Local News

Fellow lawyer latest to blast Durham DA

Posted January 18, 2012
Updated January 19, 2012

— The latest blow to Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline came in the form of an affidavit filed Tuesday by a fellow lawyer.

In eight pages of examples, Kerry Sutton lays out why she thinks Cline has "brought the office of the Durham County District Attorney and the entire Durham County justice system into disrepute."

The filing is the first step required by law to remove Cline from office.

Sutton, a defense attorney, specifically cites Cline's actions in cases against Michael Peterson, who was recently granted a new trial on charges he killed his wife in 2001, and Clint Pollard, a man accused of molesting a boy whom Sutton is defending.

Cline has repeatedly accused Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson of bias against her and has asked to have him barred from handling criminal cases in Durham County. Two other Superior Court judges have deemed Cline's complaints to be groundless.

Hudson, as the senior judge in the county, would be the first to consider Sutton's claims against Cline.  

State law allows for the removal of a district attorney under seven conditions:

  1. Mental or physical incapacity interfering with the performance of his duties which is, or is likely to become, permanent;
  2. Willful misconduct in office;
  3. Willful and persistent failure to perform his duties;
  4. Habitual intemperance;
  5. Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
  6. Conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the office into disrepute; or
  7. Knowingly authorizing or permitting an assistant district attorney to commit any act constituting grounds for removal, as defined in subdivisions (1) through (6).

In her affidavit, Sutton claims Cline is guilty of both habitual intemperance and prejudicial conduct. Should Hudson, or another judge he would assign, call a hearing on the allegations, Sutton would serve as a witness against Cline.

Another Durham attorney, Scott Holmes, told WRAL News last week that he has heard from colleagues who favor Cline's ouster.

In a statement to WRAL News Wednesday, Cline said she would continue to fight for truth and justice in Durham County.

"Two murder cases were dismissed in less than a year. There should be nothing more important to the fair administration of justice than the Truth. The Truth must be protected from political pressures and the promises of the powerful," she wrote.

"Truth is not complicated it is real simple. Truth understands that every life is important, even the young life of a (2-year-old) baby and the battered life of a 24-year-old woman enslaved by (addiction). Human
life should never be a pawn for political gain or loss," she continued.

"The district attorney must not bend or bargain for the power to possess the elected office. In doing so the truth is lost and justice can only die. As for me it is simple seeking truth and justice is what must
be done, and yes at all costs," she wrote.

"To go against the (status) quo and seek justice at times is not popular. To demand that all people are treated fairly is not favored. Not even from the prosecutor," she said in conclusion. "It is truth telling time. And Durham County needs to know the truth and I will continue to fight for that truth. Justice for all people  not just some but all is worth the fight."


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  • x Jan 27, 2012

    Truly feel sorry for the people of Durham and hope this comes to a speedy resolution. Our justice system needs to be above reproach and I applaude those who are willing to address these difficult issues.

  • amenmike Jan 19, 2012

    Cline must be removed from office, she abuses her power because of an enormous ego.

  • VT1994Hokie Jan 19, 2012

    Cline is totally out-of-order. She should be fired for all of the trouble and waste of time that she has caused. She's big trouble and, the taxpayers dollars wasted because of her ego problem.

  • CarolinianByChoice Jan 19, 2012

    @UNC PH.d, assuming you posted to the wrong place since your comment has zero relevance here . . . .

  • UNC PH.d Jan 19, 2012

    "Thirteen percent of the American population is BLACK. Seventy-five percent of ALL violent crime committed in this country is done by BLACKS. "

    So what are you suggesting, just put a big fence around Durham and let them fight it out amongst themselves? LOL...it amazes me also that the NAACP is upset about the new phone app that tells you where high crime areas are in cities so you can avoid them. That's called being smart, how is it discriminatory?

  • Rolling Along Jan 19, 2012

    From all indications Ms. Cline has shown herself to be unprofessional and incompetent, and not just on the high profile cases. She needs to be replaced, the sooner the better for Durham.

  • boneymaroney13 Jan 19, 2012

    I can assure you, the LEO's want her to just go away. Bring back Dave Saks from Wake County!

  • CarolinianByChoice Jan 19, 2012

    In the Michael Dorman case, Judge Hudson advised DA Cline PRIOR to the trial that she should drop the charges as the skull and bones found in Dorman’s backpack had been released to the relatives (who promptly had them cremated) prior to allowing the defense the opportunity for their own analysis. DA Cline did not dismiss the charges, but Judge Hudson did before the trial could begin. Perhaps this pre-trial advisement was a courtesy on his part to save DA Cline from having egg on her face? It certainly didn’t work. DA Cline then seems to have become infuriated and started denouncing a group of people/entities of conspiring to hurt/get rid of her. Given this seeming obsession, one has to wonder if she has time to perform her duties of office. She keeps harping on “The Truth” but she seems to have on blinders when “the truth” shows it was/may have been her/her office’s very own mistakes that resulted in failed pursuits of justice.

  • CarolinianByChoice Jan 19, 2012

    It is interesting to read the articles in the N&O, WRAL, and the Durham Herald Sun. All three medias have picked different facts to include in their reports, and all have different slants to their reporting. After reading these plus other media reports the entire picture emerges. It seems DA Cline has been personally offended by Judge Hudson, she is out for revenge and she has no compunction in using her office to get it. After all the embarrassment caused by Mike Nifong and now Ms. Cline, it is difficult to imagine how there could be any positive morale left in the Durham DA’s office. If Ms. Cline is so engrossed with “the truth”, she should be speaking clearly and factually about what she means, because right now her “truth” is 1) obscure and 2) seems to be an excuse to exact revenge on someone she believes wronged her. Using a public office for personal gain is what (in part) Ms. Cline purports to be fighting, while at the same time she is engaging in the activity her

  • anne53ozzy Jan 19, 2012

    I agree she should step down and move on or be made to. In this city so rife with issues, we need a strong and stable attorney who has respect and support....Step up Roy!