Judge denies public money for Cline appeal

acurliss@newsobserver.comJuly 9, 2012 

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Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline listens as Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood during a Feb. 12, 2012 hearing.

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com

A judge has denied a request by former Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline to use public money to appeal her removal from office.

Lawyers for Cline had filed court papers requesting that a judge appoint them to represent her in the appeal, an action that would trigger state money to pay their fees.

In the request, Cline’s lawyers with Van Camp, Meacham & Newman of Pinehurst wrote to the judge: “Ms. Cline is now financially unable to retain counsel to represent her in her appeal and further representation.”

The judge who oversaw the removal process, Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood of Franklin County, gave two reasons for denying the request.

“The Court finds that there are no funds available for the appointment and that in previous cases of this nature the State has never funded attorney representation for the appealing party,” Hobgood wrote in a decision filed late last month. It has not previously been disclosed.

The attorneys for Cline, who has declined multiple requests for comment on her removal and the appeal, could not be reached.

The director of the state courts system had opposed the request by Cline, saying in an email message to the judge that there would be no justification for spending public money to allow Cline’s appeal.

It is unclear if Cline is continuing with her appeal of the removal without public aid. A crucial deadline for filing paperwork that would indicate the appeal is under way is about two months away, according to John Connell, clerk to the state Court of Appeals.

A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office said that Cline has not requested the AG’s help.

Cline was removed from office on March 2 after a two-week inquiry that found she had been dishonest in court papers, particularly in leveling unprecedented attacks on Durham’s senior judge, Orlando Hudson.

Until the appeal is resolved, Durham has an interim DA, former Judge Leon Stanback.

If Cline withdraws her appeal by early September, elections officials could still move to hold an election in November for Cline’s replacement. If the appeal stretches beyond that, according to state law, then the next election for a replacement would occur in 2014.

Separately, the N.C. State Bar has filed a complaint against Cline that is set for an October hearing. Cline has until July 19 to respond to allegations of dishonesty the agency brought against her.

News researcher David Raynor contributed to this report.

Curliss: 919-829-4840

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