Orlando Hudson, chief resident Superior Court judge in Durham, believes that the conviction of Darryl Anthony Howard 19 years ago for two murders and arson was one of the most horrendous prosecutions Hudson has seen in his 34 years on the bench.
On Friday, Howard moved one step closer to justice, and North Carolina got a frightening reminder of how fragile justice can be.
Hudson vacated Howards conviction two months ago amid contentions of significant prosecutorial and police misconduct. On Friday, he granted Howard his release from prison while the state appeals the May ruling. Incredibly, the Durham District Attorneys office is fighting that release. An appeals court could rule on it next week.
Hudson had harsh words for Howards prosecutors, including former D.A. Mike Nifong, who was disbarred after his handling of the Duke University lacrosse case. Among the issues and misconduct in the Howard case: Defense attorneys later discovered a police memo describing a credible tip that pointed away from Howard. Also, despite evidence that the two victims had been sexually assaulted, there was no physical evidence linking Howard to the scene, and when DNA testing of sperm found in one victim excluded Howard, prosecutors moved forward with the case as if the crime didnt include the sexual assaults.
Its a reminder that police and prosecutors are fallible, and sometimes worse. Darryl Howard is getting another chance at justice. How many on death row havent?
Help for domestic violence
The death of Biana Tanner, the 31-year-old school teacher whose body was found a week ago after her boyfriend reported her missing nearly a month ago, has renewed public focus on domestic violence. Tanners boyfriend has been charged in her murder.
Demonstrators marched in uptown Charlotte on Thursday to raise awareness, and acknowledge the need for more people to get involved. A recent study points to one particular area that might be able to affect some change the church. Last month LifeWay Research interviewed 1,000 pastors nationwide and found that rarely broach the subject of domestic or sexual violence in their sermons, and are not trained to tackle it with their parishioners. Most downplayed it as an issue for their congregrations even though 74 percent acknowledged knowing someone who was a victim of domestic violence.
The church could play an important role in tackling this issue, not only by empahsizing how wrong it is and publicly bringing it out of the shadows, but by ensuring the victimized that they have a place to come for help and comfort. More than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Such violence should never be tolerated or condoned. The church can greatly aid getting that message out.