An article by Thomasi McDonald of The News & Observer dated January 13, 2011 is titled “Sheriff’s daughter gets a rare deal.” This is about Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison’s daughter Paula Gail Harrison who was charged with drug trafficking. She pled guilty to the charges, but the Johnston County prosecutor Adren Harris made a deal with the defendant wherein she was granted a prayer for judgment continued… which is legalese mumbo-jumbo for withholding any punishment if the defendant follows some arbitrary and ambiguous conditions set forth by the prosecutor. Prosecutor Harris refused to state what those conditions might be or what consequences she would face if she did not follow said conditions.
Ms. Harrison is one lucky lady, as she was charged with three felony counts of trafficking opium or heroin, a Class E felony that carries jail sentences of seven to nine years for each count. So technically Ms. Harrison faced a maximum of 27 years in prison, but instead is getting off scott free.
What I find most offensive about this entire case is that the Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Harris had the gall to state that this “rare deal” had absolutely nothing to do with Ms. Harrison being the daughter of the popular Wake County Sheriff, Donnie Harrison. Prosecutor Harris stated, “Because she is his daughter then it’s going to be deemed by some as biased, but it’s not. I trust that what we are doing is in the best interest of justice.” Well, Harris is correct, because everyone knows that the deal is biased and was reached because of her family ties. Harris insults the intelligence of North Carolinians when he makes such disingenuous statements. Not only that, but he refuses, along with Harrison’s attorney (state Representative Leo Daughtry) to publicly express the details of the conditions of this rare deal.
But North Carolina is full of rare deals… one of the most obvious being all of the rare deals given to former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. For actually honorably doing his job in good faith, he was disbarred… an extremely rare deal, as he is the only prosecutor to be disbarred since the State Bar’s inception in 1933.
Another rare deal is that given to Duke Lacrosse victim Crystal Mangum who was beaten up by her ex-boyfriend only to have police arrest her on bogus arson charges. No action was taken against her boyfriend who initiated the physical conflict by repeatedly punching Ms. Mangum in the face. The rare deal Ms. Mangum got was that she served three months of what prosecutors had planned was a two or three year jail stint while awaiting trial. (Similar to the rare deal given to James Arthur Johnson who solved a murder in Wilson. The rare deal he got for solving the heinous murder of Brittany Willis was not the $20,000 reward offered by the family and friends of Brittany Willis, but 39 months in jail, and being forced to accept a plea deal.)
Former NC Governor Mike Easley also benefited from a rare deal doled out by Rowan County Prosecutor Bill Kenerly, escaping jail time for the felonies he committed and satisfying his criminal debt to society with a $1,000 fine. State Senator R. C. Soles also received a rare deal after shooting an unarmed man in the leg who had his back turned, was retreating and posed no imminent threat.
Rare deals in North Carolina are very common. I speak from personal experience because I got a rare deal when I attended a public event on Duke University’s campus in April 2010. I was kicked off campus without explanation, merit, or logic… and my rare deal nearly ended with my arrest. When pressed for an explanation about being kicked off the campus, the lame excuse that Duke Spokesman Michael Schoenfeld came up with was that I was “soliciting” which he described as handing out business cards and asking people to visit my website.
Surely Mr. Schoenfeld doesn’t believe that I’m stupid enough to believe the reason he gave for my ouster last April. No more than Prosecutor Adren Harris could possibly believe that North Carolinians are dumb enough to believe that the rare deal that Paula Harrison received had nothing to do with her being the daughter of Sheriff Donnie Harrison. And Tar Heelians aren’t dummies when it comes to the rare deal that Mike Nifong was given by the State Bar. For the Bar head F. Lane Williamson to even imagine that Mr. Nifong prosecuted three boys from wealthy and privileged families for the purpose of winning an election defies rationale in the reasonable person who investigates the facts and is not brainwashed by the media. Since when is courting the black vote a sure fire recipe for an electorial victory?
In North Carolina rare deals are commonplace and are correlated to issues of Class and Color of those involved. To put it another way, “equal justice for all” has no place in the North Carolina justice system. It is no wonder that Prosecutor Adren Harris refused to prosecute Paula Harrison with the same fervor as he would drug trafficking defendants who are poor, disenfranchised, and people of color… Harris treated Harrison with kid gloves for the same reason that Prosecutor Bill Kenerly treated former Governor Easley. As Kenerly so aptly put it, Harris did not want to make a “Mike Nifong mistake.” So Harris pulled the prosecutorial punch when faced with the sticky situation involving a sheriff’s daughter, and once again “selective justice based on Class and Color” prevailed.
Tar Heelian prosecutors have certainly learned their lessons well by the example set of Mike Nifong by the state for pursuing the principle of “equal justice for all” when he prosecuted the Duke Lacrosse case. g
NOTE: Part 3 of Episode V of “The MisAdventures of Super-Duper Cooper” is now posted. Click on the link below for the most current installment.