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Durham's District Attorney Accused of 'Judge Shopping'

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DURHAM — Durham's district attorney is coming under fire for court house favoritism by some judges that believe they are being unfairly passed over for high-profile trials.

District Attorney Jim Hardin said the charges of favoritism are off-base.

Judge David LaBarre is one of four Durham superior court judges. LaBarre says three of those judges, including himself, are being treated like "water boys" by the District Attorney.

The judge blames Hardin, who he says is guilty of "judge shopping" -- picking only his favorite judge to hear high-profile cases.

LaBarre says too many big cases, like theTodd Boggess murder trial, go to Chief Judge Orlando Hudson.

"I don't think it's fair to that one judge," LaBarre said. "I don't think he can do it all himself. I don't think it's in the interest of case management and it may not be any interest to justice in terms of the disposition of the cases."

Hardin, who assigns the cases, said that he has teamed up with Chief Judge Hudson to reduce the huge backlog of cases, and claims there's no "judge shopping."

"I don't make any apologies for that, because I think we've done an exceptional job together," said Hardin. "I think this community has benefitted from some of the innovative ideas that we've brought to the system."

LaBarre said he has a solution to this problem -- take power away from district attorneys to assign judges to cases. That way of doing business is unique to North Carolina courts.

Hardin said as long as it is his responsibility, he will continue to assign cases the way he sees fit.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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