Friday, May 25, 2012

Cline Faces the Bar--And Duke Rationalizes McClain's Ethical Shortcomings

Update, Saturday, 12.16pm: The complaint is available on the Bar's website.

The complaint itself is divided into two parts. The first focuses on Cline's efforts to obtain prison visitor information on inmates Yearwood, Richardson, and Kidwell--all, apparently, out of an effort to find proof for Cline's claim of a vast conspiracy between the N&O, a handful of defense attorneys, and Judge Hudson. In the process of requesting this information, Cline made false statements to the court and to prison officials.

On this point, the Bar seems to have Cline dead to rights: she lied to obtain information she had no right to have, and she did so for an improper purpose.

The complaint's second section focuses on Cline's "repeated statements about the honesty, integrity, and fairness of Judge Hudson." According to the Bar, Cline knowingly made false statements (or had "reckless disregard as to whether the statement was true or false"). The complaint produces several of these statements--duly noting the myriad spelling and grammatical errors contained in the NCCU Law grad's various motions to the court.

Cline, the complaint claims, "brought the office of the Durham County District Attorney into disrepute." (Could her attorney argue that the office was in such disrepute that nothing Cline could have done could have brought it into further disrepute?) The complaint also alleges that Cline's statements undermined confidence in the judicial system--except, I suppose, for roving-character-witness-to-unethical-DA's Judge Marcia Morey--and were made with "reckless disregard for the truth."

The Bar concludes by charging Cline with violating five acts that violated ethics rules, two relating to the prisoner visitation record requests, three related to her false and inflammatory statements about Judge Hudson:


Joe Neff brings the word at the N&O.

The State Bar has filed a 10-page ethics complaint against the disgraced ex-DA, charging her with making repeated false representations to the court, including knowingly making false representations to the court in her request for prison records.

Will consecutive elected Durham County DA's be disbarred for ethical violations?

And speaking of ethics, DukeProf pointed me to this quite remarkable comment from the chair of the search committee that recommended Duke hiring Paula McClain as graduate dean. According to the Chronicle,
The top three candidates also faced tests of “background due diligence,” [committee chair Calvin] Howell said. The committee conducted a poll in an effort to understand how each candidate was viewed publicly. In the past, McClain has been criticized for her involvement with the “Group of 88”—University professors who signed a controversial advertisement printed in The Chronicle following the 2006 lacrosse scandal. McClain’s involvement in the controversy did not cross a “threshold of concern,” Howell said. “She’s a political scientist and that’s what they do, they take a stance,” Howell said. “You’re not always on the right side of history, but as a scholar you have to have a voice.”
Imagine if instead of presuming the guilt of her own school's students, McClain has issued a public statement urging the Supreme Court to overturn racial preferences. Does anyone who saw how President Brodhead handled the issue this spring believe that Duke's response to such a candidate would have been "that’s what they do, they take a stance . . . as a scholar you have to have a voice”?

The inference from Howell's statement: McClain was on the wrong side of history, but Duke nonetheless put her in a position that depends on her good judgment.


skwilli said...

Can Duke dig an even deeper hole than it already has? On the plus side, a Duke decathlete qualified for the NCAA finals in the Open 800 M Run. Pretty impressive.

Anonymous said...

I suppose following up on the Duke atrocity is important, but you might want to saunter over to Boston at take a look at the Elizabeth Warren contretemps.

The quota system is beginning to unravel. In the Warren affair, the quota system is unmasked.

It's a system of corruption and influence peddling. It's also a giant, untouchable slush fund.

William L. Anderson said...

That one sucked the air out of me. In other words, because she made false accusations against someone, McClain is to be praised for it because she teaches political science?

Furthermore, how did her false accusations fall into the category of "scholarship"? What she did was the antithesis of scholarship, but I guess that Duke University is rewriting those rules, too.

Tim said...

Howell said. “She’s a political scientist and that’s what they do, they take a stance,” Howell said. “You’re not always on the right side of history, but as a scholar you have to have a voice.”

If that is the case then should Duke keep its non-profit status?

Lois Turner said...

Apologies for going off topic, but here are some interesting links to another case involving false allegations of rape against a young athlete.,0,3372200.story,0,2765187.story,0,3867917.story

If Nifong, the 88 et al. had had their way, Reid, Colin and Dave could easily have suffered the same fate -- years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration.

Chris Halkides said...

Lois Turner,

The case of Brian Banks has made me rethink what is the proper punishment for knowingly making a false accusation. The false accuser made one step in the right direction but fell far short of seeing it through.

Chris Halkides said...


From a DiW entry about McClain: "When asked about Paul Haagen’s proposal to pair individual professors with athletic teams, to give the faculty a better sense of athletic life for Duke students, she told the N&O that “people are just aghast that it’s being considered.” To reiterate, McClain and her supporters were aghast not that the common-sense idea was adopted, but that an idea she didn’t like was considered. Was this a preview of the type of open-minded leadership that she’ll provide over the next two years?"

Her position bothers me. There are undoubtedly compromises that go along with being a student-athlete, and one would hope that if a faculty member were paired with a team, the information would flow in two directions. The faculty member would get a better sense for the difficulties faced by the students, and the students might get some idea of how to minimize the possible negative impact that their participation would have on their scholastic achievement. The link the original story seems to be dead, but I would like to know more of McClain's reasons for being opposed, if any were given.

Anonymous said...

Is McClain a Communist?

Anonymous said...

Lois Turner, that is a very disturbing story.

Duke's depravity in the LAX scandal continues to astonish.

In both cases, appropriate consequences for wrongdoing seem like a very good idea. It has been incredibly demoralizing to watch Duke retain Dick Brodhead and promote the 88. The Big Lie continues.


Anonymous said...

The complaint against Cline took about 8 months to materialize. How long before Durham's other "quasi" attorney Sidney Harr is facing the Bar Association?


Paula McClain has landed in the one position at which she is least equipped. No, that's not completely right. I think she's found the one position in which her particular "attributes" are likely to cause the most damage.


Vincent Edward Clark has a comment in the Neff article about the "myth of Nifong withholding evidence." (It reminds me of Mitt Romney's attempts to revise the history of George Bush's economic policies vis-a-vis The Great Recession.). In any event, here's my reply:

Vincent Edward Clark,

Nifong withheld evidence, and you know it. Nifong's expert witness, Brian Meehan, withheld evidence, and you know it. You know that Brian Meehan, the dna expert witness for Nifong and the state, failed to disclose that Crystal Mangum -- your client -- had dna from multiple males in or around her genitals.

When you take the excluded information (Mangum had the dna of multiple males in and around her genitalia) with the evidence we knew about (none of the dna from the 46 tested lacrosse players matched the dna found in and around Mangum's genitalia), you can see why that withheld evidence was so important. Remember, Mangum claimed that the lacrosse players didn't use condoms.

Meehan, who wrote the misleading report, acknowledged that the decision violated the lab's policies. He claimed to have decided to withhold the exculpatory DNA evidence after discussing it with Nifong in an attempt to not drag anyone else through the mud. That was the most ridiculous excuse one could give for attempting to railroad innocent students. Moreover, none of the male dna found in and around Mangum's genitals were linked to any specific "John" so nobody would've been "dragged through the mud." I guess Brian Meehan had to come up with the first laughable excuse that came to his mind when he was exposed on the witness stand. Shortly thereafter, Meehan was fired by the new owner of his company, DNA Security, in October 2007

As for you, Mr. Clark, I would hope that in the future you will disclose your financial and fiduciary entanglements with Crystal Mangum up front, as some people might not be aware of those. Thank you. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

Vincent Clark:

"You could have pick from hundreds of cases in just about every JUDAICAL(emphasis added) district in NC to fight over.

Read more here:

Is Mr. Clark accusing North Carolina's Jewish population of condemning Crystal:-) ?

I wouldn't put anything past a NI(nny)FONG supporter.

Anonymous said...

(Could her attorney argue that the office was in such disrepute that nothing Cline could have done could have brought it into further disrepute?)

Loving it !!!

Anonymous said...

I am curious,

What are the probable repercussions if Cline is disbarred for actions that only got her a reprimand from a sitting judge?

Is the judge at risk? Should he be?

Anonymous said...

Chris Halkides - at the old Duke, the Duke of Terry Sanford and Ken Pye where the welfare of students was deemed important, many professors had close relationships with athletic teams, albeit informal. I was a scholarship athlete at Duke then, and my professor challenged me to work harder academically, insisting I join an honors program, participate fully, and obtain, if possible, high honors on the thesis and in the course. He clearly appreciated the rigors of Division 1 athletics and indeed expressed that having an athlete and their competitive way of looking at the world was precisely the kind of diversity he thought would be helpful to the program. I can ascribe virtually every success I experienced later in life to him. This kind of experience should be the norm; after all, if it is not, what precisely are parents paying over 50k for?

Anonymous said...

@ 1:22

She was first warned by a judge, actually by several judges.

After several warnings, a judge removed her from an elected office, which is a whole lot more than a reprimand.

If I remember correctly that same judge stated that certain things were outside his purview under the relevant statute and either stated or implied that the proper forum for those other things was the Bar.

What is going to count against Cline with the Bar is that she kept on doing these things despite the warnings. No one is going to say that it is inappropriate for a judge to issue a warning or even a reprimand without going further.


Anonymous said...

To the 1:22 PM, who asked about potential judicial misconduct if the state bar ousts Cline even though the judge only gave her a slap on the wrist:

If North Carolina is anything like the other states in which I have practiced, a judge has the mandatory duty to report unethical behavior by an attorney to the state bar. If the judge didn't report Cline to the bar, he should face discipline himself. I can't think of any other avenue to hold the judge legally or ethically liable. Morally, he's an ass, but we knew that. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

Maybe, after Tracey Cline is disbarred, HLN will hire her to co host with Nancy Grace :-)

Chris Halkides said...

Anonymous at 3:00,

Thank you; this is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind. Although I cannot answer your question about Duke, I suspect that such experiences happen at many colleges and universities. Although I was not a student-athlete, I am certain that I benefitted greatly from the mentoring I received, both as an undergraduate and as a graduate student.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that people take as fact any of the DNA evidence at all since the duke nurse has been proven to have lied about the evidence to begin with.

The fact that there was supposedly no evidence of an assault - like the broom - was it ever found is sad given the amount of publicity it garnered.

So, truly, watching this case, there is no way to tell if there was a rape or not - so why all the false rape accusation bashing - it somehow seems like there is the nod by society that all rape is fine and dandy - and true victims are left to be traumatized further by the band wagon jump on rape victims in general. How many rapes have occurred and people been traumatized and had their lives ruined unabated because of the atrocities of this case that continue to this day??? That is the most hurtful question if you are truly aware of the harm done to all in every society by this case.

Duke and DurhamDuke are evil and continue to be so with impunity. Nothing changes - the corruption just digs in deeper.