Investigation of NC Prosecutors Drags On

by TChris

As TalkLeft discussed here, the North Carolina Bar accused two prosecutors (one of whom is now a judge) of concealing evidence and encouraging perjury in a case that sent Jonathan Hoffman to death row. The Bar was unable to impose discipline because the misconduct wasn't revealed until after the time for making disciplinary complaints against them had expired.

The N.C. Bar's counsel asked District Attorney Michael Parker to investigate potential criminal charges against the two former prosecutors. But one of those prosecutors helped Parker get his current job, and Parker really shouldn't be investigating misconduct in Hoffman's first trial when Parker's office intends to try Hoffman a second time.

Here's the latest development:

Parker promised a review and a decision as to whether to bring charges by April 1. Just before his announced deadline, but without public notice, Parker asked the office of Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate. ...

What the SBI finds out will go to Parker, who will have four choices. He can bring charges based on the SBI investigation. He can ask for the case to be transferred to another district attorney. He can request a special prosecutor. Or he can simply decide not to prosecute.

Parker shouldn't wait. He should appoint a special prosecutor now to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

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  • Re: Investigation of NC Prosecutors Drags On (none / 0) (#1)
    by james on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 01:36:52 PM EST
    The 'victim' in this case, as you mentioned, was arrested recently. His lawyer claims he has been subject to 'persecution' from the DA, specifically that the police took an extra special interest in him since he was released. It's unfortunate that he was arrested, especially since the charges are related to statutory rape. The somewhat bizarre point is that his involvement wasn't known until the girl revealed that her father had been raping her - the father was a friend of the guy, they rode bikes together. In that sense, I don't think they are persecuting him/treating him unfairly. They also allowed him to turn himself. The bar has been engaged in a debate about these two guys for a long, long time. There were actually two inquiries, the latest of which ended after they claimed too much time had expired. The somewhat sick thing is that many of the board members pointed out that the bar had other options to take action and interpret the code differently... This shows that a complaint to the bar is really going to go nowhere with Nifong, for example. They do not like to punish prosecutors. That the SBI initiated an investigation, though, suggests that this is being taken seriously by the legal system - which is good. NC *does not* have a statute of limitations on felonies which would render such arguments moot. Our lack of a statutue of limitations here in NC was added for the benefit of all non-NC residents...which might also scare some of the (former) prosecutors on the board. The prosecutor appears to be conflicted but the two prosecutors are fairly reviled in NC - they are a blight and an embarrasment. I don't think he'll step away from the case though.

    Re: Investigation of NC Prosecutors Drags On (none / 0) (#2)
    by james on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 01:38:21 PM EST
    He probably would appoint a special prosecutor...I'd imagine he can see a glaring conflict and likely would not want the negative PR - it might appear to any potential jury that the 'victim' is being railroaded again...

    Re: Investigation of NC Prosecutors Drags On (none / 0) (#3)
    by james on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 01:40:14 PM EST
    Sorry, in my first comment 'step away' meant removing himself from a decision to appoint a special prosecutor - not to pass that decision off to another DA.

    Re: Investigation of NC Prosecutors Drags On (none / 0) (#4)
    by weezie on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 02:54:05 PM EST
    Mike Nifong! Are you seeing this?!