Indicted attorney hires lawyer

The Catawba County attorney charged with extortion and obstruction of justice has hired a lawyer and will next appear in court on Jan. 3.

Shawn Clark, an ex-district 25 attorney candidate and lawyer based in Hickory, is accused of issuing threats and false affidavits to cover up an alleged sexual relationship with a former client, Tiffany Turnmire, in 2009.

Clark was scheduled to be in court on Friday, but didn’t have to appear after hiring attorney David Freedman to handle his case.

Freedman, an attorney based in Winston-Salem, specializes in federal, state criminal and personal injury law. He is a N.C. Bar Association board-certified specialist in state and federal criminal law and is a frequent lecturer for the bar’s continuing legal education programs.

Freedman also represented former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong during the highly publicized Duke Lacrosse scandal in 2007.

The accusations against Clark surround a series of back-and-forth court battles between Clark, Turnmire and Turnmire's husband, Tim, a few months prior to Clark’s May 2010 district 25 attorney primary race against incumbent Jay Gaither. Clark went on to lose the primary by less than 250 votes.

Senior Deputy Attorney General James J. Coman filed the indictments charging Clark. The indictments — which follow a long-term investigation by the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation — accuse Clark of threatening Turnmire and his former secretary, Terri Edwards, to lie about the alleged sexual relationship in court. Clark is also accused of drafting a false affidavit used to “defraud the court” and defeat lawsuits brought about by Tim Turnmire after he learned about the affair.

Tim Turnmire sued Clark for alienation of affection in January 2010 — shortly after Clark announced his intention to run for election — claiming Clark maintained an affair with his wife and paid to fly her to visit him in Las Vegas.

Clark filed a countersuit against Tiffany Turnmire for libel, slander and intentional inflection of emotional distress.

At the time, Clark told The O-N-E that he was trying to rescue Turnmire from a violent situation when he flew her to Las Vegas for a weekend.

Now, Clark says the allegations never happened and calls the indictments a “warning shot” to anyone wanting to run for district attorney in the future.