Saturday, July 19, 2008

More from the Rev. Barber

In recent months, the North Carolina NAACP and Rev. William Barber have taken up the cause of James Johnson, an African-American initially accused as an accomplice to murder in Wilson, North Carolina. The two pieces of evidence that the NAACP cited to justify its “demand” that Johnson “be exonerated”?

(1) No DNA evidence linked Johnson to the crime. (2) Johnson passed a polygraph test.

Readers of this blog might recall another high-profile North Carolina case in which no DNA evidence linked the accused to the “crime,” and in which all three defendants passed a polygraph test. The state NAACP seemed to view the power of such evidence quite differently in that case.

As in Durham, some in Wilson have demanded a trial of Johnson, so that the victim (in the Wilson case, of course, there really was a victim) could have her day of court. In an interview with WRAL, the Rev. Barber responded to such demands, “I don’t think it’s important to have his day in court if he’s not guilty.” (The Barber statement comes at 21.56 of the linked video.)

As a matter of law, of course, Barber is correct. And it also appears that he’s correct on the facts of the case in Wilson. (His claims of prosecutorial misconduct in Wilson, on the other hand, appear unsubstantiated.)

But how is it possible to reconcile Barber’s statement—“I don’t think it’s important to have his day in court if he’s not guilty”—with his and his organization’s behavior in the lacrosse case?

After all, Barber himself praised the Lord in July 2006, when Judge Kenneth Titus granted the NAACP’s request for a “gag order” in the lacrosse case—a move designed to bolster Mike Nifong’s prosecution of people who had passed polygraph tests, had no DNA evidence against them, and were “not guilty.”

And in August 2006, Barber’s photograph stood above a guilt-presuming, error-laden 82-point “memorandum of law” designed to bolster Mike Nifong’s prosecution of people who had passed polygraph tests, had no DNA evidence against them, and were “not guilty.”

And in December 2006, after Nifong wholly changed the theory of the crime and dropped rape charges but retained the other charges, Barber’s case monitor preposterously suggested that the move would aid Nifong’s case—against people who had passed polygraph tests, had no DNA evidence against them, and were “not guilty.”

And in January 2007, the Rev. Barber himself preached at Duke Chapel. But rather than mention that he didn’t “think it’s important to have [their] day in court if [they’re] not guilty,” the reverend engaged in a character assault on Duke students.

What accounts for the Rev. Barber’s dramatic shift in perspective? Those inclined toward Christian charity might suggest that the outcome of the lacrosse case convinced the Rev. Barber on the need for due process and the dangers of overreaching prosecutors. Those less charitable might offer a different, and I fear correct, explanation.

Hat tip: K.D.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is simple. Mr Barber seems to favor one race over other races.

W. R. Chambers said...

As described here Rev. Barber reminds me of President Bush.

1. Barber: “I don’t think it’s important to have his day in court if he’s not guilty.”
2. Bush's policy: It's important that unlawful enemy combatants not have their day in court (what is about to happen in Guantanamo is no day in court).
3. In other words, in their absolute certainty both Barber and Bush conclude that process is unimportant. Why bother with process? Right is right.
4. Both Barber and Bush are certain they are right, and both are demonstrably wrong.
5. As described, both Barber and Bush appear quite literally thought-less.
6. Both Barber and Bush hold leadership positions.
7. Because of the way they exercise their power (with apparent absolute certainty but without any visible thoughtfulness), both Barber and Bush have contributed significantly to unjust treatment of innocent people.

One looks for an explanation. The implication in Barber's case is that he, if not a racist, then for some reason he appears to act like one. I do not accept that, or rather I don't want to. If anyone comes across Rev. Barber's reply to KC's post, kindly provide a link.

As for President Bush, he is appears secure in his belief that he is acting in a lawful manner (under the unitary theory of the executive branch) to carry out an official duty: to protect the country against terrorism. His certainty is unjustified.

Certainty combined with thoughtlessness is terribly dangerous. In a sense that combination describes drunk driving as well as the reckless abuse of power - whether it be political, religious or academic.

And in a sense, as I see it, KC is like MADD, holding accountable those who act with total certainty and reckless disregard for the obligation to be thoughtful and intellectually disciplined toward the end of preventing harm through education.

This may seem a silly analogy but exercising power with absolute certainty and no thoughtfulness leads to injury and death on a scale far greater than that caused by drunk driving.

I realize that for every post KC puts up there may be another side or sides to the story and I am more than eager to listen to those if only I knew where to look. In the absence of those other points of view, my sense is that KC is disciplined and accurate and fair (fairness coupled with clearly expressed points of view). I haven't seen a hatchet job yet. Strong challenges to others yes. Hatchet jobs no.

Anonymous said...

It didn't take a rocket scientist to see what was happening, even in May of 2006 :

http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/14870.html
by Joseph Gutheinz, Jr., J.D.

"The NAACP is Wrong to Seek Gag Order in Duke Lacrosse Rape Case"
May 25, 2006

"When I teach Constitutional Law I like to bring up the contribution of the NAACP to the expansion and preservation of liberty in America. . . . Now, sadly, I must teach my classes that the NAACP apparently engages in a double standard when it comes to white people who are accused of rape and who might be the victims of an oppressive government.

(snip)

" Lets first recall that it was the prosecution in this case, not the defense, which interjected this case into a political campaign; and now the NAACP would seek to deny the defendants their ability to respond to the shameless tactics of the prosecution."


Unfortunately Brodhead, Alleva, Coach K, Moneta, Steel, Wells, the Duke Law School, et. al., claimed to be unable to see this; and unable to offer any criticism of what has happening at all.

To this day, nobody at Duke has criticized the process, nor, in this case, any action by the NAACP (including the Duke Law school, which apparently has no trouble then with gag orders or opposing changes of venue).

And the defendants in the current lawsuits are still singing the same tune: the victims (the real victims) in the lacrosse frame-up must not be allowed to tell their story to the public.

Anonymous said...

Some succinct comments from January of 2007 :

http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/2007/01/antirailroading.html
Classical Values

"What he [Barber] needs to do is turn his whole mind set around. Which is very hard. What Rev. Barber needs to focus on is bigotry free justice. I'm not just talking in a racial or other similar context. I'm talking about situations where there is a rush to judgement, which in itself is a kind of bigotry. Bigotry is the art of avoiding evidence contrary to preconcieved notions. We know this happens from the numerous cases of people on death row exonerated after many years in prison. We also know the system is reluctant to re-examine the evidence when it is available. Which means that the system thinks it has a lot to hide.

"What I think the Rev. should do is join the anti-railroading society. Because, if the prosecutors would pull this on white boys look at how much easier it would be to do to blacks. How do poor people come up with even a retainer for top lawyers?

"Rev. Barber needs a serious attitude re-adjustment.

"Well any way. We should help our brothers get back on track rather than pick fights with them. It would be the Christian thing to do. Funny thing is I'm Jewish."

af said...

Race problems are alive and well as long as those like Barber continue to remain in "power"

Debrah said...

This past article from the N&O clearly shows that Johnson was in some way close to the crime and knew what had taken place.....even if he didn't help in a cover-up.

This is nothing like the pure innocence of the lacrosse players where NO CRIME occurred at all.

There is still something fishy about the Johnson case.

That being said, we can all applaud when anyone accused of a crime they did not commit, on the level of the charges, is released.

Notice the comments at the end of this article by Barber.

I simply can't stand this "homie preacher" way of talking.

So phony.

Reminds me of Timothy Tyson's comments about Mangum......"she was somebody's daughter, somebody's mother, somebody's sweetheart"......

YUCK!

Debrah said...

I regret that either of the presidential candidates even bothered to speak before the NAACP last week.

The only reason was to appeal to that voting block.

I will never forget, nor should anyone else, the behavior of Julian Bond during the 2000 election and the way the NAACP was essentially a caustic and blatant arm of the far left.

The NAACP and the black churches are allowed tax exempt status as they campaign viciously for their candidates of choice.

I wish KC would write a book exploring this great divide and also how rampant immoral behavior by NAACP leaders is somehow acceptable.

To wit: Check out the personal history of Julian Bond, Kweisi Mfume, Ben Chavis, and other former NAACP leaders.

As everyone has seen on the news lately, there are questions being raised by both the right and the left.

How can we continue to allow some people to get away without consequences when they utter racial epithets with abandon.....as we allow others to be castigated and driven from their jobs for saying something far less offensive?

I sense an uneasy feeling among black leaders. They are beginning to understand that the rest of the country looks upon them as blooming idiots.....willing to look like children as they expect a pass for their harmful double standards.

Debrah said...

I don't remember KC telling us who won his contest.

Who won?

inmyhumbleopinion said...

KC writes:
The two pieces of evidence that the NAACP cited to justify its “demand” that Johnson “be exonerated”?

(1) No DNA evidence linked Johnson to the crime. (2) Johnson passed a polygraph test.

+++++++

KC Johnson fails to mention a third piece of evidence cited in the NAACP petition - a confession. The only witness to the murder, Kenneth Meeks, who initially said James Johnson helped him commit the murder, has changed his story. The confession from Meeks states that he acted alone.

From the actual petition:

NAACP DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR JAMES JOHNSON

James Johnson and Meeks took polygraph tests. Meeks' test indicated that Johnson was not involved. James Johnson's test confirmed that he was not involved.

Furthermore, there is no physical evidence against James Johnson. None of the DNA, blood evidence, hair and fiber evidence connected James Johnson to the crimes. There are no credible witnesses against James Johnson.
++++++++++++++++++++


That makes the situation entirely different from the lacrosse case. If three other men came forward and said they were at the party and they assaulted CGM and the three indicted players were not with them in the bathroom during the assault - THAT would be a better parallel.

(1) No DNA evidence linked the indicted person(s) to the crime. (2) The indicted person(s) passed a polygraph test. AND
(3) Someone else's confession to the crime excludes the possibility that those indicted were present.

Debrah said...

On so many levels, I find this attempt at analogy so distasteful:


*******************

(Certainty combined with thoughtlessness is terribly dangerous. In a sense that combination describes drunk driving as well as the reckless abuse of power - whether it be political, religious or academic.

And in a sense, as I see it, KC is like MADD, holding accountable those who act with total certainty and reckless disregard for the obligation to be thoughtful and intellectually disciplined toward the end of preventing harm through education.
)

******************


Hal Crowther and I agree on one thing: The very last group of people you want making decisions about anything, especially laws that extend to so many other people, are those who harbor an unrelenting bias and who have experienced a death in the family as a result of drunk driving.

I don't see KC as anything close to MADD in the way he writes and analyzes topics.

And I certainly agree with Jim Valvano when he said that he didn't fully trust someone who never drinks because they're hiding something. Those who simply can't let their guard down at all are curious to me and I wonder if they aren't the ones who should be analyzed.

BTW, nice of you to bring up drunk driving as a way to allude to the president.

If only that kind of infraction during one's younger days was the only thing for which most politicians have to be ashamed.

Bad analogy, IMO.

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.36:

I also omitted the eyewitness testimony on the other side: namely, the fact that three eyewitnesses placed Johnson at the scene of the crime--far more inculpatory evidence than existed in the lacrosse case (when, of course, there were no witnesses).

I agree completely with the prosecutor's decision to drop the murder charge in light of Meeks' changing his story (and the fact that one of the witnesses died). But it's always been my understanding that a person gives a "confession to the crime" before they're convicted of that same crime. After a conviction, a new version of events offered by the convicted criminal becomes, shall we say, far less credible. It generally is not referred to, in any case, as a "confession."

I know of no jurisdiction in the country in which a statement of a convicted murderer, in and of itself, could be described as "exclud[ing] the possibility that those indicted were present."

hman said...

IMHO failed to mention the largest difference between the Wilson case and the LAX case; there was an actual crime committed in Wilson with an actual dead body to account for. The entire physical evidence in the LAX case amounted to the sound of the words made by the accuser.

Anonymous said...

Is Wilson a Communist?

inmyhumbleopinion said...

KC posted:


I also omitted the eyewitness testimony on the other side: namely, the fact that three eyewitnesses placed Johnson at the scene of the crime--far more inculpatory evidence than existed in the lacrosse case (when, of course, there were no witnesses).

Here are your witnesses: The witness who is now dead, who is the only witness to come forward initially, never identified James Johnson as one of the people she saw the day of the murder. The other witnesses came forward after James Johnson had been in jail for three years.

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/crime_safety/story/840418.html

Prosecutors had relied on only one witness to connect Johnson to the crimes, Charlene Gray Godvey. She died four months after she told Wilson police that she had seen two black males walking with Willis near the shopping center.

New witnesses came forward this year to say they saw Johnson with Meeks and Willis before the slaying, but their identification was tainted by seeing the suspects' photographs in the paper.


http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/715188.html

The only witness to come forward initially died four months after she told police she saw Willis with two black boys on the day of the killing. This year, two more witnesses emerged, but Johnson's supporters and attorneys have raised doubt about their ability to identify him after more than three years.



KC posted:

I agree completely with the prosecutor's decision to drop the murder charge in light of Meeks' changing his story (and the fact that one of the witnesses died). But it's always been my understanding that a person gives a "confession to the crime" before they're convicted of that same crime. After a conviction, a new version of events offered by the convicted criminal becomes, shall we say, far less credible. It generally is not referred to, in any case, as a "confession."

According to the NAACP petition you cited Meeks did recant before he pled guilty in April 2006.


NAACP DEMANDS JUSTICE FOR JAMES JOHNSON

"In 2005, Meeks recanted his statement against James Johnson. Meeks admitted to his lawyer, his psychologist and several other people that he committed the crimes alone. In 2006, Meeks' lawyer and his psychologist testified in court that Meeks admitted to them that Mr. Johnson was not involved in the crimes. Moreover, in a letter dated April 24, 2007 to the Wilson Daily News, Meeks wrote, "I committed the crime alone. James Johnson is innocent. For them to keep holding him is a crime in itself."

James Johnson and Meeks took polygraph tests. Meeks' test indicated that Johnson was not involved. James Johnson's test confirmed that he was not involved.

Furthermore, there is no physical evidence against James Johnson. None of the DNA, blood evidence, hair and fiber evidence connected James Johnson to the crimes. There are no credible witnesses against James Johnson.

In April 2006, Kenneth Meeks pled guilty to first degree murder and six other charges. Currently, Meeks is serving a life sentence for Ms. Willis' murder."


KC posted:

I know of no jurisdiction in the country in which a statement of a convicted murderer, in and of itself, could be described as "exclud[ing] the possibility that those indicted were present."

I was referring to the specifics of Meeks' confession - that he was alone when Willis was kidnapped, raped and killed as opposed to Meeks merely admitting he was the shooter.

Back to my point.

KC posted:

The two pieces of evidence that the NAACP cited to justify its "demand" that Johnson "be exonerated"?

(1) No DNA evidence linked Johnson to the crime. (2) Johnson passed a polygraph test.

Readers of this blog might recall another high-profile North Carolina case in which no DNA evidence linked the accused to the "crime," and in which all three defendants passed a polygraph test. The state NAACP seemed to view the power of such evidence quite differently in that case.


+++++++

When comparing the state NAACP's view of "the power of such evidence" in the the two cases, you used the phrase "The two pieces of evidence that the NAACP cited to justify its "demand"..." when you must have known they cited more than two pieces of evidence in the petition. The NAACP citing only those two pieces of evidence happens to be a better fit for your Lax case comparison. Someone else claiming they, alone, committed the crime kind of blows the comparison.

inmyhumbleopinion said...

hman,

I'm not comparing the two crimes. I'm pointing out that KC Johnson's comparison of the state NAACP's view of the evidence in the two cases is, in my humble opinion, disingenuous.

W. R. Chambers said...

To the 11:57

Yours is certainly a fair comment about my MADD analogy. You seem better informed about MADD and have given more thought to my analogy than I did, which has taught me something about the use of analogies.

I did not mean to suggest that KC analyzes things the way MADD does or that he is animated by a moral imperative having a basis in personal loss. I have no idea.

The similarity I imagine is on the level of holding people accountable with the goal of preventing future harm. That's all.

And as for the reference to President Bush's reported arrest for drunk driving, it never crossed my mind. Again, you were more thoughtful than I was.

The irony is not lost on me. Here I was criticizing Barber and Bush for thoughtlessness but I was doing so in way that was not very thoughtful.

And so it goes. I hope I've learned something.

Gary Packwood said...

SHELL GAME FOR REAL

I see Rev. Barber's behavior as the result of his passionate dedication to the metanarrative over a period of years. He has moved the real world shells around in his mind so many times that he has forgotten where he put the pea.

A swindling sleight-of-hand metanarrative game must be very confusing at times, even for the clergy.

I'll see if I can find time to send him a copy of the Constitution of the United States for therapy.
::
GP

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Is Wilson a Communist?

7/19/08 3:16 PM
-----------------------------------
No, just a community.

Johnson (J., not K.C.) might well be a Communist. But isn't an accomplice (according to the rotund reverend.)

KC Johnson said...

To the 5.50:

While you noted, "I was referring to the specifics of Meeks' confession - that he was alone when Willis was kidnapped, raped and killed as opposed to Meeks merely admitting he was the shooter."

As I said earlier, I know of no jurisdiction in the country in which a new version of events presented by a convicted murderer is taken in and of itself to justify excluding a defendant from a crime.

I merely was explaining why I didn't deal with witnesses in the original post (it's certainly not my point to relitigate the Wilson case). While I have a low opinion of the Rev. Barber's intellectual integrity, even I wouldn't contend that he would suggest absolute innocence on the basis of conflicting witness testimony. And, as I said before, I believe charges against Johnson should be dropped.

To the 5.51:

"I'm not comparing the two crimes." I'd urge you to look at the AG's report, which made clear no crime occurred in the lacrosse case.

Anonymous said...

"inmyhumbleopinion" seems so invested in and dedicated to picking every nit in defense of some ideology - missed the point.

Barber is a hypocrite.

The NAACP has been losing credibility for years with it's double standards. This is just one example.

Reasonable people, with no ideology to defend, see facts.

Debrah said...

Revisit this KC post to see how the NAACP and McSurely handled questions.....

.....along with Irving Joyner.

No one has ever faced up to their hypocrisy.

Debrah said...

In this interview in December 2006, Barber said that the truth would set everyone free.

He was just looking for the truth.

LOL!!!

Debrah said...

Barber is by no means the only holy man who doesn't seem to know right from wrong.

Here's Wilmington's NAACP Fredlaw......telling everyone that "something had to have happened........"

How many white or whatever race of people would still be functioning in their jobs or their positions in society if they had cheered and supported the prosecution of three black men who were profoundly and totally innocent?

I also fault everyone in these communities--black or white--for not making this hypocritical and damaging behavior more of an issue.

We have seen few people who have risen up and demanded that the NAACP and their ilk as well as other leaders be held accountable for what they did in the Duke case.

People just talk about it, but have done nothing.

Consequently, these people feel they can always do and say what they wish......harming who they wish.

Debrah said...

11:36 AM and 5:50 PM---

Have only now read your posts and I must ask......

.....would it work if I just called you "Cash"?

hman said...

IMHO
Anyone who has been following the LAX case or any other complicated drawn-out saga of wrong headed prosecution knows full well that there are probably dozens of lines of evidence that would exonerate the accussed. This is inherent in the nature of being innocent of a crime: the evidence for it tends to be extensive. The more one looks, the more one will find because evidence of innocence flows from the TRUTH of what Really Happened. M. Nifong and the Durham cops understood this clearly which is why they simply stopped looking at evidence in the LAX case after the DNA exhoneration arrived.
So of course there are multiple failures in the evidence array for the prosecution in the Wilson case. We already get that. Everyone gets it and expects it. So, really, what is your point? K.C. merely pointed out that the two most decisive forms of exhoneration of the innocent were largely the same in both cases but the responses of the Rev. Barbour were quite different - by race. What is so hard about accepting this? Why the quibbling?

Anonymous said...

hman said at 2:20pm

"Why the quibbling?"

Quibbling - the mot juste.

Quibble is as quibble does.

I said that.

Anonymous said...

Regarding IMHO's comment at 2:20 that "Anyone who has been following the LAX case or any other complicated drawn-out saga of wrong headed prosecution knows full well that there are probably dozens of lines of evidence that would exonerate the accussed. This is inherent in the nature of being innocent of a crime: the evidence for it tends to be extensive. The more one looks, the more one will find because evidence of innocence flows from the TRUTH of what Really Happened"

What a wonderful statement! You have condensed thousands of pages on prosecutorial misconduct into three simple sentences, practically a haiku.


Ken Duke
Durham

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the NAACP (along with media and many others) has a double standard when it somes to race.

The flap over Jesse Jackson's comments about Obama (saying he wanted to cut off his privates and referring to all blacks as nig***s) is already all but over.

Can you imagine the repercussions if the man who uttered those words were white? His career would be over.

Anonymous said...

First, Johnson isn't innocent, so let's get that off the table. He admitted to be an accessory after the fact -- he confessed to helping Weeks wipe down Brittany's SUV (though he did a poor job apparently, since his fingerprints were found all over the vehicle). He claims that he was an accessory because he "felt coerced by Meeks" because Meeks allegedly "showed him the murder weapon".

The only way to believe Johnson is to believe that he was convinced that Meeks would murder him on a public street in broad daylight simply for failing to help him "wipe down the vehicle" -- a task that Meeks was eminently qualified to do himself. As lawyers are wont to say, this story strains credulity.

Moreover, Johnson went to police with this story only after news of a $20,000 reward surfaced. Police say that Johnson mentioned this reward; Johnson's supporters say otherwise.

Johnson has no alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the crime. A witness, A.J. Horton, visiting Johnson's house just after the time of the crime reported seeing Meeks and Johnson arriving together.

Another man, seeking to provide an alibi for Johnson, was charged with being an accessory after the fact for providing the false alibi.

As KC notes, a key witness, Charlene Godvey died four months after the crime. According to investigators, "Ms. Godvey's legacy was her accurate account of the murder timeline, the description and location of the SUV, placing it at the crime scene when Brittany may have been alive, and a generalized description of two young men and a young woman in the area where Brittany was found." Her death was quite a lucky break for Johnson. The long delay in bringing Johnson to trial has been caused solely by the actions of Johnson and his attorneys. It seems a "speedy trial" was the last thing Johnson wanted before the race-card political pressure could be brought to bear on the judicial system.

Moreover, like KC, we must all be deeply suspicious of the Meeks "confession". After pleading guilty and receiving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, Meeks has nothing to lose by telling any story that suits him. However, he may have something to gain. What benefits may he have traded for his new story -- the 6th or 7th story of the crime that he has told? Does he have a friend or family member who is being paid by persons interested in Johnson's case? Has he received himself some benefits in prison for his new story? Meeks' cost-free (but possibly benefit-ladened) "confession" carries no weight.

There is a disturbing pattern in North Carolina of false claims of "innocence" arising out of the confessions of perpetrators in multiple offender crimes "confessing" that they acted alone -- after the point when such a confession can cause them any penalty (but may bring benefits).

The former lead attorney for Johnson's taxpayer-paid legal team says "he knows every detail in the case and believes Johnson would be wise to strike a plea deal, and avoid a trial on the charge of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder." It is my understanding that under such a deal, Johnson could expect a sentence of 4 to 6 years imprisonment, probably with credit for the more than 3 years already served.

This is the NCAAP's "hero" and a man who Rev. Barber has compared with martyred figures from of the Bible.

RRH