Hatcher lawsuit to remain in Columbus County as bench trial

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Wake County Superior Court judge, not a jury, will decide the outcome of Lewis Hatcher’s lawsuit seeking to be reinstated as Columbus County sheriff.

Columbus County Clerk of Court Jess Hill confirmed that pretrial motions in the case will be heard Friday afternoon, with the trial set to begin Monday morning.

Judge A. Graham Shirley had original scheduled a jury trial for Pender County, with the jury made up of members who are not associated with Columbus County.

There’s no word on why the decision was made to instead hold a bench trial in Whiteville.

Hatcher filed an injunction in January, claiming he is still the rightful sheriff because Jody Greene never received a certificate of election.  Hatcher also says that the State Board of Elections said Hatcher is still the sheriff.

Greene beat Hatcher by 34 votes in November.

Greene was sworn into office Dec. 3. But the State Board of Elections later said he should not have been sworn in because of protests and appeals in the race. Several people, including Hatcher, claim Greene is not a legal resident of Columbus County. Greene and his wife have explained to WWAY that they do live in a RV on property in Cerro Gordo. There are also questions about ballots at a Tabor City polling place on Election Day.



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