Peterson lawyer says judge should hear appeal
Posted November 28, 2011
Updated November 29, 2011
Durham, N.C. — The attorney for convicted killer Mike Peterson is opposed to an effort by Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline to remove a Superior Court judge from Peterson's hearing for a new trial.
Cline filed a motion last Wednesday requesting that Judge Orlando Hudson not be allowed to preside over a Dec. 5 hearing as to whether Peterson, a novelist and former Durham mayoral candidate, should be granted a new trial.
Peterson, 68, was convicted in 2003 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.
Cline has blamed Hudson publicly for two cases in which murder charges were dismissed, accused Hudson of corruption and bias and has asked the state Judicial Standards Commission to bar him from hearing criminal cases in the county.
Peterson's attorney, David Rudolf, said in his response to Cline's motion that Hudson is uniquely qualified to hear the appeal, noting that he presided over the nearly three-month trial eight years ago.
The request for a new trial involves claims that a former State Bureau of Investigation agent who testified at Peterson's original trial lied or misled jurors about blood evidence found in Peterson's home.
Hudson's familiarity with the testimony puts him in the best position to weigh whether the agent's previous testimony is valid, Rudolf argues in his response.
He also notes that neither Cline nor anyone in her office was involved in Peterson's conviction and that the issues raised in the request for a new trial don't involve her or the Durham County District Attorney's Office.
"The court has at no time displayed any bias or prejudice towards the state in this matter, and there is no factual or legal basis for the court to disqualify itself in this matter," he states in his response.
Hudson has asked Superior Court Judge Carl Fox, who is holding court in Durham County through the end of December, to handle Cline's motion, as well as similar motions in two other cases.