Lawyer surrenders to authorities

James Crouch
June 27, 2012 3:33:23 PM PDT
Criminal defense attorney James Crouch signed a $50,000 bond and was released Wednesday pending his trial on accusations he conspired to alter records in DWI cases.

Crouch faces felony charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and altering documents.

Crouch arrived at the Public Safety Center in downtown Raleigh where he was greeting by about a half dozen colleagues who said they were there to wish him well. Crouch's attorney Joe Cheshire told reporters his client did not do anything criminal, or anything others have not done.

"What he has been charged with is conduct that has been consented to by district attorneys, passed on by judges. It's not conduct that is illegal. It is conduct that goes on in the courthouse on a frequent basis. And it has been criminalized when it shouldn't have been criminalized," offered Cheshire.

Former Wake County District Court Judge Kristin Ruth faces a misdemeanor charge of willfully neglecting to discharge the duties of her office in the case, while one of Crouch's legal assistants also faces felonies.

Click here to read the indictments (.pdf)

Ruth resigned last month amid a SBI probe into how the cases were handled. The investigation began in February when Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby sent a letter to the senior resident Superior Court judge in Wake County - Judge Donald Stephens - saying his office had uncovered a pattern of potentially "unauthorized and illegal judgments" entered in DWI cases where Ruth was not the original judge on the cases.

In a statement Ruth said she signed numerous orders for Crouch "that should not have been signed."

While Willoughby's letter mentioned at least 12 cases, the indictments handed down Tuesday listed more than three dozen.

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