers on a broad scale.
Every time the media uses the phrase “falsely accused” and “innocent” when referring to the Duke Lacrosse defendants, it is disseminating misleading and false information… in short, playing a Jedi mind-trick on the public. Every time the media refers to the Duke Lacrosse accuser as being a “false accuser” it is, again, spreading lies.
What makes the “Roy Cooper Innocent Promulgation of April 11, 2007” all the more suspect is that, to my knowledge, such a statement by a state attorney general has never been made in the past in North Carolina or any other state in the Union. If someone is aware of a prior instance, I would certainly appreciate a reference source.
Finally, I want to thank the blog commenters for their insightful and thought-provoking comments. Our democracy is founded on the principle of vigorous and civil debate, and justice is better served when there is healthy discourse from individuals with differing points of view.