City Paper Publishes Updated Story About Darrell Clarke’s Daughter

So you might’ve heard around town that a “certain publication” published a piece online last week about “malfeasance tied to high-ranking Philadelphia people” — a story that disappeared from the Internet almost as soon as it had been published. Will Bunch certainly did. Other organizations took notice, but treaded carefully. Now the other shoe has dropped: City Paper has re-published the piece, this time with a bit of preface:

Last week, we published a blog post about the case of Nicole BrightCity Council President Darrell Clarke’s daughter, and Jermal (aka Jamal) Jones, her one-time fiancé. Following complaints about the story’s reliance on anonymous sources, including a blog that contained questionable assertions and photographs of supposedly official documents, an editorial decision was made to pull the article pending further investigation. Here’s our update:

So what’s the hubub? Well, it’s kind of a long story that’s difficult to make short, based largely on unnamed sources and police reports that the City Paper does not share (and since we’ve not seen them, we can’t vouch for their story), but here goes…

According to the City Paper report:

• On May 2, police arrested Bright as a codefendant in a drug case involving 142 grams of crack cocaine “seized from a car Bright didn’t use or even have keys to,” but on which her name appeared on the title as a co-owner;

• Bright left police custody the very same day, after the District Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges. The City Paper says the police records of the arrest were “expunged” two weeks later.

• The drugs were allegedly found in a car owned by Jones, Bright’s fiançée.

• After Bright’s arrest, Jones went to police and said “he was the only driver of the car and had the only key” — that Bright’s name was on the title to help him buy it because of his bad credit.

• Around 6 a.m. after her arrest, Bright called Charles Gibbs — her lawyer, and Clarke’s campaign finance manager.

“What happened next “City Paper says, “is the subject of some debate.” But the bottom line is this: The charging unit in the D.A.’s office declined to charge Bright, and she walked after about 10 hours in custody.

And that’s where the controversy arises, according to CP‘s Ryan Briggs:

“There’s nothing illegal or unethical about attempting to kill a case before the DA brings charges. But it is unusual, mostly because it doesn’t usually work. Essentially, a lawyer has to reach the DA’s office after police have filed charges but before the city elects to prosecute those charges. In that sliver of time, a defense attorney has to convince the D.A.’s office that a case is so fundamentally flawed that it’s not even worth a preliminary hearing before a judge.

“The strategy worked for Bright. But would it work for the average person?”

The answer? Very rarely. The CP quotes the D.A.’s office as saying it didn’t know that Bright was Clarke’s daughter until two weeks after the arrest; police involved in the case, however, told the CP they quickly realized their arrestee was politically connected. Despite rumors of an internal police “shitstorm” over the matter, officials say the process worked.

“The system worked correctly,” said Lt. John Walker, who runs the Southwest Detectives unit that handled the case, in the CP story. “They (prosecutors) reviewed it, we agreed and she was released. … Otherwise, she goes through the process and sues police for an inappropriate arrest and we get criticized on the other end.”

CP says Clarke referred questions on the matter to Gibbs, and that the Fraternal Order of Police declined comment.