Monday, July 2, 2012
Media continues to Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong
As the one year anniversary of the self-defense stabbing of Reginald Daye by Duke Lacrosse case victim/accuser Crystal Mangum rolled around, Ms. Mangum was concerned about the lack of movement on her case. She had been incarcerated since the incident and asked Sidney B. Harr, a layperson, for assistance. After sending Harr some of the prosecution discovery, the Lay Advocate for the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong drafted three Pro Se motions on behalf of Mangum which she signed. Harr physically took these motions to the court where they were filed, and he then notified the media. More than one journalist, in turn, contacted the North Carolina State Bar and asked what action it might take in response to the motions. With the State Bar named as the complainant, the Authorized Practice Committee launched an investigation into Harr’s actions.
On Thursday, April 5, 2012, Harr filed the motions he drafted for Mangum, and by the following Tuesday, April 10th, the State Bar had sent to Harr a Letter of Notice, which informed him of its investigation into his actions and the fifteen day deadline by which an answer to the complaint was to be filed. On April 19, 2012, Harr mailed to the State Bar his answer to the action taken against him. The case against Harr will be heard by the Authorized Practice Committee on July 17, 2012 at its quarterly meeting in Pinehurst.
In the June 30, 2012 issue of The News & Observer there is an article by the Associated Press titled “Murder convict free after 17 years.” It tells about a Greensboro man, LaMonte Armstrong, who was given a life sentence in 1995 for the 1988 killing of Ernestine Compton, one of Armstrong’s former college professors. He was freed on June 29, 2012 by Superior Court Judge Joe Turner after another man was linked to the crime and it was learned that the police and prosecutors hid important evidence from defense attorneys. One of the keys to LaMonte Armstrong’s conviction was the perjured testimony from a convicted felon who later admitted that police pressured him to accuse Armstrong. It should be of note that although fingerprints at the crime scene could be traced to others, there were no fingerprints or other forensic evidence to tie Mr. Armstrong to the murder.
Prosecutors’ star witnesses against Armstrong included three convicted felons who claimed that Armstrong made jailhouse confessions to them, and a fourth convicted felon who claimed to have witnessed the crime. This witness later stated that he was told by police officers that he would be charged with the killing of Ms. Compton unless he fingered Armstrong.
Theresa Newman, co-director of the Duke Law School’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic, stated, “I really hope that nobody was intentionally framing (Armstrong), but this is so close to the line, it raises questions.
Greensboro prosecutors, without any credible evidence and who withheld vital evidence from defense attorneys, using perjured testimony of their star witnesses who are all convicted felons, won a life sentence against LaMonte Armstrong. This most definitely was a frame by prosecutors, but again, the media protects them by adhering to the PAPEN (Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong) Policy and refusing to list the names of any of these so-called “ministers of justice.” Did the journalists go to the NC State Bar with the Armstrong story and ask if it will seek any action against these prosecutors who effectively stole 17 years from the life of an innocent man? No! Instead the media is more concerned about the State Bar focusing its efforts on a non-attorney civilian whose crime was that he helped to draft three motions on behalf of Crystal Mangum.
There is no doubt that when the Authorized Practice Committee of the North Carolina State Bar convenes on July 17, 2012 it will dispense the most lenient option at its disposal and give Harr a warning to cease and desist from such activity in the future. It is just unfortunate that the State Bar will have been forced to expend time, money, and effort to investigate such a trivial matter involving a non-attorney. I believe that the State Bar’s resources could have been much better spent on investigating the activities of the prosecutors who framed an innocent man for a murder he did not commit.
Link to companion documents: http://www.justice4nifong.com/legal/genl/blinkdirec.htm