Lawyer Mumma defends actions in NC hearing

Chris Mumma, director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A lawyer known for defending and helping to free the wrongly accused took the stand in her own defense Wednesday.Christine Mumma is going before the North Carolina State Bar this week, accused of violated the rules of professional conduct. Mumma faces punishment ranging from a reprimand to disbarment.

Christine Mumma is going before the North Carolina State Bar this week, accused of violated the rules of professional conduct. Mumma faces punishment ranging from a reprimand to disbarment.

A three-person panel, including two attorneys and a private citizen, will rule on this case.

Mumma, the director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is accused of taking a water bottle from the home of a family member of another suspect in the Joseph Sledge case without that woman’s consent and testing it for DNA.

Sledge served almost 40 years in prison before being exonerated a year ago.

“The district attorney was stressing the importance of identifying the true perpetrator,” Mumma said.“We literally had 200 potential alternate suspects.  So I was trying to focus the investigation.”

“We literally had 200 potential alternate suspects.  So I was trying to focus the investigation.”Attorney Lane Williamson defended Mumma, saying, “It does not rise to an ethical violation.”

Attorney Lane Williamson defended Mumma, saying, “It does not rise to an ethical violation.”Attorneys who testified cited other cases, including the Kathy Taft murder case.

Attorneys who testified cited other cases, including the Kathy Taft murder case.The state school board member was raped and beaten to death in a Raleigh home in 2010. Jason Williford was later convicted of the crime.

The state school board member was raped and beaten to death in a Raleigh home in 2010. Jason Williford was later convicted of the crime.Police charged him after testing his discarded cigarette butt for DNA.

Police charged him after testing his discarded cigarette butt for DNA.

Jerry Parnell, a former N.C. State bar president, said, “Ms. Mumma, understanding DNA far better than I would, made a reasonable conclusion.”Also supporting Mumma on Wednesday were other men she has helped exonerate, including Sledge.

Also supporting Mumma on Wednesday were other men she has helped exonerate, including Sledge.
One was Dwayne Dail, who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit.“Chris Mumma saved my life,” said Dail. “I lived in torment.  My family lived in torment.”

“Chris Mumma saved my life,” said Dail. “I lived in torment.  My family lived in torment.”Also at the hearing was Greg Taylor of Raleigh, who spent nearly 17 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Also at the hearing was Greg Taylor of Raleigh, who spent nearly 17 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

“If she is not allowed to continue her work, then the world is going to be a worse place,” Taylor said.

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