While many followers of state government are occupied by Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the SB 9, No Discriminatory Purpose in Death Penalty and the sentencing of her top campaign finance man, a much more serious blow was being delivered to the NC criminal justice system in a Durham Courtroom. This blow was the order of a new trial for Michael Peterson who was convicted in 2003 for the murder of his wife Kathleen. This article from the Durham Herald-Sun says it very clearly in the first paragraph:
Michael Peterson will receive a new trial on charges he murdered his wife in 2001, as his first was fatally compromised by a since-disgraced State Bureau of Investigation’s testimony.
This ongoing turmoil is caused by the failure of Attorney General Roy Cooper to properly supervise the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). While most members of the SBI are hard working and honest enforcers of the law, there appeared to be a sub-culture that took short cuts and worked to convict regardless of the evidence. Cooper, now in his third term was slow to react to mounting evidence that there was a problem. When he finally acted he did so by moving the head of the SBI to another highly compensated position and putting his chief lobbyist Greg McLeod, who had no law enforcement or extensive administrative experience, in charge of the only statewide general law enforcement organization. They are so proud of his background that you can find nothing about him at the SBI website despite information about a number of other people being posted.
While the governors veto will continue to cause overworked District Attorney’s more unproductive work, the more serious and long term damage continues to result from the leadership failure of Roy Cooper and the misdeeds of a a few bad apples in the SBI. That damage, more than anything else, will cause honest citizens of our great state to lose trust in the fair administration of justice in NC. Oh and how about the lack of any statements of support or even comment from the AG on SB-9. As NC’s “top” law enforcement officer” you would think he would have an opinion on this important topic. Of course he has shown a distinct lack of interest in any subject outside of “binge in a can” and “Consumer Protection.“