Mark Isley is an African American SBI agent who played an integral part in the successful incarceration of mentally impaired Floyd Brown, who was held in limbo for years awaiting a trial that never materialized. The article, by staff writers Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff, was in strict compliance with the paper’s PAPEN (Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong) Policy, as it never once mentioned the name of the prosecutor responsible for the handling of Mr. Brown’s case, Anson County prosecutor Michael D. Parker.
Now the question posed by the N & O writers concerns the mysteries of how SBI agent Mark Isley’s career "soared" while evidence mounted that he fabricated a confession that forced a disabled man to be locked away at a mental hospital for 14 years. After putting on my “Sherlock Holmes cap,” and making a few deductions, the answer is, well, elementary. The key to this puzzle has to do with the timeline.
The investigative reporting in this article is a little sloppy and vague, with attempts to mislead the reader. In early 2004, Mr. Isley had been employed by the SBI for approximately 15 years… the length of time spent as a supervisor of field agents is unclear. At some point during his employment he began to complain about discriminatory practices in the SBI which had prevented him and other African Americans from advancing in the ranks. Now the N & O, without giving dates, stated that Isley began complaining months after attorneys for Floyd Brown began registering complaints about Isley’s work. The importance of this statement is to dispel any “cause and effect” relationship. However, I believe that Mr. Isley’s complaints about racial discrimination preceded those against him by Brown’s attorneys. The timing is a critical issue here. Why in spring of 2004 would one look into Isley’s handling of Brown’s case?
The facts concerning Floyd Brown had not changed since he was first charged and held in a mental hospital in 1993. He was severely retarded and, according to mental health experts, could not have dictated a confession which Isley allegedly wrote word for word. This so-called confession was the only thing tying Brown to the crime, as no forensic or physical evidence linking Brown to the murder could be established. The defense attorneys were aware of this, as was Anson prosecutor Michael D. Parker. But everyone, including the media, was content to allow Brown to languish in the mental hospital because he was disenfranchised, poor, and an African American… in accordance with the state’s tenet of “selective justice based on Class and Color.”
So, evidently there seemed to be no movement in Brown’s situation until nearly a decade later… around the time Mark Isley began complaining about being discriminated against by being passed over for promotion by other less qualified white SBI applicants. Then, all of a sudden and out of the clear blue Floyd Brown’s attorneys request Isley’s personnel records from the SBI and began making allegations of misconduct against him. There was no indication that any complaints were made against the prosecutor who was actually responsible for Brown being held in custody without a trial, Michael D. Parker.
It can also be deduced from the newspaper article that the SBI and Mr. Isley did not see eye to eye regarding his complaints, as he was forced to eventually file a racial discrimination claim against the SBI.
It can also be deduced, from the settlement which included a promotion and pay raise for Isley, that his claim of racial discrimination had substance, a matter that the media has chosen to gloss over. In addition to settling with Isley, the agency was forced to pay Isley’s attorney fees, and the SBI later issued a revised policy regarding the promotion process and incorporated increased minority hiring and recruitment.
After being dealt a significant blow by Mr. Isley’s complaint, it is not a stretch to come to the realization that Mr. Isley did not hold a favored agent status within the state agency. This is a situation which usually engenders retribution… and what better way to knock Mr. Isley down a peg or two than to bring to the fore earlier acts of possible serious misconduct, of which the agency had been aware since the beginning.
Now, David Rudolf, a Charlotte criminal defense attorney who filed a civil suit on behalf of Floyd Brown and is smacking his lips at the thought of his percentage of a potential humongous award in court, was quick to criticize SBI agent Mark Isley. He was quick to blame Isley for Brown being held for fourteen years in a mental hospital without a trial. I have not heard a disparaging word coming from the mouth of Mr. Rudolf about the prosecutor, Michael D. Parker. Parker was the person in charge of the Brown case, and he knew, or should have known, about the legitimacy, or lack thereof, of Brown’s so-called written confession. Parker was also the person who refused mental health staff requests to allow Mr. Brown to have lunch with his sister and to leave for several hours to attend the fair. Parker was also the person who maliciously interfered with living arrangements which had been painstakingly made by state social workers for Brown in an assisted living facility. But, again, there apparently are no complaints from Attorney Rudolf about Mr. Parker’s conduct.
I only used the newspaper article as a source for analyzing its topic of Isley’s complaint, his promotion, and the Brown case, so my conclusions, which follow, are mostly based on educated supposition. They are as follows:
(1) Attorneys on both sides of the murder charge against Brown knew that the so-called confession allegedly obtained by Isley was bogus, but it was the only thing that the prosecution had with which to hold Brown;
(2) Floyd Brown definitely had ineffective counsel at his original trial;
(3) the North Carolina SBI agency practiced racial discrimination with regards to promotions at the time that Isley first complained about it;
(4) the sudden emergence of complaints by Brown’s attorneys about Isley, including the request to see his personnel records, was directly related to Isley’s complaints of discrimination;
(5) as pointed out in The News & Observer, Isley’s promotion was related to his settlement regarding complaints of racial discrimination in the SBI;
(6) the media reporting on the Floyd Brown case adhere to the PAPEN Policy, and are scapegoating Mark Isley; and
(7) the problems Mark Isley now face are a result of his complaints against the SBI.
Keep in mind that Prosecutor Michael D. Parker is in good standing with the North Carolina State Bar... as are Tom Ford (Gregory Taylor), Bill Wolfe (James Arthur Johnson), and David Hoke (Alan Gell). And Mike Nifong is the only prosecutor to be disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar since its inception in 1933 - a travesty of justice... something that defies logic and is definitely not elementary.