Pardon the Wilmington Ten

Guest Columnist | , George E. Curry | 5/17/2012, 4:11 p.m.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that the prosecution violated due process rights by failing to turn over evidence that was favorable to the defense, including information that would have impeached the testimony of its chief witness, Allen Hall. It was Hall who had leveled the most serious charges against Chavis, depicting him as the chief architect of the violence and claiming that he taught others to assemble firebombs and use firearms.

However, despite more than a half-dozen requests from defense attorneys, the prosecutor refused to turn over a second statement made by Allen that directly contradicted at least 15 of his earlier charges.

The prosecutor also failed to turn over a mental evaluation of Hall.

"Significant to this case are the statements in the report that 'psychological tests reveal an IQ of 82 placing him in the range of borderline defective,'" the appeals court judges wrote. They said Hall's limited intelligence raised questions about Hall's "ability to recall in minute detail events that occurred at least one and one-half years prior to the time he was testifying."

This was the criminal justice system at its worse. The least North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue should do is issue a long overdue pardon and heartfelt apology to the Wilmington Ten.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.