Editorial: The empire strikes back — against progressive prosecutors
The case of the “Hood,” in which prosecutors allegedly withheld evidence from defense attorneys until after the trial of a man they believed to be guilty, has brought us back to some of our darkest days in the state, and raised questions about how far prosecutors will go in their defense of the powerful and the wealthy.
The prosecution’s theory of the case was that the man was part of a larger drug trafficking organization, and that his associates had been in the process of stealing marijuana from a marijuana-growing operation.
The defense, on the other hand, believed that the man was a highly-educated and very intelligent business entrepreneur who did nothing wrong.
When it was discovered that he was a man of the cloth who had been a congregant at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for 25 years, a jury heard from two of the victim’s colleagues.
They testified that the parish priest had confided in the congregation about the church’s growing problem with the growing problem of drug use in the community. Among those who came forward was one of the priests’ long-time friends.
When the defense learned that he was a priest, the case fell apart.
The prosecutor told jurors that he had “no evidence” of any drug trafficking. He said that the case was about “the clergy” and “the church.”
“It was almost a witch story,” says the Rev. Anthony R. Manna, a St. Paul’s parishioner and associate pastor who is in the process of leaving the Church. “It was more about a priest than anything else.”
Mr. Manna says he was deeply troubled by the way justice was delivered in the case, and by the prosecutors’ willingness to lie in court about the very existence of defense witness testimony and of the confidential information that they had given to defense attorneys.
Mr. Manna and others expressed their concerns to Bishop John J. Wright, in an open letter that he posted on the church’s website.
The letter, dated Nov. 19, 2006, says:
“The court appointed attorney on our behalf has had a personal relationship with the prosecutor in this case since their inception. She was his “secretary” and his