Local News

Durham courts move on without ousted DA

Posted March 5, 2012 4:24 p.m. EST

— The Durham County Courthouse operated without a hitch Monday on the first day after District Attorney Tracey Cline was removed from office.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled Friday that he had found evidence during an unusual four-day inquiry that Cline had brought the "entire Durham County justice system into disrepute" by her repeated attacks on another judge in recent months.

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

She has appealed the ruling, but James Coleman, the John S. Bradway Professor of Law at Duke University, said Monday that he doubts Hobgood's ruling would be overturned.

"I think that the findings were meticulous, and I think this is a case that turns on the findings. He made findings that will be very difficult to challenge," Coleman said.

Retired Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback has been serving as district attorney since Feb. 1. He said he will run the office to the best of his ability as long as he is needed.

The length and outcome of Cline's appeal will determine if a special election would be held in November for the remaining two years of her term. The appeal would have to be resolved by early September for an election to occur.