May 29, 2012
Life After Nifong
The North Carolina State Bar has filed a complaint alleging ethics violations by the former Durham County District Attorney.
The complaint charges that the DA directed an investigator to make misleading statements to prison authorities in order to obtain visitation records of three inmates and engaged in ex parte contacts with a judge to obtain the records. The complaint alleges that the DA sought confidential information that she was not entitled to.
The complaint further alleges that the DA filed a complaint against a judge and "made repeated statements about the honesty, integrity and fairness of [the judge]." The complaint contends that the DA falsely or recklessly called the judge corrupt.
ABCNews had this report.
This isn't the first time the Durham district attorney's office has been embroiled in controversy in recent years. Cline replaced Mike Nifong, who resigned in disgrace after prosecuting three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape. Nifong was later disbarred.
Governor Beverly Perdue named a retired Superior Court Judge A. Leon Stanback, Jr. as the interim Durham DA earlier this year.
Cline has appealed her removal and she continues her fight to gain access to emails belonging to Judge Hudson. There cannot be a special election to replace her until she has exhausted her appeals.
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Hey there gentlemen--love the weblog! I have been reading it faithfully for months, and have really enjoyed it (out of more than mere morbid curiosity, I assure you!). I am fascinated with the articles and orders you have posted, as they have provided much useful fodder for the CLE courses that a colleague I have been providing for the past several years on ethics, professionalism, and mental health/substance abuse issues (www.reeltimecle.com). We try our best to get lawyers to consider how and why "good lawyers" (in many cases, even close friends and well-known colleagues) end up having ethical lapses, and then to provide practical guidance on how to avoid going down the same errant paths; this weblog has provided many a cautionary tale when we have needed a new one, so thanks.
And I hope to follow this weblog even more closely (and to have something to contribute, myself, perhaps?) in the near furture, since I will be leaving my practice and joining the full time faculty of the Charlotte School of Law beginning in August. Once I get up and running in my new post, I look forward to having further opportunities to interact with you all through the weblog, AALS, or otherwise. I would love to pick your collective brains about what is going on in legal scholarship, CLE, and as a practical matter in the areas of legal ethics, disciplinary proceedings, and prevention of grievances and malpractice claims.
Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself and say "hello," and also to make a quick copy-editing note: you may want to add the current Durham County DA's name earlier in this post. As it reads now, Ms. Cline's name is not mentioned until the ABC News quote, and at first, I could not tell that the new action concerned Nifong's successor.
This is indeed a very sad story, and definitely a tough blow to an office that has already drawn more than its share of unpleasant attention. One can only pray that Ms. Cline gets some meaningful help soon (and thankfully, we do have some excellent resources for lawyers in NC that may provide such help, if she is willing).
Take care, and keep up the great work.
Posted by: Chris Osborn | May 30, 2012 7:46:53 PM