Ex-Durham DA petitions US Supreme Court to win job back
Posted April 29
Durham, N.C. — 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.
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.