Local News

Ex-Durham DA petitions US Supreme Court to win job back

Posted April 29, 2014

Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline speaks during a Feb. 13, 2012, hearing to determine whether she is removed from office.

— Two years after she was ousted from office, former Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case.

Cline lost her job after she repeatedly accused Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson of being corrupt and biased against her and asked to have him barred from handling criminal cases in Durham County.

In the lengthy motions, she said Hudson had "the reprobate mind of a monarch," that his conduct involved "moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption," that his actions "raped" crime victims and "kidnapped the rights of victims and their families," and that his only goal was "to demean the district attorney at all costs."

Other Superior Court judges found her complaints to be groundless, and Senior Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood removed her from office in March 2012, ruling that her allegations had damaged the Durham County justice system.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld Hobgood's decision last October, and the North Carolina Supreme Court declined Cline's request to review her case.

Durham DA Tracey Cline in court WRAL.com archive: Tracey Cline

So, Cline is now turning to the U.S. Supreme Court, filing a writ of certiorari on Monday. She is representing herself in the appeal.

In her 29-page motion, Cline argues the decision to remove her from office violated her First Amendment rights to free speech and that the state law involved in the process violated her due process rights.

"The chilling effect of this decision on freedom of speech involving criticism of a public official and the repercussions of speaking out against an established public official are of major significance to every citizen of this country," she wrote. "Most importantly, this decision sets guidelines to allow a judge to override the voice of the people in a democratic electoral process."

Cline said the hearing Hobgood wrongly conducted put the burden on her to substantiate her accusations against Hudson instead of on Durham attorney Kerry Sutton, who sought her removal, that Cline's statements were false. She also states that she was given only a week to prepare for the hearing and wasn't allowed to learn more about Sutton's evidence against her.

The North Carolina State Bar delayed a disciplinary hearing for Cline until her appeals were exhausted. No date has been set for the hearing, which will determine if she violated rules requiring lawyers to be honest and trustworthy.


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  • Imma Annoid Apr 30, 2014
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    She needs therapy more than her job back.

  • Greg Boop Apr 30, 2014
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    At this point a complete complaint has been filed and active for several years with the bar. Unfortunately, the North Carolina State Bar delayed a disciplinary hearing for Cline until her appeals were exhausted.

    The hearings should never have been delayed waiting for appeals. The action of the bar is separate than the court process. Tracey Cline needs to be stripped on her license to practice law based on her past actions.

  • Stilllearnin Apr 30, 2014

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    Liker a ships captain, go down with the ship!

  • rougemontredneck Apr 30, 2014

    She must have missed that day in law school when they tell you not to insult a judge.

  • Timmy Strickland Apr 30, 2014
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    if the US SUPREME COURT decides not to hear her case then its over for her.

  • stymieindurham Apr 30, 2014

    Don't give up Tracey.

  • Ronnie Reams Apr 30, 2014
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    You have an example in her predecessor, Nifong ,outta sight and outta mind.

  • elkerster Apr 30, 2014

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    You cannot disbar someone just like that. First a compliant would need to be made and investigated and if there are findings they would move on to a hearing. And that takes time unfortunately.

  • Jon Brabender Apr 30, 2014
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    Is this really "news"? Or just a sad curtain call to a play that has ended long ago?

  • Setnitst8 Apr 30, 2014

    We don't want her back. Her and Nifong should go write a book, but quit wasting the courts time.