Friday, November 17, 2006

Judicial Malpractice; or, Yet Another RCOB Moment

Via THR, comes this, from Dunn, North Carolina:

A Dunn man was found not guilty yesterday by a Harnett County Superior Court Jury in a controversial shooting.
Brad Hines, 33, was acquitted of a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury.
Mr. Hines was charged with the Aug. 1, 2005 shooting of Robert Surles, 43, of Dunn at Mr. Surles' auto body shop.
A service manager for Perry Brothers Tire Service, Mr. Hines testified he was attacked by Mr. Surles and an unknown, armed black male while attempting to collect a debt owed his employer.
Mr. Hines testified that Mr. Surles attacked him with a board and the other man drew a gun on him.
Mr. Hines said he pulled a handgun, for which he has a permit, and fired a single shot in self-defense, wounding Mr. Surles.
In an October 2005 hearing, District Court Judge Marcia Stewart found no probable cause for the charge against Mr. Hines.
But Senior Assistant District Attorney Peter Strickland decided to press on with the case and secured a grand jury indictment against Mr. Hines.

After the verdict was read, Judge Ammons gave Mr. Hines some advice.
"Take that concealed weapon permit and turn it in to the Sheriff's Office - you don't need it," Judge Ammons said. "If the gun is returned to you, go sell it. You don't need it."
Mr. Strickland told Judge Ammons he wants the gun destroyed.
Judge Ammons convened a hearing to decide the matter.
"In a hearing before a judge, the weapon can either be returned to the defendant or I can order the firearm turned over to the sheriff and destroyed," Judge Ammons said.
Mr. Hayes defended Mr. Hines' right to keep his firearm.
"The court heard the evidence, Mr. Hines is in lawful possession and has a legal permit," Mr. Hayes said. "You're destroying a $600 to $800 gun which belongs to someone who has never committed a violent crime and you've heard testimony of his good character and reputation."
"We have heard the evidence and Mr. Hines took a firearm into a situation late at night where he knew it might be used," Mr. Strickland said. "The state is concerned a similar incident might happen again."
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Ammons ruled the firearm be turned over to Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins and destroyed.

A song lyric from the great Merle Haggard comes to mind: "Are we rollin' downhill like a snowball headed for hell, with no kind of chance for the flag or the Liberty Bell..."
And when I see stories like this, especially in a place like North Carolina, the answer to the Hag's question can't be any other than a resounding yes. Call it senseless if you will, but to me that's far too kind. What this judge and prosecutor did to this citizen was downright criminal. You wonder why people lose faith in the judicial system? Because of cases like this. I am just at a complete loss for words here. It's wrong, unjust, immoral, and everything else, and if there were any justice left in the world, this judge and prosecutor would be held accountable and punished for what they've done. I must commend Mr. Hines for showing superhuman restraint...if I'd had some unelected black-robed elite talk to me like that, to say the least I'd have really given them the what-for. With both barrels, so to speak. I hope for his sake this isn't the end of this horrible story, but we will see.