FIRST ON 3: Judge restores Brian Berger to New Hanover County Board of Commissioners

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We finally have a ruling on Brian Berger’s legal battle with New Hanover County.

N.C. Special Superior Court Judge James Gale has restored Berger to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.

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“This is a gigantic victory both for Brian and myself as his attorneys and also for his supporters,” said Berger’s attorney Chris Anglin. “It shows that elected public officials in North Carolina because it shows the only people who have the authority to remove him are the voters who put him in office.”

Berger was removed from the county board May 20 following an amotion hearing. He filed an appeal of the decision with the New Hanover County Superior Court in mid-June.

Judge James Gale stated in his analysis that the court cannot conclude that the Board’s Order of Removal was made by an impartial fact finder based on evidence presented because that Order includes findings of fact based solely on the personal experiences of the fact finders, including interactions with unnamed staff.

The Board’s Order of Removal must then be set aside without prejudice to the Board’s ability to convene a further hearing and to take appropriate interim steps as necessary to provide for the conduct of the government’s business or for safety and security.

Plaintiff is then restored to his elected office pending further proper action taken to remove him; and in the event further proper action is taken to remove him, such removal need not be delayed solely to await the appointment and qualification of his successor.

“They can appeal this case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals,” said Anglin. “They can also accept Judge Gale’s ruling and have another Amotion proceeding which that’s not the outcome we want. We hope that they choose to not have another Amotion proceeding.”

Anglin and Berger aren’t the alone in their hope that the Board of Commissioners choose to accept Judge Gale’s ruling.

“I think that we should leave it alone and move on and cut the waste of spending that we have already done with the taxpayer dollars,” said commissioner Jonathan Barfield. “What I would like to see is that our local delegation would have done a recall bill to allow our citizens to recall Berger as opposed to putting that much power in 4 people’s hands.”