Former Durham, N.C., district attorney Tracey Cline sued the Raleigh News & Observer claiming the newspaper's “Twisted Truth: A Prosecutor Under Attack” investigative series in 2011 twisted the truth about her. Cline contends the newspaper libeled her, causing physical harm, emotional trauma, loss of privacy, loss of reputation and standing in the community.
The former prosecutor was ousted from office in March after an unusual proceeding in which a judge found she made statements with malice and reckless disregard for the truth against Orlando Hudson, Durham's chief superior court judge. Cline's stridently worded comments in court documents came after the N&O published a series of articles that highlighted prosecutions by her that were under scrutiny in various levels of the courts. John Drescher, the paper’s executive editor, said, “We stand by the series and all the follow-up coverage involving Tracey Cline.” He described the coverage as “a public service,” not defamatory, pointing out that it won a national award for fairness in reporting.”