Case for who is the rightful Columbus County Sheriff could be decided without trial

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WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — The case for who is the lawful sheriff of Columbus County continues.

Democrat Lewis Hatcher considers himself the rightful sheriff despite losing to Republican Jody Greene in the November election.

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It’s been two months since Sheriff Greene was sworn into office. Hatcher challenged Greene’s oath of office a month ago. That was after the state board of elections itself said Greene should not have been sworn in.

Now, final documents were submitted to the Columbus County Superior Court Tuesday in the case for who is the legal sheriff of Columbus County.

The case was scheduled to go before a jury in possibly Pender County. Now it is confirmed that it will be a trial before a judge in Whiteville. That judge will ultimately decide who will be sheriff.



Tuesday, Hatcher’s attorneys laid out several arguments for why Sheriff Jody Greene should not hold office. One being the lack of certification of the race by county elections officials.

“..The Certificate of Election was not delivered/issued to Mr. Greene,” wrote the attorneys.

Another reason being the appealed protests that are still pending a review by the newly appointed state board of elections. The Columbus County board of elections dismissed the protests.

The attorneys go on to reference the question surrounding Sheriff Greene’s true residence. Greene has said his residence in Cerro Gordo is a camper that is mostly for his dogs. His wife, Angie, told us that was their actual home. Both saying state law allows for it.

However, Hatcher’s attorneys cite county code that said a ‘camper’ is not considered a permanent dwelling. They claim Greene has no rightful home in Columbus County. They’ve asked the judge to determine that and if it is confirmed, then Greene would be violating state law and have no lawful claim to be sheriff in a county he does not live in.

The attorneys even referenced our coverage on the issue.

Initially, Hatcher was granted a trial to decide his case. On Tuesday, documents showed Greene wants a judge to decide the case out of court. Statements by Greene’s attorneys also claim Hatcher has shifted to desire the matter to be decided by summary judgment, outside a trial, as well.

Hatcher’s attorneys submitted documents that say the former sheriff is requesting a ‘Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings’.

Greene’s attorneys have asked for summary judgment in the case. That request of the judge comes as they claim most of the issues that Hatcher has brought up involve the state board of elections.

“Most of the materials attached to his [Hatcher’s] motion for judgment are related to extrinsic matters pending before the North Carolina State Board of Elections,” said Greene’s attorneys also adding that, “Plaintiff [Hatcher] has not moved for summary judgment within the parameters of the Scheduling Order.”

The depositions are expected to be seen by Wake County Superior Court judge A. Graham Shirley in Whiteville Friday. The expected bench trial is set for next week.