Constitutional Law

NC Judge Orders DA Cline Removed from Office for Bringing County Justice System 'Into Disrepute'

A North Carolina judge today ordered the Durham County district attorney removed from office due at least in large part to her inflammatory criticism of a top criminal judge.

The dismissal of Tracey Cline from her $119,305-a-year job is only the second time in state history that a DA was removed from office under a law that allows citizens to petition for a prosecutor’s removal, according to WRAL.

Cline vowed to appeal. She earlier testified that she had done nothing wrong in standing up against Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson after he made rulings that she believed to be wrong and contrary to the interests of the people of the state, although she wished she had chosen her words more carefully.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, who came in from another jurisdiction in to hear the special inquiry, found “clear, cogent and convincing” evidence that Cline had “brought the office of the Durham County District Attorney and the entire Durham County justice system into disrepute,” the station reports.

Among other noteworthy characterizations in verbal statements and filings, Cline accused Hudson of dishonesty and said his hands were “covered with the blood of justice.” Multiple judges found no basis for such accusations and the proper place for Cline to make them, if justified, was in an ethics complaint to the Judicial Standards Commission rather than in court, Hobgood wrote in his opinion.

He also noted that Cline continued making such baseless statements against Hudson after being warned in open court in December by another judge that her claims had to comport with the facts on the record.

A Times-News article links to a copy of Hobgood’s 15-page ruling (PDF).

Additional coverage: “Skeptical Judge Hears DA’s Motions to Disqualify Top Jurist, Cites ‘Magic 8 Ball’” “‘Judge Benches Embattled DA, Finds Probable Cause She Should Be Permanently Removed From Office” “Embattled DA Tells Judge in Ouster Hearing She Did Nothing Wrong”

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