Read all about Judge Kristen Ruth and attorney James Crouch.
Raleigh, N.C. — The State Bureau of Investigation
is looking into how a Wake County District Court judge handled 12 driving while
impaired cases, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said Monday.
Stephens asked the SBI to investigate Judge Kristin Ruth earlier this month,
according to an exchange of letters obtained by WRAL News between Stephens and
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby.
Willoughby wrote to Stephens on Feb. 15 about what he called "unauthorized
scheduling" and "unusual judgments" in impaired driving cases. Willoughby wrote
that, in all 12 cases in question, Ruth had entered an ex parte order that
changed the judgment dates, effectively shortening or eliminating the driver's
license suspensions for defendants.
In each case, the defense attorney on record was James Crouch, who Willoughby accused of
misconduct in court documents filed last month.
In addition, Willoughby wrote, Ruth gave limited driving privileges in three
cases in which the defendants were not eligible. Those cases were also tied to
Stephens responded in a Feb. 20 letter that he planned to request a review by
an outside agency after determining that, while "there may be a totally innocent
explanation for this conduct ... I can think of none."
"If these orders were knowingly entered," he wrote, "they could constitute
evidence of misconduct, including an attempt to obstruct criminal justice."
Ruth said Monday that she had retained two attorneys, who advised her not to
comment. One of those attorneys, Rick Gammon, declined to comment as well.
Stephens has requested that she not be assigned to any criminal cases while
the investigation is ongoing.
Crouch has not been disciplined by the North Carolina State Bar, but
Willoughby filed a motion for appropriate relief Jan. 29 against him in the case
of 16-year-old Henry Horne.
Horne, who was arrested Dec. 10, was given a court date of Feb. 13, but
Crouch showed up in court on Jan. 20 and told Judge Keith Gregory and Assistant
District Attorney April Flythe that her supervisor agreed to put the case on the
court calendar for that day, the motion states.
In North Carolina, only prosecutors have the authority to set trial dates.
Flythe's supervisor, Assistant District Attorney Steven Saad, never authorized
the Jan. 20 court date, Willoughby said in the motion
What we're all about...
Wake County District Court Judge Anna E. Worley, elected in 2008 and up for re-election in 2012, has been a controversial figure in Wake County family courtrooms. Parents' stories range from curious to downright shocking. As a custodial parent required to endure Worley's apparent lack of wisdom and seemingly arbitrary decisions, I am fighting back against a system whose very slowness and apathy has caused great suffering for my children. After nearly 3 years in Judge Worley's "family" court room, I have emerged with sole legal and primary physical custody of my three children. As thankful as I am for my own personal custody hell to be over, the years spent in Judge Worley's courtroom, the months spent awaiting orders rendered to be entered, the letters written to staff and the Chief Justice to force entry of a final order were nothing short of excruciating for my three children and myself. I will work tirelessly to ensure that I make the public aware of Worley's philosophy, rulings, and courtroom demeanor. Citizens must vote from a position of knowledge rather than ignorance.