Parallel NC Voter ID Trial Underway


Wake Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan presiding.

Jan 30, 2015 (RALEIGH) There’s another lawsuit against the State of NC over voter ID that hasn’t gotten all that much publicity until today. The case (called Curry et al vs State of NC et al) questions the constitutionality of NC’s photo voter ID law on the basis that it’s unconstitutional (under Art VI Sec 1 of the NC Constitution) to restrict the right to vote when we require voters to obtain the unobtainable (but free) voter ID card (with a free birth certificate, too). The state says Sec 3 allows the legislature to “enact general laws governing the registration of voters.”

The first decision Judge Michael R. Morgan made, involved the meaning of the word, “conflict.” This is because both the federal trial (to be heard in Winston Salem) and the state trial (to be heard in Raleigh) are scheduled to begin during the same week in July 2015. So, North Carolina’s trial of the century is may begin on July 6, 2015 and the state trial is scheduled to begin later that same week.

Anita Earls argued for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, who wanted the court to scoff at the state’s claim that it would be very difficult to provide their best defense if the two trials proceed at the same time (in two different cities). The tactic makes the SCSJ look bad as it forces the state to engage in lawfare on two fronts at the same time. While attorneys are sworn to put up a good fight for their client, hamstringing the horses of the opponent isn’t exactly fair game.

Clausewitz wrote, “politics is war by other means,” and Ms. Earls certainly validated that observation with her scorched earth tactics that leave the state’s defense team at a definite disadvantage.

Special Counsel to the NCBOE has a chat with NAACP leader, Rev William Barber. The NAACP petitioned the court to support the states position on moving the trials start date from early July to early August, 2015.

Brian LiVecchi, Special Counsel to the NCBOE chats with NAACP leader, Rev William Barber. The The two groups were allied in support of moving the state trials start date from early July to early August, 2015.

Irony of ironies came when one of the first attorneys to address the scheduling train wreck was NOT a party to the suit, but only a “friend of the court” with an amicus brief. It was Adam Stein, representing the NAACP, who was actually AGREEING with the State of NC legal team in this matter! ICYMI, the NAACP is one of the state’s opponent in the federal trial. So, Rev Barber’s group joined with his enemies in their other trial to beg Judge Morgan to shift the start date back by about a month.

Ms Earls disagreed, saying it will all be worked out in the pre-trial conference for the federal case that will be held in June. That meeting, she reasoned, will be where the other judge will agree to move the start date of his petty little federal trial. The federal case was filed earlier than the state case, but the rules of the court give deference to the states in matters of conflicting trials covering the same general issue. In other words, she had a point.

The problem for the state involves which trial to focus on first. They won’t know until June whether the federal or state trial will come first and then will have just a few weeks to finish prep for whichever one comes first.

Judge Morgan retired to chamber and conducted more research before ruling for the League and against the state and the NAACP.

When I caught up with one of the attorneys defending the state, I asked him why the other side was so determined to get this case heard so soon.

He chuckled, “Because they have 40 attorneys and we have four.”

The opponents of voter ID won this skirmish and then the court moved on to the motion by the state to dismiss the entire case. Their arguments (which were still going on when this post was published, can be watched here.