District Attorney Greg Newman has been issued a three-year stayed suspension by the North Carolina State Bar following a decision earlier this month by a disciplinary committee regarding a failure to notify the victim of court proceedings in a 2015 rape case.
A three-person panel chaired by Elizabeth City attorney Don Prentiss unanimously decided to issue the three-year stayed suspension, with still allows Newman to practice law as long as he follows certain conditions.
The state bar’s complaint filed before its disciplinary hearing committee in July 2019, says Newman failed to notify the victim of a court proceeding in a 2015 rape case, even though he told a judge that the victim was notified and did not want to be heard.
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Newman, who serves as district attorney for Henderson, Polk and Transylvania Counties, said that the complaint was filed two years after the case and said the decision was somewhat vindicating.
“I think the panel really doesn’t believe I lied to the court,” Newman said. “(That’s) why I got to leave Raleigh with my law license intact and still get to do my job.”
He said he doesn’t know if the state bar had an agenda in fling the case, but said he cooperated with everything they asked him to provide.
“If that panel really believed for a minute that I was lying to anyone, I wouldn’t be allowed to practice law,” Newman said.
Prentiss, in the livestreamed hearing, said it was a difficult case and that an active suspension was definitely considered.
“We did not believe that this was a case of disbarment,” Prentiss said. “We did debate long and hard whether an active suspension should be considered, and we came to the conclusion that under the circumstances of this case, that an active suspension would not be appropriate.”
Newman called it a strange experience and the timing of the filing suspicious as he was contemplating running for reelection.
“I don’t know if that has anything to do with it,” he said, “I’m just glad it’s over with and that I was able to survive as well as I did.”
In discussing the panel’s decision, Prentiss said it appeared the focus was on making sure that James Sapp, the defendant in the rape case, got justice, and not that the victim in the case got justice.
“I had to stand up for my office and myself and I think I ended up doing better in Raleigh than the state bar thought I was going to do,” Newman said. “But at any rate, I stood my ground, I explained exactly what I did, why I did it, and I would handle it the same way again.”
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: District Attorney Greg Newman issued stayed suspension over 2015 rape case