Van Camp Firm Defends Embattled Durham DA
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline picked a Pinehurst law firm to represent her in her fight to keep her job.
James R. Van Camp, Patrick Mincey and Bill Van O'Linda, from Van Camp's firm, will go to court today in the latest hearing to determine whether Cline will keep her position or be removed from office.
They are expected to start putting on Cline's defense against accusations that her comments about Durham's top judge have undermined the justice system. Robert Hobgood, a judge in Franklin County, suspended Cline with pay pending the hearing's outcome.
On Monday, Van Camp objected to opinions by Staples Hughes, director of the state Appellate Defender Office, describing them as like "a witch hunt." That was during presentation of the case against Cline by attorney Kerry Sutton, who accused Cline of bringing her office and the whole Durham County justice system into disrepute.
The fight stems from Cline's battle with Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson after he dismissed a number of high-profile cases.
Cline has accused Hudson of corruption, raising claims of misconduct over the past three months. She says Durham's senior judge is biased against her, and she wants him removed from all criminal cases.
Gov. Beverly Perdue named retired Superior Court Judge A. Leon Stanback Jr. as Cline's interim replacement as Durham district attorney.
Cline filed motions last fall seeking to have Hudson removed from cases, describing him as having "the reprobate mind of a monarch" and accusing the judge of "moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption." She said his actions on the bench "kidnapped the rights of victims and their families," according to reports.
Reached by telephone, Van Camp refused to discuss this or any other of his cases out of court.
The issue isn't so much whether Cline is right, but whether her statements have "undermined public perception of the justice system" in Durham County. Undermin-ing confidence in the D.A.'s office makes it harder to get convictions, a jury consultant testified Monday.
Hughes told the court he no longer trusted Cline's judgment in prosecuting cases, describing her as completely out of control.
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