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State bar files complaint against former Durham DA

Posted May 26, 2012

The North Carolina State Bar filed a complaint on Friday against former Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline, saying she knowingly made false statements about Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson during the pair’s drawn out public confrontation last fall.

The latest complaint against Cline comes more than two months since she was removed from office by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood, who said he found “clear, cogent and convincing” evidence that Cline’s actions had damaged the Durham County justice system.

“Cline’s statements about Judge Hudson ... contain inappropriate language, are intemperate, are inflammatory, and tend to lessen public confidence in our legal system,” the complaint said.

The rules of the State Bar require that lawyers be honest and trustworthy, and discipline can be imposed for members who interfere with the administration of justice.

The complaint lists five alleged violations of those rules by Cline and asks that she be disciplined. It is not clear what punishment Cline could face.

WRAL News learned in March that the State Bar was reviewing files involving Cline, but a spokeswoman said she couldn’t talk about any investigations because that information is confidential.

Two weeks after she was removed from office, Cline asked a mediator to resolve a dispute with Hudson over his email.

Cline said in her request that she asked Hudson last year for copies of his emails and received only a portion of them. Hudson told her at the time that releasing other messages could compromise criminal cases, according to the court filing.

Cline said that most of the cases involved are no longer pending, and one defense attorney has spoken publicly about a case and given information to the media, waiving any privilege.

Cline said she reiterated her request to Hudson in March for his email but got no response. Under state law, a mediator can be appointed to resolve the dispute.

Cline alleged in several previous court filings that Hudson is biased against her and her office, and she asked to have him barred from handling criminal cases in Durham County. Two other judges found her complaints to be groundless.

Cline is the second district attorney to be removed under the law. A New Hanover County prosecutor was removed in the 1990s for making a racially charged comment in public. Retired Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback is serving as interim district attorney.

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  • Six String Jun 4, 10:58 a.m.

    From what I have heard and read, I agree with westernwake1. There seems to be an emphasis on winning cases instead of pursuing justice -- isn't there someone out there who could serve without wanting to make a name for themselves or is it really all about ego? Two down, how many more to go?

  • westernwake1 May 29, 8:47 a.m.

    Now the other shore drops. Good to see. Tracey Cline is totally unfit to be a DA.