Tuesday, September 19, 2017
The Charlotte News Observer reported on the 2015 suspension
Tracey Cline took a moment Friday with two members of a State Bar panel who had just suspended her law license. She thanked them for giving her an opportunity to defend herself against professional misconduct allegations.
Steven D. Michael, chairman of the panel that presided over the two days of hearings, leaned toward Cline as she shook his hand and offered tender advice. Next time – if there is a next time – he told her, “call someone.”
Cline, who was ousted from the Durham County district attorney’s office in March 2012, found out Friday that her law license would be suspended for five years. But the three-member panel ruled that only two of the years would be an active suspension and that she coIt was unclear Friday whether Cline has practiced law since the court proceeding held by Judge Robert Hobgood in March 2012 that removed her from her elected post. Any time since then that she has not practiced, the State Bar grievance panel ruled, would apply toward the two-year suspension.
The panel found that Cline violated professional conduct rules related to statements she made against Orlando Hudson, Durham’s chief resident Superior Court judge. She also violated rules in seeking prison records for two inmates, the panel said.
“Sometimes you can do the right thing in the wrong way,” Cline told the panel before the disciplinary ruling.
Cline traced her troubles to a time in 2011 when she thought several Durham defense lawyers and Hudson were conspiring with a reporter at The News & Observer to discredit her.
In September 2011, The N&O published an investigative series titled “Twisted truth: A prosecutor under fire” that focused on complaints against Cline in three cases.
Cline said she was frustrated after trying to find out what was behind those complaints and she thought she was being rebuffed by people she had hoped would help her.
Cline told the panel that Hudson, a man she considered a mentor, wouldn’t help her figure out what to do and had ruled against her in several high-profile cases.
In stridently worded court documents, she criticized him of corruption and bias.
Cline said Friday that she regretted the language she used against Hudson, but she maintained that she was trying to stick up for crime victims and their families who she thought were being harmed by his rulings.
“My intent was to try to seek justice,” she said, adding that she thought it was like being in “a hurricane without any candles.”