Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bar Odds&Ends

Yesterday’s N&O, coincidentally, had an item on another dubious death-penalty prosecution involving Union County’s disgraced former district attorney, Kenneth Honeycutt.

The article served as a timely reminder of the journalistic work the N&O has done in exposing prosecutorial misconduct. The paper’s coverage broke the Gell story, and the detail of its reporting was extraordinary; likewise, the N&O appears to have been the only North Carolina newspaper whose news division devoted serious attention to the Honeycutt fiasco.

Anyone who has followed this case has come to expect pro-Nifong puffery from the Herald-Sun; or a slightly more sophisticated race/class/gender interpretation from the New York Times. But the single most disappointing aspect of the media’s recent role came when the N&O’s editorial board ignored their paper’s own reporting on the Nifong case—not to mention legacy of exposing past prosecutorial misconduct—and praised the plurality of Durham voters who gave Nifong a pass on November 7.

Fortunately, there’s no reason to believe the news division will abandon its interest in the issue of unethical behavior by prosecutors.


A North Carolina lawyer dissented from my post of yesterday:

I think you’re wrong on what the Gell case means for what will happen when the state bar considers the inevitable complaints against Nifong. The NC State Bar was EXTREMELY embarrassed by the Gell case. Major components of the state bar were, and remain, up in arms over what happened and no one was willing to defend what happened, not even prosecutors. Alice Mine, the executive director of the State Bar, was removed from disciplinary duties over this . . . My best guess as an NC attorney is that the State Bar will be quite ready to throw the proverbial book at Nifong.

I hope he’s right.


Finally, I should have made clear in the post below that the Bar and Disciplinary Hearings Committee, though linked, are separate entities.


Anonymous said...

K.C., regarding anything the North Carolina Bar will do to punish Nifong, I will believe it when I see it. If the NC Bar was so up in arms about the Gell case, then why is David Hoke, one of the prosecutors who withheld the exculpatory evidence, the number two person in the NC court system and a clerk to the chief justice of the NC Supreme Court?

I'm sorry, but that sure as heck does not look like punishment to me. The man is drawing a big salary, influencing legal opinions in the state, and basically being able to practice the profession which he so disgraced. David Hoke suffered NOTHING. Alan Gell, on the other hand, spent many years on death row.

So, if we are going to speak of the bar and proportionality, where is the proportionality in that set of circumstances? The only just outcome would have been for Hoke and Debra Graves to be given the sentence that they almost successfully had carried out.

Just think; the state was going to KILL Alan Gell. The man most responsible for that travesty paid no price whatsoever, save a slap on the wrist reprimand.

I guess this tells me that if a person is a lawyer working for the state of North Carolina, he can do whatever he wants, commit any crime he wants, lie, cheat, and falsely imprison people, and nothing happens to him. No wonder people like Nifong love their jobs as prosecutors!

No, I doubt anything will happen to Nifong at all. I would love to be shown to be wrong here, but experience tells me differently.

By the way, what about the prosecutors in the Little Rascals case? What happened to them? Oh, they still are practicing their professions. They destroyed the lives of innocent people, but they still are "hero prosecutors."

North Carolina Justice is an oxymoron, at least where state-employed lawyers are concerned.

Anonymous said...

Thanks KC

The fact there may still be hope alive in action by the bar is great to hear.

Anonymous said...

Texas does not have an open discovery law.


Anonymous said...

I seem to recall an anonymous poster before the November election claiming he had an inside source at the NC Bar and was certain they would act very shortly after the election. He was even insulted when some people reacted with skepticism.

I am not holding my breath. Usually this kind of thing waits until the case is over before assessing the offender's behavior. It's not the bar's role to jump into an ongoing case. That should be for the judge.

I am not holding my breath for either.