Friday, June 29, 2007

Hudson Allows "one final insult to the citizens of Durham County"

Citing his superior understanding of the law and concern for legal issues, Durham County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson continued yesterday's hearing on the removal of Mike Nifong from the office of Durham County District Attorney until Monday in order to allow the disgraced DA the opportunity to resign from office after the end of the State's fiscal year.

“What justice requires is that the legal process be correctly followed…There is some question as to what kind of service is required to be had …by Mr. Nifong for this particular hearing. That is one of the concerns of the court…I understand the concern of the people…And that may be [one final insult to the citizens of Durham County]. But, I can’t make decisions based on what the people of Durham County think of Mr. Nifong. I have to make it based on what I perceive there being a legal issue. There’s a legal issue. I’ve reviewed this. I understand what Mr. Zaytoun is talking about… I understand that there is an issue that can be resolved and that’s going to be resolved either way. I’m perfectly satisfied that I can proceed as Mr. Zaytoun has said. But I need to head off things that will be a tremendous problem for me in the legal system and the public is not going to understand that. I don’t expect everybody in the public to be a lawyer and to understand the legal issues. That’s what I’m supposed to know. That’s what I’m supposed to do.” WRAL Hearing Video

Ironically, the complex legal issues extending beyond the comprehension of mere Durham citizens that Judge Hudson refers to were raised by his own apparent failure to allow Mr. Nifong sufficient notice of yesterday's hearing.

On Monday, a deputy sheriff tried to serve notice of the hearing at Nifong's house, but he wasn't there. His wife, Cy Gurney, wouldn't accept the paperwork, Hudson said. So the deputy posted the notice on Nifong's door.

Some legal observers suggested Wednesday that leaving the notice on a door was insufficient, since the law requires serving Nifong in person. The same observers said the notices must be delivered at least 10 days before a scheduled hearing. Nifong's was left at his house three days in advance.

"He clearly did not get the required statutory notice," said veteran Durham lawyer Tom Loflin. "Even if sticking it on his door was adequate, which I highly doubt, the length of notice was not sufficient. The hearing will be a nullity. Should Nifong appeal, whatever happens is subject to reversal." Herald-Sun

Judge Hudson's newfound appreciation of proper service appears to be a reversal from the astute legal understanding he expressed earlier this week.

In further fallout from the Duke lacrosse sex-offense case, former District Attorney Mike Nifong will undergo a civil removal hearing on Thursday unless he accelerates his projected resignation date of July 13, Durham's top judge said Monday.

Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson said a deputy sheriff attempted to serve the hearing notice at Nifong's November Drive home Monday evening, but Nifong's wife -- Cy Gurney -- would not accept it.

The deputy then posted the notice on Nifong's door, according to Hudson.

"That's proper service as far as I'm concerned," the judge added. Herald-Sun

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