DURHAM — Tracey Cline started her term in elected office in a packed courtroom.
The veteran prosecutor was sworn in Monday afternoon in a ceremony with religious, sentimental, professional and political tones. She was surrounded by family, friends and justice system colleagues.
Cline replaces David Saacks, who served as the appointed district attorney for the past 16 months after the ouster of Mike Nifong.
Saacks was not eligible to seek the district attorney's job in Durham because he is a Wake County resident. He will step into a new role as Cline's chief assistant district attorney.
Cline, a prosecutor in Durham for nearly 15 years and now the county's first African-American female district attorney, talked about the work ahead in a county with a backlog of cases and a juvenile crime problem.
"I'm ready for the challenge," she said.
Nifong, who was stripped of his law license for prosecutorial misconduct in the Duke lacrosse case, attended the ceremony at Cline's request. He stood in the back of the courtroom and at the end hugged and shook hands with many of his former colleagues.