An audit disclosed 230 cases processed by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were marred by failings, including withholding of evidence to the defense. Three people have been executed in that state, those cases were not audited, for the people are dead.
The North Carolina justice system shook Wednesday as an audit commissioned by Attorney General Roy Cooper revealed that the State Bureau of Investigation withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases at the expense of potentially innocent men and women.
The full impact of the disclosure will reverberate for years to come as prosecutors and defense attorneys re-examine cases as much as two decades old to figure out whether these errors robbed defendants of justice. Some of the injustices can be addressed as attorneys bring old cases back to court. For others, it’s too late: Three of the defendants in botched cases have been executed.
This is something that always haunts me, and leads to my profound ambivalence about the death penalty. The state needs to get it right. The forensic people are not advocates for one side or another, but for the truth. Anything else is a show trial and an injustice.