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Stanback stepping down as Durham DA

Posted August 15, 2014

Durham County District Attorney Leon Stanback

— Leon Stanback, who was tapped to fill in as Durham County district attorney more than two years ago when a public feud with a judge cost the county's top prosecutor her job, announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the month.

Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols as Stanback's successor, effective Sept. 1. Echols won the Democratic primary for district attorney in May and is running unopposed in the November general election.

"I have been fortunate to have been able to work with the hard-working District Attorney's staff that ably represents the State of North Carolina and the victims of crime in Durham County," Stanback said in a statement. "I also want to thank the Durham County Sheriff's Office and the Durham Police Department for their close working relationship with my office during my tenure."

Stanback served as a Superior Court judge from 1989 until he retired in 2009. Then-Gov. Beverly Perdue asked him in early 2012 to take over in Durham County after District Attorney Tracey Cline was suspended for publicly accusing Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson of being biased against her and her office. Cline's claims were found to be groundless, and she was subsequently removed from office.

Stanback stayed on to rebuild morale inside the District Attorney's Office – Cline was the second district attorney to be ousted in five years – and public confidence in local prosecutors and the justice system.

During his tenure, he has had to review investigations into several officer-involved shootings in Durham, but he didn't find that criminal charges were warranted in any of the cases.

“I would like to thank Leon Stanback for his service to Durham County and North Carolina,” McCrory said in a statement. "He has exhibited great leadership, and the state has benefited from his time spent with the District Attorney's Office."

Echols has been with the Durham County District Attorney's Office since 2010. He previously worked as a prosecutor in Caswell and Person counties for 12 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.

"Roger Echols has seen firsthand the workings of the District Attorney's Office, making him a perfect choice for this position," McCrory said. "This experience, plus his esteemed reputation and leadership skills, will serve the county well."


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  • Greg Boop Aug 15, 2014
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    Thank you to Judge Leon Stanback for his service as Durham DA. He has worked hard to turn around the DA office. He has always stated that his role was short term and was focused on turning the corner with improvements.

  • Mike Berthold Aug 15, 2014
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    Don't Republicans make campaign donations? I thought, according to the vast majority of Republican posters, that only Republicans work so how do the Democrats afford it?

  • Brandy Lee Aug 15, 2014
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    Actually you have no idea of what you speak. Durham needs to improve, but it really has nothing to do with democrat leaders. Do you have ANY idea how many 'dem' leaders there are in durham that are TRUE republicans but know they would NEVER get elected running as a republican ticket here? A lot and in some pretty important places. Actually makes me kind of sick. They should stand up for what they REALLY believe in from the beginning so we know what we are getting. And once they are in office, you start to slowly see the republican side come out when they feel it is safe. You can't run as a republican here and win, so the winners lie to get our vote. Great way to start out serving the people. And I know what I speak of as fact.

  • disgusted2010 Aug 15, 2014

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    He was asked to come out of retirement by the governor. He is a well respected jurist, seen as fair, reasonable on top of it he is a heck of a good fellow.

  • disgusted2010 Aug 15, 2014

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    Is it possible for you to engage in an adult discussion without all the name calling and elitism?

  • ptrrrk1 Aug 15, 2014

    How in the world did this guy become DA

  • 123skipjack Aug 15, 2014

    maybe they can bring Nifon back

  • 68_dodge_polara Aug 15, 2014

    Thank you for your public service Judge Leon Stanback!

  • disgusted2010 Aug 15, 2014

    Thank You for your service Judge Stanback.

  • 68_dodge_polara Aug 15, 2014

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    It costs money to run, why waste it.