BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County judge was on the other side of the bench this morning. It all stems from a Facebook message about a campaign endorsement.
More than a year ago Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis filed a defamation suit against media strategist Edward Lee Rapp after Rapp claimed the judge violated judicial code for openly supporting a candidate. Lewis and her attorney claimed that statements published online compromised Lewis’s character in the public eye.
Rapp says he was just expressing his opinion with his posts. He says after he saw Lewis wearing a political button supporting then-state Senate candidate Bill Rabon, he took his thoughts to the web.
“It shows that there is a possibility of lack of impartiality,” Rapp said. “It’s just a possibility, and that’s my opinion.”
Rapp’s lawyer says this is a First Amendment issue dealing with politics. Rapp says because of who he is up against, he is concerned about the outcome of the summary judgement hearing.
“Did you notice that I brought an attorney from Wake County? What does that tell you? Of course I’m at a disadvantage,” Rapp said.
Judge Lewis’s attorney says his client did nothing wrong by supporting Rabon, because she herself was also a candidate for public office at the time. Sen. Rabon was in the courtroom Friday. Lewis’s lawyer said Rabon is a long-time family friend of Lewis.
We attempted to speak with Judge Lewis after court to hear about this case as well as her involvement in another pending case involving District Attorney Jon David and his battle with Judge Jerry Jolly over a traffic court program. She told us she was not allowed to speak about pending cases.
The summary judgement hearing is on recess for two weeks as the judge reviews the information presented by both sides.