Sunday, December 04, 2011

Cline Losing Her Grip (Updated)

[Update, Tuesday, 2.31pm: Joe Neff reports that proceedings were adjourned because of an apparent bomb threat, but not before DA Cline offered a "dog-at-my-homework" excuse in the Peterson hearing:

Cline also said she was unprepared and had not read(!!) 800 pages of evidence given to her after Thanksgiving . . .

“I am here to say my sister still has rights, and there is no way you can have this district attorney represent my sister,” said Candace Zamperini, (Kathleen Peterson’s sister). “They are not prepared, they haven’t read the documents…..I will tell you, this district attorney’s office is not the district attorney’s office of Jim Hardin, where I got good representation.”

Cline does not appear to have given a reason why she didn't do her job and read the relevant documents; she seemingly assumed that, at worst, Judge Hudson would allow her to delay proceedings by removing herself from the case, and was caught unprepared when the judge refused her demand.]

[Update, Tuesday, 9.28am: Joe Neff's article in today's N&O is worth reading in full, if only for the sheer entertainment value. It ranges from the bizarre (the attendance of a figure who has argued that an owl(!), rather than Michael Peterson, killed Peterson's wife) to the ridiculous:

Fox patiently listened as Cline discussed more than a dozen cases from state appellate courts that she said supported her request. At one point, Cline mentioned a case that she hadn't read yet and asked the judge for time to read it. Fox said yes.

The packed courtroom sat in silence while Cline sat alone at her table, flipping through documents.

After 14 minutes, Fox broke the silence: "Are you still reading the case?"

Cline said she hadn't located the correct citation.

Bill Thomas, appropriately, summarized: "It was remarkable that she offered no evidence in support of these extraordinary allegations."]

[Update, Monday, 6.42pm: Joe Neff reports that Judge Fox dismissed all of Cline's filings, dismissing her reasoning as "woefully inadequate."

Here's how Neff described the courtroom scene: "Cline then gave a rambling half hour speech that roughly tracked her court filings and made no mention of Peterson: Hudson was retaliating against her because she failed to dismiss a murder charge in the case of Derrick Allen."]

[Update, Monday, 12.29pm: Reporting from the courtroom, Joe Neff brings word that Judge Fox is . . . skeptical . . . of Cline's bizarre claims:

“There’s a lot of verbiage in here that has nothing to do with anything,” Fox said of Cline’s 286-page motion and foot tall stack of exhibits. “The affidavits are not sufficient.”]

There were a couple of occasions in the lacrosse case in which Mike Nifong all but baited the State Bar to file prompt ethics charges against him. The first came just before Election Day, when the embattled candidate traveled to NCCU and all but turned the American theory of justice on its head, asserting, “If a case is of such significance that people in the community are divided or up in arms over the existence of that case, then that in and of itself [emphasis added] is an indication that a case needs to be tried.” The second coincided with the week of the Meehan hearing, during which Nifong offered myriad (often mutually contradictory) explanations as to why he hadn’t reported all the DNA test results. The first set of ethics charges against Nifong arrived a few days later.

Based on an article in today’s N&O by Andrew Curliss, Durham is rapidly moving toward seeing its second DA in less than a decade removed for ethical improprieties. Curliss’s piece traces Cline’s by-now-standard pattern of fabrications, but it also shows that the county’s “minister of justice” has been reduced to lying about seemingly trivial matters.

In recent months, Cline expanded her network of untruths from Judge Hudson’s courtroom to that of her (and Nifong’s) former boss, Judge Hardin. The topic of Cline’s false filings: prison visitation records. In her filings to Hardin, Cline (falsely) claimed that the two prisoners (Keith Kidwell and Angel Richardson) had filed motions to which she needed to respond. Yet neither man had filed such a motion, nor had their attorneys intended to do so.

So why did Cline mislead the court; and why would she have any interest in such a seemingly obscure matter as prison visitation records? Cline refused to speak to the N&O, nor did she respond to an e-mail from me requesting comment. But it appears as if she was not only lying to a judge but abusing the powers of her office either (1) to dig for material to help save her law license in any ethics proceedings against her; or (2) as part of her futile attempt to compile “evidence” substantiating her wild claims of an anti-Cline “conspiracy” between Judge Hudson, defense attorneys, and the N&O.

Cline had no good reason for desiring the information: the prison department spokesperson Curliss, "Why the DA's office is interested in whether Kidwell is seeing his pre-approved visitors, I have no earthly idea. It's our own internal policy, so it's ours to police."

Jim Coleman told the N&O that the State Bar will be concerned about "not only whether she is misrepresenting and abusing the judicial process, but also whether she is filing patently false allegations in pleadings and taking advantage of the immunity that she has (as a prosecutor). ... She really is undermining the integrity of her office." Coleman also predicted that Cline could face a contempt-of-court hearing from Hardin.

Curliss’ latest exposé follows on Cline’s moves late last week regarding a hearing tomorrow in the latest appeal filed by Michael Peterson, the former Durham mayoral candidate convicted of killing his wife. (Judge Hudson was scheduled to preside over the hearing.) Cline wants Hudson off the case, and the H-S reported Friday that Cline has subpoenaed as many as 53(!) people to appear at the hearing. As a fallback, she’s requested that the Attorney General’s office step in for her if Hudson isn’t removed. The AG’s office has said it will accept Cline’s request—but only if it can obtain a continuance to allow its attorneys to get up to speed on the case.

The AG’s position is a reasonable one, but the fact that a long-scheduled hearing might have to be delayed because of Cline’s increasingly unhinged behavior gives a sense of why the Bar needs to intervene sooner rather than later.

For a sense of how untenable Cline’s position has become, even the local legal academy’s most prominent apologist for prosecutorial misconduct, Irving Joyner, has deemed the DA’s conduct “strange” and noted that her filings were apparent “misrepresentations to a court.”

When an unethical Durham prosecutor has lost Irving Joyner, it would seem there are few local legal allies left.


Anonymous said...

Durham is in decline.

John Thacker said...

Jim Hardin was the DA in Durham before Nifong. I wonder if she went to him out of some bizarre thought that he'd be her ally against the "conspiracy."

Incidentally, Jim Hardin is the DA who prosecuted Michael Peterson.

mikelau said...

Cline has clearly gone off the deep end and is unfit for her position.

It's now been proven that Cline is-


In short, she's the perfect successor to Mike Nifong.

Quasimodo said...

I recall that the Indy endorsed Cline:

"We think voters should support assistant district attorney Tracey Cline. . .

Cline is a great attorney who has already shown that she can manage a large caseload."

Wonder how they'll explain that one...

f1guyus said...

Maybe she's crayzee ... you know .. nutso ... maybe she needs to go on disability .. for mental health reasons.

Bumper said...

From actions and words Tracy Cline appears to have an rather advanced case of Dunning-Krugers.

No doubt after she is sanctioned or even disbarred, she will fall back to "they are all racists" position. Just guessing, of course, as that would confirm the diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

Was she rolling two ball bearings in her hand while adressing the court? Sounds like she needs help. Fortunately Duke has a Med school and a Law school. Maybe she can join both.

Anonymous said...

At what point does the Bar intervene? What does she have to do, not do, say, etc. that would trigger the Bar's involvement? Shameful conduct, personally attacking Hudson? Submission of false document to Hardin? What????

skwilli said...

Years ago I would watch soap operas with my mom in the summer. The shenanigans in Durham are better, except there is no Victor Newman and real people get hurt!

Anonymous said...

Tracey Cline is a duly-elected official who represents the people as she carries out her legal duties for Durham. She is doing the very best she can. If the election were held today, she would be endorsed by the Durham Herald-Sun, The Independent, The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, the Durham Democratic party, etc. and be re-elected.

If I am right, then where does the problem really lie?

Anonymous said...

"Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive." I think of this quote whenever I think of the Durham DA's office.

mikelau said...

I can't think of another way to say it-

Tracey Cline is batshit crazy.

Anonymous said...

Are we really going to believe that there are voters in Durham who would vote to re-elect this woman solely because of her race? Competent? No. An embarrassment to Durham and its justice system. Yes. Making unfounded personal attacks on a distinguished senior Judge. Yes. Able to spell and use proper English. No. Submitting falsified documents to Judge Hardin. Yes. But, she IS Black. And I thought Van Zandt county was backward....apparently not, compared to Durham.
Who will be the next Durham DA? Mangum?

Anonymous said...

9:47 writes: "Durham is in decline"

"Decline"? Heck, both Durham and Duke are in free-fall. When the lax hoax lawsuits finally reach a conclusion and judgments are entered against Durham and Duke, those lax victims will outright own Duke and the Durham taxpayers will be forced to start liquidating assets. The tax rate--already too high--will spike to levels beyond current comprehension.

This bat-shit-crazy side show involving Cline serves only to remind Durham and Duke once again just whom they bet the house on.

Seriously, this is coming to an unbelievable (if protracted) end. Great viewing from afar.

Roper said...

Heh... where is the "Is Cline a communist?" poster.

Perhaps that clown has finally had enough of Durham also.

Anonymous said...

Watching the Lovette murder trail on WRAL (murder of Eve Carson)....reminds me to ask the status of the Mangum prosecution. Will her attorney try for change of venue? What happens next? Is she still up at Butner? Back in jail? I know she was found competent to stand trial.
Rest in peace, Eve.

Anonymous said...

What role, if any, will Tracey Cline have in the murder trial for Mangum?

Chris Halkides said...

I realize that this is a bit of a tangent, but maybe someone can enlighten me about the owl theory in the Peterson case. I thought that the owl was supposed to be in the stairwell, and Ms. Peterson encountered it and fell. Is that correct?

Anonymous said...

RE: Roper said... "Heh... where is the 'Is Cline a communist?' poster."

Many, including me, would like to see WANTED posters put up all over Durham for her. Or at least near the Duke campus.

But wanted for what? Incompetence, resignation, new hair style, better grammar?

Most want her for Durham DA-- amazing as this may seem from afar.

Anonymous said...

Duke is not in decline, only Durham.

"Through this gift, Barbara and I want to help pave the way for future students to take advantage of all that Duke has to offer.”

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Your Blog made it to

Anonymous said...

Is Tracy Cline's dog a communist?

Chris Halkides said...

I can answer my own question with respect to the owl. One version of the owl theory has the attack occurring outside, not in the stairwell. The credentials of the prosecution's blood spatter witness have been questioned since the trial.

Before one dismisses the owl theory out of hand, I would like to offer a cautionary tale, based upon my casual familiarity with the West Memphis Three case. One of the three victims was found with his genitalia apparently removed. This led to much discussion of knives and satanic rituals for many years. However, a new theory is that the apparent mutilation was the result of animal (turtle?) predation.

Chris Halkides said...

Michael Peterson has now been released and will receive a new trial.