[At this stage, nothing should surprise me about this case, especially when the issue is Durham politics. Yet I confess that I am amazed that former Mike Nifong ADA Tracey Cline is a frontrunner for the position--endorsed by (of course) the Herald-Sun and several local PACs, despite the heavy shadow that Nifong should cast over her candidacy.
As of late, Cline has taken to rewriting history, claiming that she had little or nothing to do with the lacrosse case. Facts, of course, can be stubborn things. And what can also be said: if Durham County Democrats nominate Cline for district attorney, they would effectively be saying that they approve of a figure who aided the highest-profile instance of prosecutorial misconduct in recent memory.
As a reminder of Cline's real history, I'm reposting an item from last fall, when Cline first tried to run from her record of aiding Nifong in the case.]
From an October 2007 Herald-Sun, ADA Tracey Cline outlined the relationship between the lacrosse case and her bid for district attorney:
According to Cline, a major lesson was learned from the Duke lacrosse scandal: “The people of
expect one thing from the DA -- to do the right things for the right reasons. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s not doing anybody a favor. It’s knowing you have done the right thing and being able to sleep on it.” Durham
Lesson No. 2: “You need to be transparent when you are district attorney. Everything should be out in the open. People might not agree with everything I do, but they should at least understand why I did it.”
Some suggested during the lacrosse meltdown that Nifong’s assistants dropped the ball by not reining in their boss, halting the scandal in its tracks.
Cline agreed last week that attorneys have a duty to report unethical conduct among their colleagues.
But she said she lacked insights into what Nifong was doing.
“I didn’t have any personal information about what went on in the lacrosse case, other than what the media reported,” she said.
1.) If she had no information other than what was reported in the press (which, as of March 23, 2006, was next to nothing), how, then, did Cline help Ben Himan prepare the fraudulent nontestimonial order that got the case rolling? Indeed, according to the Gottlieb deposition, he and Himan spoke to Cline, and then “the district attorney’s office thought it was a good idea to go ahead and do a Non-Testimonial.” [emphasis added]
To obtain an NTO, of course, authorities are supposed to have probable cause to believe a crime occurred, and a reasonable suspicion that the subject of the NTO could have committed the crime.
As part of her new commitment to transparency, will Candidate Cline reveal the evidence that gave her a reasonable suspicion that Brad Ross—who wasn’t even in
2.) It came out during the Nifong ethics hearing that the ex-DA was planning to prosecute the case alongside Cline. Indeed, according to the Gottlieb deposition, Nifong told Crystal Mangum that “he would be working very closely with Ms. Cline.” [emphasis added]
Is Candidate Cline now asking the citizens of Durham County to believe that even though Nifong planned to prosecute the case alongside her, and even though he told Mangum he would be working “very closely” with her, and even though she was the office’s expert on sexual assault cases, and even though she was the office’s highest-ranking African-American and woman in a case charged on race and gender lines . . . that she and Nifong never spoke about the details of the case, and that she knew no more about the details of the case than what appeared in the paper?
If so, is Candidate Cline calling Ben Himan a liar? After all, in cross-examination from Lane Williamson at the Nifong ethics hearing, Himan said that Cline told him that she had read over some of the case file.
3.) It came out in the Kendra Montgomery-Blinn testimony at the ethics hearing that Cline implemented the “No-Drop” policy, in which the Durham DA’s office has adopted a policy of effectively abandoning even the fiction of prosecutorial discretion, but only on sexual assault cases. Does Cline still believe that district attorneys don’t have to exercise discretion in prosecuting sexual assault cases; and that they can and must take all such cases to trial, regardless of the evidence, as long as they, for whatever reason, happen to believe the accuser? And, given the facts of the lacrosse case—on which, according to her boss, Cline was going to serve as co-counsel,
Did she approve of the procedures used in the April 4 lineup?
Did she approve of the decision to seek an indictment against Reade Seligmann even though police didn’t even know if Seligmann attended the party?
Did she approve of sending Linwood Wilson to interview Crystal Mangum on December 21?
Did she approve of Nifong’s decision to treat Mangum’s December 21 story—which included a wholly new timeline and description of the “attack”—as reliable?
As part of her stated commitment to transparency, no doubt Candidate Cline will be eager to answer these questions.