Let's just finish that above post headline for our readers in North Carolina and elsewhere with the words "maybe you should."
Concerning a matter described in one media outlet as "a major sex trafficking case that allegedly stretched from the Twin Cities to Nashville," the forceful questioning of government evidence is precisely what led to a federal judge tossing out guilty verdicts against three defendants.
Those individuals had been convicted on sex-trafficking conspiracy charges in a jury trial. Another man who had already spent two years behind bars was released from prison. And one federal prosecutor now says that a recent appellate decision upholding the lower court might force the government to rethink its case against remaining defendants.
What caused the furor?
In a word, credibility.
Or, more specifically, its lack, which was clearly the driving catalyst in the appellate decision. The above-cited article noted that the appeals court "blasted the government for its handling of the case," and additionally stated that the tribunal believed "the alleged victims in the case had serious credibility issues."
The head investigator, a seasoned police officer from St. Paul who commenced the criminal probe several years back and stated that she had spent thousands of hours working on the matter, is now on leave and the subject of a police investigation herself. A spokesperson from her department says that the case will now be closely reexamined owing to the "extremely concerning" information contained in court documents.
Although the matter has no direct North Carolina nexus, we certainly think it merits mention owing to its likelihood of repetition in any American state and jurisdiction.
The North Carolina case of Darryl Hunt echoes the above case. Mr. Hunt was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death by not one, but TWO, juries only to be exonerated by DNA evidence which ultimately led to the confession of the real culprit later on. Hunt spent decades on death row before he was released.
Evidence offered by prosecutors in any criminal matter should never be deemed sacrosanct and infallible. Indeed, it is only as good as what it really is, which can range from being lawfully collected and proven to be true beyond a reasonable doubt after close testing to being completely fabricated and false.
When it is the latter, it simply must be challenged hard by a defense attorney and dismissed by a court, with sanctions being meted out as necessary and innocent parties once adjudged guilty of a crime having their names cleared and their freedom restored.
When such is not the case, the American criminal justice system is sadly undermined and marked by an erosion of public trust.