Fall From Grace: Expert Finds Nancy Grace Contributed to Suicide of Mother

A Harvard professor has concluded that CNN Headline New’s rabid host, Nancy Grace, contributed to the death of a mother, Melinda Duckett, who committed suicide three years ago after being savaged by Grace.

Grace has made a career out of snarling and sensational segments on criminal stories. She was hired by CNN despite a very controversial career as a prosecutor during which courts repeatedly cited her for abusive or unethical conduct. For a prior column on prosecutorial abuse by Grace, click here. Any criticism of Fox by CNN is remarkably hypocritical in light of its long association with Grace.

In this case, Grace all but pronounced Melinda Duckett as involved in the disappearance of her 2-year-old son in 2006. In a signature segment, Grace virtually mocked Duckett’s claims of innocence. Duckett shot herself in the head the next day.

The family has sued Grace, here, and a Harvard clinical professor of psychiatry has written that the CNN interview inflicted public humiliation and was “a substantial contributing cause” of Duckett’s death.

Dr. Harold J. Bursztajn, a clinical professor of psychiatry, made his findings public in a filing in the case.

For a prior column on these type of talk show torts, click here.

For the full story, click here.

40 thoughts on “Fall From Grace: Expert Finds Nancy Grace Contributed to Suicide of Mother”

  1. Bob, Esq., you mistook my teasing for criticism. I was just a schoolboy from El Paso when I discovered Kant as a college freshman. He and John Rawls ramain my favorite philosophers to this day. He dictated my choice of majors and was one of my three selected philosophers for my senior general exams. He is also largely the reason I went to law school. It remains my hope to understand him before I die.

  2. fallfromdisgrace, someone who would commit suicide after being humiliated by a disgraceful character obviously was not very stable and yes probably should not have gone to her show, but may be she did not know what she was getting herself into or people from cnn may have said to her that she would be able to appeal the kidnappers to release the child etc…who knows what may have been her reason to come on the show, but that does not give CNN a reason to have such abhorrant characters on its payroll….

  3. First of all, why would anyone take a call from the Nancy Grace show? No know you’re asking for trouble. It’s almost as bad as accepting an invitation from the Jerry Springer Show because someone close to you ‘wants to tell you something’.

  4. I have never liked her. She is histrionic and totally inappropriate. I believe she has a history of sexual abuse and lot of people become personality disordered from such experience and she shows it. The sad thing is that as long as one is making money for CNN they will have no problem in keeping that flith on their channel, case in point, it was only after Lou Dobbs lost viewers that they decided to fire him even though he had been saying the same things for years on this flithy channel. I can also never forget the elizabeth smart situation when police had put a wrong person behind jails and he died from brain hemorrhage because of high blood pressure while in jail. Larry kind later on had his fiancee on the show with another filthy character like Grace, John Walsh. This guy, who had lost his own son had the audacity to tell this poor woman whose finace had died while wrongly accused of kidnapping elizabeth smart, that she should just get over as her fiance was not a good guy anyway. He literally said to her just move on stop whinning. I was appalled at this callous character but even more appalled that Larry King did not say anything to admonish him to say such a insensitive thing to his other guest. CNN is a POS!!

    Besides Grace, and Dobbs they also gave Beck his TV show on their channel!!

  5. Mike Appleton,

    So Kant is now a verb? If you want to accuse me of leaning onf a philosopher who bears more of a resemblance to a T-square and a level than other philosophers who resemble a house of mirrors, then I’m guilty as charged.

    Per Rachel Maddow, at the risk of sounding like grandpa Simpson, back in the day when Rachel got her first show on Air America, I had to configure my computer to record her show which started at 5am. Why? Because she was worth it. So if her TV show vanishes in a puff of your logic there’s always her radio show.

    SIYOM,

    Bob

    P.S. A dirty fact about Rachel: Did you know that on one of her radio shows she was so amazed by a “There was no moon landing conspiracy” site that she advised her listeners to check it out. Not so much because she believed the conclusion; but she had a hard time answering some of the claims — most of which require a basic comprehension of photography and lighting and a high school understanding of physics.

    So yes Rachel is incredibly smart, but she has her weak sides just like the rest of us.

  6. OK, Jonathan, your opinion of Nancy Grace is clear, but what I don’t see is your current opinion of the likelihood of the plaintiffs prevailing in this case.

    Has anything happened in the courts between your earlier post and this one that changes your assessment of this case’s likelihood of success? I assume CNN/Grace will bring in their own expert psychiatrist and we’ll have dueling psychiatrists, so I’m not particularly impressed by the Harvard psychiatrist news story.

    But if you had to bet, what do you think will be the outcome of this lawsuit?

  7. Jill,

    I’ve read this post of yours at least four times (slowly, like a text book) and I guess it’s the INTP in me that feels inclined to attempt clarification; for myself at least.

    Jill 1, December 7, 2009 at 10:53 am

    “I’ve noticed that people are very cruel to each other on ether. What I mean by ether is SNS, celebrity forums, TV, radio–things like that.”

    Is ‘ether’ an anthropological term; or just an adjective you used to refer to ‘radio waves’ in general?

    Jill: “I don’t know if there’s been some change due to people not seeing each other face to face. Certainly, before the advent of any of this, people were cruel to each other. But to me, it seems worse now. There’s a disconnection between people that I haven’t seen before. It is still jarring for me to see people going for a walk with friends or the children or their animals, and they aren’t paying attention to any of them, they are on their cell (maybe that’s a good name for it) phone.”

    So you’re saying the increased isolation accompanying technological advancements might be the reason for your noticing an overall increase in cruelty; or the increased amount of isolated-vilifying-chatter (i.e. chatter without the felt obligation of restraint in the presence of the person being vilified) facilitated by the ‘ether programs’ you described above?

    Jill: “Add to this the insane celebrity culture. Celebrity culture seems to give the “celebrities” the right to make whatever statement they want about anyone, and then, people are equally as vicious about the lives of the celebrity.”

    Seems to me that the inclination of people accept the opinions of celebrities is directly linked to whether they are the celebrities they know and like in the first place; celebrities they accept to the point at which they take part in shaping the person’s view of him/herself.

    As far as the disposing of the celebrity, i.e. buying up tabloids rife with rumors and scandal, that’s just schadenfreude.

    Jill: “It worries me because there’s so much hatred. Our culture promotes hatred, jealousy, disconnection–I think that keeps us a politically docile population and certainly creates additional cruelty that we just don’t need in the world.”

    I’ll do you one better; I’ll say our culture promotes ignorance which can result in the promotion of hatred. Education has never been a top priority; especially amongst the ranks of those who proclaim it is.

    Here’s one tiny example of the mass craving for ignorance:

    We’re sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan; right? Okay, why are we doing it and on what authority?

    The 9/11 AUMF only authorizes use of military force against those responsible for 9/11. The theory was that Al Qaeda operatives armed with box cutters forced their way into the cockpits of four planes… etc. And at the head of this operation was Osama Bin Laden who was hiding out in Afghanistan.

    So, we invaded Afghanistan to “smoke out the terrorists.”

    Meanwhile, the FBI puts Bin Laden at the top of their most wanted list, but doesn’t include 9/11 as one of his crimes. Why? Because they admit they have no evidence proving that claim; notwithstanding such proof as promised and never delivered by Tony Blair and Colin Powell. Not to mention that the Taliban, the day of or the day after the event, said they would give up Bin Laden if anyone could show evidence that he did what the world was claiming. So we’re in Afghanistan; why?

    And about those box cutters; were you ever curious about how anyone could make such a specific claim about what happened on board those planes? Well, the entire foundation for the box-cutter claims comes from one phone call; Barbara Olson to Ted Olson. Unfortunately, during the Moussaui trial, the FBI produced records of all the phone calls from the planes and it so happens that the time of the call between Barbara Olson and her husband was “Zero seconds long.”

    But does an NCIS/CSI (pick a city) crazed population give a damn about any evidence that contradicts the story they picked up on, how do you say, the ‘ether’? No.

    You say hatred is the root problem; I say it’s ignorance by design.

    Stay In Your Own Movie

    Bob

  8. Hi Professor,

    I’m thinking that with the Harvard Psychiatrist’s opinion, the plaintiffs’ case just got a lot stronger and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this case went to the jury. After all, Jenny Jones did … and it appears that Nancy Grace appears confident in a courtroom.

    I’ve given details and links to documentation here – too long for a text block in the comments section ….

    http://backseatlawyer.blogspot.com/2009/12/duckett-family-wrongful-death-lawsuit.html

    Reba Kennedy, Esq
    Backseat Lawyer

  9. No TV in the home would be a good start or only watching movies or the Hitler er History Channel and the Cooking shows.

  10. Mike A,

    Those who would be inclined to follow her lead would likely never see her lead in the first place.

  11. It’s probably too silly to ask whether Ms. Grace has any remorse or concern or misgivings or regrets. Feeling or showing any of those emotions as a reaction to today’s news would require a conscience, a soul. Never mind then. I’m sure she’ll find a way to dismiss, deride and denegrate (her specialties) the report or callouly use it for her own self-promtion.

  12. I’ve been away, but I note that Bob, Esq. Kanted me a couple of weeks ago on another topic. I thought of Kant when I saw the posts by Bob, Esq. and erykah on this thread, because it struck me that if we all emulated Rachel Maddow and ditched our TV sets, her show would be eliminated.

  13. People like Nancy Grace do what they do and get away with it because far too many people tune in and help their ratings. So, the public is just as responsible. As long as we watch, the nonsense will continue. I’m a HGTV, DIY channel woman myself. Much of TV has gone to the dogs. I can’t take it so I hardly watch. Rachel Maddow, one of the smartest people on TV, doesn’t have one. I think that’s my next step.

  14. OT but important:

    “On Friday afternoon, December 4, 2009, the government filed reply papers in support of its motion to dismiss the case of Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, arguing that no federal court has the power to hear cases seeking accountability for abuse of detainees at Guantánamo. The Center for Constitutional Rights brought the suit against Donald Rumsfeld and 23 other federal officials on behalf of the families of Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami, two detained men found dead at the base in June 2006.

    Among other claims, the government continues to advance arguments that:

    * No federal court has jurisdiction to address the deceased’s claims of torture, wrongful detention and wrongful death, or any claims of abuse by any Guantánamo detainees;” (from CCR at afterdowningstreet.org)

  15. I’ve noticed that people are very cruel to each other on ether. What I mean by ether is SNS, celebrity forums, TV, radio–things like that. I don’t know if there’s been some change due to people not seeing each other face to face. Certainly, before the advent of any of this, people were cruel to each other. But to me, it seems worse now. There’s a disconnection between people that I haven’t seen before. It is still jarring for me to see people going for a walk with friends or the children or their animals, and they aren’t paying attention to any of them, they are on their cell (maybe that’s a good name for it) phone. Add to this the insane celebrity culture. Celebrity culture seems to give the “celebrities” the right to make whatever statement they want about anyone, and then, people are equally as vicious about the lives of the celebrity. It worries me because there’s so much hatred. Our culture promotes hatred, jealousy, disconnection–I think that keeps us a politically docile population and certainly creates additional cruelty that we just don’t need in the world.

  16. Professor,

    I had posted a link to this on an old Nancy Grace column. Thank you so much for giving its own thread. Nancy is a despicably vile human.

    Again, my heart goes out to the Duckett family. No victory will ever bring your loved one back, but I hope you leave Nancy Grace penniless and destitute. That would be the shadow of justice.

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