Hardy, as you know, was found guilty by a District Court judge in July of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend. He awaits a full jury trial, which could take place in November but might be delayed until early next year. Cogdell was found guilty by a District Court just in 2002 of pushing a former employee down a staircase. Like Hardy, he chose to pursue to full jury trial and was found not guilty.
On Monday, Cogdell sent his thoughts to the Observer's Editorial Board.
I never thought there would be a set of circumstances that would motivate me to want to remind the general public about my own legal troubles that I found myself in several years ago. In January 2002, a former female employee accused me of assault. Let me be clear, at no time did I ever assault her. I had just gotten elected to the Charlotte City Council and local media followed my case closely as it progressed through the court system.
After a bench trial in front of a District Court Judge I was found guilty. I appealed. Immediately upon appealing a misdemeanor, a defendant’s conviction is set aside (no longer guilty of the offense) and the defendant is entitled to a new trial. Several months later I was found Not Guilty by a jury. During the almost 18 months the case was pending, I continued to serve on the Charlotte City Council and practice law. In the minds of some, I was guilty period - without any need to know the facts or hear any evidence.
As we all make up the court of public opinion, it is important for us to be mindful that there many unknown facts about virtually any pending legal case and there are instances where purported victims or witnesses have unscrupulous motives. In theory, a defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until 12 jurors unanimously find him/her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is disheartening that the instantaneous nature of our society has gravitated so far away from this cornerstone of our judicial system. Keeping an open mind and admitting that there too many unknowns to form an opinion about a specific alleged domestic violence incident is not the same as being apathetic about or turning a blind eye to an unacceptable culture to violence against women.
I am very disappointed in the Carolina Panthers decision to deactivate Greg Hardy prior to allowing the judicial process to run its course. However, I am even more disappointed in the general public’s increasing willingness to rapidly form deeply entrenched opinions about situations and issues armed with such a limited understanding of relevant facts and circumstances.