120813CooperAug. 26, 2013

“Attorney General Roy Cooper stopped far short of apologizing to (Greg Taylor and Floyd Brown). He said that the SBI had better investigative practices now and that ‘It was in the best interest of the state to settle these cases.’

“And maybe in the best interest of justice, too?

“These two men lost their youths thanks to agents of the SBI. That is an outrage for which they can never be adequately compensated. State officials have been encouraged to offer profuse apologies, and that is not unreasonable, though it’s a little late for it now….

“But let no one involved in prosecuting these two men believe that the debt for their ‘mistakes’ is paid in full.”

– From “Two former prisoners’ lives, valued,” editorial in the News & Observer (Aug. 15, 2013)

As compensation for their flagrantly corrupted prosecution, Taylor received about $4.5 million from the state, Brown about $8 million. Attorney General Cooper seems to find such an outlay easier to swallow than offering an apology – providing yet another example of the “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)” approach to accountability.

By contrast, in 2007 the Duke lacrosse case moved Cooper to give the defendants a “statement of innocence” and to at least brush up against remorse:

“In the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly…. I think a lot of people owe a lot of apologies to a lot of people.”

But in 2009, after yet another wrongful conviction settlement – this one for $3.9 million – Cooper declined to give murder defendant Alan Gell a statement of innocence. ”The Duke case was a clear case, very unusual,” he explained. “There was no crime committed….”

“No crime committed”? Why, I know another “clear case, very unusual” that precisely meets that standard!