- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - An attorney who represented the first person in North Carolina released from prison after a being found innocent by a special judicial panel now faces charges from the group that regulates lawyers.

The North Carolina State Bar filed a complaint earlier this week against Chris Mumma of Durham, accusing her of violating rules of professional conduct in an innocence case involving Joseph Sledge, 70, who was imprisoned for almost 40 years for a double murder. Sledge was released from prison in January after the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission referred his case to a three-judge panel that found him innocent.

The complaint says that Mumma, director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence, violated rules as she pursued DNA testing on a water bottle that had been in the home of family members of men who she thought might be guilty of the murders of Josephine and Aileen Davis, a mother and daughter from Bladen County who were stabbed to death in 1976.

Sledge, who was convicted of those murders in 1978, contacted Mumma in 2005. She agreed to investigate his case and also shared his request with the Innocence Inquiry Commission, which investigates the innocence claims of convicted people.

The complaint says that during a visit to the home of family members of possible suspects, Mumma left with a water bottle that didn’t belong to her. When she realized this, she didn’t return the bottle to the family, who declined the next day to provide DNA samples of her relatives.

She submitted the bottle for DNA testing anyway, the complaint says. In November 2013, she learned the DNA didn’t match evidence from the Davis crime scene.

Mumma then called the family member back and asked if anyone else had been in the home during their earlier interview. She again requested DNA samples, which the relative again refused to provide, the complaint says.

“Mumma never mentioned to (the relative) that she had already obtained a DNA sample that may have been … family DNA that was tested which did not match DNA from Davis crime scene evidence,” the complaint says.

Her attorneys, Alan Schneider and Brad Bannon of Raleigh, issued a statement: “We are proud of Chris Mumma’s contributions to our state’s criminal justice system and honored to represent her in this matter. We look forward to working with the State Bar to resolve it on her behalf.”

A State Bar hearing is scheduled for Aug. 7.

Mumma also represented Greg Taylor, who was found innocent of murder at a groundbreaking hearing in 2010 after the innocence commission referred his case to a three-judge judicial panel.


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