Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The SBI's Harnett County connection

In tapping former N.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Gerald Arnold to be interim director of the state SBI's troubled crime lab, Attorney General Roy Cooper is following a familiar path. When the SBI needs new leadership, get a Harnett County lawyer and former legislator from Lillington who graduated from East Carolina University. Well, sort of.

Arnold, a well-regarded lawyer, judge and administrator who retired a year ago from Lawyer's Mutual Insurance Company, will be running the forensic lab as well as making a legal review of the lab's divisions while an eight-member panel named by new SBI Director Greg McLeod makes a national search for a new crime lab director. Arnold likely won't be there long.

Arnold's selection was a good one for an agency with a badly tattered reputation, but he has his work cut out for him as defense lawyers and their clients challenge courtroom convictions that may have been reached in part because of with tainted evidence, tests or testimony.

Arnold has had an interesting career that includes a couple of terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. He practiced law in Lillington early in his career with Robert B. Morgan, also an East Carolina grad. Morgan would later serve in the legislature, become attorney general (overseeing, among other things, the SBI) and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974. Defeated for reelection in 1980, Morgan returned to North Carolina and in 1985 became director of the SBI under Attorney General Lacy Thornburg, now a federal judge. Morgan was SBI director for seven years before returning to private practice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And they are neighbors too, live in the same development in Buies Creek. Perhaps 1/2 mile apart!