Floyd Brown’s a grown man who has the mental capacity of a seven year old boy; seventeen years ago he was arrested and confessed to an SBI Agent who wrote down his confession word for word, that he’d murdered an elderly woman in Anson County when he broke into her home.
He was never convicted because at his trial the judge took one look at Brown and decided he wasn’t capable of defending himself in the courtroom.
Brown spent the next seven years in state mental hospitals – in a kind of legal limbo – until a public defender noticed something odd about his confession: It didn’t sound like anything that had been written (or spoken) by a grown man with a seven-year-olds intelligence. In fact, it downright erudite.
For the next seven years Brown continued to sit in legal limbo in mental hospitals as his lawyer argued the confession was phony: Then in 2007 the whole mess landed in Judge Orlando Hudson’s court and Judge Hudson read his confession and promptly threw out the case.
Next Brown’s lawyers sued the state and the SBI Agent, Mark Isley.
At that point you might think the Attorney General, Roy Cooper, staring at what Judge Hudson had ruled was a bogus confession (and the fact Brown had spend fourteen years in mental hospitals as a result) might have asked the SBI, What in hell went on here? – and set about dispensing a little justice of his own.
But Attorney General Cooper didn’t.
Instead he and his deputy Thomas Ziko – to stop the lawsuit against the SBI – went back to court and told the judge it didn’t matter one bit that the state had locked Brown in mental hospitals for fourteen years or even, as Ziko delicately put it, if Agent Isley had “elaborated” Brown’s confession – none of that proved the state was liable for anything. At least not legally.
Ziko went on to say Brown’s lawsuit ought to be dismissed because in all North Carolina history there’d never been a case like it where a man with the mental capacity of a seven year old had spent years in mental hospitals because of a false confession. And, Ziko added, since there were no other cases there were no precedents to go by and since, on top of the lack of precedents, the laws were vague the judge ought to throw out Brown’s lawsuit against Agent Isley and the SBI.
Which sure sounded odd coming from the Attorney General who’s elected to ‘fight for truth, justice and the American Way’ – instead it sounded like Attorney General Cooper was saying when it comes to an SBI agent fabricating a confession the facts don’t matter and the truth doesn’t matter or at least – when it comes to suing the SBI – they don’t matter as much as the loophole he found in the law.