Monday, September 15, 2014

Harold Cogdell: I know why Greg Hardy deserved better

More than a decade ago, then-Charlotte City Council member Harold Cogdell was charged with misdemeanor assault on a female. His subsequent journey through the court system offers him a somewhat unique perspective on the Panthers' decision Sunday to deactivate defensive lineman Greg Hardy in light of a pending domestic violence charges.

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.

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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.


17 comments:

Larry said...

This is the age of instant justice, you are either guilty or innocent twenty seconds after it hits social media.

RobNClt said...

Harold Cogdell should not be surprised, the general public has been lulled to sleep and can no longer reason, think, or be logical. They automatically swing to the side of the female. The media and newspapers (ESPN, Charlotte Observer, and others) have done this to the public. They send outrage into every home on tv and tell everyone you're insensitive if you don't react angrily and prejudge this person and the public marches in a straight line, can not think for themselves.

Governor Perry of Texas tried to force a drunk driving female prosecutor who had been convicted and served time out of office and she would not go. She, instead brought charges against him for doing exactly what this nation wants the NFL to do. Should charges be brought against the NFL and teams who do the same thing Gov. Perry tried to do?

The left is made up of weird people who are hypocritical and the right feel they have to follow that ridiculousness to prove they are good people too. I am good a good person whether I agree with the popular opinion or not. I do not agree with the popular opinion unless it pertains to everyone who is accused/convicted and they all, public and private lose their jobs upon being accused/convicted, EVERYONE!

According to the left, character does not matter, ask them about Bill Clinton. Should he have stepped down, A judge found him guilty of perjuring himself in her court and fined him more than $400,000 and he lost is law license for a few years. Did he step down for abusing a woman, for perjuring himself under oath, NO, and Senate agreed he could stay in office with his womanizing, abusing self. The whole left wing agreed with the Senate. The left wing in this country has some serious double standards and it has to be brought to a HALT by those who can think straight.

It's not often I agree with Harold Cogdell, in this case he is 100% correct and all the nay sayers are wrong IN MY OPINION.

M said...

This is very eloquent, and we should pay attention to it.

There is a reason we are supposedly proud of due process.

J Hudge said...

Harold Cogdell is the only person with some sense. Greg Hardy deserves his day in court. His case has nothing to do with the Ray Rice case and has the right to play until the case has been resolved otherwise.

CHARLES OWEN said...

There are two issues here...one is a criminal matter involving due process and the other involves a reported allegation of the NFL "code of conduct" rules. A perfect example of this two-fold process is the Aaron Hernandez murder trial. He has yet to be found guilty of any crime MATTER and yet the NFL and the PATRIOTS each terminated his services. Bountygate is another example where no crimes were ever committed but the NFL conducted its own independent investigation of the "code of conduct" violation that lead to the suspensions of both players and coaches. bOTTOM LINE...its all about the money.

Jeremiah said...

J Hudge is dead wrong. Neither Mr. Hardy nor any of the rest of us have a right to play anything. Playing is a privilege, and that privilege can be taken away when it is no longer deserved. Just as any other employer, the Panthers should be expected to determine when negative attention, poor choices, or criminality rise to the level of losing the privilege of playing for them. If Hardy is found not guilty by a jury, then a team could certainly allow him to demonstrate his ability to still play football at a high level and sign him to a contract.

Ray Travis said...

Jeremiah,
If Mr. Hardy is found not guilty, the he has been denied the ability to work and earn a living during the trial period. The term "Innocent until proven guilty" is used for that very reason. Therefore he should not be barred from working and earning a living until such time he is found guilty.

Veronica said...

Yes - let's delay this trial and appeals as long as possible.

That way we can make sure all witnesses have been coached and/or encouraged to disappear.

Tvan said...

Here's why the Panthers did the right thing with sitting Hardy down over the weekend. The owner, Jerry Richardson, just accepted an award for his work and efforts against violence. During his acceptance speech, he broke down crying while talking about how "firm he stands against domestic violence." With all of this said, he and his team could no longer remain silent on Hardy.

whatAhit said...

When anyone is elected to office, signed by a professional sports organization, or otherwise holds a very public position, it is incumbent upon them to exhibit the highest integrity and character of that position. They are no longer the average Joe down the street, but instead they are held to a higher standard. Look at the NCAA and how so many college athletes get into trouble with drugs and other crimes. These young men and women are granted the extraordinary honor of a free college education and the ability to excel in their sport, and this comes with expectations that their behavior exemplifies the high standards of the school, the sport and themselves. These athletes should be humbled by the honor and opportunity afforded them instead of believing they entitled.

Al Harbor said...

Inasmuch as I'm not a fan of Greg Hardy, I agree that he should be allowed to play until he is convicted through the jury system. It is not uncommon for a judge to be biased towards a defendant which makes it absolutely necessary for him to get a jury trial.

His case is quite different from Ray Rice who was caught red handed by a camera in the elevator. The Panthers should not act out of emotions. While saying it, I realize it is a domestic violence matter, and I do have a daughter that I truly love, however, have we thought about if the judge that convicted him got it all wrong. there were no tapes, or solid evidence to prove that he assaulted her.

If I were the Panthers organization, Greg should play this Sunday and moving forward until after his trial.

Daniel Romanoff said...

Ray Travis- Hardy was paid over $770,000 for last week's game. Nothing the panthers have done has barred him from earning a living at this point.

David Singletery said...

Playing football at the NFL level is a indeed a privilege. However it is also his job. He worked hard and earned the right to be there. Just a person does who goes to college, or trade school, or just sharpens his or her craft. Once they are paid to perform they have earned it and it is a privilege to be able to do the work. The amount of money athletes make, is the real privilege here not the job they are doing, but lets not discount the work and effort they put in to get there. Now if they mess it up its on them. With all that said before you remove someone's employment you should have all the facts and if litigation is part of the process, let the Jury trial end before you determine his fate. If he is found not guilty then what?

Daniel Romanoff said...

Once again, Hardy is still being paid ($772,000/week). He still retains employment with the team.

Jay said...

I absolutely think Hardy ought to be allowed to play until such time as he is found guilty by a jury. The Panthers are paying him so at least he's not being penalized financially for behavior he may or may not have engaged in. But as it is, the Panthers are being penalized $700,000+ per game and getting nothing of value for it, so they're the ones being punished. And for what?

He may be guilty; he may not. I know I looked at the girlfriend's original story with considerable scepticism... it does not ring true to me. I'm not a Hardy fan with an agenda. I'm not against him either. If he's guilty he ought to pay. But if he's not....

I had a personal friend once charged with a sexual offense by a very shaky accuser. To hear her tell it, she'd been attacked the same way not two weeks before by somebody else. Her story changed regularly and the DA kept dragging the process out hoping to get my friend to take a plea. He refused and was out of work for more than two years. He ultimately committed suicide, even though the charges were dropped. An accusation can follow a man forever whether he's guilty or not. We need to be cognizant of that.

Jaz said...

We are muddying the waters here, as there are several issues at hand. Harold's comments speak to "due process"; the right to be formally found guilty by a jury of your peers before condemned. Anyone can bring an unjust or "self-motivated" charge against any of us that is false, misleading, and a pure lie. If this were to happen, we would all want our day in court BEFORE we would want the media, our friends, or anyone else to judge us. Why? Because WE would know that the allegations are false. This issue is clearly about money. The Panthers, the NFL, and their sponsors, have all weighed in and decided that one man's career is not worth all of the money they would lose should they do the right thing and allow the legal process to play itself out. It is true that he should not have gotten himself in this situation, but this could have easily have come about by someone whom he never knew who raised a false allegation. Let's keep it clear and think about how we would like this to be handled if someone accused us of something falsely.

Daniel Romanoff said...

I'm just going to leave this link here. Unless your job has a conduct policy like this, there's no reason to compare this to the average American.

http://images.nflplayers.com/mediaResources/files/2012%20Personal%20Conduct%20Policy.pdf