Durham County District Attorney Watch: Leon Stanback Will Not Seek a Term

Durham County District Attorney announced last week that he will not seek election as the county’s chief prosecutor for a full term. Stanback, a former Superior Court judge, had been appointed by Governor Bev Perdue to replace Tracey Cline, the former elected Durham County DA who was removed from office in 2012 for misconduct after accusing Durham County’s Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson of misconduct and corruption.

(Cline was the second of two elected Durham County DAs to be removed: the first was Mike Nifong, who was ultimately removed and disbarred over the Duke Lacrosse Scandal.)

Stanback was not expected to run as District Attorney, but was rather seen as someone who could bring stability and credibility back to the office.

Roger Echols, who currently serves as Stanback’s right hand man in the role of Chief Assistant Prosecutor, has been endorsed by Judge Stanback: Stanback supports Echols “100 percent,” he told the Herald Sun.

Echols attended Orange County public schools and graduated from Orange High School in 1991. He earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, but attended UNC for his undergraduate degree. He is a recent transplant to Durham, having just moved to the county last year.

Former Durham prosecutor Mitchell Garrell also plans to run for the Durham District Attorney Office. Garrell was dismissed by Tracey Cline in 2010 without saying why, but it’s safe to say that if you’ve been dismissed by Tracey Cline, that’s actually a vote of confidence of some sort.

The News and Observer reported that Garrell’s dismissal was apparent retribution for Garrell having turned over files that appeared to show that Tracey Cline had contradicted herself in a case involving a Durham man accused of murdering and sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter.

Prior to his departure from the Durham DA’s office, Garrell had served for 15 years as a Durham County Assistant District Attorney, and by the end of his career there was one of two prosecutors assigned to handle the county’s highest profile cases.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.