A North Carolina investigator accused of falsifying a confession that caused a mentally challenged man to be locked up for 14 years still has a job with the state.

Mark Isley continues to lead the Medicaid fraud section for North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation, despite a recent legal settlement that awarded nearly $8 million to a man Isley was responsible for locking up, according to the Associated Press. Unlike some cases of wrongful conviction, where police or prosecutors made an honest mistake about who was to blame, officials say the case against Floyd Brown was clearly suspect, according to an article in the Raleigh-based News & Observer.
The only evidence linking Floyd to the murder of a retired school teacher was a confession he allegedly gave. Isley said a written account of the confession that he prepared -- a detailed, six-page document-- described verbatim what Floyd told him about the crime.

But every medical or psychological expert who has examined the document, including an expert hired by Isley, has said Brown could not have given such a sophisticated account. Now 49 years old, Brown has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, the News & Observer article says. Not only is Brown illiterate, but he can't perform tasks such as telling time or distinguishing left from right.
Attorneys Mike Klinkosum and Kelley DeAngelus volunteered their time to free Brown in 2007, the News & Observer said. After three years of litigation, Brown was awarded $7.85 million for the time he was wrongfully locked up in a psychiatric hospital. He was sent there rather than prison because he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.

Isley has insisted he did not know Brown is intellectually challenged and has stuck by the validity of the confession, according to the newspaper. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has made no indication that Isley's job is in jeopardy, the article said.

Unfortunately, this is not unusual. Police officers and lawyers are seldom punished or disciplined for such conduct. Many times it's the exact opposite - they are promoted up the ladder. More than a few lawyers have moved on to become judges after a checkered career as a prosecutor. It's no wonder such conduct is not considered a big deal - after all, they are just fighting crime and seeing that justice is done. Until that changes - and there is some evidence it may be - there is not much of a reason for law enforcement to be worried about cutting corners.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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