[Updated, Thurs., 5.56pm: "Ahab" Cline will continue her quixotic quest against Judge Hudson, the N&O reveals. Cline--the person who, it's worth noting, wouldn't recognize the truth if it bopped her in the head--wrote that "it is truth telling time" for Durham County.]
[Updated, Wed., 4.22pm: Durham attorney Kerry Sutton (who played a minor role in the lacrosse case) has filed an affidavit urging the removal of Tracey Cline as Durham DA. In the affidavit, Sutton accuses Cline of "habitual intemperance" and conduct "prejudicial to the administration of justice." Sutton, not unreasonably, characterized Cline's "inflammatory" filings against Judge Orlando Hudson as filled with "venom" and "paranoid" language, lacking in "fact or evidence, other than Ms. Cline's personal beliefs." Sutton goes into considerable length about how Cline's obsession with Hudson has both harmed the Durham DA office's reputation and consumed the Durham legal community's resources. (She also points out that the grammatically-challenged Cline also has a tendency to misspell "affidavit" in her legal filings.)
The N&O's Andrew Curliss reports that the gambit employed by Sutton is rarely used, and is believed to have resulted in the removal of only one DA in North Carolina history.]
Durham County’s minister of justice was last heard from penning a bizarre e-mail to the Herald-Sun in which she misspelled a judge’s name and asserted that “truth should be intimidated by the pressure of the powerful or the fear of failure.” This morning’s N&O exposes as false a central claim made by Tracey Cline in her quixotic crusade against Judge Orlando Hudson—that Hudson had demonstrated his anti-Cline bias by entering an August order before the prosecution even had the chance even to present all of its witnesses.
Reporter Andrew Curliss did what Cline failed to do—he actually investigated the seeming anomaly. And he discovered a benign explanation: “The clock at the courthouse that stamped the document was more than two hours slow that day.” In a situation that would seem more likely in a small town courthouse than in North Carolina’s fifth-largest city, the clock in the county clerk’s office seems to malfunction with some regularity. Curliss spoke to assistant county clerk Angela Kelly, who commented about the clock, “It is a machine that's plugged up in the wall that runs constantly. When things are filed, we stick it in there, and we always hope and pray it's correct. But there have been times when we notice that it's not correct."
Curliss confirmed Kelly’s recollection by checking into legal documents filed the next morning—which the clock erroneously stamped at 7.18am, rather than after 9.00am, when the clerk’s office actually opened. (Times public editor Arthur Brisbane might just call Curliss a “truth vigilante.”) The N&O website has a photo of the relevant filings.
Rather than assuming the worst and thereby leveling wild, unsubstantiated allegations against a sitting judge, Cline might have checked to see if there were problems with the clock in the clerk’s office, something that would have taken her only a few minutes to do. The N&O presented Cline with the information, but she declined comment, and thus did not take the opportunity to say that she would withdraw her charges against Hudson. Jim Coleman summarized the problem to Curliss: "She has made a serious allegation, and it warranted serious review by her before this filing. It is now just more evidence of a lawyer who is barreling down a hill totally oblivious to the damage she is causing to the judicial system. She is undermining confidence in the system. It's disgraceful."
Such cavalier disregard for the truth and professional behavior from his county’s “minister of justice” might be enough to cause “shame” and “anger” even from the likes of Duke professor William Reichert. But I suspect not.