Judge dismisses petition to investigate Durham DA

jwise@newsobserver.comAugust 15, 2013 

Leon Stanback


— Chief Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson has dismissed a petition to have District Attorney Leon Stanback’s conduct investigated and possibly have him removed from office.

“No probable cause exists for believing these charges (in the petition) are true,” Hudson’s Wednesday order says.

James Michael Lynch of Durham filed an affidavit Aug. 5, claiming that Stanback had “shown willful misconduct and persistent failure to perform his duties” by disregarding Lynch’s request that Stanback authorize a State Bureau of Investigation probe into the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

Lynch alleges that Sheriff Mike Andrews and several deputies “intentionally covered up” the theft of a safe containing more than $17,000 in cash, a handgun and other items from his home on East Geer Street in September 2012. He also claims they lied to him and “destroyed evidence at the crime scene.”

Stanback said such petitions could be filed “every time somebody disagrees with me ... every day.”

In his dismissal order, Hudson says he “thoroughly reviewed the affidavit and the file in this proceeding” and that “the District Attorney in North Carolina has very broad discretion” in determining who should be charged with criminal offenses. Informed of the dismissal Thursday by a reporter, Lynch said he was “very upset” that Hudson dismissed his petition without contacting him.

“He made a judgment without looking at the evidence, and that’s wrong,” Lynch said, and said he intends to appeal Hudson’s decision.

“We do understand that Mr. Lynch is not satisfied with our investigation into the burglary of his residence,” sheriff’s spokesman Paul Sherwin said last week after Lynch filed his petition.

“That case remains open and we will continue to pursue all credible leads,” Sherwin said.

Gov. Bev Perdue appointed Stanback, a Superior Court judge from 1989 until his retirement in 2009, to serve as interim DA in February 2012 when elected DA Tracey Cline was suspended from duty. Stanback also is a former member of the state's parole board and was an assistant district attorney in Guilford County in the 1970s.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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