Local/State

Durham DA wants judge off Peterson case

Friday, November 25, 2011

The squabble between the Durham County district attorney and a local judge could impact the Michael Peterson case.

On Wednesday, DA Tracey Cline filed a motion asking Superior Court judge Orlando Hudson to disqualify himself from the Peterson case.

The 285-page motion upped the ante on a highly public spat. Cline accuses Judge Hudson of malicious conduct.

"Exemplified by an arrogant appropriation of the legal rights of others," she wrote. "Such abuse of power, without legal consciousness of right and wrong, having a total and reckless disregard of the law, and a reprobate mind of a monarch, aims to destroy and will destroy, the heart of our justice system if left unchecked."

The accusations follow Cline's previous call for Hudson to step down, where she said in part, "Victims of decade old crimes are being emotionally and relentlessly repeatedly raped by this court's rulings."

Legal experts have said it is a harsh take and likely unprecedented.

"There probably a lot of lawyers who had thoughts like this about judges, but I've never seen one actually put it in a pleading and filing it," Duke Law Professor James Coleman said.

The war between Cline and Judge Hudson began with the Derrick Allen case, where a man was charged with killing a toddler.

Last year, Cline accused Hudson of retaliating against her for refusing to dismiss it and now the Peterson case.

Peterson, who is convicted of killing his wife 10 years ago, is seeking a new trial based on SBI crime lab mistakes.

Hudson is slated to preside over his hearing.

In response to Cline's filing, Peterson's attorney said, "None of the allegations have any relevance to whether the court should disqualify itself from hearing the motion."

Peterson's hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5.

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