Cleared

Update: The N&R reported the dropping of Emmett Morphis’ charges. Reporter Jennifer Fernandez placed the body of the article in the comments below. Thanks, N&R, you did good.
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Back when I was blogging regularly, I would read the paper and post my take on whatever interested me.  In February of 2008, two articles in the N&R caught my eye because they were both about the Morphis brothers, recently of Fincastles Restaurant fame.

It mentioned Emmett Morphis, whom I’ve known for sometime, because he had been accused by a former associate of embezzlement.

Turns out it is true that you can sue anyone for anything and the paper will cover it; if you get cleared of the charge – the paper of record doesn’t usually mention it.

I received a note from Emmett’s wife Lee on Monday saying that their ordeal is over and his name has been cleared.  An excerpt…

“As most of you know, my husband Emmett has gone through a lengthy and public business disagreement with a former business associate. We are happy to say that it is over and Emmett’s name has been cleared. It has been 7 years since his x-partner came at Emmett with a civil suit….

…Anyway, long story short, and several articles in the newspaper, the case was finally released due to lack of evidence. (Because there is none.)

…Finally, it is over. This has been a tough 7 years for us. We appreciate all the support and friendship.”

Good. Now I’m waiting to read about it in the paper

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3 Comments

  1. Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Not defending the paper in this particular instance, but one reason you read more about lawsuit filings than case dismissals is that there’s an index of filings but, unless things have changed recently, not one for dismissals or settlements or bench rulings or jury verdicts.

    The responsible thing for a news organization to do is to track the filings it writes about, not only because it’s the right thing to do but also on the logical assumption that if a suit is interesting enough to write about in the first place, then people are going to want to know how it comes out. And when I was there, the N&R at least tried to do that — the courts reporter kept a list of cases on which the paper had written, and part of his/her duty was to check on those cases from time to time. Every one of them. That typically meant that the paper might be days or even weeks late to the settling or dismissal of a civil suit, but at least it got covered eventually.

    But back in the day, the paper had separate reporters for state courts and federal courts, and even than that wasn’t enough. Now, I understand, there’s basically one reporter doing ALL courts (state and federal, criminal and civil) plus ALL breaking public-safety news. The parent company remains profitable, but readers lose and the subjects of these cases arguably are done an unethical disservice.

  2. Posted November 11, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    We actually recently switched back to one day reporter and one night reporter covering crime and one reporter (me) covering courts. I heard about David’s post on this case and looked it up. We wrote about the dismissal on Nov. 2, but I don’t think it made it online. Here’s what we wrote:

    GREENSBORO – Prosecutors have dropped a 2008 charge of embezzlement against a Greensboro man because of insufficient evidence, court records show.
    Emmett Marcellus Morphis , 44, was accused of embezzling $193,720 from Thomas Enterprises in 1999. The company is a subcontractor of Volvo.
    Stephanie Reese, a Guilford County assistant district attorney, dismissed the charge Oct. 1. In the dismissal, she noted that “due to gaps in records” officials “cannot establish defendant’s responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.”

    This was the original story in 2008:
    GREENSBORO — A Greensboro man was charged Wednesday with embezzling nearly $194,000 from Thomas Enterprises.
    From January 1999 to December 2002, arrest warrants state Emmett Marcellus Morphis, 41, allegedly embezzled $193,719 from the business while working in a management position.
    Jail officials said Morphis was released after posting bond.

  3. Posted November 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Jennifer: Good to know. Thanks for the update.

    (I have some thoughts on the paper’s current policy re online vs. not, but until I get them better organized, I’ll keep ‘em to myself.)