Constitutional Law

Embattled DA Tells Judge in Ouster Hearing She Did Nothing Wrong

A suspended North Carolina prosecutor accused of withholding exculpatory evidence from defendants and misrepresenting facts in pleadings and during court arguments took the stand in her own defense Friday at a special inquiry ouster hearing.

In her testimony, Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline, under questioning from her lawyer, reargued cases concerning a judge she has harshly criticized in the past, resulting in attorney complaints against the DA that led to the special inquiry. It is only the second time in state history that such a proceeding has been held, reports the Associated Press.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, who is presiding at the hearing, must determine whether the DA’s conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice.If so, he could order her permanently removed from office.

Cline said she wished she had better-chosen her words concerning Durham’s top jurist, Judge Orlando Hudson, but insisted that she had a duty to pursue complaints about him that other judges have found to be unfounded and inaccurate, according to the AP and the Herald-Sun.

Her testimony Friday revolved around her efforts to remove Hudson, who she said she initially admired, from hearing criminal cases involving her office. Several incidents precipitated her concern that she wouldn’t be fulfilling her duty to the citizens she represents if Hudson presided, Cline testified. Among them, she was upset to find that the judge had moved two major cases off the docket without holding a hearing or seeking input from the state.

“Judge Hobgood, I still think I did the right thing,” Cline told him during the hearing, after detailing her concerns about Hudson.

As the hearing continued today, lawyers seeking the DA’s removal presented their side of the story.

One, Stephen Lindsay, told the court that an assistant to Cline did get the chance to object to Hudson before he moved the cases off the docket, reports the News & Observer.

Can you tell why you didn’t tell Judge Hobgood that this had been filed?” asked Lindsay, referring to a motion filed by Cline’s assistant objecting to a continuance.

“I didn’t know it would be in the file,” said Cline.

Additional coverage: “Judge Benches Embattled DA, Finds Probable Cause She Should Be Permanently Removed From Office”

Durham News (opinion): “Durham lawyer shows true grit”

News & Observer: “State law governs removal of district attorneys”

WTVD: “Critics grill embattled Durham DA”

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