A judge who blamed a “third string” prosecutor for letting accused vandals of Confederate monuments walk is facing criticism this week. The Herald-Sun says North Carolina judge Fred Battaglia called Assistant District Attorney Ameshia Cooper “third string” in conversation at a Republican Party event. The sports analogy, apparently inspired by a Friday night basketball game between Duke and North Carolina universities.
Battaglia asked, “If the third string goes in tonight at 9 p.m., what do you think is going to happen? I was raised old school. If you try a case, you try it hard. But if you run your third string, you know what is going to happen.”
But Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols, an African-American like Cooper, suggested on Monday that description is sexist and anti-black, as well as being “inappropriate, unnecessary, and inaccurate.”
In a statement to the Herald-Sun, Echols said, “At a time when women, especially women of color, are still marginalized it is unfortunate that a member of the judiciary would refer to any woman with such little regard.”
A solid majority of people in North Carolina want Confederate monuments to be left alone, and Battaglia has been defensive about why he allowed three people accused of vandalizing a Confederate statues last August to walk. The judge said he had to concur with the defense that the video evidence did not conclusively prove the identity of the assailants.
That verdict led to Echols’ decision not to file further charges against another five accused of toppling the Confederate statue.