Nancy Ghoul

elviraMy knowledge of TV talking heads is somewhat scattershot, largely dependent on the video clips that come my way when I am surfing the web, usually in relation to news stories. I was vaguely familiar with the name Nancy Grace as a former lawyer as a legal analyst on cable news, but that was about it. So when in response to a post commenter Crudely Wrott said of her that she “seems to thrive on, no, display an actual need for, human suffering and callous, horrific crime. Like a vampire’s dependence on blood”, I thought it was perhaps a tad harsh.

But then I read the link provided by another commenter slc1 to a post by Jonathan Turley where Turley excoriates Grace’s actions when she was a prosecutor and says that her ‘presumed guilty’ approach has been a pernicious influence on the legal profession.

The Grace effect is not lost on aspiring young prosecutors who struggle to outdo one another as camera-ready, take-no-prisoners avengers of justice. Grace’s controversial career also shows how prosecutors can routinely push the envelope without fear of any professional consequences. Often this does not mean violating an ethics rule, but using legally valid charges toward unjust ends.

I then saw this clip on The Daily Show and I think that if at all Crudely Wrott was being a little too kind to Grace. As Jon Stewart points out, there is something truly creepy about her, an Elvira without the campy humor.

(This clip was aired on May 9, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)


  1. left0ver1under says

    The only thing that’s changing is how blatant people are in their careerism. The careerism itself has always been there.

    When prosecutors are dependent on “success” (read: a high conviction rate) to keep their jobs or reach higher positions, it is inevitable that some will, at best, be sloppy, lazy and take shortcuts, and some will at worst deliberately suborn perjury, hide evidence and manipulate witnesses in order to “improve” their conviction rates. An innocent person let go counts against their careers while innocent people sent to prison or killed by the state improves their personal income. The right result is worth less to a careerist than a falsified result.

    And it’s not just prosecutors violating their trust and biasing or ruining trials, trying to make themselves the centre of attention:

    That’s not to say that appointed prosecutors are less capable of bias and corruption, but they aren’t running for reelection and don’t need to blather about “being tough on crime”.
    “How Prosecutor Elections Fail Us”
    Ronald F. Wright

  2. slc1 says

    In addition to Turley’s scathing commentary,, I recall that Grace pronounced the Duke lacrosse players guilty shortly after the incident hit the lamestream media and continued to do so up until it became clear that the prosecutor, Mike Nifong, was shown to be a fraud.

    In fairness, a Massachusetts former prosecutor Wendy Murphy, who is as bad as Grace, continued to do so even after it came out that Nifong had suppressed DNA evidence. And then, of course, there was blogger Amanda Marcotte, who referred to the 3 lacrosse players as rapists after the DNA results were made public.

    Murphy also heavily criticized the prosecutor in the Kobe Bryant case for dropping the charges after the accuser, Kate Faber, announced that she was refusing to testify, almost certainly after being caught committing perjury in a pre-trial hearing. In fairness, not all the talking heads on cable TV who pronounced Bryant guilty and criticized the prosecutor were female. Former Riverside, Ca. prosecutor James Curtis also joined the lynch mob.

    The point of all this is the lamestream media, particularly cable “news”, predilection for hiring former prosecutors as their talking heads to comment on ongoing notorious trials. Anyone who reads Ed Brayton’s blog regularly knows that prosecutors are no more reliable then defense attorneys.

  3. jamessweet says

    Yeah, when I first heard about Parkinglotgate, my first reaction was, “Still, this is probably the least evil thing Nancy Grace has done in her life.”

    On some level, I feel sorta bad, because she was a victim of a traumatic crime, and I also worry about how much an unconscious misogyny might be feeding some people’s dislike of her. But nevertheless, she pretty much stands for the opposite of everything I believe about the notion of justice.

  4. garnetstar says

    Grace’s excuse has been that her grief for her brother, who was murdered some years ago, made her take up the cause of “justice” for the families of other murder victims.

    One is very sorry for the tragedy of her brother’s murder. But, it no more excuses her unethical conduct and vicious glee in tormenting others, than any possible tradgedies in the murderer’s life excuses his behavior.

    Unfortunately, many people have experienced losing loved ones to murder. It does not make most of them turn to such conduct. And, as was said, I think a precipitating factor in Grace’s conduct has been the fame and fortune provided by her media presence. It’s just egged her on down the path of increasingly ghoulish behavior.

  5. Corvus illustris says

    That’s not to say that appointed prosecutors are less capable of bias and corruption …

    Yes, I know it’s New Jersey, but look at the examples in NJ before you wish for appointed prosecutors.

    … but they aren’t running for reëlection and don’t need to blather about “being tough on crime”

    In LA county many years ago I was treated to the spectacle of a sitting judge (in a low-level court, but still!) running for District Attorney. There’s a recipe for judicial objectivity. Don’t know if they’ve fixed that yet.

  6. Trebuchet says

    @4, Not her brother, IIRC. It was her fiance. She talks about him on TV about two orders of magnitude more often than she does her actual husband, whom she apparently considers as little more than a sperm donor.

  7. garnetstar says

    @5, Yes, I believe you’re right, her fiance.

    The ghoulish aspect is her determination to inflict the highest degree of punishment on anyone she deems a criminal. She revels in sucking in the last drop of their suffering. The attitude of a professional torturer who enjoys the job.

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