Former D.A. Tracey Cline responds to N.C. Bar charge

Former D.A. restates claims against judge

akenney@newsobserver.comJuly 22, 2012 

PETERSON14.NE.121311.ASR

Former Durham district attorney Tracey Cline.

SHAWN ROCCO — srocco@newsobserver.com

— Tracey Cline’s defense is unchanged.

In filings late last week, the former Durham County district attorney and her lawyer denied a complaint by the N.C. Bar and asked for a delay of a scheduled disciplinary hearing.

Cline was removed from office in March after a judge found she had acted with malice and reckless disregard for the truth in her criticism of another judge. That same complaint is among the 14 ethics violations brought against her in May by the Bar, which is the state’s regulatory agency for lawyers.

The complaint focused on Cline’s written criticism of Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, who she accused of “moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption.” The Bar in its May complaint said the charge was false.

But in Cline’s response, her attorney, James R. Van Camp, maintains that Cline was acting out of a sense of justice when she made the high-profile criticism. And, beyond simply answering the Bar’s charge, the Thursday filing includes a “further answer” section that largely reiterates Cline’s attack on Hudson.

Cline “sincerely believed there was no other action which could prevent the immediate and present harm she perceived to the people of Durham County other than requesting that Judge Orlando F. Hudson, Jr. recuse himself,” the filing states.

The document also answers, in part, the Bar’s charge that Cline made false representations as she sought prison visitation records for inmates featured in a News & Observer series about Cline. Van Camp denies that the request was unjustified.

A three-judge panel is set to hear the matter in a five-day session beginning in October. However, Cline’s lawyer has requested the Bar delay the hearing while Cline appeals her removal from office.

Neither Van Camp nor Bar attorneys were available for comment Saturday afternoon.

State Bar rules say that disbarment “shall be considered” if a lawyer engages in acts of dishonesty, misrepresentation, deceit or fabrication.

Kenney: 919-460-2608

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