D.A. blames error for questionable court motions

December 14, 2011 3:39:51 PM PST
Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline apologized to a judge Wednesday and said she never intended to mislead him.

Superior Court Judge James Hardin held a hearing to look into allegations that Cline submitted motions that contained false statements so she could get confidential information on three state inmates.

The attorneys for Keith Kidwell, Angel Richardson, and David Yearwood told ABC11 that they were concerned about "discrepancies" in motions Cline has written seeking information about who visited the men in prison.

Why Cline wanted the information wasn't clear, but the men have filed appeals that target Cline's prosecution methods.

At Wednesday's hearing, Hardin rescinded his order approving Cline’s request for information in the Yearwood, Richardson and Kidwell cases.

Cline said her request was a "paperwork error," and that she never intended to seek prison visitation and attorney financial records in the Kidwell and Richardson cases.

She said her focus was on the Yearwood case because of a "mysteriously" sealed court document that was eluded to in a News & Observer newspaper article alleging she withheld evidence in a related case.

At one point, Judge Hardin scolded the defense attorney for David Yearwood after she commented that the D.A. tried to obtain the records to settle a score with the News & Observer.

Yearwood’s attorney asked the judge to remove the D.A. from handling Yearwood’s case. He denied that request.

Cline said she has not received any of the records that were requested.

Richardson's attorney Ann Petersen raised concerns about prison records in his case that were sent to Judge Hardin, according to Scotland County authorities. Those records are unaccounted for.

Petersen also asked why Cline failed to notify the defense attorneys in the case when she submitted the records requests.

Cline said was an oversight.

Attorney David Neal, who represents Keith Kidwell, questioned Cline’s rationale for requesting records related to his client’s visitors in prison. Cline said she was unaware of the prison records.

Cline says she doesn’t have any of the records requested in the questionable motions.

Hardin said he would personally see to the destruction of any outstanding records related to the D.A.’s paperwork error. He’s also ordered Cline to search her office for any outstanding records.

The hearing was just the latest problem for Cline - who's been in a very public squabble with another judge.

Cline has publically accused Judge Orlando Hudson of malicious conduct against her in cases.

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