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Hardin: 'We're Going to Learn and Move Forward'

Posted June 21, 2007

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— Durham County's interim district attorney said Thursday afternoon that he will evaluate the office, its staff and its procedures, but that his main goal is to restore integrity.

"I made it very plain and very clear (to the office's staff) that every decision we make is essentially going to be based on one thing: Do the right thing for the right reason, do it in an ethical way and a legal and efficient way," Hardin said. "We're going to do that from start to finish."

A familiar face in Durham, Hardin, 50, served as Durham County's top prosecutor for 11 years before being appointed to a Superior Court judgeship in April 2005. He resigned from that post, at the request of Gov. Mike Easley, to replace former head prosecutor Mike Nifong, who was disbarred on Saturday and suspended Tuesday.

"Y'all have been reporting for a year about the dysfunction of this office," Hardin told reporters. "I'm going to do my best to assess that for him (Easley) and report back."

Nifong said Monday he would resign July 13, but Durham Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson issued a suspension order the next day, saying that having Nifong remain in office could cause problems with court cases.

Hardin refused to speak about Nifong and the Duke lacrosse case.

"What is in the past is in the past," Hardin said. "We're going to learn from this and move forward in representing the people of Durham County in an ethical and legal way in everything we do."

Hudson swore in Hardin about 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Asheville's Grove Park Inn, where the two were attending a Superior Court judges conference.

Upon administering the oath of office, Nifong was no longer the district attorney, Dick Ellis, spokesman for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, said.

Defense attorney Mark Edwards said Hardin will bring a sense of normalcy back to the district attorney's office after more than a year of tremendous pressure caused by Nifong's prosecution and handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

Nifong's presence, Edwards said, also made it difficult for defense attorneys to do their jobs.

"He was the person who you had to go and talk to," Edwards said. "You would go as far as you could with the assistants, and then, if they had made their final plea offers and they told you that was the best they could do, you had to go talk to Mike, and it got very awkward toward the end."

Easley appointed Hardin on Wednesday to "take stock of the office, the personnel and its practices" until he can appoint a new district attorney to serve out the term, which ends in 2008.

That search for a replacement is expected to take nearly two months, at which time Hardin is expected to return to the bench.

Meanwhile Thursday, Nifong's wife, Cy Gurney, was seen at the Durham Courthouse, where she was cleaning out her husband's belongings. Earlier this week, Durham County Sheriff Worth Hill took Nifong's keys and his access card to the building when Hill served Nifong at his home with Hudson's suspension order.

70 Comments

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  • Nancy Jun 22, 12:10 p.m.

    No agenda, just the facts about Hardin. Unfortunately, our state has some pretty obtuse laws that harm the judicial process in fairness, or should I say, allow for abuse of those given the authority and power to seek the truth.

    No record whatsoever for Grand Jury proceedings. GJ used to an extreme to get indictments instead of going before a judge, on record, with evidence, in a probable cause hearing.

    DA's setting court dates and judges, illegal in 46 states. Just look at the record of what judge Hardin used during his years as DA. How many judges were available? Many more than one.

    Now if Hardin is tasked, as Easley states, with getting the office back to being a trustworthy process, some people need to be let go. Linwood Wilson for one, and a serious review of Tracey Cline would be called for as well.

    I didn't get the impression at his presser that Hardin took that seriously when he considered it "ancient history".

  • HockeyRules Jun 22, 6:11 a.m.

    Looks like someone here has an agenda about Hardin.

    He is going to be in the position 2 months. Would you prefer him or Nifong? Lighten up and let him do his job. And until there is something to complain about, just relax.

  • mrduffin Jun 21, 11:38 p.m.

    I am sure someone knew Nifong too. It looks like knowing someone does not mean much. It's their actions while in office that matters!

  • sweeethng Jun 21, 8:52 p.m.

    Hardin is a great guy and the right one to fill in right now. I know him personally because my kids go to the same HS as his. We talk everytime we see each other. Lolly, vett, historian, milky and others had some very funny posts. Thanks for the laughs.

    I believe Hardin will get things going in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what the new DA does with the office. Will everyone stay or will some be let go? Only time will tell.

  • Nancy Jun 21, 5:30 p.m.

    In fact milky, Hardin has a reputation of judge shopping for cases, while not an offense in NC, it is in 46 other states. Then again, NC is not very up to speed on judicial process, look at the Grand Jury process where there is absolutely no records kept, no transcript under seal even.

    May 19, 1999

    Durham DA gets 'judge-shopping' reputation

    Author: JOHN SULLIVAN; STAFF WRITER

    Edition: Final
    Section: News
    Page: A1

    Index Terms:
    Jim Hardin
    Orlando HUDSON
    Durham
    judicial

    Estimated printed pages: 5

    Article Text: "Judge-shopping is legal in North Carolina, the only state in the country where district attorneys decide when and where a case goes to trial."

    (snip) "Jim Hardin doesn't put himself at a disadvantage," HUDSON said. "I don't know of any official that puts his office at a disadvantage. I think the DA has a lot of power, and when the legislature leaves scheduling in the hands of the DAs, you have sanctioned judge-shopping." (snip)

  • zcorvettesalez Jun 21, 5:26 p.m.

    Hardin: 'We're Going to Learn, and Move Forward'

    We are learning all the time.

  • Nancy Jun 21, 5:21 p.m.

    Milky, I just see the entire lineup of judges in Durham and former DA Hardin and the entire crew as pretty cozy, after all, Hardin recommended Nifong as his replacement. C. Destine Couch is still an ADA as is Tracy Cline, why? Linwood Wilson hired to chase bad checks and is used as Nifong's personal investigator who did not know how to conduct his interview with Crystal in December, took no recordings of that interview either. Hardin was specifically asked at the presser about Wilson. We'll see if he really is there to "set things right" as Easley stated is his purpose in the interim period while seeking another DA. My best guess is everything will remain status quo. I would love to be proven wrong.

  • zcorvettesalez Jun 21, 5:21 p.m.

    I understand having to make changes. I like Hardin. Im sure he will keep up the good work.

  • lollly52 Jun 21, 5:18 p.m.

    I have to go cook dinner. My husband will be very excited that Hardin is in - he does not get to look at the news at work.

  • Historians_XI Jun 21, 5:18 p.m.

    vette, he said was he moving forward, so I'm not sure if he will go in a different or not once he in. Sometimes you have to make changes and adjust position as the situation progresses.

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