If North Carolina is not careful, it could garner the dubious reputation as a place where expediency trumps justice.
The case of Darryl Howard, who is slated to be released from prison after a 19-year stay, has sullied an already stained justice system. Howard, now 52, was convicted in Durham in 1993 of a heinous double murder. In May, Howard’s conviction was thrown out by North Carolina Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, who called the case waged against Howard the “most horrendous” instance of prosecutorial malfeasance he’d seen in his 34-year legal career.
Howard was prosecuted by a DA’s office led by the infamous Mike Nifong, who was disbarred in 2007 after he pushed for sexual assault charges against members of the Duke University Lacrosse team.
Howard was convicted of killing a mother and her daughter, although there was overwhelming evidence that he, in fact, was not the perpetrator. All the witnesses who ID’ed Howard eventually recanted, and it was obvious that the victims had been sexually assaulted, but cops and prosecutors insisted that wasn’t the case – presumably because they knew DNA samples from the crime scene did not match Howard’s.
With these type of shenanigans, it’s no wonder that the Innocence Project, which works across the nation to free the wrongfully convicted, is calling for a review of all the capital cases prosecuted by Nifong. There is no telling how many men and women were railroaded. It is not lost on us, by the way, that what finally derailed Nifong was his overzealous prosecution of rich, white boys. Seemingly, he was allowed to employ underhanded tactics for years as long as only the black and poor were impacted.
Howard is expected to be re-tried; we pray that this time, a jury of his “peers” will be given all the facts so that they can come to a fair and just decision.
The three-member Forsyth County Board of Elections unanimously agreed to an early voting plan Tuesday afternoon – a major feat for a body that is headed by neo-Conversative Ken Raymond and includes progressive Democrat Fleming El-Amin.
While we applaud the board for finding some common ground, we think the plan – which surely will be OK’ed with alacrity by the GOP-controlled State Board of Elections – is an arrant mess.
None of the nine early voting sites is in the heart of East Winston – not-a-one! The Mazie Woodruff Center is the only thing close to a site in a truly African American community. The Malloy Jordan Library and Winston-Salem State University’s Anderson Center had been used as early voting sites in the past, but Raymond was having none of that this go-round. He started floating voter misconduct theories surrounding WSSU years ago, but like much of what he says, those claims are tenuous.
The board’s satellite voting site plan is further evidence – like more was needed – that there is a concerted effort afoot to keep blacks from the polls, especially in the large numbers that helped to propel President Obama to two victories. This attack is on all fronts; we are flanked by a voter ID law, a truncated early voting schedule and now a lack of voting sites in our backyards. If Republican lawmakers get another two years to reign in Raleigh, we are certain a written exam for voters will be next.