Readers of my blog and viewers of my flog know that I am no fan of suspended Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline. As the county’s head prosecutor, I believe that she should have stepped in and dismissed her Assistant D. A. Angela Garcia-Lamarca’s 2010 vendetta prosecution of Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser. Likewise, I feel she should have moved to force prosecutor Kelly Gauger to drop the murder and larceny charges against Ms. Mangum related to the April 13, 2011 death of Reginald Daye. Despite the fact that D.A. Cline is a friend of former Durham D.A. Mike Nifong and has treated him with civility and respect, I am nonetheless not an ardent backer of her.
You may then query, why do I advocate for her to be reinstated as Durham district attorney? The answer is surprisingly simple and devoid of political prejudices. Tracey Cline should be reinstated as the district attorney because she was overwhelmingly elected to that position by the people of Durham County. In other words, the people had spoken… people who Ms. Cline represented. Her job, and that of any other elected official, be it municipal, county, or state, should not be threatened because of a single individual’s discontent.
Durham defense attorney Kerry Sutton is certainly not an objective bystander when it comes to D.A. Cline. Attorney Sutton had sparred with Cline numerous times within the confines of the courtrooms housed in the Bull City’s justice building. The News & Observer even intimated that Ms. Sutton may have political aspirations and be considering a run for the state senate. Wherever the truth lies, her motives for launching the attack against Ms. Cline can be brought into question.
I am also bothered by the fact that a “little known law” that is on the books and one that is rarely used is the basis for the removal of Ms. Cline from elected office. Not only that, but the law is ambiguous, vague, and subject to a wide range of interpretation. Yes, I am concerned that a “little known law” is being used in an attempt to oust from office the county’s highest ranking prosecutor.
Ms. Sutton seems to be especially offended by the language Tracey Cline used in going after Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. She refers to it as “venom.” However, Cline supporters may construe this same language as a yardstick to measure her passion for vigorously prosecuting those charged with crimes. Her supporters may attribute her defiant and unyielding stance against Judge Hudson to be an indication of her dedication and determination in the conviction of her beliefs.
In a way, and to an extent, I can appreciate Ms. Cline’s actions in going against the superior court judge… although I would never advise it. I agree that, as human beings, judges make mistakes and that none are infallible. For example, in my civil rights discrimination lawsuit against Duke University, Magistrate Judge P. Trevor Sharp, in a Recommendation, misstated facts about the case; inaccurate and prejudicial “facts” which he attributed to me. He stated that I represented that “after an interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer concluded, I began passing out my business cards.” This was totally incorrect, false and misleading. Specifically, in my Complaint, I mentioned that “while waiting for the interview to begin I passed out a few cards to some individuals I had engaged in conversation.” Kerry Sutton and others may consider my use of the accusatory term that he “lied” to be venom. I would say that it is possibly a “politically incorrect” term… but it is nevertheless the truth. Should I have used a less inflammatory term to describe the magistrate judge’s misstatements? Possibly. But like Ms. Cline, I am extremely passionate about the anti-Nifong discrimination to which I was subjected by Duke University and I do not feel that I should be sanctioned because of it.
The fact that Judge Robert Hobgood, who is charged with overseeing Sutton’s complaint against Cline, decided to immediately suspend Ms. Cline as Durham district attorney does not bode well for her. Doing so automatically prejudices the case against her by implying that the action taken was a safeguard to prevent Ms. Cline from pursuing a course that would result in an imminent threat or peril. Without an explanation from Judge Hobgood about his decision for immediate suspension, it is not unreasonable to believe that he caved to The News & Observer-led media vendetta against Ms. Cline.
It has been evident for months that the Triangle area newspaper had Tracy Cline in its crosshairs… just like it did her predecessor, Mike Nifong. The three part series by the N & O, titled “Twisted Truth” was a pathetic bid to stir the public into an anti-Cline frenzy, just like it had successfully accomplished against Mr. Nifong. In its rare exception to the PAPEN (Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong) policy, the newspaper was at the vanguard of the media offensive against Cline. It highlighted a few instances in which it alleged the prosecutor had withheld evidence and misled the court… dramatizing them as if they were singular events throughout the state’s history of juris prudence. Had the media been conscientiously objective, then it would have produced three-part series about the following legal luminaries: Wilson prosecutor Bill Wolfe for his mishandling of the case against James Arthur Johnson; Wake County prosecutor Tom Ford and his misconduct in Gregory Taylor and Carletta Alston cases; prosecutor David Hoke’s withheld exculpatory evidence in the Alan Gell case, and many others. Note, that although The News & Observer did extensively cover the Alan Gell case and its associated prosecutorial misconduct, it went out of its way to shield the prosecutors and take the focus away from their misdeeds.
Without doubt the media’s attacks against Tracey Cline are rooted in the Duke Lacrosse case and are a part of the seemingly endless and ubiquitous vindictive web cast by the Carpetbagger Jihadists in an attempt to ensnare those considered by the Powers-That-Be to be on the wrong end of that case. For example, the discrimination against me by Duke University had its origins from that case, as well. That the repetitive onslaught to remove Ms. Cline as Durham district attorney is vindictive and politically motivated is clearly evident.
Do I agree with Ms. Cline’s repeated attacks against Judge Hudson? No.
Do I believe her disparaging confrontations against the judge are productive? No.
Do I agree with the way her assistant prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca handled the 2010 case against Crystal Mangum? No.
Do I agree with the ongoing prosecution of Mangum by her assistant Kelly Gauger? No.
The most important question is, however, do I think Tracey Cline should be removed from office because of my disagreements with the way she has conducted herself as Durham district attorney? No. Because the people of Durham elected her to the office of Durham district attorney, the people should be the ones to remove her, if so inclined… not a single individual who may or may not have an ax to grind against Ms. Cline.
I submit that instead of using a “little known law” that is rarely used to remove Tracey Cline as Durham district attorney, Kerry Sutton should have taken the more appropriate and responsible track of initiating and circulating a recall petition amongst the Durham County electorate… allowing the people to determine the destiny of their elected officials instead of a single person.