Local News

Durham DA wants judge removed from Mike Peterson appeal

Posted November 23, 2011

— Durham's top prosecutor is asking that a Superior Court judge be removed from a case involving one of the city's most high-profile murder cases.

District Attorney Tracey Cline filed a motion Wednesday requesting that Judge Orlando Hudson not be allowed to preside over a Dec. 5 hearing as to whether novelist and former Durham mayoral candidate Michael Peterson should be granted a new murder trial.

Cline and Hudson have criticized each other over their handling of several cases.

Last week, Hudson said in a ruling that Cline delayed presenting a murder case to the grand jury and misled defense attorneys for months.

Cline fired back, in what legal experts say is an unprecedented move, accusing Hudson of corruption and asking the state Judicial Standards Commission to bar him from hearing criminal cases in the county.

Hudson presided over 68-year-old Peterson's nearly three-month murder trial in 2003 when he was found guilty of first-degree murder in the Dec. 9, 2001, death of his wife, Kathleen.

She was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's upscale Durham home.

Prosecutors were never able to establish a clear motive nor a murder weapon, and Peterson, who has nearly exhausted his appeals, has long denied any involvement in her death.

The latest request for a new trial involves claims that a former SBI agent who testified at his trial lied or misled jurors about evidence.

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  • seankelly15 Nov 24, 2011

    Peterson's appeals are exhausted. There would not have been a hearing except for the problems at the SBI that raised questions about the handling and processing of evidence during the years when Peterson was tried. There is NO EVIDENCE that anything was done wrong in the Peterson case; the SBI's role was in the reconstruction of the murder in the courtroom. The accuracy of that reconstruction became moot with the guilty verdict. In any case, there will be a hearing to determine if the illegal actions of the SBI influenced the evidence in this case - it didn't. Even if there is a finding that that SBI acted improperly, would that be sufficient to merit a new trial? These are the issues the hearing will address - NOTHING ELSE.

  • seankelly15 Nov 24, 2011

    Tax Man - "Peterson deserves to be heard and if found not guilty he needs to be put back where he was before this case began. If he is guilty, then that is fine, but let's look at this evidence now that DNA is a solid science. Perhaps new judge and prosecution should review the Peterson case."

    Peterson cannot be found "not guilty" from a hearing determining whether the SBI acted illegally in the processing of the evidence. THAT IS THE EXTENT OF THE HEARING. This has nothing to do with the Durham Court System or the DAs office. And, this was not a DNA case. The body needed no DNA identification; and Peterson was found with her blood all over him (no need to use DNA to corroborate that it was her blood).

  • seankelly15 Nov 24, 2011

    itsmyownopinion - "I believe the Peterson case should be retried with a new DA and a new Judge, with a change of venue, and not on Court TV with Freda Black auditioning for a reality court show."

    In what way was Peterson's murder trial unfair? Not what are all of the possible scenarios that could have accounted for her beating (darn that owl), but what was unfair about his trial. Peterson was able to pay the leading forensics scientist of the time to spit ketchup for the jury. He certainly had the best legal minds money could buy. He had forensic accountants demonstrate how wealthy the Petersons' were - discounting the prosecutions contention that they were broke. What exactly was unfair; that Peterson did it and was found guilty of doing it? Is that what was unfair?

  • Deep thoughts Nov 24, 2011

    It's time for Tracy Cline to go. I think she has embarrassed us ALL with unprofessional, childish, posturing. First it was the Duke Lacrosse players and all of the media attention that caused, and now we have Tracy Cline accusing a long respected judge of corruption. This has to stop. Durham doesn't need another black eye. I only hope that she is disbarred when the dust settles which I believe will happen.

  • Big Daddy Cain Nov 24, 2011

    Tracey Cline is as much an embarrassment to Durham as Mike Nifong. If anything she is continuing a tradition of bad jurisprudence.

  • anne53ozzy Nov 24, 2011

    Somewhere in the muddy pile, there may be a bit of truth. Independent investigator may be in order. I can't believe this is just a personal dispute between the two players.

  • itsmyownopinion Nov 24, 2011

    I believe the Peterson case should be retried with a new DA and a new Judge, with a change of venue, and not on Court TV with Freda Black auditioning for a reality court show. Dwayne Deaver
    pulled the wool over every eye that looked at the case.

  • mfarmer1 Nov 24, 2011

    Who Didn't see this coming?

    I reminds me of me and my sister fighting over who is going to get the shoe when playing monopoly.

    with what Tracey Cline said to the judge she better have her facts together, or she should apologize to the court or the unemployment rate will be going up by one.

  • Tax Man Nov 24, 2011

    I do believe we need to have another prosecutor and another judge hear these cases - bring in the Judge and Prosecutors from Wake County and clear up these messes! We already know how messed up the courts are in Durham county, let's fix it before it gets worse! Peterson deserves to be heard and if found not guilty he needs to be put back where he was before this case began. If he is guilty, then that is fine, but let's look at this evidence now that DNA is a solid science. Perhaps new judge and prosecution should review the Peterson case.

  • westernwake1 Nov 24, 2011

    District Attorney Tracey Cline has been incredibly damaging to justice in Durham. She needs to be removed from her position as soon as possible.

    The N&O covered DA Cline's actions in a series called "Twisted Truth: A Prosecutor Under Fire". The first part can be found here with links to other parts.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/09/04/1459697/clines-courtroom-actions-lead.html

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