Friday, March 30, 2012

Durham "Progressives" Again Stand Up for Prosecutorial Misconduct

In most of the country, “progressive” activists are known for their defenses of civil liberties and their (sometimes reflexive and overheated) criticism of alleged police and/or prosecutorial misconduct. This record often has led to “progressives” being attacked as soft on crime. But there is, also, an intellectual consistency in their positions on such matters that deserves acknowledgement.

In Durham, of course, everything is upside down, and in recent years, the “progressive” establishment—represented by the People’s Alliance—has emerged as a consistent, vociferous apologist for police and prosecutorial misconduct. The PA enthusiastically supported Mike Nifong’s election in 2006. The group’s closest ally on the City Council, Diane Catotti, did everything she could to squelch and then neuter the investigation into police misconduct in the lacrosse case. And the PA was in Tracey Cline’s corner in 2008.

So few should be surprised that in the Democratic primary for superior court judge, the PA has spurned Orlando Hudson in favor of ex-DA Cline’s chief deputy, Jim Dornfried.

The PA made its choice even though in their respective questionnaires, Hudson took a consistently more liberal position than did Dornfried. In responding to a question about a pending state constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships of any type illegal, Hudson stated that the federal constitution should grant gay and lesbian couples a right to marry; Dornfried didn't mention the federal constitutional issue. In responding to a question about North Carolina's Racial Justice Act, Hudson strongly defended the law, citing North Carolina's Jim Crow heritage; Dornfried deferred comment on the matter. In a question about their respective backgrounds, Hudson spoke of his earlier work as an assistant public defender; Dornfried had been in private practice before joining the DA's office. Hudson also detailed his willingness to volunteer his legal skills to local law schools; Dornfried mentioned no such volunteer work.

But the PA ignored Hudson's seemingly “progressive” credentials, instead explaining its endorsement by hailing Dornfried’s work as Cline’s deputy. In his questionnaire to the PA, Dornfried cited the testimony of Durham’s resident ethics apologist, Judge Marcia Morey, to argue that Cline’s deeds did not harm the administration of justice--and thereby to implicitly challenge the decision to remove her from office.

(Dornfried, I should note, was answering a question that was framed in such a way to suggest the PA's fury at the decision to remove Cline: District attorneys are elected by the people. How egregious must a district attorney’s conduct be before a trial judge may interfere with the people’s right to choose or replace their representative in criminal proceedings?”)

The cases in which Hudson and Cline tangled, as the PA understood, involved matters in which Judge Hudson had claimed that the DA's office violated the constitutional rights of accused criminals--usually a point of view that self-styled progressives embrace but in Durham is anathema to the “activist” left.

By the way, Dornfried is white, Hudson is African-American. And in his PA questionnaire, Dornfried identified our current President as “Barak [sic] Obama,” a misspelling that often appears on far-right websites. It appears we’ve finally found the issue—defending prosecutorial misconduct—upon which Durham’s “progressives” are willing to abandon their obsession with “diversity.”

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Birds of a feather flock together. Lets see who wins the election.The people will know best.
Is either candidate a communist? (pre-emptive question)

Anonymous said...

While I generally agree with this post, I'm not entirely sure about the last paragraph--I think that associating Dornfried with far-right website based on what might be a legitimate typo.

It's be different if it was "NObama" or something like that.

KC Johnson said...

To the 3.58:

This is, however, just the thing upon which "progressive" groups like the PA normally seize.

Moreover, it would seem to me that an inability to spell the President's name (more than 3 years into his term!) doesn't exactly reflect well on a judicial candidate. That said, Dornfried worked for the queen of typos.

Anonymous said...

Progressives look like liberals on the way into power but like Stalinists once they are in control.

Anonymous said...

WoW, KC, this is weirder than anything (even this is possible in Durham, maybe even more possible because it is Durham). Your analysis is solid but there has to be more to this, some other fact we are not aware of. Normally, black liberal v. white liberal in Durham, black wins. But PA is for the white guy? Something odd is happening.

Anonymous said...

People's Alliance, eh?

More like The Democratic People's Republic Alliance.

Anonymous said...

Re: “Barak [sic] Obama,” a misspelling that often appears on far-right websites.”

You are working way too hard to drag conservatives into a negative comment any which way you can. What far-right websites are you reading anyway? I would appreciate a footnote on that statement.

BTW: A quick search turned up many articles similar to the following:
“Obama may be president, but millions still misspell his name”
By Tim Gaynor”

One Spook said...

To the Anon @ 9:18 PM who writes: there has to be more to this, some other fact we are not aware of."

I believe that the fact you are not considering is that the PA supports a candidate who possesses that very rare trait of knowing who is guilty irrespective of facts, evidence or procedure. Those items are simply nettlesome details that stand in the way of a person who absolutely knows who is guilty.

Having a candidate who knows who is guilty trumps race, gender, and liberal or progressive ideology, but the candidate must be a democrat and a Durham resident.

The PA supported Nifong because he knew those lacrosse players were guilty --- it really didn't even matter which ones. Nifong knew what happened; how it happened; and he even told everyone that he intended to try the case "the old fashioned way" ... evidence, exculpatory or otherwise, and police procedure be damned, he would impanel a sympathetic jury and those boys would have to "prove their innocence in court."

Likewise with Cline --- she knew who was guilty and when she ignored procedure and was overruled by Judge Hudson, she attacked Hudson because she knew who was guilty.

And now the PA views ex-DA Cline's Chief Deputy Dornfried as yet another gifted officer of the court --- one who absolutely knows exactly who is guilty and who is not.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

The PA backs the white guy because he has a history with Cline. This is not a vote for him. It is a vote against hudson because the PA is all pissed off that their darling Cline got the heave for her blaring incompetence and emotional meltdown. Amazes me that certain durham black folk scream for equal rights and equal treatment under the law, but when it happens, and a black official is held accountable just like a white official , these same folks go into hysterics. Cline's stooge is just a PA puppet. Perhaps we will get Mangum running for DA soon; maybe even Linwood.

Anonymous said...

"By the way, Dornfried is white, Hudson is African-American."

Quick question for you, KC. Has anyone ever been born in Africa and then immigrated to the US who happens to have a skin pigmentation that would be considered "white?"
If so, are they also considered "Africa-American?"

If not, then how much melanin does it take to be "African American?"

Help me out here. I'm just trying to get my mind around this whole "black Hispanic" thing. After all, Africa is a pretty big place, and it kind of bugs me that there is a pigmentation cutoff that denotes someone as "African American." Kind of like saying there are no black Irishmen, as if no people with skin pigmentation that would be considered "black" have ever been born in Ireland. Know what I mean?

I once read where someone said, and I paraphrase, that I long for a world where people are judged by their character and not the color of their skin. I relate. I long for a world where an Irishman of a darker skin pigmentation can be referred to as an Irishman, and not something else. Er, strike that. Where an American can be refereed to as an American, or...oh hell...never mind...

KC Johnson said...

To the 9.08:

I'm not quite sure I understand the question. Are you suggesting that Dornfried's family is from South Africa, & this is why the PA endorsed him?

I quite agree with you on the MLK quote--but that, of course, is not usually the policy of "diversity"-obsessed groups like the PA. That's why their endorsement of Dornfried is so extraordinary, and that's why I pointed out he's white--it's relevant to the general point of the post, namely that the PA's commitment to upholding the Nifong/Cline reign of prosecutorial misconduct.

Bumper said...

I believe that the 9:08's question is if a Caucasian is born in Africa and immigrates to America, would that person be referred to in the New York Times as an African American. And the answer is "of course not." Although such events happens quite often, discussion of the subject is considered verboten by liberals because in doesn't fit their simple world view.

KC Johnson said...

To the 3.09:

Thanks for the clarification.

My sense, then: we have enough problems with real examples of political correctness & anti-intellectual "diversity" initiatives without inventing implausible hypotheticals.

As far as I know, neither Sephardic Jews from North Africa nor white South African immigrants normally self-designate as African-Americans. There's no reason, then, for the Times (or anyone else) to so designate them.

Anonymous said...

George Allen mother was born in Tunis, making him an African American as much as Obama?

Anonymous said...

This is an outlandish question but ... could Duke University just move out of Durham NC? or start moving parts of it away for the safety of the students. Move the Law School. Move the Business School. Medical, Engineering etc. Cameron Indoor will be missed but it is obsolete. Wallace Wade is also antiquated. Once upon a time Wake Forest moved. Durham is becoming unfix-able.

Anonymous said...

"As far as I know, neither Sephardic Jews from North Africa nor white South African immigrants normally self-designate as African-Americans. There's no reason, then, for the Times (or anyone else) to so designate them."

Ahh, I see. So it's a "self-designation" thing. Kind of like Ward Churchill "self-designating" himself as an American Indian.

Or Obama "self-designating" himself as "black", when his mother was "white".

Got it. No, not really. I don't "get it." But I understand.

Seems like we have a long way to go to get to being judged on character and not skin pigmentation, doesn't it?

BTW, I served in the USAF with a guy with lighter skin pigmentation who was born in South Africa. He took great delight in putting on all applications he came across that he was "African-American." And he absolutely was.

The truth shall set you free...(read that somewhere, too)