Legal Ethics

5 Lawyers & Clerk Accused of Tampering With DWI Tix

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Updated: Five lawyers, including a former district attorney in Johnston County, N.C., began surrendering this week after being charged with tampering with court records to secure dismissals of drunken driving cases.

All face obstruction of justice charges, which were part of a yearlong investigation by state professional misconduct authorities.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that, according to indictments, former prosecutor Cindy Jaeger gave 70 presigned dismissal forms to defense lawyers. The lawyers then are alleged to have filled out the forms with bogus explanations for their dismissals in 2007 and 2008.

Lawyers named in the article are Vann Sauls, Chad Lee, Jack McLamb and Lee Hatch, and they turned themselves in Tuesday. None offered comment to the paper. Jaeger turned herself in this morning, the News & Observer reported in a later story.

Former Deputy Clerk of Court Portia Snead, who was “separated” from her job last week, is accused of removing names of lawyers from a computer database that contained the falsified forms, the paper reports.

The alleged criminal activity was uncovered by Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle, who was reviewing a state-funded tracking system of DWI cases and noticed several had disappeared from the trial calendar. When she investigated further, she reportedly noticed that they all involved outdated forms signed by Jaeger.

It remains to be seen whether Doyle will attempt to recharge the defendants in the underlying cases.

Also See:

Daily Record: “Courthouse Corruption”

Updated at 1:18 p.m. to include that Jaeger had turned herself in.

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