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
(1) No DNA evidence linked Johnson to the crime. (2) Johnson passed a polygraph test.
Readers of this blog might recall another high-profile
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
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.