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Commission's tactic to remove Berger last worked in 1935

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger has had a history of run-ins with his fellow commissioners. It appears after last night's meeting they have finally had their fill. Now they're moving to censure him and remove him from office after a 40-minute public argument. That run-in may have been one of Berger's last thanks to a little-known law.

Near the end of last night's meeting the board voted 3-1 to censure berger and use something call amotion to remove him from office.

Amotion is a seldom used common law that has been on the books in North Carolina for years, but it hasn't been successfully used since 1935, according to Frayda Bluestein, a professor at the UNC School of Government.

"It's a concept that a corporation, and in the government context a city or a county is a municipal corporation, has an inherent right to remove an officer that is a part of the governing board of a corporation for reasons of a pretty significant degree," Bluestein said.

Though Berger's actions could be described as erratic, it is unclear at this point if he can be removed from office, because he was elected to the position by voters.

"It's a power that has been applied by public agencies, and it's unclear whether local governments have the authority to do it given the framework of election to office and given the fact that there is nothing specific in the statutory provisions that govern cities and counties that specifically delegates any authority to remove a member," Bluestein said.

Bluestein says Berger now has two options. He can resign from his position, or choose to fight the amotion in court and let a judge decide his fate.

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