Local News

Chris Mumma, champion of the falsely accused, faces accusations of lawyer misconduct

Posted May 12, 2015
Updated May 13, 2015

— Chris Mumma, who successfully represented Dwayne Dail, Greg Taylor and others in their murder exonerations, is accused by the North Carolina State Bar of violating professional conduct rules during her work on the Joseph Sledge case.

In a complaint filed Monday, Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is accused of unethically collecting a DNA sample and not telling anyone how she got it.

Mumma could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Sledge, 70, spent nearly four decades behind bars for the 1976 stabbing deaths of Josephine Davis, 74, and Ailene Davis, 53, in their Elizabethtown home. He was cleared of the killings in January after newly discovered evidence cast doubt on his involvement.

The complaint alleges that, in October 2013, Mumma visited the home of a woman whose brothers were considered possible suspects in the killings to obtain a DNA sample. Mumma believed the sample would strengthen Sledge’s claims of innocence, the complaint said.

The woman feared Mumma was “looking for a ‘scapegoat’” and declined to provide a sample. Mumma left the home with a half-empty water bottle that she knew may not have belonged to her, the complaint said.

“When Mumma realized she had a cool, half-empty water bottle that might yield a sample,” of the DNA she was looking for, the complaint alleges, “she decided not to take it back into the home, but to take it with her to contemplate whether to submit it for DNA analysis.”

After the family decided not to provide a DNA sample, Mumma had the water bottle tested, the complaint said.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission was simultaneously working on the case and obtained the DNA samples through court orders. The samples did not match DNA found at the crime scene.

But Mumma continued pursuing the family, the complaint said, by contacting family members to see if others were in the house during her visit. She never mentioned that the water bottle was taken from the home, the complaint said.

Mumma is accused of using “methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of a third person,” engaging “in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation,” engaging in conduct “that is prejudicial to the administration of justice” and obtaining evidence in a manner that violated the woman’s rights.

A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for Aug. 7.


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  • Lori Murphy Jan 13, 2016
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    you are correct.

  • Jeff Abbott May 13, 2015
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    Sounds like she's watched one too many episodes of "The Good Wife.'

  • Matt Wood May 13, 2015
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    You are factually incorrect.

    You are tried by a prosecutor who most certainly can be crooked, as they are most interested in how many wins they get. Many of the people Mumma helped were those who were falsely convicted using doctored evidence and testimony the crooked SBI agents cooked up.

  • Rick Price May 13, 2015
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    You are tried by 12 of your peers, not some crooked , money hungry lawyer. The 12 people on the jury are doing a civic duty, the lawyer is in it for money only. All the cases she has gotten thrown out were on a technicality , NOT faulty or false evidence .

  • Mike DaRookie May 13, 2015
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    lol. if a cop did this you would be screaming for his head on a spike. you cite prosecutorial misconduct as a justification for her behavior. do you honestly believe that defense attornies don't play those games too? smh. hypocracy. gotta love it

  • Lorna Schuler May 13, 2015
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    Even if those 12 people convict based on faulty, omitted or false evidence?

  • Rick Price May 13, 2015
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    This is why the you cant believe any thing these people do or say. They will go to ANY means to get there client out of jail. If you are convicted of a crime by a jury of twelve people , you should serve your time. This is a waste of taxpayer money . I hope she is disbarred and held accountable for all her illegal actions.

  • Donald Holder May 13, 2015
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    She did a lot of good work but, I'm afraid she has tarnished her reputation.

  • Brian Hill May 13, 2015
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    What a hit job.

    The government stonewalls her efforts, refuses to follow court orders and now they have the audacity to charge her?

    It isn't as if ethics was ever very important for the legal profession to begin with.