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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — While a court is set to hear the appeal of Brian Berger’s amotion, the question arises about how much the county will spend on hiring an attorney for the case.

Monday night, New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield told WWAY the county is expecting to spend at least $5,000 of taxpayer money on attorney fees. Barfield didn’t have an exact dollar amount on what the process will cost.

A judge will decide July 16th if the vote to use amotion to oust Berger from office was appropriate.

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  • Guestobs

    Agree with all this political thug is a weasel who should be voted out.
    If there is justice he will be rebuked for his tactics in this matter- but what should we expect from the slime who smeared Bozeman?

  • SurfCityTom

    Mr. Berger continues to be paid; the county continues his health insurance as well as other monthly allowances.

    I would like to see, if this goes to higher ground, the Commission forced to allow Mr. Berger to resume his seat and place his picture and information back on the County website.

    And of course the longer this drags on, the longer Ward & Smith issues fee bills for service rendered.

    I wonder too, as Woody allowed this and is the mastermind behind this, could he be subject to action by the Bar?

  • SurfCityTom

    and assume the Judge will rule on the amotion process as being the correct tool for use to remove an elected official. That opens up a can of worms many elected personages would like to see never open.

    Again, there is nothing which requires him to issue a decision that day.

    By his own words, he acknowldges there are many issues.

    Having spent a significant amount of time in courts, I will be greatly surprised to see a quick ruling on this. Look for him taking this under advisement with a decision way down the road.

    What would be neat will be an order issued requiring the return of Berger to his seat while this is pending.

    On another note, no way will Barfield’s estimate of $5,000 be anywhere near the actual costs for Ward & Smith.

  • Vog46

    Return Berger to his seat?
    In essence he never lost it. If he returns is he still censured? I don’t think the courts can over rule that as it was voted upon by the commission – and the policies they used as a basis for the censure are New Hanover county policies.

    It is a curious case but if Gale rules that business law does NOT apply (and amotion is steeped in business law history) then the Commission would have to appeal THAT ruling to a higher court – meaning they are hell bent on removal at all costs. To me this is a lose lose for Mr White and crew.
    But if Gale rules that he doesn’t feel that his court is the proper court to make such a decision he punts it “upstairs”. The higher you go the longer it takes to get hearings.
    I believe that Gale is in a pickle right now as he’s dealt with business law, but this pits business law up against election law – which is far outside the realm of his court. He could as you say, take it under advisement, but if I had to venture a guess I think he has 2 choices only:
    Rule that amotion does NOT apply here, or
    Rule that the case involves election law and cannot be ruled upon by his court.

    But if the county pursues this real hard the cost will easily go 6 figures.


  • Vog46

    Did you happen to notice Judge Gels title?
    “Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases James Gale”

    Complex business cases?
    One issue here is does business law trump election law? Or lack thereof?
    One body of people (voters) put Berger in, another body (the county commission) is trying to take him out. If Gale rules in favor of the commission, Berger can, and should argue to a higher court that the election process has been derailed by another party not associated with the election process.
    I suspect and I fear, that this Judge may punt this to a higher court because of the two different law venues involved – election law and business law. His forte is business law as indicated by his title.
    If he punts it to a higher court we could easily see a court date for a preliminary hearing sometime in 2014 – WOODY LOSES because the election is in? 2014 and Brian won’t win if he runs.
    If appealed this could end up at the NC Supreme court and it could be a marvelous case to “hear”.
    Stay tuned…….

  • Vog46

    From an earlierstory:

    “An order issued last week by Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases James Gale granted Berger a July 16 hearing date at the North Carolina Business Court in Greensboro. According to the order, the hearing will address whether amotion was the proper procedure to use to remove an elected county commissioner, whether the procedures the board used in the amotion procedure complied with due process and whether if amotion was a valid procedure, if superior court has jurisdiction or power to consider Berger’s appeal.”

    It would appear as though there are several questions that need to be answered before the amotion process can proceed. The most important is:

    “the hearing will address whether amotion was the proper procedure to use to remove an elected county commissioner,”

    If the judge rules it was not the proper procedure all other apsects become moot – unless appealed by the County. Given the outcry from NH County I would suspect that if the judge ruled amotion is not proper then Woody will stick with censure which is a legal step to follow. If Woody pursues this through appeals, costing taxpayers even more money, he may get lynched.
    The tables have turned completely around on the county commission.
    If the judge rules amotion is improper:
    Woody looks like an ass by pursuing it with even more county funds wasted and
    he looks like an ass for doing it in the first place.

    I think we’ll need more popcorn……..


  • kurt

    Your comment stating that Brian will have no appeal is not true. If he loses he will appeal to the NC Court of Appeal, also the county can it to when they lose, if they decide to spend more of the county money.

  • SurfCityTom

    you are misreading.

    Ward & Smith has to do something to show value for the thousands which they will receive.

    Look for a continuance to allow them time to get up to speed — possible.

    IN all honesty, regardless how the Judge finally rules, it will not be the day of the hearing.

    He’s going to take it under advisement for a ruling way down the road. Needs time to consider all apsects of an issue and a topic which has not been in a courtroom in 80 or 90 years.

    Brian will be getting checks for the future. Now, will Berger’s attorney be astute enough to file a brief requiring the Council to allow Berger to resume his chair pending an outcome?

    Something to think about. Berger has been quiet of late; the retired State Senator and his pet Froggy have not been heard from.

    Something needs to happen to give WWAY someting seemy and seedy to report on.

  • Guestnit

    Woody White is a weasel and a waste. He is plain wrong on the law. this is an action that never should have taken place and County should pay for White’s incompetence. Voters elect and remove- not political thugs like White. If we have an honest(?) Court system- this man is reinstated immediately. Like him or not- we should remove White the Weasel for acting like he was Joe McCarthy.

  • Vog46

    It will be a one day hearing if he decides amotion is not the proper procedure to use.
    I don’t think that ruling could be appealed


  • SurfCityTom

    do not get carried away.

    Nothing says it will be a one day hearing. Do not be surprised if Ward & Smith seeks a postponement to allow them additional time to prepare.

    Once all sides have been heard, do not be surprised if the Judge takes the case under advisement which means he’ll issus a decision at some future date to be chosen by him.

    Meanwhile the County pays Ward & Smith. They would continue paying Berger.

  • dean bailey

    thank you mr good republican

  • Vog46

    “A judge will decide July 16th if the vote to use amotion to oust Berger from office was appropriate.”

    I take this to mean two possible things.
    First – it could mean a two part ruling the first ruling being whether the PROCESS is correct and legally binding.
    Second – it could also mean that he could rule that it was a legal process AND he could make a determination of fact at the same time as to whether the county made the case or not.

    This is getting interesting but use of common law for removal of an elected official which over rules election law still seems like a stretch to me.


  • Politico AdviseryO’brien

    In the educated words Prakash Javadekar once spoke….
    “He (assBERGER)has forfeited his right to occupy the office he holds and we demand that he should resign forthwith”!
    Here! Here!

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